We finish our Spring programme with the welcome return on Saturday 19th May (8pm) of Julie Summers who will present Our Uninvited Guests (Tickets £5).

In this talk based on her new book, Our Uninvited Guests, Julie Summers offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life in some of Britain’s greatest country houses that were occupied by people who would never otherwise have set foot in such opulent surroundings.

Blenheim Palace was occupied by schoolboys who slept in the Long Library; Polish special agents trained in the grounds of Audley End House where they learned to forge and lie their way into occupied Europe in the old nursery. Brocket Hall, former home of Queen Victoria’s favourite Lord Melbourne, was used as a maternity home for women from the east end of London and the Rothschild’s magnificent French chateau-inspired Waddesdon Manor housed a hundred children under five. The Northern Highlands, where the fierce warriors of Scotland’s past developed their unconventional military skills, played host to the most extreme form of warfare training agents in the fine arts of sabotage, subterfuge and assassination.

In June 1940 Churchill paid tribute to the ‘Czechs, Poles, Norwegians, Dutch, Belgians, all who have joined their causes to our own’. Yet history has largely forgotten that in ‘our darkest hour’ Britain was supported by tens of thousands of servicemen who fought alongside us as allies. This book serves to bring these nations back into the history of the Second World War by weaving them into the fabric of British society as they truly belonged for five years. There are dukes, priests, prostitutes, schoolboys, murderers and babies here: some good, some bad, some just plain evil but all fascinating in one way or another.

Julie Summers is the author of 12 works of non-fiction, including the best-selling book Jambusters which inspired the ITV drama series Home Fires. Born on the Wirral and brought up in Cheshire, Julie spent the first half of her career working in the art world. However, she had always wanted to be a writer and when the opportunity arose to work on a biography of her great uncle, Sandy Irvine, she took it with relish.

Fearless on Everest was published in 2000 and was followed by The Colonel of Tamarkan (2005), a biography of Brigadier Sir Philip Toosey, the ‘real’ colonel who built the Bridge on the River Kwai.

Since then she has been exploring the impact of the Second World War on people’s lives, with particular focus on women on the Home Front. Stranger in the House looked at how women coped when the men came home from the war, while When the Children Came Home examined the impact of evacuation on family life in the war’s aftermath. Jambusters celebrates the extraordinary work of the Women’s Institute in the Second World War and has been her most successful book to date resulting in her being listed as one of only four women in the top 50 historians in Britain in 2015.

Julie’s latest book, Our Uninvited Guests: The Secret Lives of Britain’s Country Houses 1939-1945 will be published in March 2018. Julie has appeared on Radio 4 on Woman’s Hour; Start the Week and Excess Baggage and numerous radio programmes.  She was also interviewed for The Wildest Dream film and appeared on the BBC in A Century of Fatherhood and more recently in 100 Years of the WI with Lucy Worsley.  Home Fires series 2 finished in May 2016. Julie’s website can be found at:  www.juliesummers.co.uk

Hedgerley Historical Society meet at Hedgerley Memorial Hall Kiln Lane Hedgerley SL2 3UZ.

Further details from John Lovelock 01753-647187    [email protected]

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