Welcome to the Guildford Classical Association. This site is intended to publicise forthcoming events and deliver other news to our Classicist friends. You can also contact the association using the “Contact” page above.

Anyone is welcome to attend our public events, and to join the association for our newsletters, network and free entry to all our events.


GCA Schools Talk, 13 October 2020

On Tuesday 13th October the GCA hosted our second virtual session, a brilliant and captivating talk from Caroline Lawrence, author of the much-loved Roman Mysteries series of novels, amongst other titles.

Caroline enthralled our audience, first with an insight into the origins of her desire to be a writer and the inspiration she found in Mary Renault, and later into the elements, both literal and conceptual, that make her characters, and other characters throughout literature and film, so fascinating. It was entertaining to see so many of our favourite stories from mythology and popular culture broken down into just seven ‘Plot Beats’ and the way our audience had engaged with Caroline so enthusiastically was borne out in the thought-provoking and wide-ranging question and answer session at the end.

We would like to extend our thanks again to Caroline for enriching our evenings and just as Nancy Drew was such an inspiration in Caroline’s childhood, we feel sure that Caroline’s Flavia will now become an empowering role-model to even more young readers after tuning in to such a wonderful talk. 

GCA welcomes its new President, Prof. Llewelyn Morgan

We are delighted to welcome Professor Llewelyn Morgan, Brasenose College, Oxford, as President of the Guildford Classical Association.

Prof. Morgan was already well known to the GCA, having delivered the 2019 Summer Talk, Aeneas in Italy: both Hero and Villain? and starred in The Latin Qvarter’s production of The Song of Arms and a Man, hosted by the GCA at Charterhouse in October 2019 (see earlier posts).

His first appearance as President was as MC and questionmaster at the GCA’s first virtual meeting, with Natalie Haynes on Pandora’s Jar – women in myths, stories and legends, and we look forward to welcoming him at many other GCA events.

Opening Party 2020, with Natalie Haynes

The GCA’s first ever virtual meeting proved to be very popular and was a great success, thanks to a brilliantly engaging performance by Natalie Haynes, whose knowledge and enthusiasm shone throughout a talk that was, as anyone who has heard Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics on Radio 4 would have expected, both informative and entertaining.

The GCA’s new President, Prof. Llewelyn Morgan, who has appeared with Natalie in several of her radio programmes, conducted a lively Q&A session, including a selection of the questions submitted by the webinar’s large audience.

Natalie’s talk focussed on Medusa and (at a request from the audience) Medea, and offered her own fresh and thought-provoking take on these characters from myth. Many more women from myth and legend are featured in Natalie’s new book Pandora’s Jar.

Coronavirus: resumption of GCA programme

We are pleased to announce that, although we have had to cancel our programme of physical meetings until further notice, we are able to resume activities online, and will be staging as much of the usual programme as possible in the 2020/21 season.

We begin the season with our usual September Opening Party, but this time as a webinar. We apologise to anyone who finds themself unable to use this format, but hope that it will enable many others who would not have been able to get to Guildford for a live event to join us.

We will post further information as the season proceeds.

Classical Reading Competition 2020

It was the turn of Charterhouse this time to host our annual Reading Competition on March 12th. Although overall numbers were slightly down this year, we heard a good balance of candidates in each of the eight Sections. The passages chosen for the different age groups (Years 6 – 13) reflect the length of time the students have been learning Latin or Greek;  there is a  short play and lively dialogues for the junior classes, and solos from Greek and Latin literature for senior candidates.

Our experienced judges give up their time each year to share with us their expertise and encourage the students to improve their pronunciation and expression:  theirs is not an easy task to judge between the good and the outstanding. This year the standard was very high and competition fierce. We are especially grateful to Miss Sarah Parnaby and Mr Jeremy Antrich who worked exceptionally hard to compensate for the absences of two colleagues through illness.

We congratulate all the candidates who practised diligently with their teachers to give a polished performance, in recognition of which everyone received a certificate – a smart new design for 2020. The very best received a substantial book token as a prize, and we extend our thanks to the Classical Association for their financial support in making this possible.

We also thank our hosts, Charterhouse, for making rooms available to us and for the provision of very welcome refreshments at half-time. We had a great afternoon!


Some of the winners of the 2020 Classical Reading Competition

GCSE Conference 2020

We held our annual GCSE Latin Conference on Thursday, January 16th at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford. This proved a satisfactory venue and, despite some problems with the sound system, most people could hear the speakers without difficulty. Talks started at 2pm and continued till about 4.30 with a refreshment break between the two. Five schools attended (one for the Virgil lecture only – selected lines from Aeneid 2.) Total student numbers were over 70 with about a dozen accompanying staff.

Our speakers were both from Nottingham University: Professor Helen Lovatt on Aeneid 2 and Dr Simon Malloch on Tacitus’ Germanicus and Piso and Pliny’s Regulus. Professor Lovatt used an informal style – moving among students and asking them questions, whereas Dr Malloch spoke from the lectern. The students engaged with both and asked relevant questions.

Our Secretary and Treasurer took our speakers to lunch before the meeting and refreshments were provided for all during the interval. My thanks go to our Membership Secretary, Marian Wernham, for helping organise this event.

Glenda Sewell.

