Letter from the Chair

Welcome to The Arts Society, High Weald (previously known as High Weald Decorative and Fine Arts Society). We are one of many such societies all over the UK and in many other parts of the world.

I am going to tell you about what we usually do, but please note that under current Government guidelines, we are unable to meet up.  Our Society is known for its friendliness and we have been keeping in contact with our members via a regular Newsletter, informing them about online lectures and a myriad of other arts related topics.  We are planning to try a lecture online, via Zoom, ourselves, when we restart in September 2020.

Under ‘normal’ conditions, we meet monthly, usually on the 4th Tuesday in the month, to hear illustrated lectures about an amazing variety of subjects, all to do with the arts, and that includes painting, architecture, sculpture, music, photography, jewellery, costume, posters …. I could go on, but just look at Lectures on the Events page and you’ll see what I mean.  Before the lecture we have coffee together when we meet old friends and get to know new ones.

As well as the lectures, we have Special Interest Days to learn more about a chosen subject and these have covered a vast array of topics which can be studied in greater detail as we dedicate a whole day to the event. We go to the theatre, where as a group we can get excellent reductions on ticket prices, and we also go on outings, sometimes to explore different parts of London, or to visit great houses, closer at hand, such as Parham House, Chevening, Kenwood House, or gardens, like the Secret Garden in Sandwich.

We have even been on holiday tours, usually with a knowledgeable guide, to Berlin, to Malta, to explore the Palladian houses in the Veneto, to visit the Irish Georgian houses around Dublin, to Puglia and more recently to Sicily, Crete and Uzbekistan.

All of this needs a committee to organise it, and you will meet us all at the Tuesday meetings. Rachel Hay copes with all the aspects of membership, so you will see her smiley face as you walk in the door at Benenden Village Hall. She is also our Vice-Chairman. Jill Craig is our new Secretary and the hub of communications. Paula Bolton has the responsibility for choosing the lecturers and subjects for each meeting, and will be interested in your impressions. Sheenagh Nicholson has taken over the organisation of Special Interest Days. Judith Marks manages the Day Visits and will always welcome suggestions for future visits. And I’m afraid you can’t avoid me, the chair, because I introduce the speakers and make announcements and give notice of forthcoming events.

I do hope that I have tempted you to find out more about The Arts Society High Weald, and eventually to join our waiting list. Come as a guest, even before you join the waiting list. You will always be very welcome.

Benenden Cricket Green and Village Sign

Benenden Cricket Green and Village Sign

Benenden Village Hall where we meet is spacious and comfortable with good parking and it also has disabled access and a hearing loop.  There is a lovely pub next door for lunch after the lectures.We hold meetings on a Tuesday, usually the 4th Tuesday of each month with a break in July and August, starting again in September.  We have helpful members who provide coffee and biscuits from 10.15 am to 10.30 am. Notices are announced at 10.40 am and the actual meeting starts at 10.45 am ending at noon.  We pride ourselves on having excellent speakers and full digital presentations. We are also fortunate in having the invaluable help of Bruce Gear who deals with all aspects of hall arrangement and presentation.

In our charitable status we support “The Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust”, which is very special in this area and Cranbrook Museum.  “Young Arts”, projects are also organised and subsidised under the supervision of  Paul Chapman.  Recent donations have been to schools carrying out Mosaics to decorate the school, the Peasmarsh Music Festival that enabled children from different schools to create music and lyrics and then perform it with a full orchestra before an invited audience.

Jacqueline Schalburg (Chair)


The Arts Society High Weald has 305 members drawn from a wide rural catchment area.  Annual subscriptions are currently £35.00 per person and £65.00 for a couple, payable by standing order on 1st November for the following year.  Members are also invited to complete a Gift Aid form.

Each member is entitled to apply to bring a guest three times per year to lectures, booked in advance with the membership secretary.  There is a small charge of £6.00 for guests.  Although we try to accommodate as many guests as the venue will allow, we do have to limit the number of guests if the lecture is likely to be very popular.

In addition we have a waiting list, currently of about 34 applicants. It takes approximately 2 years based on current resignations, to become a full member. There is, however, plenty to enjoy while you are waiting as you are welcome to attend three lectures a year until you become a full member.  You may also attend as a guest of an existing member, for another three lectures annually, and of course you are generally invited to join tours, outings and special interest days.

Committee members are available at each meeting to answer any questions and to ensure new members are introduced to others and feel a full and valued part of the society.

Rachel Hay

Membership Secretary