Essex Local History talks

I am pleased to announce that I now give talks all over Essex and Suffolk on various aspects of local history (full list as below). A fully illustrated PowerPoint presentation accompanies all my talks and I will bring all the equipment required (including a portable screen). I am on the approved Panel of Speakers for the Federation of Essex Women’s Institutes.

I am available to give talks during both the day and evening – all talks last for between 45 minutes and an hour.

If you want to arrange me to speak at your group, please contact me via email on thenarrator[at]

Those talks marked with an asterisk will be available from January 2018 – I am now taking advanced bookings for them.


The Witches of Elizabethan EssexAnon; (1589) The apprehension and confession of three notorious witches. Arreigned and by iustice condemned and executed at Chelmes-forde, in the Countye of Essex
During the sixteenth century, the cry of “she’s a witch!” was heard throughout many towns and villages across England; particularly within Essex. Our county indicted more than double the combined totals for those accused of witchcraft within Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, and Sussex. My talk puts the witchcraft trials of Essex into their historical context and explores specific local cases to explain why there were so many witchcraft trials within Essex. If possible, I will personalise my talk to include any Elizabethan/Stuart witches present in your own Essex town or village.



Great Dunmow and Henry VIII’s English ReformationGreat Dunmow Through Time
The first half of the sixteenth century was a turbulent time to live within any English town or village. The king, Henry VIII, increasingly attacked English parish life in his quest to rid England of the influence of the pope. This talk is about the impact of the English Reformation on the rural Essex town of Great Dunmow and how the town moved from its pre-Reformation Catholic communal life and finally embraced Henry VIII’s Reformation by publicly re-enacting a notorious and bloody murder of a prominent Scottish Catholic.


**From rural Essex & Suffolk to the Battles of the Somme: the story of a nurse of the Great War

An angel in all but power is she


In the months before the First World War, a young woman from Suffolk joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment nursing service and nursed in small military hospitals within Essex and Suffolk. Just weeks before the opening days of the Battles of the Somme, she was sent as a volunteer-nurse to one of the largest military hospitals on the Western Front where she nursed casualties from the battlefields. This talk is the story of Clara Woolnough’s life as a nurse of the Great War in Essex, Suffolk, and France.




**Al Capone’s gangster car and the Kursaal in 1930s Southend
Al Scarface Capones car at the KursaalHotly pursued by the FBI and police through the streets of 1930s gangster Chicago, my great-uncle exported Al Capone’s bullet proof car from America with the specific purpose of displaying it in England. My talk is the story of my American great-uncle, who, to use his own words, was a showman from yester-year, and how Al Capone’s car (along with a very large stuffed whale called Eric) ended up at the Kursaal amusement park in 1930s Essex.


**Postcards from the front: 1914-1919. The story of how postcards sent home to loved ones became the Facebook and Twitter of the Great War.
Trenches 12fBetween 1914 and 1918, a special mail-train left Victoria train station in London every single day bound for the Western Front, carrying with it letters and postcards sent from British people to their loved ones serving overseas. A similar train worked in reverse, bringing correspondence from serving men (and women) back to their anxious relatives in Britain. With millions of items of correspondence passing over the channel, postcards became the social media phenomenon of the day. My talk charts the First World War through the postcards sent home by soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses.


I look forward to receiving your booking! Contact me via email at thenarrator[at]

Kate J Cole, MSt Local History (Cantab)
© Essex Voices Past 2017

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