Dr. Francis Burroughes, B.E.M.

Lecturer and after-Dinner Speaker, for W.Is., Rotary & Round Tables, U3As., and special interest groups and societies.

"Undoubtedly the best speaker we have had this year."

"Your talk was so funny, and we have learnt such a lot. Please come again."

"My Committee insists that I book you again next year. Please say you are available."

“He kept over 600 members at our W.I. County Meeting spell-bound for an extra hour when he filled in for a speaker who failed to arrive on time. Unhesitatingly recommended!”

"He was wonderful! He held the room beautifully. The bonus/surprise was that he played Jerusalem for us at the end which we all sang with gusto!”

"Thank you so much for giving us such a fascinating talk – so informative and so beautifully delivered. I think you could tell how much you were appreciated."

Francis has many years experience as a public speaker, and has been honoured for his work in the Local Community and for Charities.

He is always complimented on the fact that he is clearly heard at the back of a large hall, even without a microphone! Contact him for a talk or lecture for your Club or Society.  He is often able to help at short notice, particularly during the day, if your speaker has to cancel at the very last minute! 

Below you will find the current list of Talks, and suggested Fees. Also, at the end you will find web-sites where other speakers may be able to help you in an emergency.

Visit the Juvenile Drama page for news about an exciting and unique experience for your Club or Society!

Zoom, Youtube, and Video Talks.
During the Coronavirus epidemic, when Clubs had to cancel meetings, many of them met by Zoom. My talks can still be made available via Zoom or Video links for those Clubs who would find this useful. Please ask for details if this would be of interest to you.

Sunnybank, Alvington,  Yeovil. BA22 8TH.
tel:   07730 526 166

e-mail:  francis@burroughes.uk

These are the talks I am offering in 2024/2025;

A Gala Night

at the Opera!

A 'Juvenile Drama' performance of an Opera, given with recordings of a full professional cast and orchestra, for your Club or Society, presented as it would have been in early Victorian times.

This memorable and very special evening will be the highlight of your programme, and one which your members will be talking about for weeks afterwards.

Go to the 'Juvenile Drama' page of this website for details and reviews of this exciting and unusual attraction.  


The Wonderful World of Glass. This remains the most popular of Francis’s talks. From his own collection, he brings historic and valuable items of glass for members to examine for themselves, to illustrate the history of Glass-making from 3,000 B.C. to the present day. Francis is an acknowledged expert, and often asked to lend pieces and speak about them for various television antique programmes.

The Golden Age of Glass. The follow-on from the previous talk, which takes the story of English Glass through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when Britain led the wor;ld in the production of high-quality and extraordinarily inventive and colourful glassware. Again, illustrated with superb museum-quality pieces from his own collection. 


Albert, Wallace the Lion, and Noah. Stanley Holloway was a much loved commedian and actor. Among his famous monologues was the tragic story of Albert and the Lion. The monologues were written by Marriot Edgar, who also worked as a screen playwright in Hollywood. Here is his fascinating story, with performaces of some of the funniest monologues in true Stanley Holloway style.

Can You Play Jerusalem for Us? Francis has spoken to many hundreds of Clubs and Societies, and the Ladies of the W.I. across the West Country. Most of the meetings have been memorable for the welcome and hospitality he has received. However . . . sometimes the unexpected happens. Here are some of the funniest moments from the life of a speaker ‘on the W.I. circuit’. He promises strict anonymity, but you may recognise a Club near you!

Seated One Day at the Organ. . . For sixty years Francis has been organist in churches ranging in size from those seating over 2000 to tiny village churches seating only two or three dozen. Weddings and Funerals are among the hazards for the unsuspecting organist, and that’s before we get onto the subject of choirboys and clergymen! Here is the real low-down on the view from the organ bench, and may feature a church near you.

Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage. Francis has produced or conducted over two hundred Amateur Operatic productions, and not all the drama happens on stage. This talk stars an orange wig, a donkey, and a fire siren, among other guest appearances. Illustrated with slides.

