Speaking

As well as offering tours, I also provide interesting and entertaining lectures / talks for clubs and societies.  Please see some of my popular talks below or contact me if there is a subject you have in mind – I may well be able to help!  Please contact me for a quote.

The British Love Affair with Tea!

As Henry James said “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea”. 

Tea Service 3

This talk explores the history of tea drinking in Britain, what tea actually is, how it is made and the different types of tea available to enjoy.  We start with the discovery of tea in China and then explore how tea drinking grew amongst Europeans, finally taking off in Britain during the Restoration period.  Tea drinking then became integral to our national life and influenced everything from social fashions, to smuggling and taxation, the loss of empire in America, the growth of empire in India, global shipping and even social and moral attitudes.  The lecture includes a look at tea drinking methodology and traditions, from the invention of the tea bag to the taking of afternoon tea.

Can you tell your Chinese from your Indian tea, Assam from Darjeeling, or even what makes something tea as opposed to just another hot drink?  The tea world can be confusing, rather like becoming a wine connoisseur!  This talk explains how tea is made, the 6 main types of tea and tasting pointers for choosing between them, and how to identify famous tea names!

My talk ideally concludes with a tea tasting (I need access to kettles and drinking water)

I received a review of this lecture from an American Professor teaching a group of American college students in London in February 2019: “Hi Caroline.  Just a quick note to thank you for the wonderful presentation today.  It was brilliant.   You covered everything I could have hoped for – and more!  I especially loved the historical / botanical / cultural connections you made and how you previewed some of the things they would see in Greenwich (i.e, Cutty Sark).  The tea tasting was also awesome.  In short, I loved it”.   

Private Lives in the Public Sphere

Henry BIII - Workshop of Hans Holbein

How the personal lives of Tudor and Stuart monarchs shaped British History

In the early modern period kings and queens couldn’t have a “private life”.  Whether they got married, had children, what their religious beliefs were, who their favourites were, who they had affairs with, their health, insecurities, intelligence, education, and personal qualities like courage, tact and diplomacy – these were all matters of public importance.  

Which queen’s miraculous conception of a boy sparked a revolution?  Which king’s insecurity bred an arrogance than alienated Parliament?  Which queen’s miscarriage cost her her head?  Explore the private tragedies, heartbreak and scandals that have shaped British history.

James Bond – a British Hero

You know the name.   You know the number.  

Now explore what inspired Ian Fleming to create one of the best loved characters of English literature.  My talk investigates Ian Fleming, the literary Bond he created and how that was translated to the silver screen.  I discuss the actors who have played Bond, the music, the locations, the gadgets and the women.  The talk concludes with a fun Bond quiz.

A History of London Shopping

Oxford St

Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, Fortnum and Mason and Harrods – we take these brand names for granted now but how did it all start and why were these brands so successful?  Explore the history of London’s shops from its Roman remains, to medieval markets like Billingsgate and Smithfield, the development of luxury shopping districts, the growth of Oxford Street and the power of the department store, the development of destination shopping such as the King’s Road and Carnaby Street, to fashionable and reinvented markets today. Discover why Britain is a “nation of shopkeepers”.