I must admit I thought the Centre was busy in October, but things really move up a gear in November. Starting with the event in the Powell Building next Friday to mark the centenary of the signing of the Armistice that Dr Martin Watts is heavily involved in. For details of the talks, readings and music, please call 01227 922994. The following week will see Professor Louise Wilkinson speaking to Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society on ‘Women and chivalry’ in Newton, Ng03 at 7pm on the Wednesday and then on Saturday 17 November will be the ‘Exploring Kentish Naming Practices’ conference (with Kent Archaeology Society) www.canterbury.ac.uk/kent-names .
This has marked another busy week for the Centre, but before I come to that I thought I would let you know that tickets for the Tudors and Stuarts History Weekend on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 April 2019 are selling well already. Among the talks that people are interested in so far are Dr Helen Castor’s discussion of Elizabeth I; Dr David Starkey’s exploration of aspects of Henry VII’s ‘highly idiosyncratic reign’; Dr Clive Holmes’ examination of why Oliver Cromwell was not a persecutor of witches, and Professor Andrew Hopper’s investigation into the human costs of the English Civil Wars, which draws on his exciting new work on petitions made by wounded soldiers and others who sought financial help from successive governments during the mid 17th century. Please do have a look at the full listing, then select to make your own choices within our pick-and-mix scheme to tailor ‘your programme’ to your interests, and perhaps those of your friends.
Before I come on to two saints, one at Dover and Chichester and the other at Folkestone, I thought I would bring you some breaking news about the Tudors and Stuarts History Weekend 2019, as well as advance notice of the Medieval Canterbury Weekend 2020. Over recent weeks I have been working on the 2019 History Weekend programme and even though it is not yet complete, I thought I would mention that in the last day or so I have had several confirmations. Among the speakers who will be coming to Canterbury are Professor Glenn Richardson (speaking on Cardinal Wolsey) and Dr David Starkey (on Henry VII’s financial policies); and for the Stuarts – Professor Maria Hayward (on perfume at the royal court) and Dr Clive Holmes (on Cromwell and witchcraft). Then in 2020 we will be welcoming for the first time the Revd Dr Rowan Williams and Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, but much more on this nearer the time.
Many thanks to Dr Diane Heath for her blog last week about Professor Sandy Heslop’s lecture on St Anselm’s crypt in Canterbury Cathedral and the torchlight exploration of the crypt after his lecture. As a follow-up event, the Centre held an ‘Envisioning Workshop’ the next day with the intention of thinking how the ‘crypt creatures’ might be used to engage with a wide range of audiences.
Before I come to the Tudors and Stuarts Weekend, I thought I would mention the ‘Family and Power in the Middle Ages’ conference that will be taking place on Friday and Saturday this week.
We are now just a fortnight away from the Tudors and Stuarts Weekend and excitement is growing as we look forward to welcoming speakers such as Alison Weir, David Starkey, Janina Ramirez, Glenn Richardson and Anna Keay to Canterbury Christ Church.
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.
I thought I would start this week by again drawing your attention to the showcase event that the Centre is planning in 2017 in case there are any new readers of this blog. The event I am referring to is the ‘Tudors and Stuarts History Weekend’ scheduled for 31 March to 2 April 2017. Details of all the different talks and other events that make up the Weekend, as in April 2016 this is designed as a pick-and-mix feast, can be found at http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/tudors-stuarts but if you have any problems do email firstname.lastname@example.org because the Box Office team will be delighted to help you. Among the speakers, we will have Dr Janina Ramirez, Dr David Starkey and the head of this Centre Professor Jackie Eales; and the talks and guided tours are arranged under four headings: ‘Kings and Queens’, ‘Social History’; ‘the Church’, and ‘War and Politics’.
Far sooner is a lecture next week by a member of the History staff in the School of Humanities that will take place on Wednesday 19 October. As I am sure all of you know, this year and particularly this month has seen a considerable number of commemorate events concerning the Battle of Hastings. Canterbury Christ Church University’s event is a lecture to be given by Dr Leonie Hicks at Old Sessions House at 6 pm. Dr Hicks’ title is ‘Reading and Writing the Battle of Hastings’ and her talk will be preceded by a wine reception. It is hoped that staff, students and members of the public will come along to hear what I am sure will be a very interesting talk, and entrance is free.
(photo: Paul Tritton)
Another event, and like the ‘Tudor and Stuarts’ organised by the Centre, is the one-day conference on ‘Kent Places and People’ that is a joint venture with Kent Archaeological Society. This will take place on Saturday 12 November in Powell Lecture Theatre, beginning with coffee at 9.30 am. Among the speakers is Dr Paul Cullen, an authority on English place names. In his first lecture, he will focus on field names because they provide valuable reminders of the past and can reveal much about the countryside, as well as the earlier presence of orchards, gardens and meadows within the town. For example, in Canterbury such reminders include Solly’s Orchard, Miller’s Field and Beverley Meadow that are now respectively a garden, mostly covered by a car park, and a public park. Paul will also look more widely and such examples will include Fairmeadow in Maidstone where the town’s fairs were once held but the area is now part of a multi-lane highway to the M20.
Another of the speakers is Dr Mike Bintley, senior lecturer in medieval literature at Canterbury Christ Church, who will consider the use of the terms ‘wic’ and ‘burh’ in Old English poetry. Further details about the conference and a programme are available at:
It is excellent that the relaunch of the Centre will be marked by the inaugural professorial lecture by Paul Bennett because this is keeping with the idea of the Centre’s collaborative approach, and the desire to look outside the narrow confines of the university sector. As many of you will know, Paul is the Director of Canterbury Archaeological Trust and his knowledge of Canterbury’s history is comparable to his expertise on Libya’s ancient history. Indeed, Paul will bring these two places together in his lecture which is entitled ‘From Benghazi to Canterbury: an Archaeologist’s Tale’ and is scheduled for Tuesday 6 December – details of venue and time to follow. However having seen Paul this week, I can report that he had a very satisfactory trip to northern Iraq recently, the highlight being his excavation of a Homo neanderthalensis. Consequently, I am sure the audience will be treated a fascinating evening on 6 December.
This sense of the excitement of exploration was well portrayed by Felicity Aston at the first Public Lecture of this academic year at Canterbury Christ Church. Again, as many of you probably know Felicity is one of those intrepid explorers who relish a challenge, and for her this always involves some form of polar expedition. On Tuesday, she gave the packed lecture theatre some insights into her latest adventure that involved driving thousands of miles along frozen rivers and icy roads to visit the coldest place on Earth in deepest Alaska. The Royal Geographical Society sponsored her undertaking providing a brand new and specially equipped vehicle, and it was in amazingly good condition at the end of the journey. The idea was to discover how various cultures think about winter and perhaps not surprisingly this differed considerably. From the questions afterwards, it was clear the audience had been enthralled. Yet, I must admit from a personal perspective, the ‘cult’ of the giant bulls particularly fascinated me. As Felicity said, these statues of bulls found in parts of Alaska relate to the tradition of skeletons having been found buried deep underground in the ancient past, thereby giving them a mystical status. To finish, the Kent connection was not totally absent because Felicity had grown up in Tonbridge and her parents still live in west Kent.
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.