Schools Talk, Tuesday 12 November 2019

Ben Kane on the Second Punic War

We were very excited to welcome top-selling author Ben Kane to speak to our local students and GCA members about Hannibal last Tuesday. We had heard that Ben was not only a brilliant writer but also a charismatic speaker, and he did not disappoint. He gave his talk dressed as a hastatus (front-line Roman soldier) and brought replica Roman military equipment with him for the audience to see and try on. The students were fascinated to hear what minor players the Romans were at the start of the first Punic War and spellbound by Ben’s descriptions of Hannibal’s campaigns. Ben in turn was impressed by the number of thoughtful and intelligent questions at the end.

The talk was over all too soon, and the audience were left impressed by the depth and breadth of Ben’s knowledge.

The GCA is extremely grateful to Mr Andrew James and the Classics Department at Guildford High School for hosting this event and to the caterers for the excellent tea.

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Opening Party, 24 September 2019

Professor Emeritus Chris Carey on Thermopylae revisited

For the talk at our 2019-20 Opening Party we were delighted to welcome back Professor Emeritus Chris Carey from UCL. Professor Carey specialises in Greek literature, especially early Greek  poetry, oratory and drama, and gave us a very interesting  lecture on  Thermopylae, the subject of his recently published work ‘Thermopylae: Great Battles’.

Prof Carey provided insights into the battle through readings from Herodotus, Pausanias and Plutarch. He brought the history to life and drew in the audience with his own fascination in the retelling of the great battle between the Greeks and the Persians. His illustrations of the Hot Gates and the Isthmian corridor allowed the audience to see the past in a modern context whilst analysis of the geological and geographical implications of the battle gave him the opportunity to establish the intentions of the fighting for both sides. As Professor Carey admits, there remain lots of interesting problems with Thermopylae; nevertheless, he provided us with a clear perspective on one of the most important battles in history.  The talk was well-attended both by Guildford Classical Association members andby staff and students,  and the many questions at the end showed how interesting they had found the talk.

We are, as ever, grateful to RGS Guildford for providing the venue and refreshments, and our thanks go to Mr Ed Bush and the Classics staff for making the arrangements and hosting the event.

September 2019 Newsletter

Guildford Classical Association                                                                 

September 2019

Dear Members and Colleagues,

I trust that you have all had a relaxing and enjoyable summer. The summer term, once again, was a busy one for the GCA. Professor Llewelyn Morgan delivered our annual May Talk at Guildford High School on the topic of Aeneas in Italy. Llewelyn’s enthusiasm both delighted and inspired the audience with his interpretation of Aeneas in Virgil’s Roman epic. During this time we also hosted the Certamen, at RGS. Great fun was had by both staff and students at this established annual event. Congratulations go to the teams from Epsom College and RGS for winning the finals. In July, the Committee reassembled at the AGM at the Horse and Groom in Merrow. We said farewell to Ian Peel, Chairman of the GCA for three years, who also gave us an interesting talk on ‘How realistic is The Iliad?’.

It gives me great pleasure to enclose this year’s programme card. These events aim to support, enrich and complement our teaching as well as the learning of students. At the Opening Party, Tuesday 24 September at RGS Guildford 7.30 for 8.00pm, Emeritus Prof Chris Carey, UCL, will be talking on Thermopylae revisited. This promises to be a superb talk for which I am sure Chris will draw many references from his newly published book Thermopylae, in the Great Battles series.

On Saturday 5 October 7-9pm at Charterhouse, Godalming, we are hosting a performance of ‘The Song of Arms and a Man’, the Latin Qvarter’s adaptation of Virgil’s classic and ever more contemporary story of a refugee leading his people from the East, performed both in Latin and English. This is a unique and valuable experience for anyone who is studying Virgil’s Aeneid, or indeed has done so in the past. Concessions are available to GCA members, students and school groups. We have arranged for a shuttle bus service from Godalming Station prior to the performance for those arriving by public transport. If members have real difficulty getting to Godalming but wish to attend, please contact Marian at marian.gca@btinternet.com or 01483 760133, who will endeavour to arrange lift-sharing. For further details, email guildfordca.office@gmail.com or phone 01252 875940.

This term’s Teach Meet is hosted by the Classics Department at Tormead School, Cranley Road GU1 2JD, Wednesday 6 November, 5.30pm for 6pm and will focus on the Classical Civilisation GCSE. Please email smichalopoulou@tormeadschool.org.uk if you are interested in coming.

Our Schools Talk this year will be held on Tuesday 12th November at Guildford High School, 4.30 for 5pm where the author Ben Kane will be talking on Hannibal. This is also suitable for older students as well as adult members, who are welcome to attend, as Ben’s books are aimed at the top end of the normal age-range for this talk, up to adults.

Looking forward to next year, please note the date of Thursday 16 January for our GCSE Conference, Holy Trinity Church, Guildford, GU1 3RR. We are delighted to welcome Prof Helen Lovatt and Dr Simon Malloch, both from the University of Nottingham. Prof Lovatt will speak on the selected lines from Virgil’s Aeneid Book 2 and Dr Malloch on Tacitus: Germanicus and Piso and Pliny: Regulus from the Cambridge Latin Anthology. Further details on this are including in the mailing.

We will be sending out by half term the details and entry forms for our Latin and Greek Reading Competition, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday 12 March at Charterhouse, Godalming, GU7 2DX.

Please visit our website, https://guildfordca.wordpress.com/, and follow us on Twitter @GCAClassics for our programme and reports on events as well as regular updates. We hope that all the above continue to promote and celebrate the Classics.

I look forward to seeing you at as many of these events as possible. Please do communicate your views on them to me or any committee members (contact details on the programme card and online).

Yours sincerely, with very best wishes,

Stefanie Michalopoulou

Acting Chairman