It really will be a short blog this week because it is in some ways a slight breather before a very hectic time next week that has several meetings, two conferences and a workshop. Nevertheless, this week has seen Dr Diane Heath and her co-producers getting to the final stages on their ‘Medieval Animal Magic’ booklet for primary schools, while Professor Louise Wilkinson has been busy working at The National Archives and giving papers, as well as attending Exam Boards – it is that time of year!
In some ways a great deal has happened this week and in other ways very little, a sort of treading water time before various decisions are made and implemented. On a positive note it is now two weeks to the Maritime Kent through the Ages conference and some of the final arrangements are being put in place for Richard Holdsworth’s keynote lecture on Friday 22 June: ‘Kent, the Royal Navy and the Defence of Britain’ at 7pm [wine reception from 6.30pm]. All welcome, booking not required.
Keeping with the maritime theme, at least for part of this blog, I thought I would report on a presentation I went to last Saturday at the Beaney in Canterbury. This was the second in a series of lectures and other events organised by the Kent History and Library Centre at Maidstone under the title ‘Life along the Kent Coast’ that works with an exhibition at Maidstone called ‘Bawleys, Barbels and Owlers’.
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.
I called in at the Box Office in Augustine House this week to leave more leaflets for the Early Medieval Kent conference – Ruth Duckworth had run out there, and also to deliver leaflets for the Nightingale Lecture ‘Wartime Farm Revisited’ that will be given by Professor John Martin. Ruth checked the booking for the conference for me and these are climbing nicely, so we shall have a good audience on Saturday 10 September, although there is still plenty of space for more people.
Even though Canterbury Cathedral’s status as a royal mausoleum is not great, it does commemorate an extremely interesting queen, as Dr Eleanor Woodacre (University of Winchester) reminded her audience at the History staff/student seminar earlier this week. Joan of Navarre, Henry IV’s Queen Consort seems to have been a very feisty individual, which was probably a good job because she had to deal with a range of challenging circumstances first as Duchess of Brittany, then as Queen of England and finally during a long widowhood. Among these challenges was an accusation of witchcraft in 1419 when it was said that she had plotted to bring about Henry V’s death. However, Dr Woodacre believes that this should be seen as a royal strategy to enrich the Crown’s coffers at a time when the king was in need of funds for military campaigning in France – as a consequence of the accusation her dower lands had been seized by the king. This focus on her dower lands – she had such holdings in the right of her Breton and Lancastrian marriages – was at the heart of Eleanor’s paper.