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.

For groups and societies, my fees are £30 per talks booked to take place in 2018, plus mileage (charged at 0.35p per mile for the round trip from my home). From 2019, my fees are £50 for audiences of up to 60 people (plus mileage). For audiences with over 60 people, then my fees are £90 plus mileage.  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 talks[at]

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


Talk 1: 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.



Talk 2: 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.


Talk 3: 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.




**Talk 4: 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.


**Talk 5: 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.



Talk 6: Christmas in Medieval Essex
This talk will be available from Winter 2019

Nicholas of Bari (Italy, N. (?Lombardy), 1st decade of the 16th century)Boy Bishops, the Feast of St Nicholas, the Lord of Misrule, the Christmas Candle, Plough Monday, and the Twelve Days of Christmas. These were once all part and parcel of Christmas celebrations in many parishes within Medieval and early Tudor Essex. This talk looks at some of the Christmas revells our Essex ancestors enjoyed. You may be surprised to discover which ancient customs have evolved into modern day much-loved traditions!


**Talk 7: My ancestor was a witch:
The Witches of Elizabethan & Stuart Essex
Please note that this talk is only suitable for local or family history groups.  The talk is similar to my witches talk (detailed further up this page).  However, this talk concentrates on the historical and primary source evidence used when researching Essex Tudor witches.  Therefore this talk is only suitable for societies or clubs whose members are very familiar with historical sources and research methods.  

This talk/lecture will be presented for the first time at the Secret Lives Conference in August/September 2018

Agnes Waterhouse of Hatfield Peverel
In 1562 a devastating Act of Parliament against Conjurations Enchantments and Witchcrafts was passed in England. For the first time, the “common sort” could be put on trial for their life, accused of the diabolical act of witchcraft. With most legal proceedings taking place in Essex, the county became infamous for its witches. This lecture traces the progress of the Elizabethan and Stuart witchcraft prosecutions in Essex, detailing cases from across the county. Also considered are the sources available to family historians researching witches, including legal court records, contemporary sensational pamphlets, and sources once kept in the parish chest.




I look forward to receiving your booking! Contact me via email at talks[at]
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Kate J Cole, MSt Local History (Cantab)
© Essex Voices Past 2017