Having had a number of meetings this week about prospective Centre events for 2018, I thought I would just mention them before reporting on the last of the Kent History postgraduate seminars for this academic year.
Progress on the Tudors and Stuarts History Weekend website continues but is not quite finished. Consequently, this week I am going to concentrate on a fascinating lecture I heard last night by Keith Parfitt of Canterbury Archaeological Trust.
Keeping with the idea of excitement at conferences among participants – speakers and audience, yesterday I was at the Centre’s ‘Richborough through the Ages’ conference, hence the photo above. Perhaps one of the major differences between last week and this was that the MEMS conference at Kent University was by definition to a great degree inward looking as far as the university community is concerned – it was by academics at various stages in their careers for an audience that was roughly comparable.
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 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.
Having had a meeting today with Drs Martin Watts and John Bulaitis regarding the feasibility of putting on a one-day conference on the development of Richborough, especially its role as a gateway both into and out of Kent, and England, to/from continental Europe, I thought I would pass on the news to readers. Martin and John’s primary interest in the place rests on its 20th-century history, and both are keen to provide lectures from their recent research findings. As a consequence it is envisaged at this planning stage that the talks in the afternoon will feature episodes from the port’s Great War and subsequent history, while the morning will focus on its Roman, Anglo-Saxon and medieval past. In addition to lectures from staff at Canterbury Christ Church, the intention is to involve experts from east Kent, particularly field archaeologists from the region who have first-hand knowledge of the area. More on this anon as things develop, but a provisional date for this conference is late May or early June in 2016.