Apologies about the short notice, because the Anglo-Saxon Candlemas concert is taking place on Saturday 2 February at 7pm in SS Mary and Eanswythe church, Folkstone. This is part of the HLF-funded ‘Finding Eanswythe’ project and will feature plainchant, poetry, songs and readings by candlelight in this 12th-century church. This Marian feast celebrates the presentation of Christ at the temple, bringing light to the world and sending winter on its way. Those taking part are Margaret Cameron as singer and choir leader, Dr Mike Bintley who will read passages in Old English, James Lloyd who will provide an account of the life of St Eanswythe, and the concert will also feature the Eanswythe choir. Do feel free to join them in Folkestone.
Next week will be more meetings than events, but it is great to know that preparations for Becket 2020 are continuing to develop on a wide range of fronts. Among these will be the conference at Canterbury Cathedral in November 2020, for which the plenary speakers are already in place and the call for papers will go out fairly soon. Other events planned include an even bigger Medieval Pageant than usual, a light show and events linked to several other medieval saints up and down the country – a truly national celebration of cathedral cities in England and Wales.
This week has been a case of looking forward to the new academic year and the School of Humanities’ first intake of Medieval & Early Modern Studies Taught Masters students, some of who have opted to study late medieval and Tudor Canterbury as one of their option modules. This is very exciting and hopefully we will have a very enjoyable time.
It won’t be long before we are into the Centre’s autumn events, and, as well as the Nightingale Lecture mentioned last week, it is with great pleasure that I want to let you know that Dr Rachel Koopmans has agreed to give the annual Becket Lecture in either November or early December, when she will discuss her new and exciting findings regarding the Becket miracle windows.
I appreciate that being Sunday, the ‘Tudor and Stuart Canterbury’ conference took place yesterday, but for that report I’m afraid you are going to have to wait until later in the week because I have yet to report on two events that took place last Thursday and since then preparations for the conference have taken up all my time. The two events were the staff-postgraduate History seminar where the paper was given by Dr Suzanne Coley, and the Friends of Canterbury Archaeological Trust [FCAT] lecture on the ‘Finding Eanswythe’ project (just to add to the abundance of riches, Professor Alexandra Walsham was speaking at the Canterbury Historical Association meeting on Thursday too).
I thought I would begin by mentioning a very productive meeting Dr Diane Heath and I had on Monday with Lyndsay Ridley, the General Manager at The Canterbury Tales, regarding arrangements for our first joint venture as part of the Medieval Canterbury Weekend 2018: www.canterbury.ac.uk/medieval-canterbury
‘Picture This’ is a web-based project run jointly by Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library, the University of Kent, and the Centre for Kent History and Heritage (CKHH) at Canterbury Christ Church University, available on the Cathedral’s website https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/heritage/collections/picture-this/ . The aim of the project is for researchers at the two universities to write short and accessible pieces about medieval and early modern items in the Cathedral’s collections for everyone to enjoy. The co-ordinators of the project are Cressida Williams, Head of Archives and Library, Stuart Palmer from University of Kent, and Diane Heath from CKHH.
As I expect you have gathered, June has been a very busy month full of very exciting lectures, conferences and workshops, and last week was no exception.
This week has finally seen my return to preparing an article on businesswomen in fifteenth-century Canterbury that I haven’t really had a chance to work on since late last year. So it has been a case first of trying to pick-up where I left off and rethink myself back into the subject. However having worked out the rolling five-year average for all the ‘intrantes’: those below the freemen who were permitted to reside and trade in the city and compared it to the number of businesswomen similarly living and working independently, it is interesting to note that in the 1480s, in particular, these numbers do not follow the same pattern and the figures for women pick up in this decade whereas the total figures are the lowest for the whole century. I’m still working out what this may mean in terms of how these businesswomen were viewed by the authorities, not least because this broadly coincides with the incidence in the city’s courts of those classed as a ‘femme sole’ (a married woman who was legally seen as responsible for her commercial activities). Demonstrating once again the importance of the city’s medieval records, and these are still held at Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library.
This week has seen the ‘Richborough through the Ages’ conference details and booking information go up on the Centre’s webpages and more preparations for the Medieval Canterbury Weekend, including Diane Heath’s work on the souvenir programme and the arrival of posters for the postgraduate poster competition. We are still putting out publicity because only the guided tours are fully booked, and for people interested in books and manuscripts there remain tickets for some fascinating lectures on Anglo-Saxon treasures by Richard Gameson (Durham) and Michelle Brown (British Library), as well as the literary works of Chaucer’s contemporaries by Peter Brown (Kent). For those interested in warfare, Gordon Corrigan’s lecture on the Hundred Years War will highlight how and why England employed new military ideas, partly borrowed from the Scots, while Diana Webb and Carole Rawcliffe will focus respectively on pilgrim experiences and what medieval towns were like to live in. So things seem to be in hand for both Richborough and the Medieval Weekend and I’ll soon be turning my thoughts to planning an ‘Early Medieval Kent’ conference in the autumn. Early Medieval Kent, 800-1220 looks to be on track for its mid-June publication date and it will be great to be able to celebrate this final chapter in the Kent History series.