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.
To a degree this follows on from last time in that again there is a maritime theme to this short blog. Firstly, although I wasn’t able to attend this year, I have a brief report from Dr Martin Watts about Whitstable Harbour Day, which took place last Saturday. As an ex-merchant seaman, Martin is keen to promote all things nautical and, as he says, it was another excellent day.
After another very successful History Weekend, I would first like to thank all the great speakers (see below), but equally the brilliant audiences we had at all 27 events from ‘Saturn’s Fury’ puppet show in Waterstones on Friday morning to Dr Michael Jones’ talk on the Black Prince and Professor Carenza Lewis’ lecture on new discoveries about the impact of the Black Death that were the last parallel events on Sunday afternoon. Without YOU the audience the Weekend would be meaningless, and your enthusiasm, engagement and searching questions covering the wide range of topics on offer was wonderful from the organisers’ perspective – THANK YOU!
This will be a very brief piece as the days get busier and busier before Friday and we start with our first event at Waterstones – if you are in the Canterbury book shop in Rose Lane at about 11am do feel free to come along to the children’s section to meet Saturn the green dragon, he will be looking for helpers, both young and old.
Now that the Easter holidays have arrived, I thought I would ask local readers if they have spotted the two posters in Waterstones advertising ‘Saturn’s Fury’ – the puppet show that will be taking place in the children’s area on the first floor of the book shop on Friday 6 April starting at 11am. Saturn, the green dragon, is making a guest appearance from The Canterbury Tales and would like as many young children and their parents, grandparents and others as possible to come along to help him find his roar which he has lost. This event is FREE and booking is not required. It forms the opening event of the Medieval Canterbury Weekend, and for slightly older ‘young medievalists’ and adults there is the chance that afternoon at 3pm to hear ‘Campfire Tales – with a Canterbury Twist’ in the garden of The Canterbury Tales. To book this and other events at the Medieval Canterbury Weekend, please visit: https://www.canterbury.ac.uk/medieval-canterbury or after the Easter weekend phone 01227 782994.
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.
Having discussed one event in the whole blog last week, I thought this week I would begin with news of three Centre events next month before turning briefly to one event that occurred yesterday and then even more briefly to one that took place last week.
Apologies to those, if there are any, who wondered what had happened this week but I wanted to wait until after the London Medieval Society conference that took place yesterday.
To keep up the momentum, I thought I would add a second post this week as a way of getting up-to-date. Moreover, having attended the Chaucer Lecture at the University of Kent last night, it reminded me of the ‘Books and Manuscripts’ strand at the Medieval Canterbury Weekend. For not only had Weekend participants witnessed two amazing lectures on Anglo-Saxon manuscripts by first Richard Gameson and then Michelle Brown late Saturday morning, but others had had the benefit of seeing copies of some of the earliest printed books in England from the late 15th century – a rare treat. These Canterbury Cathedral Library tours had been led by Karen Brayshaw, the librarian, who was able to discuss with participants matters regarding where, by whom and how these books had been printed. She had also been able to indicate how such books would have been part of the book culture circulating in London and cities such as Canterbury in the later Middle Ages, and how readers of such books as Dives and Pauper, and The Golden Legend were just the type of men (and women) who would have enjoyed Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, alongside more ‘worthy’ texts. As books in English rather than Latin, they were also prime examples of the reading matter discussed by Peter Brown during his talk last Sunday morning in the Kentish Barn. Again an appreciative audience was treated to a detailed (within the confines of a 50-minute lecture) assessment of what people wanted to read, as well as what people wanted to write. For the audience was/is crucial, especially when books were being produced for an increasingly discerning readership who wanted romances as well as ‘improving’ literature.
In contrast to the previous fortnight, this week has been much quieter with regard to history lectures open to the public, except for Dr Martin Watts’ talk at St Peter’s Methodist Church on Thursday evening. This was organised by the Canterbury Festival as a marker that 2016 is an important anniversary for the Battle of the Somme. Martin focused to a large degree on the casualties suffered by, among other regiments, the Buffs and the West Kents, as well as drawing out the implications of the battle in terms of what was learnt by both those in high command and across society – a time of lost innocence regarding modern warfare. Others involved with the Centre have also been busy, and I thought I would report a few exciting items before offering a few snippets from the archives because I have missed being able to get on with my own research into the businesswomen of late medieval Canterbury.