About Us & Activities

The ESU Colonial NC Branch was organized in 1976 in the historic city of New Bern, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers in eastern North Carolina. Its membership is based primarily in the lower Neuse River basin, however, anyone living east of Interstate is invited to join.

Membership benefits include monthly lecture programs by prominent speakers, visits by authors on book tours, fellowship at social and special events, a Teachers Training Workshop and High School Regional Shakespeare contest, and, the expansion of our community outreach efforts locally to provide educational opportunities for members, students and educators.

The ESU National Shakespeare Competition: Colonial NC Branch

Will take place on February 25, 2023 at 10:00 AM. Location to be decided. 

Deadline for schools to register is January 21, 2023

Deadline for schools to submit their School Winner Form is February 15, 2023 

2020/2021 Programs

November through February Programs Canceled due to COVID 19

October 17, Saturday 1:00 pm, New Bern Civic Theatre

Hamlet – "a triumph of dramatizing human concerns: men, women, parents and their children, power, politics, crime. war, murder, suicide, possible incest, -- all in marvelous language."  – Dr. Christopher Armitage, "the Lion of Greenlaw," who has conducted 46 UNC Summer Programs on Shakespeare in Performance in England, is presenting this program, which is as relevant today as it was 420 years ago when Shakespeare was blending it into a play. 

November 5, Orville Wright's Recollections Details TBA 

Orville Wright's Reflections - Bill Hand becomes Orville Wright when he reflects in first-person, on the trials and tribulations of he and his brother Wilbur, two seemingly ordinary bicycle mechanics, essentially working alone with little formal scientific training who emerged as inventors and changed the world with their invention of the world's first airplane. Hand is an author, reporter for the Sun Journal and an actor and playwright who has performed numerous times as Mark Twain and recently wrote and directed the musical play, Honour, which examined New Bern's Stanly-Spaight duel of 1802.

December 5, Saturday, 11:30am Christmas Luncheon, - NBGCC - members/guests, $25 pp 

In the spirit of the Christmas season, James F. Moody, author, song writer and musician, will read the special short Christmas story he is writing for the Branch's December program. A native North Carolinian, taught at the Westminster Abbey's prep school in London and after many years, returned to North Carolina and currently serves as the Head of Upper School English at St. Paul's Catholic School in New Bern.

January 16, Saturday, 1pm, Christ Church Harrison Center – Public invited

The Campaign to Retake Detroit, 1813 - Dr. David Skaggs presentation is an account of the cooperation between Maj. Gen. William H. Harrison and Commodore Oliver H. Perry to secure American dominance of Lake Erie and to coordinate their forces in a campaign to drive the Royal Navy and British Army out of southern Michigan and southwestern Upper Canada (now Ontario). Dr. Skaggs, a professor emeritus of history from Ohio's Bowling Green State University, has held visiting professorships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, East Carolina University, and the Air War College. He is the author and editor of thirteen books dealing on Colonial and Revolutionary America and United States military history.


February 20, Saturday, 1pm, Harrison Center, 311 Middle Street – Public invited

The Virtual St Paul's Cathedral Project - Dr. John Wall will present a program on his project, a visual reconstruction of St Paul's in London before it was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666, and an acoustic reconstruction of worship inside the cathedral in the 1620's. Dr. Wall's talk includes views of the cathedral model and samples of the sounds of worship, preaching, and choral music he recorded for this project. Through a combination of 3D modeling and digital simulations, this virtual project presents a new window into the past and the chance to listen in to a world that has long since been relegated to the pages of history. Born in Wadesboro, NC, Dr. Wall has been a NC State University professor of sixteenth and seventeenth century English literature since 1973.  A Fellow of the National Humanities Center, he served as Visiting Scholar of the Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC., was a Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College of Cambridge University and is a recipient of the Holladay Medal for Excellence.

February 27, Saturday, 10am, Craven Community College Orringer Auditorium- Public invited
Regional High School Shakespeare Competition -

The winner of our Branch contest goes to New York City to compete with winners from other ESU branches with an opportunity for summer study at a prestigious program in the UK going to the national winner. 

*March 13, Saturday, 6pm - Annual Shakespeare Dinner and program, NBGCC – Public invited - Theme and cost TBA

April 15, Thursday, 11:30am, luncheon – Chelsea Restaurant – members/guests $18, public $20  

Admiral David Farragut U.S.N.: The NC & Spanish Family Connection - RAdm. Jay DeLoach presentation on Admiral Farragut, who had a spectacular Naval career and is remembered for "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead," will focus on the Admiral's family background, a mother with local eastern North Carolina roots and a father from a foreign shore who came to the Carolinas in 1776 to fight the British during the Revolutionary War. David Glasgow Farragut, began his 60-year career at the age of nine and during the Civil War, became the US Navy's first admiral.  A 1978 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, DeLoach's career includes service on submarines, assignments with Naval Intelligence, 7th Fleet, and Joint Staff. As an adjunct professor for the Naval War College, he taught Joint Maritime Operations. As a member of the Senior Executive Service in the Department of the Navy, led the transformation of the Naval History & Heritage Command. He is the President of the New Bern Chapter of the NC Sons of the American Revolution.

May, TBA

June 26, Saturday, Queen's Birthday/Annual Meeting, NBGCC – members/ guests $25 TBA

NBGCC - New Bern Golf & Country Club

Luncheon menu choices posted on website and in member notices closer to meeting dates.


The English-Speaking Union

Colonial NC Branch

Colonial NC Branch Landmark Photo