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esolC egdirevoL 53
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Cercle Français de Winchester: A Brief History
The first ever meeting of the then Alliance Française de Winchester was held in St. Paul's Church Hall on Tuesday, July 8th, 1941 and the speaker was Capitaine Barlone of the Free French Forces, who "gave an admirable and moving account of the war from the point of view of a French soldier, an account based on his own experiences" (Hampshire Chronicle, July 12th, 1941).
Following the success of this first meeting it was decided to inaugurate a season of talks, beginning on Tuesday, October 7th, 1941.
In these early days, when France was a defeated and occupied country, many of the speakers were members of the Free French Forces and their talks had patriotic and morale-boosting titles, such as "France has lost a battle, but not the war" and "How France is resisting". Indeed, as the war progressed the Alliance received first-hand accounts of the physical and psychological damage which was being wreaked upon the French people.
Emphasis was placed on hope for the future, however, and eventually, by 1945, the speakers could talk about victories, such as the Battle of Normandy, which was graphically described by Professor Contamine of the University of Caen, whilst a talk by Mlle. Anne Marie Bauer of the French Resistance about her two-year internment in Ravensbruck concentration camp had the immediacy then that a talk by a released conflict hostage would have today.
The yearly subscription was eight shillings and sixpence in 1941 but it was reduced to five shillings in 1942 because of the problem in getting speakers to come to Winchester owing to "difficulties of travel, especially in trains to and from London". Plus ça change!
Not all the meetings were devoted to political themes; there were musical recitals, "lantern lectures" on French art and architecture, an exhibition of rare French books and manuscripts, and tea-time "get-togethers" for French conversation at the Cadena Café and Cercle Français de Winchester, as it is now known, continues this tradition of fostering an understanding of historical and contemporary French themes
The Committee of the Cercle Français de Winchester develops a considered programme of meetings and lectures to run between September and July. It is designed to appeal to a wide range of interests.
Please click the following links to look back at our previous schedules and the subjects covered.
Programme 2017 - 2018
Programme 2016 - 2017
Programme 2015 - 2016
Programme 2014 - 2015
Programme 2013 - 2014
(documents open in a new window)