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Mondays @ the Mills’ is a programme of talks by Highgate teachers and external speakers on a wide range of subjects, but with a bias towards scientific topics. Details of future lectures and follow up resources for previous events can be found below.

Talks are normally held in the AV Room in the Mills Centre starting at 7 pm, with refreshments, including wine, available from 6.30 pm and afterwards.

Tickets for all events in the 'M @ M' series can be booked here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/highgateschool. If you have any questions, please contact the Development Office, by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




20th May

Small Bodies in the Solar System
Dr Mohamed Ramy El-Maarry, Birkbeck, University of London

Ramy El-Maarry from Birkbeck’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences was planning to spend the New Year in Maryland, USA, as a science team collaborator, undertaking data analysis from NASA’s New Horizons successful close flyby of Ultima Thule on 1st January 2019. He will talk about the results received so far from the most distant object ever visited as well as discussing other non-planetary members of our solar system.


1st July

Fashion, Fury and Feminism – Women’s Fight for Change
Tessa Boase

Twelve years before the suffragette movement began dominating headlines, a very different women’s campaign caught the public imagination. Its aim was simple: to stamp out the fashion for feathered hats. This is the extraordinary story of the RSPB’s birth – the subject of Tessa Boase’s new book, Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather. Tessa has unearthed rare images, a cast of invisible characters – and a surprising political secret.


LENT 2019


18th March

Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance Master
Estelle Lovatt

Information about the current exhibitions of Leonardo’s drawings from the Royal Collection can be found here: https://www.rct.uk/about/news-and-features/leonardo-da-vinci-a-life-in-drawing#/
The most recent biography (well reviewed) is Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. Martin Kemp is possibly the most respected Leonardo expert so his book Leonardo should be considered too. Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind by Charles Nicholl is also recommended; and if you want to see his pictures and drawings there is apparently no better book than Leonardo da Vinci: Complete Paintings and Drawings by Johannes Nathan.



25th February

Coleridge's Intellectual Legacy in America
Dr Philip Aherne, Highgate School

This is Phil’s book, on which his talk was based:
He also recommends the following titles:
David Vallins, Coleridge as Talker: Sage of Highgate, ‘Table Talk’ in The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Ed. Frederick Burwick)
Lucy Watson, Coleridge at Highgate
James Vigus and Jane Wright, Coleridge's Afterlives
Samantha Harvey, Transatlantic Transcendentalism: Coleridge, Emerson and Nature
Information about a Coleridge event that took place in Highgate in June 2018 can be found here:
The Friends of Coleridge have a comprehensive website:



4th February

The 11th Annual Kyffin Williams Lecture—Milein Cosman (1921-2017): her life, art and friendship with Kyffin Williams
Dr Ines Schlenker, independent art historian

A summary of Milein’s life and work can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/dec/04/milein-cosman-obituary and for a much more comprehensive account Ines Schlenker’s book Milein Cosman: Capturing Time is recommended: https://prestelpublishing.randomhouse.de/book/Milein-Cosman-Capturing-Time/Ines-Schlenker/Prestel/e546038.rhd



14th January

A Throwback to my Studies of How Black Holes Form
Dr Serena Repetto, Highgate School

The following links are recommended for further reading:
An article on black hole X-ray binaries from the American Astronomical Society: https://aasnova.org/2018/11/14/a-black-hole-x-ray-binary-rises/
An article on supermassive black holes from the Royal Astronomical Society: https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/research-highlights/matter-falling-black-hole-30-percent-speed-light//
An article on the discovery of gravitational waves: https://astrobites.org/2016/02/11/opening-our-ears-to-the-universe-ligo-observes-gravitational-waves/
In fact this site on which graduate students write summaries of research papers for the public is excellent: https://astrobites.org/
An article on how it will soon be possible to image the shadow of a black hole: https://astrobites.org/2018/01/24/hunting-for-new-physics-in-a-black-holes-shadow/




3rd December

Aiming High: school expeditions and life beyond the classroom
Will Blackshaw, Highgate School

Will recommends the following classic inspirational reads:
Mountains of the Minds by Rob Macfarlane
The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer
Touching the Void and The Beckoning Silence by Joe Simpson
Into the Silence by Wade Davis
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

He also recommends keeping an eye on the Royal Geographical Society website: https://www.rgs.org/ as they quite often have great guest speakers of an exploring/mountaineering nature.

