TAL Festival at Thame Museum

Programme – 2024

Tea-Coffee-Chocolate : How we fell in love with Caffeine

with Melanie King. Thursday 11th April : 7:30pm

Thursday 11th April : 7:30pm

Venue : Thame Museum

Live at the museum : £7

Livestream online : £5

Click here to buy tickets

Most people may not know that tea originated in China; coffee was allegedly discovered by a goat herder in Yemen, and chocolate plantations were cultivated in 400BC by the Olmecs in South America.

It wasn’t until the middle of the seventeenth century that these beverages were all imported to England for the first time.

However, strange tales and ‘fake news’ soon surrounded these exotic new beverages: pregnant mothers feared their babies would turn brown if they drank too much chocolate; tea was believed to make men ‘unfit to do their business’, and was blamed for women becoming unattractive. Men claimed tea-drinking caused women to become peevish with their husbands, whilst women felt hard done by in the bedroom if men drank coffee. On the other hand coffee was also recommended as protection against bubonic plague!

Melanie King spent months travelling alone through countries such as India, Nepal, Thailand, Australia, the United States and most of Europe.

After graduating with a degree in International Relations from Sussex University she worked for two years in Thailand, first with Hmong, Mien and Htin hill tribe refugees on the Laos border, then as a journalist for The Nation newspaper.

She studied for an MPhil at Oxford University; worked at The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House; and for the Institute for South and South-east Asian Studies in Brussels.

Chocolate… Chocolate… Chocolate…

Spoil yourself at our luxury chocolate pop-up store in the museum at 6:30pm on the evening of the talk

Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon – an unknown Victorian Heroine

with Jane Robinson. Friday 24th May : 7:30pm

Friday 24th May : 7:30pm

Venue : Thame Museum

Live at the museum : £7

Livestream online : £5

Click here to buy tickets

One of Victorian Britain’s most influential but forgotten women.
Artist, co-founder of Girton College, Cambridge, Cousin of Florence Nightingale, and friend of George Eliot, Rossetti and Gertrude Jekyll.

Born in 1827, Bodichon was the illegitimate child of a Norfolk parliamentarian, Liberal MP, her upbringing was unusually free; her education was encouraged. On reaching 21 years, her wealthy father settled on her a portfolio of investment that meant that she would forever be financially independent.

As a result she was able to study amongst other things, drawing at Bedford College, London; she became a renowned watercolourist, whose paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy. Her friends included Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 

It was Bodichon who opened the doors for more famous names to walk through. Her influence owed as much to who she was as to what she did: she became a prominent women’s rights activist; she campaigned for equal opportunity in the workplace, the law, the polling booth, at home; she co-founded the first university college for women; the first women’s suffrage society; was fervently against slavery and was a committed activist for human rights.

Her visionary view on mental health was ahead of its time. She challenged the status quo by suggesting that alcoholism might be a symptom of mental distress, rather than the proof of moral degradation.

Join renowned local author and social historian, 
Jane Robinson as she talks about her brilliant new book that shines a light on this remarkable woman.

Why has history not treated Bodichon with the respect she deserves?

Why has someone so fundamental to our social, cultural and political history been so side-lined?

John Crace – February 2024

TAL Festival 2024 got off to a splendidly anarchic start!! Our evening with the Guardian’s political sketch writer, John Crace was both funny and thought provoking. Playing to a full house with many more watching online, John and Steve looked back at the traumas of 2023 and forward to the election of 2024. IT was quite simply, enthralling.

The Thame Chronicles is one of several original creations from TAL Festival.

If you haven’t watched this amazing film starring Bruce Alexander with a supporting cast of amazing actors then you are missing a major treat

Never mind the omnibus Eastenders or Strictly or The Sound of Music or James Bond….

Get the family together, break out the popcorn, sit back and enjoy Thame at its very best.

Watch carefully – you might even see yourself!

It was huge fun and we hope you enjoy watching it as much as we did making it

Thank you for supporting TAL Festival