The Richmond Local History Society is kicking off its new season of lectures and other events on subjects of local historical interest with a talk on Shrovetide football.

Christopher May, the Society’s new Chair, will speak about The death of an ancient manly sport: Shrovetide football in Richmond and vicinity on Monday, 21 October 2013. His talk is at the Duke Street (Baptist) Church, Duke Street, Richmond TW9 1DH, starting at 8pm, with coffee available from 7.30. The talk is free to members. Visitors are welcome: admission £2.

Christopher May said:

“Two hundred years ago games of football were traditionally played on Shrove Tuesday though the main streets of Richmond, Twickenham, Mortlake, Kingston and other places nearby. This was not football as we know it today with its marked out pitch, its limited number of players and its set of rules — both soccer and then rugby only got their rules half a century later. Shrovetide football was unruly, rough and tumble, boisterous and drunken. The gentry thought it uncivilised; shopkeepers deplored the damage and the loss of business; so the local authorities tried it suppress it, but it would take them several decades and changes in the law and policing for them to kill the game and stop the labouring classes taking over the town for one day of carnival every year.”

The Society is covering a wide range of subjects in its autumn and winter programme ¬≠including a talk on 11 November, by David Hassard of the Kingston Aviation Centenary Project, on the “temporary” National Aircraft Factory built in Ham by the Ministry of Munitions in 1917/18 and subsequently used by Sopwith Aviation, Leyland Motors, Hawker Aircraft and British Aerospace to produce thousands of aircraft and other vehicles until 1992.

On 9 December, Susanne Groom, former curator at Historic Royal Palaces, will explore the fascinating history of royal dining, including the romantic suppers made for Charles II and his mistresses; Queen Victoria’s love of nursery food; and the gluttonous appetite of Edward VII. On 13 January Catherine Parry-Wingfield, Chairman of Turner’s House Trust, will talk about Sir Joshua Reynolds and Wick House on Richmond Hill, the house that was built for him in 1772.

On 10 February 2014 Sir David Williams will present a visual history of Ham and Petersham. And on 10 March Paul Velluet, architect and former Chairman of the Richmond Society, will give a lecture about St Margarets and the Impact of the Building of Twickenham Bridge and the Great Chertsey Road 80 years ago this year, in 1933.