And if anyone is looking to go on a course to get into it all, Plas y Brenin—the National Mountain Sports Centre in Capel Curig—is a good place to start: https://www.pyb.co.uk/



12th November

The Transformation of St Pancras Station
Nigel Lowey

The History Press has published a book to mark the 150th anniversary of the terminus: St Pancras International: 150 Facts for 150 Years. It reveals many little-known details about the long history of this iconic building and its local surroundings.


Kyffin at Highgate 

10th September

There’s a Pheasant on the Roof: Kyffin at Highgate
David Smith, Highgate School

To learn more about Kyffin his two volumes of autobiography are the best places to start: Across the Straits and A Wider Sky

Biographies include:
Obsessed—The Biography of Kyffin Williams by David Meredith and John Smith
The Light and The Dark by Rian Evans with photographs by Nicholas Sinclair



Faraday and Electromagnetism

2nd July

Faraday and Electromagnetism
David Smith, Highgate School

Michael Faraday: a Very Short Introduction by Frank James gives a succinct overview of many aspects of his life.
The Royal Institution website has some good links to various pages about Faraday: http://www.rigb.org/our-history/people/f/michael-faraday
The film Prelude to Power: the story of Faraday and the induction ring can be viewed here: http://www.rigb.org/our-history/bragg-film-archive/ri-history/prelude-to-power

Votes for Women

21st May

Votes for Women: a brief history
Elizabeth Crawford

Elizabeth Crawford’s website is a mine of information on this topic: https://womanandhersphere.com/


LENT 2018

Gamer talk 19th march

19th March

Help, the Gamer Has Left the Basement!
Manuel Oliveira

An example of the game-based learning that Manuel talked about can be found here.


forensic science

26th February

Forensic Science – DNA Evidence
Dr Georgina Meakin, University College London

Georgina works at the UCL Centre for the Forensic Sciences: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/forensic-sciences
which is part of the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/jill-dando-institute


conservation challenges

5th February

The 10th Annual Kyffin Williams Lecture: Conservation Challenges
Jenny Williamson, Easel Painting Conservator

Jenny is a Trustee of The Institute of Conservation: https://icon.org.uk/
She works for both the National Library of Wales: https://www.llgc.org.uk/and the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery: https://www.swansea.gov.uk/glynnvivian



windsor to highgate

20th November

From Windsor to Highgate via the QE2
John Plews, Artistic Director Upstairs at the Gatehouse



The Crossrail Project

6th November

The Crossrail Project
Emily Tibbitts, Crossrail Site Manager, Bechtel Corporation

As well as the Crossrail website itself: http://www.crossrail.co.uk/
Emily recommends these two sites for women in engineering:
and science and engineering in general:



9th October

Equador & the Galápagos
Dr Scott Crawford

The following books are recommended:
Harry Thompson, This Thing of Darkness
Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle
Adrian Forsyth, Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America

And a YouTube video produced by pupil Andrea Guariglia can be found here.


