It is now just over a week until the Tudors & Stuarts 2023 History Weekend which will start at 7pm on Friday 28 April with Professor Catherine Richardson’s fascinating lecture on what it was like to live in the late Tudor and early Stuart period, exploring the sights, sounds and smells of the early modern household. Tickets still available and for many of the other great talks taking place throughout the weekend. Please check out the programme at: https://www.canterbury.ac.uk/tudors-stuarts and we hope to see you there.
For among the speakers, as I mentioned last week, we have Professor Steven Gunn and his assessment of everyday life and unexpected death in Tudor times, although whether Lord Bergavenny’s bear will feature in his talk, I don’t know. Other highlights of the Weekend linked to daily living include Professor Vanessa Harding’s exploration of 17th-century London. Looking through the eyes of Richard Smyth and his peers, we will learn what it was like to live during this turbulent period of war, plague and fire as he and others sought to live, work and raise their families.
Of course, religion loomed large in early modern society, the implications of the Reformation felt not only in England but way beyond these island’s shores. Professor Alec Ryrie will investigate this early push to take Protestant ideas abroad and how much of this failed which had important implications for the period and we are still living with the results today. While in some ways nearer to home, Dr Rebecca Warren will take us into the fascinating world of radical religious sects when pamphlets were everywhere, and people took up the offer of alternative religious practices in the brief window of opportunity between 1640 and 1660.
These are just some of the exciting talks on offer and we are busy finalising arrangements with others such as Craig in the CCCU Bookshop as the History Weekend draws nearer. Moreover, this is not all that is going on because Dr Diane Heath has her next ‘Medieval Animals Heritage’ event on Sunday 23 April between 2 and 4pm to mark St George’s Day. Not, of course, that any dragons will be harmed, but instead this ‘Celebrating Medieval Dragons on St George’s Day’ will involve the SEND families designing a colourful dragon costume for the Canterbury Medieval Pageant Parade in July. Additionally, Dr Sonia Overall has adapted a St George Mumming Play for Diane that will be performed in Becket Garden at the Green Dragons, and there will be other activities and refreshments too.
Then into next week our friends at Canterbury Archaeological Trust are having a book launch at St Paul’s church on Tuesday 25 April from 6pm. Dr Jake Weekes will talk about Farming, Everyday Life and Ritual: 6000 years of archaeology at Thanet Earth and James Holman will discuss The Lower Lines, Brompton, Kent. Refreshments will be available and the chance to buy books at discount. The event is free, but booking is essential at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cat-book-launch-the-lower-lines-and-thanet-earth-tickets-574442411717
The following day, Wednesday 26 April, is the Kent Maps symposium entitled ‘Reimagining Kent’. This is a free in-person and online event but registration is essential at https://www.canterbury.ac.uk/arts-and-culture/event-details.aspx?instance=420206 to receive the necessary details. For those attending in person, we’ll be in Old Sessions House, which is where the Tudors & Stuarts 2023 will be held. Among the places that will feature in the programme is Dover for both Martin Crowther and I will explore aspects of this Cinque Port and its fascinating past.
For the remainder of this short blog this week, I’m going to report on the Kent History Postgraduates group catch-up meeting which took place on Wednesday 19 April. It was a smaller gathering than most times because people are very busy after the Easter break, but we still covered research over much of the county from Tonbridge and Orpington in the west to Canterbury’s hinterland and Dover in the east by way of Pluckley in central Kent.
Jane began our round-up. Her focus is the first of her three chapters, the thesis organised chronologically, each chapter dealing thematically with her three religious houses. Thus, the first concerns the 12th and 13th centuries and the foundations of these houses belonging to the reformed orders. While most of the archival research has been completed, Jane still needs to visit once more the British Library and TNA, which she intends to do shortly and all being well, she has volunteered to give the June presentation to the group.
Next everyone congratulated Kaye on passing her upgrade. Kaye is looking to give conference papers and the next is likely to be at the Dering conference organised jointly by the University of Kent and the Kent Archives Service, the first half day at Canterbury, the second half day at Maidstone. She, too, is about to start writing a chapter of her thesis and is intending to look at non-conformity in Pluckley. She also wants to explore what can be discovered about what people actually believed in religious terms, as well as which side they supported during the Civil War. I think it would be well worth investigating Professor Andrew Hopper’s (University of Leicester) AHRC-funded Civil War petitions project for this, see: https://www.civilwarpetitions.ac.uk/about-the-project/
Returning to Tonbridge, Maureen, having written a draft first chapter, is now starting on the second. This will feature the hunting grounds – parks and chases, and she is currently also looking into the historiography regarding the uses in the early Tudor period of such woodland in terms of timber and fuel wood. This provoked a discussion among the group concerning the role of the iron industry in the area, as well as the likely demand for timber for ship and house building during the period.
Janet is close to submission and having put in her ‘intention to submit’ form in March, is busy editing her thesis, which may involve a bit of restructuring. Recently she attended online the Medieval Settlement Group’s spring conference which she found most interesting. She is also looking to get digital copies of the Dartford early 14th century lay subsidy from TNA.
Coming over to east Kent, Tracey is busy working on her second chapter on landholding. This she is finding is falling into place although she had hoped to do some archival research at the British Library last week only to find that they were on strike. Consequently, she has had to concentrate on the Canterbury Cathedral Archives instead and will have a London archives trip later. Additionally, she has been giving presentations on her findings to local groups, as well as continuing with her two archaeological projects.
Finally, to Kieron who, having passed her 6-month review, is busy continuing her exploration of the secondary literature, as well as looking at some of the early map evidence for Tudor Dover. She has some database training for historians coming up at the IHR shortly, and is thinking carefully about what she wants from this database. She will also be volunteering at the Tudors & Stuarts Weekend, giving the next presentation to the group, as well as being heavily involved in our outreach initiatives at Dover in the early summer.
So as you can see, the Kent History Postgraduates are very busy!