How did it all begin?
The origins of Greyfriars go back to the late sixties when Margaret Turner, who is now our Life President, held a series of musical events in her own home. These evenings grew in popularity to such an extent that providing hospitality for fifty people squeezing themselves into Margaret's home became unsustainable. It was also apparent that as interest in the activities increased, there was too much for one person to organise, and so in 1969 a committee was formed, a constitution drawn up and 'Greyfriars' was born.
The name 'Greyfriars' was chosen because it was the Greyfriars monks in Coventry who were the most learned and cultured. It also seemed fitting that Greyfriars Green the location of their monastery was close to where those early meetings took place.
In the early seventies, before the establishment of Warwick University Arts Centre, Greyfriars was active in organising musical events including two very successful weekend musical festivals.
As the membership grew, so the programme of events expanded to include others of more general interest and also social activities. Before long, Greyfriars was putting on the regular programme of varied events which is what still attracts members and visitors today:talks, outings, theatre visits, walks, quizzes, meals out and socials. Past activities have also included weekend trips away, and holidays both in the UK and Europe.
The mainstay of the programme has long been the Friday evening talks, and this remains so today. These have covered every conceivable subject from archaeology to Australia and from flowers to funerals. There have been illustrated talks on history, art, music, wildlife and travel – often by visiting speakers, but also drawing on the varied experiences of our members.
Over the years, Greyfriars has met at a number of different venues including the Belgrade Theatre, Elm Bank Teachers' Centre and the Charterhouse on London Road. In July 1993, we moved to our current meeting place at the Unitarian Church Hall – The Great Meeting House – in Holyhead Road.
However, venues and subject matter apart, Greyfriars has always been, and even today, is still primarily about people: the members attending events, organising events or just socialising, the speakers who invariably comment on the lively response they get at 'Greyfriars', visitors who are drawn in by the atmosphere to become members, and the committee with their dedicated input of effort in a wide variety of ways. We have many long standing members and even some who were present at the birth of 'Greyfriars' back in 1969 continuing to make valuable contributions to the society.
We currently have over 130 members with around 50 members regularly attending on Friday evenings and with many more topics still to explore and enjoy, the future for Greyfriars remains very positive!