Bluestockings 144

18th September

Women and revolution from the bluestockings to Virginia Woolf
Dr Benjamin Dabby

As well as his own book of course: Women as Public Moralists in Britain: From the Bluestockings to Virginia Woolf, Ben also recommends the following for further reading:

Linda H. Peterson, Becoming a Woman of Letters: Myths of Authorship and Facts of the Victorian Market

Phyllis Rose, Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages



geography of wine

3rd July 2017

The geography of wine
Phil Harrison, Highgate School

It is often remarked that wine is ‘geography in a bottle’ – that it is a fundamental reflection of the place in which it is grown. This discussion will examine some of the factors that influence global viticulture, concentrating on the great wine regions of France and Spain as well as those in the New World. There will be consideration of soils, climate and topography, as well as that quintessentially French concept of terroir.


man of iron

22nd May 2017

Man of iron: Thomas Telford and the building of Britain
Julian Glover OC

This lecture unfortunately had to be cancelled, but the following links to Thomas Telford might be useful:

A review in The Guardian
A review in The Spectator
An Engineering Timelines biography
A nice website concerning his birthplace
Some of Telford’s work in Scotland
Information about the Menai Bridge


LENT 2017

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20th March 2017

A history of climate change: why planet Earth is habitable
Dr Philip Pogge Von Strandmann, London Geochemistry and Isotope Centre, University College London

A summary of part of the talk can be found here
This site is recommended to find out more about the importance of weathering: https://www.skepticalscience.com/weathering.html
A good book is How to Build a Habitable Planet: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9691.html - the second author, Wally Broecker, is the scientist who coined the phrase ‘global warming’.


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27th February 2017

Highgate modern homes
Professor David Porter and Elspeth Clements

A short biography of Elspeth, who ‘bookended’ David’s talk, can be found here. She mentioned that she is responsible for Planning and Development at the Highgate Society. The best biography of David that I could find is this. Here is a review of the exhibition that they staged in the School Museum in October 2016 and a few more images can be viewed here.


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6th February 2017

The ninth annual Kyffin Williams Lecture
Vincent Van Gogh and Anthony Green
Martin Bailey

Martin has written two books about van Gogh:
The Sunflowers are Mine and, most recently, Studio of the South.
He has also edited two volumes about Anthony Green:
A Green Part of the World and, most recently, Anthony Green: a Painting Life.
These are the exhibitions about Anthony that were on at the time of the lecture:
Chris Beetles Gallery and The Royal Academy.


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16th January 2017

The new Junior School and Fibonacci
David Smith, former Head of Physics

Here are a few websites relating to the new Junior School:
This is a comprehensive site about all things Fibonacci:
And here is the video that was shown at the end of the talk:



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28th November 2016

The Francis Crick Institute
Clare Davy and Professor Julian Downward, FRS

More information about all aspects of the Crick Institute can be found here: https://www.crick.ac.uk/  In particular news of exhibitions can be seen here: https://www.crick.ac.uk/engagement/public-exhibitions/  Note that the current show can only be visited on Wednesdays to Saturdays.

This will tell you more about Francis Crick himself: https://www.crick.ac.uk/about-us/francis-crick/, and here is a biography of the speaker, Julian Downward: https://www.crick.ac.uk/research/a-z-researchers/researchers-d-h/julian-downward/biography/


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7th November 2016

The hidden wildlife of Provence
Will Atkins, Highgate School

Will has kindly supplied the following information about his talk:
My reference book was: The Naturalist's Riviera (out of print but easy to come by) by A N Brangham, published by John Baker (1965)

There is no wildlife guide which deals specifically with the fauna of the south of France, but I recommend the following specialist titles:
• Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe (Dijkstra and Lewington, British Wildlife Publishing 2006)
• Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Britain and Europe (Speybroeck, Beukema, Bok, Van der Voort and Velikov, Bloomsbury 2016)
• Complete Mediterranean Wildlife (Sterry, Collins 2000)
We stayed in Agay, near to Frejus, at maths teacher Michael Streuli's house - further information from: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The best time of year to visit is March to early June; it is much harder to find animals in the hot and dry months!
My camera is a Nikon D7100 with Sigma 105mm macro lens, using an 18-300mm AFS Nikkor tele-zoom for the wild boar shots
The link to my Flickr stream Provence photos is: //www.flickr.com/photos/100121190@N06/27843284945/in/datetaken-public/" data-mce-href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/100121190@N06/27843284945/in/datetaken-public/">https://www.flickr.com/photos/100121190@N06/27843284945/in/datetaken-public/>//www.flickr.com/photos/100121190@N06/27843284945/in/datetaken-public/" data-mce-href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/100121190@N06/27843284945/in/datetaken-public/"> 


