On Saturday 12 May 2012 the Richard III Society NSW Branch held their eagerly anticipated biannual mini-conference in the Southern Highlands, at the Mittagong RSL.

A few of us, who had travelled to Mittagong the day before, met up for an informal dinner in the club’s bistro, being happy meeting old friends and making new ones.

The event was attended by both Sydney-based regulars (some of whom braved the long journey on buses replacing the usual trains) and other members, some coming from as far away as the ACT and Victoria.  We were especially pleased to welcome Michael, the chairman of the Victoria branch, and his wife Yvonne, as well as Gillian and Bruce from the South Australian branch.

The presentations were very diverse, with competent speakers from a wide range of backgrounds. David Mee spoke on ‘Medieval Coins’ and brought examples of types of coinage from across the centuries, including one from the era of Richard III.

Judith Hughes spoke on ‘Eleanor Talbot, the Spurned Queen’, being the hapless lady the self-serving young Edward IV secretly wed then ignored for the rest of her life, whilst making a public life with Elizabeth Woodville, with whom he had his large brood.

Karen Clark spoke on ‘John Nevill’s Feud and the Destruction of a Family’, an area of particular expertise and one on which she is writing a book. Her detailed grasp of the generations of family members and their competition was impressive. The Percy family still survives, although the Nevilles are long gone, she mentioned in conclusion.

Kevin Herbert spoke on the ‘Royal Relicts’ – the widows of the kings. His handout was chockfull of details worth knowing, and his presentation a highlight of the day.

Lynne Foley and Dorothea Preis critiqued Ricardian books they had recently read.  Lynne favourably reviewed Margaret of York: The Diabolical Duchess by Christine Weightman. Dorothea told us about the recently published Richard III by David Baldwin, which has its good points, but does not offer much new for someone well versed in the period. Her wise counsel saved us all some cash and precious time by knowing which books we could safely skip.

Doug and Leslie McCawley spoke about their favourite Ricardian books, having been invited on short notice to replace a speaker who had to cancel. They chose the ever-popular Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman, and Some Touch of Pity by Rhoda Edwards.

Julia Redlich spoke about how Richard III has been presented on stage across time.

Helen Portus and Denise Rawling spoke on ‘Richard III the Posthumous Hunchback’, getting audience members to question what we accept on face value in the media, and encouraging us to be discerning consumers of received opinions and so-called histories.

Ann Chandler gave us a comprehensive (and tricky) 4-page quiz to complete during the day, then graded the results and announced the winners. The more cowed amongst us did not hand our quizzes in, admitting defeat early on!  Our congratulations went to Karen for winning by achieving 47 out of 50 possible points.

In addition to the speakers, other attractions included a Bring and Buy table, the sale of the books from the lamented dissolution of the once fine branch library, Ricardian pens, bags and brooches for sale, and best of all the opportunity to catch up with friends in a leisurely manner.

At the conclusion of the day, the representatives of the Victoria branch surprised us by presenting the NSW branch with a beautiful table runner in Yorkist murrey adorned with white roses.  We were delighted and would like to give a big ‘thank you’ to our friends from Victoria!

A number of attendees chose to stay for the weekend so the festivities continued after the conference proper with dinner out and a day to explore the attractions of the area. The weather was sparklingly clear and cool, and the venue well chosen. Thanks to the organisers for another successful and pleasurable branch event.

Leslie McCawley

Members, who decided to stay on at Mittagong, as well as several partners met up on Saturday evening for dinner with lots of interesting talk and laughter on a wide variety of topics.  We discovered that most of us were addicted to Phryne Fisher on Fridays and Miss Marple on Tuesdays – how we loved the fact that Mrs Lancaster was the baddie in a recent episode!  Other topics were the Richard III of Horrible Histories, medieval and more modern jewellery.  We wondered why so often in information for the general public there seems to be nothing of historical interest before the Tudors came along – quite contrary to what actually happened.

We all enjoyed the food and, when consulting with the delightful waitstaff, we learned that the chef was new. Yvonne from the Victoria branch immediately told them that they were never to let him go! Although it wasn’t a formal Ricardian banquet, the Man Himself was not forgotten in a loyal toast – and the three fingered salute from Horrible Histories.

Dorothea Preis and Julia Redlich

Sunday morning saw us enjoying a long leisurely breakfast. Some farewells were said to those who had to return home, then the rest of us prepared for our excursion to the small Southern Highlands town of Robertson.
One group opted for the swiftest way thanks to SatNav; the other decided on the Scenic Route – and what a reward that was: sunshine, blue skies, green fields, magnificent mansions and extensive gardens behind imposing gates – and the trees wearing their most wonderful autumn colours of red and gold.

Colour was also important in discovering the others at our destination, something made simple by spotting Kevin wearing the super-long scarf in Ricardian colours that Alex had made for our sales table!

It was the monthly market day, so wandering around the stalls was a must. Chilly winters mean the locals are knitters beyond compare! The quality of the huge choice of items from sweaters to babywear and beanies was wonderfully enticing, as were the book selections – and as for the vegetable displays …

The obvious choice for lunch was the Fantastic Robertson Pie Shop, where justice was done to piping hot pastries with a mind-boggling range of fillings. One group then went on an antiques exploration, the other chose to return to Mittagong, put their feet up with the Sunday papers and gather strength for return to the everyday life after yet another rewarding Ricardian weekend.

Julia Redlich

The two photographs from the conference © Bruce Laughton; the photograph of the table runner © Julia Redlich.

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012 at 15:17 and is filed under Meetings, News, NSW Branch News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Trackbacks/Pings

  1. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » Review: Margaret of York: the Diabolical Duchess    May 24 2012 / 10am:

    […] review was first presented at the 2012 NSW Convention in […]

  2. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » Review of the General Meeting of the NSW Branch on 9 June 2012    Jun 15 2012 / 9am:

    […] and began by summarising the wonderful Ricardian mini-conference that was held recently in Mittagong, with her special thanks to all of those who had worked so hard to make it the success it […]

  3. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » David Baldwin, Richard III    Jan 30 2014 / 5pm:

    […] review was presented at NSW Convention in Mittagong in May 2012.  We apologise for the delay in posting […]

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