The Friends of Ness Gardens Lecture Series
Our popular and informative Sunday lecture series, which have
been running since 1971, are aimed at anyone and everyone with an
interest in natural history and horticulture. Lectures are
delivered by a diverse range of professional guest lecturers.
Lectures take place roughly every two weeks (Spring and
Autumn) in the Lecture Theatre at the Horsfall Rushby Visitor
Centre here at Ness, start at 2.30 pm and normally last
50 to 60 minutes. Admission is free.
Please check the website for updates on the current Lecture
History of the Ness Lecture Series
The first lecture was held in 1971/72 in the Old Reading Room,
and subsequently twice and then three times a year, and combined
with the tour of the gardens. The first lecture was given by Mr
H.H. Davidian, the Rhododendron authority from Edinburgh.
The Old Reading Room was doubled in size in 1973/74 to
accommodate the increasing number of members attending the
lectures, but eventually one popular speaker, Tony Schilling (then
Curator of the Kew Annex at Wakehurst), had to give his lecture
three times, on the Friday evening, Saturday morning and afternoon.
This was the stimulus for the building in 1980/81 of a lecture
theatre which became part of the Visitor Centre.
At some point fairly soon after this the frequency of the winter
lectures was increased, partly to reduce the numbers attending each
lecture which sometimes overfilled even the new Lecture Theatre.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s there were lectures every
Sunday from about mid-October to March with a gap around Christmas
with Ness staff (Ken Hulme, Peter Cunnington , Paul Matthews and
Hugh McAllister) each giving 2-3 talks per year, but also with many
The lectures have been running in their current fortnightly form