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AGM: Chairwoman's Letter, 2023

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

At our 2023 AGM in November, Dr Clare Hornsby, Chairwoman of The Walpole Society, gave her report of the Society's activities over the past year:

My first chairwoman’s report covers the financial year March 2022 - March 2023 and has been drafted at the end of the academic year in order to include more news of developments that have occurred. On November 1st 2022, Antony Griffths chaired his last meeting of the Walpole Society. The Committee and President thanked Antony most warmly for his commitment to the Society and his tireless work as chairman over the last 9 years. The process of handing over the reins was made much easier by his generous sharing of his time and his experience with me; all of us on the Committee and indeed the Society in general owe him a considerable debt of thanks. At the end of 2022, the Treasurer Elizabeth Fullerton-Rome stood down and we are fortunate that Lawrence Hendra, Director at Philip Mould Ltd. joined us soon afterwards and has handled the steep learning curve with confidence. We are delighted to have Lawrence on board. At the end of March our long-standing membership Secretary Paul Celerier, who, with the assistance of his wife Jo managed the subscriptions and handled accounts, retired. Their work has now been divided between Lawrence Hendra and Richard Stephens who now has the title of Editor and Hon. Secretary.

The publication of Martin Myrone’s outstanding volume (vol 84) was late due partly to its size and also the editor’s availability. We undertook a new initiative to sell some copies of this volume in dust jackets exclusively at the London art bookshop Thomas Heneage. Volume 85 which is the correspondence of the Earl Bishop by Peter Fox is scheduled to arrive with members in early 2024 and will be edited by Will Aslet and from vol 86 onwards editing duties will be divided between Richard Stephens and Gillian Forrester. By the end of March, a newly designed website was live, with functionality for people to join the Society online in a few minutes. At the time of writing, we have welcomed 20 new members since the website’s launch. Thanks are due to Richard Stephens for this excellent redesign and for all the technical expertise involved in setting up what is now a multi-functional platform for members and non-members alike. Connected to this development, a new GDPR policy has been drafted and adopted to suit all levels of interaction with the website and the Society; the policy is available to view on the site. We have undertaken a professional scanning of past volumes and these are now accessible to members via the website. As part of the development of smooth and more functional systems, we made a successful push to obtain all members’ email addresses. We will predominantly be using email from now on as it

is cheaper and more convenient than post.

We have implemented the first price rise since 2008; this is a modest increase that reflects rising costs and which will ensure the Society remains able to publish important research in the longer term. The new subscription pricing comes into effect for existing members at the beginning of 2024 and all members are being contacted directly by email and letter to alert them to this and to encourage them to switch to Direct Debit payments which are much easier for us to manage.

The Committee has agreed that all contributions to the Walpole Society’s volumes will now go through a formal peer review process; this makes it possible for contributing authors in university posts to include their contributions as part of their submission to the university Research Excellence Framework. This makes publishing with the Walpole Society more attractive to early and mid-career academics.

As part of our outreach initiatives, we have started to give away copies of old volumes to various specialist libraries to enable them to complete or enhance their runs: RIBA, RA, NAL, Tate, NPG have so far taken up this offer. A new initiative is the institution of an annual drinks party, whose focus is to recruit new members. The 2023 event will be held on November 15th 2023 at Brooks’s club in

London; a Save the Date has already gone out to members and invitations will follow.

Dr Martin Postle, Dr Danielle Thom and Dr Oliver Cox who are standing down will be replaced as Trustees at the next committee meeting and AGM which will take place in London on November 7th 2023 by Dr Giles Mandelbrote, Dr Christina Faraday and Professor Alexander Marr.

It has been a very busy and exciting year for the Society; none of these developments would have been possible without the commitment and support of the members of the Executive Committee. I am delighted that a close working relationship between the officers of the Society has enabled these changes to be put into effect at pace and I look forward to a phase of growth for the Walpole Society.

To read the Society's 2023 Annual Report and Accounts, click here.


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