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10th October 2016

Are we alone in the Universe: the strange case of KIC 8462852 
Dr William Whyatt, Highgate School

Dr Whyatt has recommended the following links if you wish to know more about Boyajian's Star:
The original discovery paper for KIC 8462852: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.03622v2.pdf
The latest thoughts on plausible solutions to the mystery: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1609.03505v1.pdf
With a more assessable version located here: http://sites.psu.edu/astrowright/tabbys-star-posts/


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19th September 2016

The great mansions of Highgate and the visionaries who lived in them: Glory-Decline-Revival 
Professor Richard Webber

The pdf of the panels in the exhibition that accompanied this talk can be downloaded here and Richard recommends the following books and websites for further reading on: 
Leisure and distinction: Conspicuous Consumption (Penguin Great Ideas) by Thorstein Veblen 
Henrietta Barnett: Henrietta Barnett, Social Worker and Community Planner by Micky Watkins 
The John Lewis Partnership: John Spedan Lewis by Lewis, Peter & Macpherson, Hugh & et al 
Angela Burdett-Coutts: Lady Unknown The Life of Angela Burdett-Coutts by Edna Healey 
Levels of inequality: Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty and Arthur Goldhammer 
Lord Leverhulme: Lord of the Isles: Lord Leverhulme in the Hebrides by Nigel Nicolson 
Witanhurst http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/01/house-of-secrets 
The impact of the global rich in Highgate: http://usj.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/10/29/0042098015612983.abstract



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4th July 2016

Bodyline post-mortem: Why did a cricket series cause an international crisis? 
James Newton, Head of History

The following books are recommended for further reading:
Duncan Hamilton, Harold Larwood (Riverrun Publishing, 2010)
Christopher Douglas, Douglas Jardine: Spartan Cricketer (Methuen Publishing, 2003)
Michael Arnold, The Bodyline Hypocrisy: Conversations with Harold Larwood (Pitch Publishing, 2013)
The following link contains some of the Bodyline footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rybPvBa3Oc


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13th June 2016

From Jules Verne to geostationary satellites, and the search for MH370 
Emanuele Guariglia, Director, Earth Stations Engineering, Inmarsat and Highgate parent 

The speaker has kindly made his presentation available, but with the following proviso: 'This presentation has been provided to Highgate School for informative purposes only, in the context of the 'Mondays at the Mills' programme of talks. Parents and pupils and other attendees should only read it and use for personal reasons. This presentation (or parts thereof) shall not be copied, redistributed or disclosed to any third party without Inmarsat's express permission.' It can be downloaded here.


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25th April 2016

Gravitational waves
David Smith, former Head of Physics
For further information about LIGO and the discovery of gravitational waves (and simultaneously of a two black holes merging), the CalTech LIGO website is worth a look: https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/  
In particular the Gallery: https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/gallery contains many of the images and video clips that I used in my presentation.  
Another LIGO website that is also useful is: http://www.ligo.org/, especially Issue 8 of the Magazine.  On the homepage of the same site the two videos 'LIGO: a Passion for Understanding' and 'LIGO Generations' might be of interest, as will the forthcoming film 'LIGO, the Path to Detection.'  
The discovery paper that was published in Physics Review Letters is at least partly understandable:


LENT 2016

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14th March 2016

Dyne House: Highgate’s contribution to New Brutalism 
Dr Judith Jammers, Head of History of Art 

