The primary mission of the British Society is to help others, but we are also a social organization, holding events for members and guests in the Boston area. Sometimes events are organized to raise funds, but always to raise fun. Follow the notices below for upcoming events hosted by the Society and other British organizations. You can also read reports of past events held by the British Society and others.
Please check back soon for upcoming events.
On February 20, Mr John Shannon, President of The College of Arms Foundation, gave an interesting lecture on English Heraldry.
Mr. Shannon’s presentation covered the evolution of English heraldry, the history of The College of Arms and the origins of several of the current Royal Arms including those of Elizabeth II -The Queen, Prince Philip - Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles - Prince of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay and Prince William – Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus. During the optional dinner, Mr. Shannon discussed how Americans may apply to The College of Arms for proving a right to arms or for the granting of honorary arms.
Annual Christmas Reception and Auction
On December 3rd The Society celebrated the season with the Annual Christmas Reception and Auction. The event was held at Prescott House the home of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts through the courtesy of the late Grace Thaler who was a member of our Board of Directors.
An enjoyable time was had by all. Carols were sung by the British School of Boston, and, by tradition, the game of Saints and Sinners was played with amusement. One lucky guest took home a door prize of a bottle of fine red wine and another lucky attendee won the raffle of two bottles of Veuve Clicquot.
The cornerstone of the evening was the silent auction of 28 items donated by members, friends, and generous corporate sponsors including;
British Aisles Food Corporation
AOC Wine Investment Advisors
Ted Baker Boston
Barbour of Newbury Street
John Dewar and Co.
Brooks Brothers of Newbury Street
Wasik’s Cheese Shop of Wellesley
Addieville Farm East
British Imports Store of Plymouth
The Castle of Mey
On November 13th Members and guests of The British Society gathered at The Chilton Club for a cocktail reception and lecture. The subjects were Her Majesty, The Queen Mother, her home, The Castle of Mey, and the book A Taste of Mey. The presenters were Lt Col. James Murray and his wife Christina.
Col. Murray spent 30 years in the British Army and then worked for The Queen Mother until Her death. He became Administrator of the Trust and Managing Director of the Castle & Gardens of Mey. He spoke about the Castle, some of the rooms, and the time that The Queen Mother spent there. He amused the audience with a number of interesting anecdotes.
Christina then spoke about how the idea for a book, A Taste of Mey, started and how she created it with recipes and anecdotes from the many contributors. It has been described as 'A unique 'Royal ragout' flavored with marvelous photographs, with more than 200 color pages of favorite recipes and personal memories of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother from Her friends, members of Her Household, present-day employees of the Castle, and Patrons and Friends of the Castle of Mey.'
Following the lecture many of the attendees remained for an optional dinner.
David Austin Roses
On October 2nd The British Society, and co-sponsor, The Garden Club of The Back Bay hosted a lecture at The Union Club featuring Michael Marriott, senior rosearian at David Austin Roses.
The British Society Annual General Meeting
On May 23, The Society held the Annual General Meeting at the Union Club, Boston. The evening began with a reception with hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, wine and a cash bar all of which was enjoyed by Members and guests.
The speaker was Stephen Blyth, a Professor in the Statistics Department at Harvard University and a Managing Director at Harvard Management Company, which manages the Harvard University Endowment. Professor Blyth holds a first class degree from Cambridge and a PhD in Statistics from Harvard University. His talk, "The Quant Delusion," was a very entertaining and informative general-interest account of what went wrong during the financial crisis.
The business meeting followed the speaker. Reports were given by the President, the Treasurer and the Relief Committee. Lewis Allen then gave sincere thanks to all who served as Directors, Officers, Committee Members and Volunteers during the 2012 year.
The most notable comment of the evening was the report that 2012 was the first year in the 196 year history of the Society in which there was a surplus of operating revenues over relief payments and operating expenses so that neither principal, or earnings, of the Endowment had to be used.
