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Kate Jones

Jean Farmbrough

Ayleen Thomas



Sue Allen 01234 407264

Sally Schofield 01234 771613

Phyllis Jones 01234 343429

Lynne Vaughan 01234 213926

Pat Curtis 01234 266381
Ann Gray 01234 345475

Brenda Cullum 01234 268369

Hilary Birkett 01234 364274

Jackie Stubbs 01234 720123

Sylvia Goddard 01234 822130




Photographs by members Marilyn Southgate, Geoff Woods and Laurie Jones.

We meet on the 4th Tuesday of each month except July, August and December. Refreshments are served from 10.15am with the lecture starting at 11am. As well as the monthly lectures we hold two - three Special Interest Days (SIDs) a year and organise 3 – 4 visits to places of interest. Where possible, a visit or SID is linked to a lecture to give a topic as wide a coverage as possible.

NADFAS Beds and Herts area


The market town of Bedford is rich in history and culture with a Charter dating from the 12th Century. Its main attraction is the River Great Ouse which flows through the town and north Bedfordshire to the Wash. In the past the river was a lifeline and in the present day has become a centre of excellence for rowing. A River Festival, held every two years, attracts visitors from a wide area.

John Bunyan, the renowned pastor and preacher, was born in Elstow, near Bedford, and lived in Bedford for much of his life. In 1667-72 he was imprisoned for his religious beliefs in the town’s Bridge jail where it is thought he wrote most of The Pilgrim’s Progress. The Bunyan Meeting Free Church has a Museum which is very popular with visitors to the town.

North Bedfordshire Decorative and Fine Art Society is a member of the National Association of Decorative and Fine art Societies whose website can be seen at in a new window.

We have always enjoyed a consistent membership and we do have a waiting list. Please contact our Membership Secretary for more information.




Tuesday 24 January

Bertie Pearce: Now You See It, Now You Don’t – the Art of Visual Deception An in depth look at the profound mystery of perception.

Tuesday 28 February

Christopher Garibaldi: Treasures of the Turf: the Decorative and Fine Art of Horseracing A look at the collections of the National Horseracing Museum to reveal the history of Newmarket and the ‘Sport of Kings’.

Tuesday 28 March

Susan Owens: Corners of Paradise: Samuel Palmer and the Ancients The story of ‘The Ancients’, a group of early 19th century idealistic artists fascinated by William Blake and the archaic, who created intensely expressive paintings of nature.

Tuesday 25 April

Brian Macdonald: Treasures of the Black Tent – Antique Tribal Rugs and Dowry Weavings of the Persian and Central Asian Nomads A journey from Outer Mongolia in the 5th century BC following nomadic tribes and their weaving skills through the Caucasus, Anatolia, Persia and Afghanistan to the 19th century.

Tuesday 23 May

AGM at 10.00am

Briony Hudson: “In paynted pots is hidden the deadliest poyson”: English Delftware Drug Jars A beginner’s guide to these beautiful yet practical vessels, drawing on the collections at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Tuesday 27 June

Summer Buffet after Lecture

Rosalind Whyte: History of the Royal Academy of Arts, London A history of the building of Burlington House and a look at the position of artists in London before and

after the formation of the RA in 1768 – from Reynolds through some colourful characters involved over the years to the central role of the Summer Exhibition.

Tuesday 26 September

Rosamund Bartlett: Art and Revolution: Russian Culture in the 20th Century What happened to Russian culture after the ‘death’ of the avant-garde? What was socialist realism? Who were the dissidents? What are the great masterpieces of Russian culture in the 20th century?

Tuesday 24 October

Gavin Plumley: The Two Gustavs: Mahler and Klimt A comparison of these two totemic fin de siècle talents. What fundamentally links and divides them?

Tuesday 28 November

Hilary Guise: Star of Wonder, Star of Light: New Evidence of the Star of Bethlehem The Star of Bethlehem did exist. What was it and when did it shine bright in the night sky? Be enlightened!



Thursday 18 May

Philippa Barton: Horace Walpole and the Creation of Strawberry Hill “One must have taste to be sensible of the beauties of Grecian architecture; one only wants passion to feel Gothic” (Walpole).

(Booking at February & March lectures)


Thursday 23 November

Yasha Beresiner: The Fascinating World of Playing Cards

Surprisingly, the playing cards with which we are all familiar today date back to 1377, and there are surviving decks from as early as 1475.

