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Marriages Are Made in Bond Street: True Stories from a 1940s Marriage Bureau
Thursday, 16th November
St Peter's Church
North Street, Oundle, PE8 4AL
£8 standard/ £6 concession
(£1 off early bird tickets bought before 9th November)
In the spring of 1939, with the Second World War looming, two determined twenty-four-year-olds, Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver, decided to open a marriage bureau. They found a tiny office on London's Bond Street and set about the delicate business of match-making. From shop girls to debutantes; widowers to war veterans, clients came in search of security, social acceptance, or simply love.
The social history described in this wonderful book is fascinating, especially given the timing of the bureau’s start, just before the outbreak of war. Changing morals and a sense of carpe diem during the conflict added urgency and forthrightness to the proceedings. Results could be scarily quick - one couple met on Wednesday and were married on Friday - and over the course of the war the enterprise clocked up more than 2,000 weddings.
Drawing on the bureau's extensive archives, Penrose Halson tells Heather and Mary’s story, and those of their clients. All were desperately longing to find 'The One', and thanks to the Marriage Bureau, they almost always did just that.
Robert Winder, The Last Wolf
Saturday, 2nd December, 7:45pm
St Peter's Church, Oundle, PE8 4AL
What sort of a place is England? And who are the English? As the United Kingdom turns away from its European neighbours, and begins to look increasingly disunited at home, it is becoming necessary to ask what England has that is singular and its own.
In 1290 a Shropshire knight named Peter Corbet killed the last wolf in England’s western shires. The impact was immediate and profound: England became a vast and wealthy sheep farm, landholding on a grand scale became possible, commercial life was transformed, and a recognizable national culture began to emerge.
Revisiting the themes of his seminal book about immigration in Britain, Bloody Foreigners, Robert Winder’s The Last Wolf travels across modern England, looking deeper into history and nature to explore the origins of modern England and Englishness. It is often assumed that a national identity must be a matter of values and ideas but, in this brilliantly written account, Winder reveals a land built on a lucky set of natural ingredients.
Robert Winder was literary editor of the Independent for five years. His works of nonfiction include Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain and The Little Wonder: The Remarkable Story of Wisden