I’m going to keep to a maritime theme this week. Firstly Dr Martin Watt’s one-day conference on ‘Richborough through the Ages’ has now sold over seventy-five tickets which is excellent. However there is still time and space for those who haven’t signed up yet. If you are interested in ports and coastal landscape, whether we are thinking about the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Normans and right up to the Great War and beyond, do check the webpages at www.canterbury.ac.uk/richborough
I thought I would start this week by noting that it is just over five weeks now to the one-day conference on ‘Richborough through the Ages’. Tickets are continuing to sell well so if you haven’t bought yours and the day sounds attractive, do check out the website at www.canterbury.ac.uk/richborough we would be delighted to see you. By 25 June Early Medieval Kent, 800-1220 will have been published by Boydell, and, as well as several contributors from Canterbury Archaeological Trust, the article on monasteries was written by Dr Diane Heath who was heavily involved in the organisation of the Medieval Canterbury Weekend.
I’m delighted to report that ‘Richborough through the Ages’ has over 60 people coming to it, but there are still spaces on Saturday 25 June so do have a look at the details online at www.canterbury.ac.uk/richborough if you think it sounds interesting. I’m not surprised that it is proving to be popular because it includes well-known archaeologists as speakers, such as Keith Parfitt of Canterbury Archaeological Trust and the Dover Archaeological Group, and Ges Moody who is a local expert and extremely active as an archaeologist in the Thanet area. Among those speaking from History at Canterbury Christ Church will be Lesley Hardy, who is particularly well-known for her work in the Folkestone area and John Bulaitis, who is heavily involved in his local history group at Nonington. Leading everyone and the driving force behind this project is Martin Watts, and it is great to see this level of interest in the history of east Kent.
I thought I would begin this week with a couple of notices that involve events linked to the Centre, although before that I’ll just mention that Matthew Crockatt has given the Medieval Canterbury Weekend an afterlife – so do please look at the winning postgraduate poster, the short report and the picture gallery. Now to return to the events, the first involves a talk about St Botolph that will be taking place at Folkestone on 19 April. This is a free lecture organised by the Folkestone People’s History Centre that will take place at the Old Town Hall, Folkestone at 6.00pm when Denis Pepper will discuss this local saint under the title ‘The Riddles of St Botolph – Monk of Romney Marsh and Folly Field’. Do go along if you think this may be of interest, and you will also be able to find out about other activities relating to the history of Folkestone and surrounding area from the organisers. These include Dr Lesley Hardy from Canterbury Christ Church, who is particularly involved in community-focused projects in the town, such as ‘Finding Eanswythe’. The second event I would like to mention also involves a Kent port, this time Richborough and concerns the one-day conference that Dr Martin Watts has organised for Saturday 25 June. As I have mentioned before, the speakers will cover aspects of the port’s history over a very long time span, beginning with Keith Parfitt’s (Canterbury Archaeological Trust) assessment of Roman Richborough and concluding with Professor Clare Ungerson’s examination of the port as a camp for Jewish refugees from Germany in 1939/40.
I decided to leave the blog this week until today because I wanted to highlight a lecture that took place this evening at Canterbury Christ Church. For years Dr Paul Bennett, as Director of Canterbury Archaeological Trust, has been delivering his annual review of the work of the Trust. Indeed, as he said this evening, he has done this for several decades albeit its designation as The Frank Jenkins Memorial Lecture is more recent. The idea of the lecture as a memorial was especially fitting today because Paul began his talk by remembering four highly valued people: Crispin Jarman who had been a Trust employee since 1991 and whose particular expertise had been as a surveyor, including his work on the vast Thanet Earth site; Patrizia Macri who had also lost her battle against cancer and who had been part of the Trust’s team in the early 2000s before successfully completing her PhD in archaeology at Cambridge; Nick Spurrier who had been a key figure in ‘A Town Unearthed’ as the publicity officer of this Folkestone-based community project that had involved both Canterbury Archaeological Trust and Canterbury Christ Church; and perhaps the man who will be most missed, not least because of his involvement in so many projects and organisations. Readers of this blog will have read about Ian Coulson before, but I cannot miss him out because, as Paul showed, he was such a towering presence in so many aspects of history and archaeology in the county, and his untimely death has robbed the Trust, and History at Christ Church of a major friend, partner and inspirational presence.
This has been another busy week regarding putting arrangements in place for the ‘Richborough through the Ages’ conference that will take place at Old Sessions House, Canterbury Christ Church on Saturday 25 June. To give you a taste of what looks to be a very exciting day, I’m going to run through the speakers and their topics here.
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.
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.
About this time last year I was musing about Archbishop Sudbury and the subject of commemoration, a fitting topic for the last week in December. This year I’m going to start with another murdered archbishop because today, of course, is the anniversary of Thomas Becket’s martyrdom in his own cathedral in 1170. Although I did not attend Evensong this evening when those events will have been remembered through an embellishment to the service that involves the archbishop leading the congregation to the Martyrdom, while the lay clerks continue Vespers in the quire. The events at the Martyrdom having been retold to the lay onlookers, the archbishop takes the congregation down to the crypt, where Thomas’ mangled body was similarly taken, the choir, as the monks, joining the assembled masses in the crypt for the remainder of the service. Much of this movement is undertaken by candlelight, greatly enhancing the atmosphere of this most evocative of services.
Now that the Canterbury Christ Church campus is almost deserted, the students having finished last Friday and only a few stalwarts in the School still working in their offices today, it seems a good time to bring you up to date with the thinking of members within the Centre about future plans. As you might expect these are quite diverse and range from Dr Lesley Hardy’s desire to concentrate on Public History to Dr John Bulaitis’ proposal to hold a conference in 2017 on ‘Tithe through Time’, a subject that he feels has considerable merit as a means of understanding social tensions in the countryside from medieval to modern times.