The Words and Pictures Book Club (24th March, 2023): “Hidden Hands” by Mary Wellesley

Join us for the Words & Pictures book club

on Friday 24th March, 2pm (for an hour or so)

at the Pebbles Community Cafe (the old Havens, Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff)

when we’ll be discussing Mary Wellesley’s non-fiction book

“Hidden Hands – The Lives of Manuscripts and Their Makers” [2022 paperback, published by riverrun]

The publisher describes:

Manuscripts teem with life. They are not only the stuff of history and literature, but they offer some of the only tangible evidence we have of entire lives, long receded.

Hidden Hands tells the stories of the artisans, artists, scribes and readers, patrons and collectors who made and kept the beautiful, fragile objects that have survived the ravages of fire, water and deliberate destruction to form a picture of both English culture and the wider European culture of which it is part. Without manuscripts, she shows, many historical figures would be lost to us, as well as those of lower social status, women and people of colour, their stories erased, and the remnants of their labours destroyed. From the Cuthbert Bible, to works including those by the Beowulf poet, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, Sir Thomas Malory, Chaucer, the Paston Letters and Shakespeare, Mary Wellesley describes the production and preservation of these priceless objects.

With an insistent emphasis on the early role of women as authors and artists and illustrated with over fifty colour plates, Hidden Hands is an important contribution to our understanding of literature and history.


Join us if you can – it’s a very informal discussion over coffee & cake – all welcome!


Art, Books and Culture Group at The Beecroft (18th March, 2023): Painting the Walls – the Modern Mural

Join us for our Art, Books and Culture Group

on Saturday 18th March, 11.15am (for about an hour or so)

at The Beecroft Art Gallery

Victoria Avenue, Southend SS2 6EX

when we’ll be discussing the revival of mural painting during the inter-war years.

Picking up where we left our discussion of Vanessa Bell’s art last month, we’ll begin by looking at the decorative wall-paintings at Charleston Farmhouse (above, left) and Berwick Church that Bell undertook alongside Duncan Grant (and others).

This will lead us back to earlier Bloomsbury murals and into the ‘revival’ of decorative wall painting during the inter-war years including work

by Evelyn Dunbar, such as The Brockley School Murals [detail here of The Country Girl and the Pail of Milk, 1933-6]:

and by Phyllis Bray, such as her re-discovered People’s Palace mural at Queen Mary’s University, mid-1930s:

and we will also mention, especially given our location, the works made by local artist Alan Sorrell for Southend Library in the 1930s, such as The Founding of Prittlewell Priory:

As ever, there will be plenty to look at & discuss – all welcome!

Admission is £10 on the door, and there will be coffee & biscuits to follow.


Art and Coffee at The Beaumont (17th March, 2023): “The Memoir Club” by Vanessa Bell

Join us for our Art & Coffee discussion group on

Friday 17th March, 11.30am (for about an hour)

at The Beaumont,

Barchester Southgate Community Care Home

15 Cannon Hill, London N14 7DJ

when we’ll be looking at Vanessa Bell (1879-1961)’s painting “The Memoir Club” (1943; National Portrait Gallery)

as our starting point for exploring Bell’s portraits of friends and family and how her style changed over the years. Along the way we’ll get a taste of Bloomsbury life and ideas, and pop in to Charleston Farmhouse.

Do join us if you can!