(Booking at September & October lectures)



Wednesday 8 February

South Africa – the Art of a Nation: The exhibition at the British Museum reveals the fascinating history of South Africa from earliest examples of human creativity to cutting edge contemporary works. There will also be the chance to see some of the jewellery held in the British Museum which was discussed in Judy Rudoe’s lecture.

(Booking at October & November 2016 lectures)

Wednesday 19 April

The British Library and the Renaissance Hotel: Tour of the Library to discover more about the building and its collection and a tour of the St Pancras Hotel, a Gothic masterpiece. Travel by train.

(Booking at February & March lectures)

Tuesday 6 June

The Royal Shakespeare Company: We take a guided tour exploring the public and private areas of the theatre and visit current exhibitions; in the evening we attend a performance of ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. Timings to be finalised.

(Booking at March & April lectures)

10/11/12 October (date to be confirmed)

The Houses of Parliament – Royalty and Splendour: The finest British artists of their day designed the wonderful works that are explored in this special early evening tour of the House of Lords.

(Booking at May & June lectures)



"At the request of St Andrew's Church, Bedford, this Cope (modelled here by the Verger) was designed and made by members of North Beds DFAS, because St Andrew's present Vicar is too tall for their existing vestments."


Heritage Volunteers were launched in 1990 and their first job was to renovate a small library at Shuttleworth College, Old Warden. This resulted in the volunteers being invited to carry out restoration work in the library at Southill Park, home of the Whitbread family, and the Warner Fabric Archive which in 1994 was stored at Milton Keynes. Since then the skill of the volunteers has continued to produce rewarding work conserving frontals, chasubles and kneelers for local churches. A chasuble for St Mary’s Church, Stevington, has been completed and a new Lenten altar frontal for the main altar at St Paul’s Church, Bedford, is being considered.

A £5.8m redevelopment project has united on one site three previous cultural venues : the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, the Bedford Museum and the Bedford Gallery. The buildings themselves date back over 150 years and have their own rich history of occupation and use. Renamed The Higgins, the refurbished museum was opened in June 2013. Heritage Volunteers assisted with this project, firstly helping to pack artefacts for storage, undertaking research work, then assisting with cataloguing, and finally helping replacing exhibits in the refurbished museum.


North Beds DFAS has helped preserve and display three antique dresses for posterity through a donation of £5,000 to The Higgins, Bedford's recently refurbished museum and art gallery.

At its Lecture meeting in October 2013, the Chairman of North Beds DFAS, Ayleen Thomas, presented a cheque to Tom Perrett, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at The Higgins. This money was used to conserve and prepare for display two dresses - an 18th Century court dress and a tea gown. The work included the purchase of specialist mannequins and the services of a conservator to properly mount the dresses. We also funded the costs of preparing a wedding dress for display.

Thanking the Society, Tom said "The Higgins Bedford greatly appreciates this very generous donation from NADFAS members. It has helped to prepare three important items of costume in the collection for display. The essential professional work that was needed to show these dresses at their best also helps to ensure their preservation for future generations to enjoy."

A week before the official opening in June 2013, society members were privileged to have a preview guided tour of this £5.8 million renovation project.

The Museum has an enviable collection of William Burges furniture, the significance of which was highlighted by Matthew Williams, Speaker at the society's October meeting, who gave an excellent, informative and entertaining talk on "William Burges - Genius Designer of Victorian Gothic". In 2011 the Gallery purchased Burges' Zodiac Settle with funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Friends of The Higgins.

Photographs on the left courtesy of The Higgins





Bedford is one of the bases for the Philharmonia Orchestra who perform seven concerts a year in the Corn Exchange. Their “Hear and Now” community project is unique to Bedford and offers young people the opportunity to present a public concert with a group of world class Philharmonia musicians.

Other projects that we have supported include Young Musician and Young Photographer of the Year competitions organised by Castle Rotary Club, the Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama and the Bedfordshire Music Trust. Other art based activities are always considered for additional support.



For twenty years, a group of NADFAS volunteers has been visiting some of north Bedfordshire’s oldest churches, recording their history. This has involved compiling and cataloguing their artefacts, work which is both worthwhile and historically valuable.

This group of experienced recorders, once thought to be one of the largest groups in the country, is now taking a two year sabbatical from church visits to enable the records of Sharnbrook, Stevington, Podington and Farndish (pictured) churches to be completed.

Once completed, the records will then be sent to the V & A, the National Monuments Society, the Redundant Churches Fund and, of course, the church itself and the County Records Office.

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