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Home > ESU branches in England and Wales

Find out more about how you can support the development of oracy in your local area

Local to you

The English-Speaking Union was founded as a membership organisation, bringing together those who share a belief that better communication makes for better global understanding. Today, we have over 5,000 members in 36 regional branches across England and Wales who meet to socialise, gain new perspectives on the world and to help organise and raise funds for our educational work.

We are hugely grateful to our branches, which are central to the running of our Public Speaking and Performing Shakespeare competitions. Some also run their own, complementary, oracy programmes and many choose to sponsor local schools to take part in our Discover Debating programme or Discover Your Voice workshops.

To find out more about your local branch, please select the city/region nearest to you from the filter above.

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Branch events across the country

The speed and glamour of Concorde

Lunch and Talk, Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes

Captain Les Evans flew the Concorde for 4 years from 1999 to 2003. In this talk, he will share with us why the 'magnificent aircraft' was retired and how it captivated the world with its speed and glamour.

  • Time: 12.30 pm for 1.00 pm lunch, followed by the talk.
  • Cost: members £19; guests £22.
  • Venue: The Sharnbrook Hotel, Park Lane, Sharnbrook, Bedford, MK44 1LX
  • Further information: contact Brenda Alexander on or by telephoning 01234 881473.

English Law – a great English export?

Talk, Bristol & Somerset

A talk by Robert Bourns of TLT Solicitors.

  • Time: 7.45pm, refreshments available from 7.15pm
  • Cost: Members entrance £2; Guests and visitors £5
  • Venue: The Apostle room of Clifton Catholic Cathedral, BS8 3BX

Author Joan Ward discusses her book 'Living with Arabs'

Book talk, Epping & Essex

Joan started out with a commission in the RAF before starting a teaching career. Her last post before retirement was Head of English at the International Community School in Amman.  On her retirement in 2006 she remained in Jordan and spent many years living in Um Sayhoun with the Petra Bedouin. She has chronicled her experiences in her book “Living with Arabs” and she will share her experiences with us this morning.

  • Time: 10.15 am  (when coffee/tea is served).  The talks then  take place from approx. 10.45 am to approx. 11.45 am.
  • Further details:  please call 020 8505 9001

Spring lunch at the Cricketers at Clavering

Lunch and Talk, Epping & Essex

By way of a change this year our Spring Lunch will involve a coach drive into the country and it is open to members and friends.  Because of the need for a coach, the outing will be relatively expensive at £52 to include the coach and a three course lunch with a glass of wine.

  • Time: 12pm
  • Cost: £52
  • Venue: The Cricketers at Clavering
  • Further details:  please call 020 8505 9001

The Origins of the ESU and Anglo-American Relations

Lunch and talk , Norwich & Norfolk

Professor James Raven will be joining us to give a talk on ‘The Origins of the ESU and Anglo-American Relations’.

  • Time: 12.00pm
  • Cost: £18
  • Venue: Park Farm Hotel and Leisure, Hethersett, Norwich, NR9 3DL
  • Further information: Bookings for lunch to be notified to the secretary on 01693 45661 by Wed 13th March.

The criminal conversation of Caroline Norton

Lunch and Talk, Devon & Exeter

Diane Atkinson taught history, was a lecturer and curator of the Museum of London, specialising in women’s history on which she is the author of several books. In this talk she will discuss the extraordinary events featured in her book ‘The Criminal Conversation of Caroline Norton’ which were part of the move to improve the legal and social position of women.

  • Time: 12:30pm
  • Cost: Members £24.00 and guests £26.00
  • Venue: Exeter Golf & Country Club
  • Further information: Tim Pink on

Bristol and the legacy of the slave trade

Talk, Bristol & Somerset

A talk by Dr. Madge Dresser, Honorary Professor of Historical Studies, University of Bristol.

  • Time: 7.45pm, refreshments available from 7.15pm
  • Cost: Members entrance £2, guests and visitors £5
  • Venue: The Apostle room of Clifton Catholic Cathedral, BS8 3BX

A religious history of London by Philppa Bernard

Talk, London

Philippa Bernard has lived most of her life in London. For many years, she and her husband had an antiquarian bookshop in Chelsea, a mecca for book collectors across the world. She has written several books on religious themes and a biography of the poet Kathleen Raine, and lectures on historical subjects for groups such as the National Trust and U3A. She is a member of the Society of Authors.

  • Time: Wine and canapés 6.30pm, talk at 7pm
  • Cost: £20 per member £25 per guest
  • Further information: Jane Reid -

My great pleasures

Lunch and Talk, Devon & Exeter

British actor, Michael Wade has worked in theatre and films in the UK and overseas. He has appeared in film and television in such favourites as ‘A Man for All Seasons’, ‘A Dance with the Music of Time’ and ‘Brighton Belles'. He has worked with Antony Hopkins, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Stephens and many other world stars. He has recorded over 40 audio books reflecting his love of the English language. He will recite and read some of his favourite pieces and explain his connection with them.

The restoration and preservation of historic buildings

Lunch and Talk, Devon & Exeter

Buildings Rodney Melville is an architect who specialises in the important work of conservation of historic buildings. He has consulted on some of the most significant buildings in the country including Chequers which has its origins in the 16th century and was given to the nation in 1921 as a country home for the Prime Minister of the day. Rodney will speak about the importance of maintaining such buildings and specifically about his work as Curator of Chequers and a member of the Chequers Trust.

AGM followed by ‘Women and Leadership’

AGM and Talk, Bristol & Somerset

Annual General Meeting followed by ‘Women and Leadership’ talk by Ms Jo Butler, Headteacher, Cotham School.

  • Time: 7.15pm
  • Cost: Members entrance £2; Guests and visitors £5
  • Venue: The Apostle room of Clifton Catholic Cathedral, BS8 3BX

Lincolnshire branch AGM

AGM, Lincoln & Lincolnshire

Branch members are encouraged to join us for our AGM.

  • Date: Wednesday 3rd July 2019
  • Time: 6pm
  • Location: Mansions of the Future, 15-16 St Mary’s Street, Lincoln N5 7EQ.

Bristol branch: Summer party

Bristol & Somerset

Join us and enjoy some summertime drinks in the sunshine.

  • Time: 6-8pm
  • Cost:  £5 at the door
  • Venue: 29 Mariners Drive, BS9 1QG

Voice in a foreign language born in Belgrade

Lunch and Talk, Devon & Exeter

Vesna Goldsworthy is the Professor of Creative Writing at both the Universities of Exeter and East Anglia. Vesna is a poet, novelist and a memoirist and is best known for her book ‘Chernobyl Strawberries’. Vesna will discuss her background and the subtleties of understanding and being understood , in both language and manner when adopting to a foreign country and how she now feels that England is ‘home’.

  • Cost: Members £24.00 and guests £26.00
  • Venue: Exeter Golf & Country Club
  • Contact: Tim Pink on

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