For further reading the following books are recommended: 
-Alexander Clement, Brutalism: Post-War British Architecture, Crowood Press 2011
-John Grindrod, Cocretopia:A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain, Old Street Publishing 2014 
-Elain Harwood, Space, Hope and Brutalism: English Architecture 1945-1975, Yale University Press 2015
-Christopher Beanland and Jonathan Meades, Concrete Concept: Brutalist Buildings Around the World, Frances Lincoln 2016
-Barnabas Calder, Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism, William Heinemann 2016

The following websites are worth exploring: 
Herald Scotland 
Open University

And these links describe a short-lived Brutalist experience: 
http://nva.org.uk/artwork/kilmahew-st-peters/ apollo-magazine.com

OC Andrew Pegram produced a special print of Dyne House for the talk.  His work can be viewed (and ordered) here:


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22nd February 2016

The King Under the Car Park: The Search for Richard III 
Dr Richard Buckley, OBE

In 2012, I learnt about the science behind the Richard III story at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in 2015.  It is an annual event which is well worth going to: https://royalsociety.org/events/2016/07/summer-science/ 
Richard Buckley recommended these pages on the University of Leicester website, as do I: https://www.le.ac.uk/richardiii/


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1st February 2016

The 8th annual Kyffin Williams Lecture - Kyffin Williams the Writer 
Andrew Green, former Librarian of the National Library of Wales 

The text of Andrew Green’s lecture and the illustrations that he used can be viewed here: http://gwallter.com/art/kyffin-williams-the-writer.html 
The first of Kyffin’s two volumes of autobiography, Across the Straits, can be obtained here: http://www.gomer.co.uk/index.php/catalogsearch/result/?q=kyffin+williams 
The second, A Wider Sky, seems to be a little more difficult to get hold of, but AbeBooks appears to have a few copies: http://www.abebooks.co.uk/


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January 2016

Encounter with Pluto
David Smith, former Head of Physics

To find out more about the New Horizons mission to Pluto the Johns Hopkins University site is probably the best starting point: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/
But there is also a NASA site that does a similar job: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/index.html
This video gives an interesting overview of the mission: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJxwWpaGoJs



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14th December 2015

Gwalia Patagonia 
Jon Gower 

To find out more about the Welsh settlement in Patagonia this site is very comprehensive: http://www.glaniad.com/
This is listed on the Wikipedia page for Y Wladfa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y_Wladfa along with other interesting
links – e.g. to Clare Dudman’s very readable book A Place of Meadows and Tall Trees. 
Here is a link to find out a bit more about Jon Gower and his publications: http://www.literaturewales.org/writers-of-wales/i/133914/.


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23rd November 2015

Above and beyond your DNA – the world of epigenetics
Dr Scott Crawford, Head of Biology and Acting Head of Science; and Dr Ben Weston, Assistant Head Teacher with responsibility for Teaching & Learning

The two books that Ben recommended as further reading are:
The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology is Rewriting Our 
Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance by Nessa Carey 
The Developing Genome: An Introduction to Behavioral Epigenetics by David S. Moore 
This lecture might also be of interest: The Royal Society: Gene regulation and the epigenome


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2nd November 2015

Dark matter 
David Smith, former Head of Physics

This site provides a good overview of the topic here. Symmetry, the particle 
physics magazine published by Fermilab near Chicago, has some interesting articles here
The videos that were shown in the presentation were as follows: 
Tracking Stars Orbiting the Milky Way’s Central Black Hole 
Cosmos: a Space Time Odyssey; Episode 13: Unafraid of the Dark
A Virtual Universe
Deep Exploits: the Search for Dark Matter.
This is the recent Horizon programme that was mentioned.
And here is an older one.
Finally, many apologies that this was left out of the talk!


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12th October 2015

Known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns
David Vaccaro, Head of Mathematics

The PowerPoint that David used in his talk can be viewed here.
A worksheet that he has used in a Masterclass on a similar theme 
can be viewed here.

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