As promised, I’m bringing news of ongoing projects involving Centre staff and without putting any pressure on Dr Diane Heath, I believe her HLF application for her ‘Medieval Animals Heritage’ project will be submitted this week. This is brilliant news because this project on dragons, mermaids, lions and pelicans (and other animals) has the potential to bring wellbeing and spiritual uplift to east Kent, much as these animals did around 800 to 900 years ago.
To run a successful event, you need an ace team and the Centre was again extremely fortunate to have such a group of people. I will come to those at Canterbury in a minute but first I want to thank all the brilliant speakers. I shall be naming everyone further down in this marathon post, but I feel it is important to highlight just how fortunate we were this weekend to have people of international scholarly renown who were prepared to give up their weekend to ‘bring to Canterbury’ their expertise, their vast knowledge, their good humour, and their willingness to engage with a whole host of questions from our audiences – THANK YOU!
The Centre’s blog is back! I’ll be featuring the Kent History Postgraduates Group shortly, but first I thought I would give you some news and highlight what the Centre’s team have been doing recently.
Although not quite changing decisively hour by hour, things do seem to be doing that on a daily basis as national leaders scramble to keep abreast of this pandemic in various ways. This is such a tough time for so, so many across the world, including a whole host of groups and individuals in this country, and it is vitally important that everyone supports those working in health and care services wherever they are who are doing a brilliant job.
Stop press: Dr Claire Bartram’s edited collection Kentish Book Culture: Writers, Archives, Libraries and Sociability 1400-1660 (Oxford and Bern: Peter Lang, 2020) arrived yesterday and it looks a very fine volume. Then today the first group of taught MA students in MEMS and Modern History graduated, congratulations to all and especially Katie Brooke as the winner of the first Lawrence Lyle Memorial MA Dissertation Prize.
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.
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.
Now that we are well into January it is time to move on to the next part of the preparations for the Medieval Canterbury Weekend 2018 on 6–8 April. Speakers have been invited to send details of the books they would like Craig at the Canterbury Christ Church University bookshop to have at the book stall, and several people including Dr Janina Ramirez and Dr Helen Castor have responded already. If you have not heard about the Weekend, please check it out at www.canterbury.ac.uk/medieval-canterbury
In some ways the theme this week is the distinctive nature of Kent culture, or at least that the particular nature of the county led to the production of a fascinating archive and finally that this, too, had a bearing on a certain Canterbury institution.
Firstly, very briefly, we are now just over a week away from the joint all-day conference on ‘Names: Kent Places and People’ that will take place in Powell Lecture theatre on Saturday 12 November. There are still tickets available at: http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/arts-and-culture/calendar.aspx or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01227 782994. Another date for those from Canterbury is Tuesday 6 December at 6pm in Old Sessions House when Paul Bennett, the Director of Canterbury Archaeological Trust, will give his audience the story of his life as an archaeologist that will include his work in Libya, Iraq and Canterbury – not to be missed!
Being in Petts Wood on Wednesday, I met Janet Clayton who is working on her doctorate under the supervision of Dr David Grummitt at Canterbury Christ Church. She is researching the history of Scadbury manor through its relations with London. As a leading member of Orpington and District Archaeological Society, she has for several decades been involved in numerous archaeological excavations in and around this moated manor complex. It is a gem of a place and this was my first opportunity to see it. The de Scadbury family as holders of the manor may predate the 1260s but, as Janet said, this is the first reference to them and is an interesting period because it coincides with the baronial wars between Henry III and Simon de Montmort, and the de Montforts had land in the area. Nevertheless, Scadbury is usually associated with the Walsingham family who may have come originally from Little Walsingham in Norfolk. Yet the connection is closer because Thomas Walsingham was an extremely wealthy London vintner and like many of his social group he purchased land, or in this case a manor, in the early fifteenth century. He may have resided in Kent at times, but his London house probably remained his main residence, and he and his wife sought burial in their home parish of St Katherine’s by the Tower. Such London merchants, and in Thomas’s case his son, grandson and great-grandson continued to foster the relationship between town and country; court, London and the provinces, and it such connections and inter-connections that Janet is exploring.
The great hall at Scadbury
Of course, she is not the only history/archaeology postgraduate at Canterbury Christ Church working on a Kent topic, and among the others are Joseph O’Riordan and Jacie-Ann Ryan whom I have mentioned before. Joseph is working on the impact of the Reformation on the people of Canterbury and Jacie-Ann is exploring food history in Kent during the Second World War. However there are others and they include Cheryl Periton who is studying the development of numeracy in early modern society for a doctorate. She is using Faversham as her main case study, not least because the town and church court records are especially rich for this area of Kent. Lily Hawker-Yates will draw on archaeology and history as she examines how people explain the archaeology around them, both in the past and in the present. Using documents within Canterbury Cathedral Archives, such as parish records, she will seek changes in names of local places, which in some cases may reflect growing folk tradition. Another potentially valuable source for such a study are the Kent Hundred Rolls that date from 1274-5 and give information about who held land and what they were doing with it (digging ditches, buildings that may now exist solely as earthworks). Like Joseph, Hannah More has just started working on a Masters and her chosen topic is the suffragette movement in Kent, looking particularly at the differences in the experiences and attitudes of women in two regions of the county, firstly the Medway area, and, as a comparison, the apparently more militant women of east Kent.
Furthermore, several staff members within the School of Humanities are at various stages of putting together project proposals to funding bodies from the Heritage Lottery Fund to the AHRC. Among the former who are looking to develop a more community-based project are Dr Lesley Hardy from History and Dr Mike Bintley from English Literature. I have mentioned their joint proposal before, but I thought I would mention that Mike told me recently that Lesley had been working very hard on the bid with Dr Andrew Richardson of Canterbury Archaeological Trust and that they had or were just about to submit an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund regarding the ‘Finding Easnwithe’ project. This will also involve a particularly active local history and archaeology group from Folkestone and hopefully it will follow in the successful footsteps of ‘A Town Unearthed’, also funded by the Heritage Lottery a few years ago.
At a much earlier stage is a project on early modern Canterbury, which will employ the research skills of those at Canterbury Christ Church and elsewhere. This project is likely to involve Professors Jackie Eales from CCCU and Catherine Richardson from the University of Kent. I’m sure Jackie Eales is well known from her 1641 project on Canterbury, and Catherine has written extensively on material culture in the early modern period. Among her many publications are Everyday Objects and The Routledge Handbook of Material Culture in Early Modern Europe, and, as she and Tara Hamling have noted, ‘Knowing about people’s possessions is crucial to understanding their experience of daily life, the way they saw themselves in relation to their peers and their responses to and interactions with the social, cultural and economic structure and processes which made up the societies in which they lives’. Consequently, it will be interesting to see how all of these projects move forward and I will keep readers of the blog posted on developments.