​History and Gardening.

A Victorian Head Gardener. Francis’ father started his career in Horticulture as a gardener’s boy on a large estate before the First World War. Hear about the life on a Victorian Country estate, which has now entirely vanished. Learn how to mow a lawn properly, with a horse-drawn mower, how to grow grapes, and why William Robinson’s butler served his master a pear on a silver tray. Also discover why the Ministry for War issued thousands of stirrup pumps in the Second World War​

Illegal Immigrants.
Have you ever wondered where our garden plants come from? Here is the fascinating story of how many of our favourite garden flowers and vegetables arrived in this country. This talk will be of interest to W.Is., Gardening Clubs, or anyone interested in the history behind their own back garden. Illustrated with slides.

The Historic Front Garden.
From the Castles built by the nobility in the Middle Ages to the 1930s ‘Semi’, the Front Garden has always provided an arena for display and eccentricity. Here is a celebration of some of the most memorable and stunning examples of English gardening, some extremely grand, and some ‘pocket handkerchief’, showing style and originality. Illustrated with slides.

Tales from the Potting Shed. A literary trip through the garden,as seen by poets through the ages, but also with some useful tips from gardeners and some funny stories. This is a talk which will interest and amuse all those who try to be better and more patient gardeners in their daily struggle with slugs, bindweed, and the neighbour’s cat.

General Subjects.

 In the Mood, or Dancing through a War. The story of my mother, an Army Nurse before and during the Second World War, whose service took her from Chorley in Lancashire, through the Blitz in London, to the West Country, and finally to Dachau in Germany. Illustrated with excerpts from her diaries for the years 1936 - 1945.

Penny Plain and Tuppence Coloured. The fascinating history of the Toy Theatre, which accurately captures the theatre of the early nineteenth century. The talk is illustrated with examples, and a brief taste of a real performance. See also the Juvenile Drama page for further information.


Two-and-a-half Thousand Years of History.

Discover how one of the oldest and most complicated musical instruments in the world actually works. This is the fascinating history of the organ, illustrated with historic pictures, actual organ pipes, and sound recordings.

The Man who Rebuilt Wessex.

The story of Benjamin Ferrey, a nineteenth century architect now almost entirely forgotten but who was responsible for building nearly four hundred churches, country houses, town halls, hospitals, and other buildings in the West Country, and laying out the town of Bournemouth. 

Things You Miss about Paris.  Who does not enjoy a visit to the City of Light? Here is a journey round the most romantic of capitals, showing some lesser-known areas and sights. A guide with a difference, profusely illustrated with unusual and historic slides of the city.

Desert Island Discs.  A choice of music, with accompanying slides, combining stories behind the music with some light-hearted tales on the way. An evening of nostalgia, entertainment, with something to take away and think about at the end, and which can be tailored to your particular group’s interests.

Other Talks also are available, please enquire.

Carry on to the page 'The Juvenile Drama' for an

exciting evening of Victorian Theatre for your Group!


By Arrangement.

Francis has been active in Flower Clubs for half a century, and is an experienced demonstrator. He offers talks and demonstrations to Garden Clubs and Floral Societies. Please contact him to discuss titles, your specific requirements, and the budget you have for flowers. 


Francis asks for his travelling expenses, at a rate of about 35 pence a mile, and suggests a Speaker's fee starting at £50, (which also supports his chosen charity) for a meeting with an attendance of 30-40. For larger societies over 50 members, or those outside the normal area, the fee will be from £75. Please make contact to discuss your particular requirements. Small local groups  of less than 30 members within a twenty mile radius of Yeovil are invited to make contact, as sometimes the fee can be reduced because of the saving in travel expenses and time.

Francis is happy to speak to groups in Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire and Hampshire, and Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Groups further afield are invited to make enquiries to see if a “mini-tour” can be arranged.

Francis is often able to speak at very short notice, particularly at meetings during the day. Please contact him if you have a crisis with a speaker cancelling at the last moment!

See these websites also for further speakers who may be able to help you: