It is often said, that in terms of Canterbury’s historic built environment the City Council in the post WWII years was far more effective in finishing off what the Luftwaffe had started during the Baedeker raids on the city in 1942. In some respects this story continues, and with regard to development and redevelopment both inside and outside the city wall the pace of such activities is and will in the next decade gather increasing momentum.
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.
Firstly, very briefly, we are now just over a week away from the joint all-day conference on ‘Names: Kent Places and People’ that will take place in Powell Lecture theatre on Saturday 12 November. There are still tickets available at: http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/arts-and-culture/calendar.aspx or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01227 782994. Another date for those from Canterbury is Tuesday 6 December at 6pm in Old Sessions House when Paul Bennett, the Director of Canterbury Archaeological Trust, will give his audience the story of his life as an archaeologist that will include his work in Libya, Iraq and Canterbury – not to be missed!
Being in Petts Wood on Wednesday, I met Janet Clayton who is working on her doctorate under the supervision of Dr David Grummitt at Canterbury Christ Church. She is researching the history of Scadbury manor through its relations with London. As a leading member of Orpington and District Archaeological Society, she has for several decades been involved in numerous archaeological excavations in and around this moated manor complex. It is a gem of a place and this was my first opportunity to see it. The de Scadbury family as holders of the manor may predate the 1260s but, as Janet said, this is the first reference to them and is an interesting period because it coincides with the baronial wars between Henry III and Simon de Montmort, and the de Montforts had land in the area. Nevertheless, Scadbury is usually associated with the Walsingham family who may have come originally from Little Walsingham in Norfolk. Yet the connection is closer because Thomas Walsingham was an extremely wealthy London vintner and like many of his social group he purchased land, or in this case a manor, in the early fifteenth century. He may have resided in Kent at times, but his London house probably remained his main residence, and he and his wife sought burial in their home parish of St Katherine’s by the Tower. Such London merchants, and in Thomas’s case his son, grandson and great-grandson continued to foster the relationship between town and country; court, London and the provinces, and it such connections and inter-connections that Janet is exploring.
The great hall at Scadbury
Of course, she is not the only history/archaeology postgraduate at Canterbury Christ Church working on a Kent topic, and among the others are Joseph O’Riordan and Jacie-Ann Ryan whom I have mentioned before. Joseph is working on the impact of the Reformation on the people of Canterbury and Jacie-Ann is exploring food history in Kent during the Second World War. However there are others and they include Cheryl Periton who is studying the development of numeracy in early modern society for a doctorate. She is using Faversham as her main case study, not least because the town and church court records are especially rich for this area of Kent. Lily Hawker-Yates will draw on archaeology and history as she examines how people explain the archaeology around them, both in the past and in the present. Using documents within Canterbury Cathedral Archives, such as parish records, she will seek changes in names of local places, which in some cases may reflect growing folk tradition. Another potentially valuable source for such a study are the Kent Hundred Rolls that date from 1274-5 and give information about who held land and what they were doing with it (digging ditches, buildings that may now exist solely as earthworks). Like Joseph, Hannah More has just started working on a Masters and her chosen topic is the suffragette movement in Kent, looking particularly at the differences in the experiences and attitudes of women in two regions of the county, firstly the Medway area, and, as a comparison, the apparently more militant women of east Kent.
Furthermore, several staff members within the School of Humanities are at various stages of putting together project proposals to funding bodies from the Heritage Lottery Fund to the AHRC. Among the former who are looking to develop a more community-based project are Dr Lesley Hardy from History and Dr Mike Bintley from English Literature. I have mentioned their joint proposal before, but I thought I would mention that Mike told me recently that Lesley had been working very hard on the bid with Dr Andrew Richardson of Canterbury Archaeological Trust and that they had or were just about to submit an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund regarding the ‘Finding Easnwithe’ project. This will also involve a particularly active local history and archaeology group from Folkestone and hopefully it will follow in the successful footsteps of ‘A Town Unearthed’, also funded by the Heritage Lottery a few years ago.
At a much earlier stage is a project on early modern Canterbury, which will employ the research skills of those at Canterbury Christ Church and elsewhere. This project is likely to involve Professors Jackie Eales from CCCU and Catherine Richardson from the University of Kent. I’m sure Jackie Eales is well known from her 1641 project on Canterbury, and Catherine has written extensively on material culture in the early modern period. Among her many publications are Everyday Objects and The Routledge Handbook of Material Culture in Early Modern Europe, and, as she and Tara Hamling have noted, ‘Knowing about people’s possessions is crucial to understanding their experience of daily life, the way they saw themselves in relation to their peers and their responses to and interactions with the social, cultural and economic structure and processes which made up the societies in which they lives’. Consequently, it will be interesting to see how all of these projects move forward and I will keep readers of the blog posted on developments.
Firstly, thank you to everyone who has been in contact with Ruth Duckworth using the email@example.com email address to register their interest in the Tudors and Stuarts History Weekend next April, the website is almost complete. I know I said that a couple of weeks ago but we then ran into a couple of issues. However, these have been almost completely resolved and things are moving on towards completion. Consequently, I am hopeful that we will indeed be up and running within the next ten days and as soon as we are I shall post the news. Moreover, Ruth and her colleague will also be in touch to give you the good news if you have given us your email address. More good news, Dr David Starkey will again be giving a lecture at the Weekend, and next year it will be on the afternoon of Saturday 1 April. I shall not reveal the title at this stage, but just say it is topical.
Another date that I would suggest that you reserve if you live in or around Canterbury is the evening of Tuesday 6 December, because this will mark the relaunch of the Centre that will be moving from its ‘home’ in the School of Humanities to a new ‘home’ in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. To highlight this event the Centre’s new Visiting Professor Paul Bennett will be giving an open lecture. As many of you will know, Paul Bennett is the Director of Canterbury Archaeological Trust. He is an expert on the history of Canterbury, and an authority on Libya’s classical past. In terms of the Centre, Professor Jackie Eales will remain as one of the heads but Dr Stephen Hipkin will be stepping aside and Professor Louise Wilkinson will be joining Jackie. This will have the merit, among other things, of giving the Centre direction from both a medievalist and an early modernist. Furthermore, it will then come within the orbit of the Dean of the Faculty and some of you will remember him from the blog last week – reports on the medieval buildings of Canterbury and the Ian Coulson Prize winners at the Nightingale Lecture.
A further date I would recommend you reserve is Saturday 12 November for the joint Centre and Kent Archaeological Society ‘Place Names and Family Names’ conference. This will feature the expert on Kentish place names Dr Paul Cullen of the University of the West of England. Some of you may have seen Paul’s work in the final chapter of Early Medieval Kent, 800-1220 where you can explore a large sample of place name elements to be found in the place names of Kent. Paul will be giving two of the lectures, including one on field names, a very interesting topic. Paul will be joined by Dr Michael Bintley from Canterbury Christ Church, an expert on Old English literature, and Elizabeth Finn, an archivist at the Kent History and Library Centre at Maidstone. Elizabeth Finn is working on a project to locate all the medieval manorial records for Kent and she will discuss the various place names she has discovered during her research.
Others among the Centre have also been busy and Professor Wilkinson has recently been at conferences in Dublin and Gloucester. The latter was at the cathedral and while there, she had a chance to look at some of their medieval documents. What particularly took her attention was Gloucester Abbey’s medieval charter collection (the abbey church became Gloucester Cathedral in 1541, the area previously being within the see of Worcester) that has been preserved in a series of scrapbooks. However, this is not as detrimental as it sounds as the charters were carefully fixed into these bound volumes and the seals have been protected by cutting out blocks within the pages. As a result, there is plenty of room for the seals and the charters are in a beautiful monkish hand. Among those produced for women as grantors to the abbey was one that involved beehives and there is a little drawing of a beehive at the start of the charter – a lovely touch.
Centre members have not only been giving lectures but they have been attending papers too. Like Dr David Grummitt, the Head of the School of Humanities, I was in the audience on Wednesday when Professor Steven Gunn gave the first History Research lecture at the University of Kent. Professor Gunn is the joint head of an ESRC-funded project to look at coroners’ inquests produced across England in the sixteenth century. In total, there are 9000 inquests and the various details are being recorded on an Excel spreadsheet to produce a searchable database. Professor Barbara Hanawalt completed a similar project on medieval inquests several decades ago but the difficulty in that case was that such coroners’ records only survive for a few Midland counties. Professor Gunn has a far larger topographical coverage because, even though some counties may be under represented, the only counties without these returns are Durham, Lancashire and Cheshire – such areas were governed differently. The London records are not complete either.
I do not have space to give you more than a couple of examples but Professor Gunn provided a whole host of examples that illustrated, among other things, the dangers women faced collecting water, whether from wells or rivers, and the likelihood of carts over turning and crushing or otherwise fatally injuring either the driver or passers-by. Two of the Canterbury examples from 1519 and 1524 involved such cart accidents, the victims being Martin Hilles of St Dunstan’s and a three-year old girl called Alice Sigemond. Another Canterbury victim was Henry Byngham, esquire, who died in the fire at the archbishop’s palace in 1543. For those from the west of the county, it is perhaps worth recounting the fate of John William, the servant of David Wyllard of Hadlow, who died as the result of an accident at a blast furnace. Such colourful examples are very seductive and if you want more of these, Professor Gunn mentioned that he has written several articles for the BBC History Magazine. However, there remain methodological issues surrounding what is still a relatively small number of cases in terms of the overall population over a century, as well as concerns whether these provide evidence of the norm or the abnormal. But I’ll leave you to consider this and instead hope to be able to give you definitive news regarding the Tudors and Stuarts History Weekend next week.
In many ways, both events I’m talking about this week can be seen as a legacy of the Medieval Canterbury Weekend. The first took place in St Martin’s Priory, the university’s very splendid building behind St Martin’s church that used to be a gentry-style residence.
Two nights ago I attended Dr David Grummitt’s lecture to Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society at Canterbury Christ Church. The Society’s committee had decided to use the three autumn meetings for talks on this year’s great anniversaries, and the December meeting was the last of these on the Battle of Agincourt. As the head of the university’s School of Humanities and a late medieval/Tudor historian, Dr Grummitt is also involved in the Centre and on the committee organising the Medieval Canterbury Weekend. At the Weekend on Sunday he will be speaking on Henry VI, drawing on his very recent biography of the king, but on Wednesday he concentrated on the exploits of the father, Henry V.
This week has been busy, what with trying to finish off editing ‘Early Medieval Kent’ and attending the Fifteenth Century conference that this year took place at the University of Kent, which means I’m intending to write a short blog this week. Concerning the conference, although primarily organised by Kent people, there was some input from those from Canterbury Christ Church, and Dr David Grummitt, the head of the School of Humanities here was one of the co-organisers. There were a number of interesting papers, although the use of parallel sessions – inevitable but still a pity – meant that I missed a couple of speakers I would like to have heard. It was a varied programme ranging from peasant dairying (Jordan Claridge) to the wayward activities of apprentices in the guilds of Ghent (Laura Crombie), but as is often the case there was a fairly heavy emphasis on royalty and politics, as well as war which is not surprising considering the century witnessed conflict abroad and at home in England. The two plenary lectures were examples from these two strands of high politics and economics, the former from Paul Cavill of Cambridge on sermons at Paul’s Cross in London where preachers, as far as we know, focused on topical, political concerns; and Philip Slavin of Kent who looked at the agrarian crisis of the late 1430s, which very interestingly did not include cattle plague, as it had in the early fourteenth century.
Sir John Tufton of Hothfield
A fascinating gentry tomb – well worth a visit
For me the highlight of the conference was hearing Jonathan Hughes exposition of the cultural outlook of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, one of Henry V’s younger brothers and a man of commanding intellect. It is Duke Humphrey’s library that is at the core of the Bodleian collection at Oxford and his wide-ranging scholastic interests ranged far wider than his contemporaries. Alchemy was one of his interests, as well as associated medical texts. Such ideas informed much of his reading and thinking regarding classical texts, which included Greek philosophers as well as the more usual Roman writers. Jonathan’s particular focus was on Plato’s ‘Republic’ and how Plato’s ideas on rulers and governance, and the structure of society seems to have informed the duke’s perception. For as he pointed out, the evidence strongly suggests that he was extremely familiar with this text. This was very interesting, and so were his observations of the translation that Duke Humphrey commissioned that has come down to us as the Middle English ‘Book of Husbandry’. This treatise on the management of a gentleman’s estate month by month over twelve months and how is explores the relationship between man and the land, again using ideas associated with humour theory – the ‘wet, cold’ land of England (probably in actuality but also from the perspective of the humours) that needed to be dried through care to achieve balance – was fascinating for an ex-agriculturalist.
So that was the week just gone and turning to things to come, several from the Centre will be meeting on Monday to discuss Martin Watts’ idea about a possible study day or something similar on the fascinating history of Richborough, probably from its great Roman fort to its extraordinary use as a port during the Great War – Martin’s particular interest. So there is that to come and it is also worth mentioning here that the Medieval Canterbury Weekend in April 2016 will coincide with Canterbury Archaeological Trust’s celebration of its forty-year history – remembering what has happened and looking forward to what is to come. Amongst other events this will involve a grand exhibition of Trust finds, discoveries and interpretations from the work of past and present members, which will be held at the Beaney before it goes ‘on tour’ around Canterbury and its environs. And there will be more on all of these projects in the coming week, so watch this space!