So what is there to look forward to from the Centre in the first half of 2017? The flagship event will be the ‘Tudors and Stuarts History Weekend’ between Friday 31 March and Sunday 2 April, which primarily will take place in Old Sessions House, part of the University’s Canterbury campus.

This will comprise lectures and other events under the four headings of ‘Kings and Queens’, ‘The Church’, ‘War and Politics’ and ‘Social History’. One of the things I will report on during January are the speakers under these different themes, but, for now, I shall keep to the programme as a whole. The two long centuries from c.1485 to c.1710 cover some of the most important episodes in British, and European history, and while the events organised over this Weekend cannot under any circumstances cover the totality of these momentous events, the organising committee is hoping that they will give a flavour of these exciting, if somewhat daunting and difficult times. Consequently, certain aspects of the Reformation will be explored, as will the roles of royal women, and changing ideas in arts and culture. Among the speakers will be well-known academics such as Professors Glenn Richardson, Maria Hayward, Kenneth Fincham and Jackie Eales; and experts like Alison Weir, David Starkey, Janina Ramirez and Anna Keay. There will be exciting historians from Canterbury such as Amy Blakeway, David Grummitt, Jayne Wackett and Sara Wolfson, as well as well-known speakers like Paul Bennett, Karen Brayshaw and Imogen Corrigan. This Weekend, in the same way as the Centre’s other public events, is organised to support the Ian Coulson Memorial Postgraduate Fund to help postgraduates studying or hoping to research Kent history topics. To see the range of these exciting Weekend events that can be booked as a pick-and-mix selection, please look at the website at: or phone 01227 782994 (office hours Monday to Thursday) or email


Church door at Staplehurst

However, there are plenty of other events in 2017 and the first of these under the Centre is in January. Dr Diane Heath is organising the Gender and Medieval Studies conference using the theme ‘Gender, Place, Space and Thresholds’, which will take place at Canterbury Christ Church between Thursday 12 January and Sunday 13 January. This international conference is drawing speakers from as far afield as the United States and Latvia, speakers from universities across the British Isles and Ireland, and among the keynote speakers are Professor Anthony Bale from Birkbeck, London and Canterbury Christ Church’s own Dr Leonie Hicks. The packed programme also features a performance: Dr Daisy Black’s dramatization of the Bayeux Tapestry and a special visit to the Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library. A report will appear the week after this exciting conference in late January.

As noted several weeks ago, the Centre is seeking to work collaboratively with local and regional organisations, and specialist groups, such as the Friends of Canterbury Archaeological Trust [FCAT], Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society [CHAS], the Canterbury branch of the Historical Association, Kent Archaeological Society [KAS], and the Agricultural Museum, Brook. To date this has been very successful and more joint events are planned, including several in February and March. Among these are the Frank Jenkins Memorial lecture on Saturday 25 February at 6pm in the Michael Berry Lecture Theatre, Old Sessions House, by the Centre’s Visiting Professor and the Director of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust Paul Bennett. Then just under a month later on Thursday 16 March at 6.30pm in the Old Court Room [Og32], also in Old Sessions House, Drs Paul Dalton and Leonie Hicks, with Richard Eales will present talks under the theme ‘Normans in the Landscape’. Booking is not necessary for either of these, just come along.


When ‘The Matthew’ came to Sandwich – now at Bristol (photo Keith Parfitt)


Although it has not been timetabled thus far, it is hoped that Professor Paul Bennett will be able to bring his ‘Archaeologist’s Tale’ lecture through to the present day because we have yet to hear about later archaeological excavations in Canterbury and Libya, Paul’s involvement with the Bronze Age Dover Boat project and other watery activities. Once the timing has been decided, I will post a notice of it through the blog. However, as another date for your diary, please do consider coming to the eleventh annual Becket Lecture if you live in east Kent because in 2017 the speaker is Dr Paul Webster of Cardiff University. His subject is ‘‘St Thomas guard my realm’: Becket’s Shrine, the King, and the Politics of Sanctity’ and the lecture begins at 6pm on Thursday 19 January 2017. Again, once I know more details I will post them and all are welcome to attend.

June is going to be a busy month. Firstly, to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Baedecker Raid on Canterbury, a half-day conference is scheduled for Saturday 3 June 2017.  This is being organised by Dr Martin Watts and will feature lectures by Professor Kevin Ruane, Paul Bennett [CAT] and Jordan Newton, a third year Canterbury Christ Church history undergraduate. Then later in the month, Dr John Bulaitis and I are setting up a one-day conference on tithes through the ages and how historians have employed such records in different ways. This is an exciting opportunity, and, as well as John, among the confirmed speakers is Professor Christopher Dyer, an acclaimed medieval historian who has written a colossal number of books and articles, including Making a Living in the Middle Ages and An Age of Transition?.


Detail from Penshurst Place

Next July members of the Centre and CCCU historians will again be involved in the Canterbury Medieval Pageant on Saturday 8 July. Louise Wilkinson and others have participated in planning meetings chaired by Bob Jones, CEO of the Canterbury Business Improvement District. Although this is still at an early stage, it promises to be an exciting day once again.

Dr Lesley Hardy continues to lead the Folkestone People’s History Centre and she, with help from Dr Mike Bintley, is about to submit a HLF-funding application regarding their community project on ‘Finding Eanswythe’. As reported last week, once I know the outcome I will update readers. Allied to this, the Centre is developing a research cluster on the Cinque Ports that will provide opportunities to collaborate with organisations such as Canterbury Archaeological Trust, and groups and individuals in Faversham, Dover, Whitstable and Hythe.  Moreover, keeping with the coastal ports and to a degree a maritime theme, the possibility of working jointly with Stuart Bligh, Head of Research and Information at the Greenwich Museums, on a maritime history of Kent is due for discussion early next year.

Thus, the first six months of 2017 looks to be an exciting time for those involved with the Centre, and, as the year progresses, more events and projects will be added. Furthermore, I am intending to feature research undertaken by Christ Church postgraduates who are working on Kent history topics, as well as including short summaries of their work on the Centre’s webpage. So please do keep reading and hopefully we will see you at Centre events during 2017.