Thanks firstly to Dr Diane Heath for last week’s blog, and today I thought I would start with Professor Louise Wilkinson’s virtual ‘Farewell’ last Friday where she was joined by most members from History, several members of the School of Humanities administration team and Dr Harriet Kersey from CCCU Research, who is a former doctoral student of Louise’s. As all agreed, it is a great pity that such a great scholar and lovely, caring person is leaving CCCU after about sixteen years, but as her parents will still be here in Canterbury for the time being, we haven’t ‘lost’ her completely. Consequently, there will be a ‘proper Farewell’ once the lockdown is over when she will be given a rather special gift to mark everyone’s appreciation of what she has done for History and the university more widely.
Now that the Centre has its banner about the Medieval Canterbury Weekend, and features the ‘Campfire Tales’ at The Canterbury Tales, I thought I would mention there are still tickets available for most events, but if you are thinking of coming, please do book up very soon before we are beginning to sell out for certain talks: https://www.canterbury.ac.uk/medieval-canterbury In addition the souvenir brochure has now gone off to the printers and it is even bigger than before, and again it will be on sale at the Weekend in aid of the Ian Coulson Memorial Postgraduate Award fund.
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.
This week has seen more activity regarding publicity and arrangements for the Medieval Canterbury Weekend. In addition Dr Martin Watts has been finalising details for the one-day conference on ‘Richborough through the Ages’ and we will be start promoting the conference very shortly. However, having reported on both of these last week, I am going instead to turn my attention to the Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society’s February lecture that was given by Dr Andrew Richardson of Canterbury Archaeological Trust. Andrew Richardson is an expert on Anglo-Saxon material culture and is one of the contributors to Early Medieval Kent, 800–1220, but his topic on Wednesday evening at Canterbury Christ Church was ‘Vessels of the dead: funerary archaeology in Canterbury and District, 2012–15’. He used a series of case studies to discuss the problems and value of the work of metal detectorists over the last few years in east Kent.