Iffley History Society in April

Our meeting on 21 April is The Vivien Greene Memorial Lecture for 2015.

Dr Kate Tiller

Dr Kate Tiller

Our distinguished speaker, Dr Kate Tiller, has been a great friend and source of encouragement to the Iffley History Society – right from days when the whole idea of a history society in the village was little more than a flicker of an idea for our founding chairman, John Perrott.
On this visit to Iffley she will be opening our minds about “The  Great War at Home” – looking at the experience of the home front in WW1 raising some themes and debates, and illustrating some sources. It promises to be a good complement to the talk which kicked off our season on the theme of Great Conflicts, which dealt with life in the ranks and  on the front for the men of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry. (Don’t forget the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum is a new local resource to visit.)


British recruitment poster from BBC website

British recruitment poster from BBC website



Sign in Charing Cross Road - one of the fascinating images on IWM's Home Front website

Sign over Charing Cross Road – one of the fascinating images on IWM’s Home Front website







By tradition, the annual Vivien Green Memorial Lecture concludes with a toast in memory of the Society’s benefactor.  Vivien had been a nine-year old Miss Dayrell-Browning when World War I broke out. One of her experiences survives in a curious way. In 1937, she had a vivid dream about “the oldest cat in Bristol,” which allegedly lived from 1862 to 1934.

The Bodleian published a facsimile later

The Bodleian published a facsimile later

From this dream, Vivien created an illustrated biography as a private 10th wedding anniversary gift for her husband, novelist Graham Greene.  (Unfortunately for them both, after marriage, he discovered he had “a character profoundly antagonistic to ordinary domestic life.”) This biography includes: “The other photograph was taken during the War and showed the grand-parents, the dog of the moment, and Methuselah [the cat’s nickname during this time of its life] standing in the porch with the five-hundred-weight crate of (I think) plum-stones which had been collected for the National Salvage Council.” This surely must be an image drawn from her own childhood experience.

As usual, the talk will start at 7.30pm in Iffley Church Hall. By tradition the VGM evening concludes with a toast to the memory of Vivien – long-term Iffley resident, founder Society member – and Society benefactor. For this reason, the door charge for visitors rises to £3.00.


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