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Joining The Friends of The Higgins Bedford


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The Friends organisation plays an important part in the life of the art gallery and museum, and individual members enjoy an excellent range of benefits; joining the Friends will put you at the heart of The Higgins Bedford.


The Friends provide support towards The Higgins Bedford by:

  • Contributing fund to support the work in the museum and galleries
  • Fostering general interest in The Higgins Bedford
  • Providing volunteers to enhance visitor experience and deliver more activities and events


Membership Rates

  • £25 annual individual membership
  • £40 annual joint membership
  • £10 annual student membership


How To Join the Friends

To become a member of the Friends, please complete and return the application form, and either fill out the standing order form, or send us your cheque. The subscription year runs from 1st September.


Download the latest membership application form here.


Visit the Friends of the Higgins website.


Join the Friends of the Higgins Bedford Committee


The Friends of the Higgins Committee is looking for new members to join this friendly group that plays a part in supporting one of the finest small galleries in the country.


The Friends is run by an eight-strong committee and they are keen to bring new members on board. They meet around 5 times a year, and involvement can be tailored to fit your availability. In particular they are looking for someone who has any or all of the following skills:


  • Able to assist the membership secretary on record-keeping, renewals etc
  • Computer literate and has some knowledge of spreadsheets
  • Knowledge of social media
  • Expertise at running Zoom meetings for large numbers of participants.


If you’re interested in finding out more about joining the committee, please contact the Secretary, Anthea Samain, by email:


The Friends of the Higgins Bedford Lectures


All Friends Lectures are currently taking place online via Zoom. Instructions for joining will be sent out on email prior to each event. Lectures start at 7pm.


Alastair Dick-Cleland - The Landmark Trust

Tuesday 7 September


Founded in 1965, The Landmark Trust is a conservation charity with a difference. The Trust rescues historic buildings in danger of being lost forever and, uniquely, funds its work by allowing you and I the privilege of staying in its buildings. Alastair Dick-Cleland is a building surveyor who has worked for the Landmark Trust for more than 20 years. He studied architecture at the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture and went on to complete the RICS accredited Post-graduate Diploma in Building Conservation. He is responsible for the conservation of many of the Trust’s buildings and has managed a number of its restoration projects. He, along with Anna Keay, the Trust’s Director, starred in Channel 4’s 2015 series, ‘Restoring Britain’s Landmarks’.


Professor Frances Spalding - John Betjeman, John Piper and the Shell Guides

Tuesday 5 October 


From the 1930s, the Shell Oil Company encouraged a nation of newly-leisured car owners to become tourists in their own land by publishing a series of county-by-county touring guides. Full of opinion,pithy architectural comment and marvellous illustrations, the books were the must-have volume for your glove compartment. And it’s hardly surprising they were so good, given that the early volumes at least represent a collaboration between the poet Sir John Betjeman and the artist John Piper. Their shared love of 'unfashionable architecture' and unspoiled landscape made them ideal guides to the countryside and culture of Britain. Frances Spalding, who is an art historian, critic and biographer, will be well known to Friends from her previous excellent talks.


Jessica Insley – The Collections of Mount Stuart, The Isle of Bute

Tuesday 26 October


Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute is the ancestral home of the Crichton-Stuart family, Marquesses of Bute. A fabulous fortune amassed from coal-mining interests in South Wales during the 19th century allowed several members of the family to become major patrons of the arts, but the most significant of these was the 3rd Marquess (1847-1900). With spending power to the tune of £150,000 a year(around £15 million today) and a keen interest in architecture and design, Lord Bute commissioned some of the landmark works of art of his day. Jessica Insley, Curator at Mount Stuart, will guide us around the collections housed in this Gothic palace, which is now owned by an educational trust after the last of the Crichton-Stuarts departed in 1989.


Annabel Elton - The Birth of a Portrait – Commissioning a Portrait Today

Tuesday 2 November


Annabel Elton is Head of Commissions at London’s Mall Galleries and advises the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Having herself worked as a portrait artist, she is brilliantly positioned to help potential sitters navigate their way through the process of commissioning their likeness. Annabel will describe the typical process by which a 21st century portrait comes into being, discussing some of the obvious issues like choosing an artist and negotiating fees - and will share some stories from several decades’ involvement in this fascinating niche of the art world.


Dr Alan Powers – Stephen Dykes Bower and St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds

Tuesday 7 December


A church has stood on the site of St Edmundsbury Cathedral since as early as 1065, but successive periods of rebuilding have largely obliterated the original structure. Schemes to enlarge and embellish the church were undertaken in the 12th and 16th centuries, but St Emundsbury’s greatest transformation happened during the 20th century, and that is mostly due to the passion and determination of Stephen Dykes Bower, cathedral architect from 1943 to 1988. The church had become a cathedral in 1914 and Dykes Bower devoted his energies to ensuring that the fabric appropriately reflected its heightened status. Working in the Gothic Revival style which he was to champion throughout his career (and which he also employed at Westminster Abbey and Lancing College Chapel), he rebuilt the chancel and created glorious new transepts and side chapels.