Annual Award of Merit Banquet
On June 1st, The Society hosted the Annual Award of Merit Banquet at The Country Club. The honoree for 2013 was TONY WOODCOCK, the President of New England Conservatory.
Following the format established last year, the black-tie event began with Champaign and cocktails in the Library. Following drinks Members and guests processed into the second floor ball room which was comfortably lighted many candles.
Lewis Allen, a member of the Executive Committee of The Society, gave introductory remarks. He was followed by Charles Platt, President of The Society, who spoke briefly about the history of The Society and gave several examples of instances where The Society had provided Aid. After the first course, British Consul General, Susie Kitchens discussed the significant role of Brits in Boston.
Following dinner, President Platt presented a beautiful certificate, done in calligraphic style, to Mr. Woodcock who then gave brief acceptance remarks. He received hearty congratulations from all in attendance.
This was a very enjoyable event, at a beautiful location with excellent attendance by members and guests. It is with great anticipation that we look forward to the next Award of Merit event in 2014.
Sporting Clays Event
On Saturday, May 11th, three teams of four guns competed in a Sporting Clays event which was followed by a typical British shoot lunch with guns and guests at Addieville East Farm in Mapleville, R.I.
The teams, ENGLISHMEN, MAD DOGS, and LESSER MORTALS were truly tested by traps on fourteen stations which had been set for a tournament the preceding week. There were high birds, low birds, rabbits, and many crossing combinations that went so fast as to be almost invisible. In the end, for some unaccountable reason, the MAD DOGS triumphed over the ENGLISHMEN all of whom left the LESSER MORTALS wondering what had just happened.
The shoot was followed by one of Chef Tony Lussier's memorable shoot lunches which began with hot hors d'oeurves, followed by venison & bean soup and then roast loin of pork and finished with fresh strawberry shortcake. This was accompanied by a selection of red and white wines and a toast to the winners with Veuve Clicquot. To make certain that everyone would nap in the afternoon, the day was ended with Stilton, grapes and a great vintage Port.
All of the participants, and guests, agreed that the loss by the ENGLISHMEN and embarrassment of the LESSER MORTALS, must be avenged and therefore it was proposed that a rematch should be held.
Royal Food & Kitchens
On the evening of May 23rd an exceptionally pleasant evening was enjoyed by 40 Members and guests who gathered at The Chilton Club for a cocktail reception and lecture “Royal Foods & Kitchens” by Dr. Lee Prosser, Curator, Historic Royal Palaces. Following the lecture 20 people remained to enjoy a delicious dinner. Each attendee at this event was offered a one year complimentary membership in Historic Royal Palaces. Historic Royal Palaces cares for the unoccupied royal palaces of London which are Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.
Dr. Lee Prosser has worked on the restoration and re-opening of the most important Georgian Kitchens in the world – those of George III in Kew Gardens, as well as the re-presentation of Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and, of course, the famous Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court. He brought us his insight on royal kitchens and royal eating, telling how the rituals of royal dining had hidden meanings as well as a unique impact on court and society.
Annual Christmas Reception
On December 5th The British Society hosted more than 80 Members and guests at the Annual Christmas Reception and Silent Auction at The Union Club. While viewing more than 25 donated items, and listening to Christmas carols by a chorus from The British School of Boston, attendees enjoyed complimentary Champagne, wines and a selection of hors d’oeuvres. As an added attraction raffles were held for two round trip British Airways Club Class tickets to London and a magnum of Veuve Clicquot.
The event raised almost $16,000 and was supported by nine corporate sponsors.
Her Majesty The Queen
On October 18, 2012 The British Society hosted 45 Members and guests at The Chilton Club in Boston to hear Mr. Hugo Vickers give an illustrated lecture "Her Majesty The Queen" based upon a lifetime of personal observation that goes back to childhood.
A cocktail reception preceded the lecture and 30 of the group stayed for an optional dinner at which Mr. Vickers recounted some of his personal impressions of The Royal Family.
The British Society Annual General Meeting
On June 6th, the AGM was held at the Offices of The British Consul General in Cambridge. The evening began with a cocktail reception at 6:00 pm followed by a business meeting at 7:00 pm. Various revisions to the By-Laws of The Society were approved by Members.
The most significant change was to alter the form of governance. The Executive Committee, which has acted as the primary governing body of The Society, was set aside and replaced by the following form of organization;
A Board of Directors of eight members, only five of which need be Members of the Society, of whom five will constitute a quorum. The Board of Directors will include the President and Vice President of The Society and will meet three times a year.
An Executive Committee of five members of the Board of Directors to include the President and Vice President, of whom three will constitute a quorum. The Executive Committee will meet five times a year with special meetings called as needed.
A reduction of the number of Officers to four; President, Vice President, Clerk and Treasurer, any three of which, acting together, will be empowered to make decisions.
These changes were made to accomplish the following;
The simplification of the day to day business of running the Society by four Officers will streamline the operation of management of the Society. Decisions need not be delayed by the requirement of any meeting.
The oversight and direction of the Officers and the performance of the Society’s Mission is simplified by being placed in the hands of an Executive Committee all of whom need not be actively involved in the actual day to day running of the business of the Society. This will allow the Executive Committee to focus upon strategy and business planning. By reducing the number of meetings to five, oversight can still be maintained but the ability to attract members who will fulfill the participation requirements should be significantly increased.
The creation of a Board of Directors with places for “outsiders” and the requirement of only three meetings a year will facilitate an expanded outreach into the community.
Following the passage of the revised By-Laws,
an election was held appointing the following individuals;
President – Charles Platt
Vice President – Becky Liley-Wagner
Treasurer – Timothy Hunt*
Clerk – Steve Clark*
Board of Directors
Lewis Allen – Chair ҂
Kathy Duffy ҂
Becky Liley-Wagner ҂
Charles Platt ҂
Ex Officio member – The British Consul General, Boston
*- Ex Officcio members of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee
҂ - Member of the Executive Committee
After the business meeting there was an extremely engaging talk by Daniel R. Coquillette, University Professor, Boston College, Law School titled "A New Look at the American Revolution" based on his five volume set of Josiah Quincy Jr's papers.
Westminster Abbey: A Place for Royal Celebration
On May 3rd, The British Society and co-sponsor, The Royal Oak Foundation hosted 110 Members and guests at The Chilton Club in Boston to hear The Very Reverend Dr. John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey, give a lecture “Westminster Abbey: A Place for Royal Celebration”. Dr. Hall also briefly discussed his new book The Queen and Her Church.
A cocktail reception preceded the lecture and more than half of the group stayed for an optional dinner at which Dr. Hall recounted some of his personal impressions of officiating at the wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey.
Annual Award of Merit Banquet
On March 3rd, The Society hosted the Annual Award of Merit Banquet at The Country Club. The honoree for 2012 was Malcolm Rogers, Ann & Graham Gund Director, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The rain stopped and the sun came out to produce a beautiful evening. The black-tie event began with Champaign and cocktails in the Library with background music provided by a concert cellist complements of a generous Member. Following drinks Members and guests (and the cellist) processed into the second floor ball room which was comfortably lighted by three working fireplaces and many candles.
Lewis Allen, a member of the Executive Committee of The Society, gave introductory remarks. He was followed by Charles Platt, President of The Society, who spoke briefly about the history of The Society and gave several examples of instances where The Society had provided Aid. After the first course, British Consul General, Dr. Phil Budden gave an amusing talk about Brits in Boston and his style and whit set the tone and left everyone smiling for the balance of the evening.
Following the main course of lamb, President Platt presented a beautiful certificate, done in calligraphic style, to Mr. Rogers who then gave brief acceptance remarks which showed him to be both grateful for the recognition but also humble about his significant contributions to the Boston community. He received a lengthy standing ovation and hearty congratulations from all in attendance.
This was a very enjoyable event, at a beautiful location with excellent attendance by members and guests. It is with great anticipation that we look forward to the next Award of Merit event in 2013. Note must be made that many members and several corporations, including British Airways, Land Rover and Fiduciary-Trust were generous sponsors helping to make this a successful event to continue the mission of The British Society.
The Annual Christmas Auction and Fundraising Event
On December 7th, British Consul General Dr. Phil Budden hosted the annual Christmas party. The event drew more than 60 supporters of The Society to the British Residence on Chestnut Street. Guests had the opportunity to bid on silent auction items, including a pair of round-trip tickets to London, donated by British Airways. The British American Business Council of New England (BABCNE) made a $1,000 donation from its own Christmas event, a show of support by another British organization supporting UK-New England links. Beacon Hill residents including Nan Bush Ellis were joined by Brian LeMay of the Bostonian Society, and Malcolm Rodgers of the Museum of Fine Arts.
The evening was covered by the Beacon Hill Times.
In total, the evening raised over $17,000. Dr. Budden said “The enthusiastic turnout by many friends and supporters of The British Society - especially our Beacon Hill friends and neighbors - on a rainy Wednesday was much appreciated.”
The War Memoir of (HRH) Wallis, Duchess of Windsor
On October 13, 200 there was a reception and author’s presentation by Katharine Auspitz at the Chilton Club. The War Memoir of (HRH) Wallis, Duchess of Windsor - Was it the greatest love story of the twentieth century or a bloodless coup? An historical novel with a basis in fact.
The memoir, apparently found in her former Paris home, is said to have been written in the Duchess's own hand. Though the Duchess is a highly unreliable narrator, Kate Auspitz, is a meticulous historian. Her twenty-six pages of footnotes ground the story firmly in published recollections of the major figures of the time. The plot rests on little known historic details that make Wallis's role in the events entirely plausible... The British edition, Wallis: My War was published last month by Quartet Books and featured at the Soho Literary Festival, London, September 23-25.
Kate Auspitz is a political historian, Fulbright fellow (Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford) and Harvard Ph.D. She was an Associate Professor in Social Studies, an interdisciplinary honors program, at Harvard College and taught also in the Political Science Department at Wellesley before leaving academia for practical politics. She now works on foreign policy, immigration, and refugee issues.
The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton – A Celebration
Wednesday, April 20th 2011 saw an early celebration of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, when members and guests of the Society gathered at the New England Historic Genealogical Society on Newbury Street.
No they weren’t there to inspect the Society’s archives, but to hear an entertaining and informative presentation by Chris Childs on the ancestry of Kate or Catherine as she was shortly to become known.
Chris has spent nearly six years researching Kate’s ancestry and his illustrated talk and book entitled The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton revealed to many a surprised guest that she was related to a variety of interesting historical and current figures, including George Washington who needs no introduction and Guy Ritchie who may be better known as Madonna’s ex husband.
Chris was gracious enough to sign copies of his book before the assembled guests enjoyed a wine and cheese reception. A cake bearing a crown and the names of the soon to be wed happy couple was cut and a grand time was had by all. Glasses were raised in a toast at the end of the evening to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who would celebrate her 85th birthday the next day.
To those of you who were able to attend, we certainly enjoyed seeing you and thank you for supporting our charity. Particular thanks to those of you who brought guests; we enjoyed meeting them and hope that we shall see them again at events in the future. In addition to sharing the pleasure of an enjoyable evening together, we raised funds to help us aid another of our deserving cases. As an added benefit, the Genealogical Society very kindly gave each guest a three day pass to use the library which contains the largest collection of British genealogical materials in the United States.
Lecture - Aspects of Life in the English Country House
In April the Society was pleased to present the second of two lectures by renowned leading architectural historian Curt DiCamillo. Mr DiCamillo is knowledgeable certainly, but also amusing and often slightly wicked. His illustrated lecture at the Union Club in Boston delighted an audience of over 40 for about an hour. Afterwards guests enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and cocktails and continued the discussion.