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.
This week has finally seen my return to preparing an article on businesswomen in fifteenth-century Canterbury that I haven’t really had a chance to work on since late last year. So it has been a case first of trying to pick-up where I left off and rethink myself back into the subject. However having worked out the rolling five-year average for all the ‘intrantes’: those below the freemen who were permitted to reside and trade in the city and compared it to the number of businesswomen similarly living and working independently, it is interesting to note that in the 1480s, in particular, these numbers do not follow the same pattern and the figures for women pick up in this decade whereas the total figures are the lowest for the whole century. I’m still working out what this may mean in terms of how these businesswomen were viewed by the authorities, not least because this broadly coincides with the incidence in the city’s courts of those classed as a ‘femme sole’ (a married woman who was legally seen as responsible for her commercial activities). Demonstrating once again the importance of the city’s medieval records, and these are still held at Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library.
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 thought I would keep it short this week, not least because I’m pretty busy doing things for the Medieval Canterbury Weekend. Just in case you have missed this the box office at www.canterbury.ac.uk/medieval-canterbury in terms of ticket sales will close this Friday, but tickets will be available to buy at Old Sessions, Canterbury Christ Church on Saturday 2 April (cash payments only) and at the Cathedral Lodge, the Precincts on Sunday 3 April (same arrangements). So please if you are interested do come along. There are lots of fascinating talks, and just considering those under ‘Books and Manuscripts’, there will be two great lectures on Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts. Firstly on Friday evening Richard Gameson will consider the fabulous St Augustine’s Gospels, seen by contemporaries as relics in their own right, and then on Saturday morning Michelle Brown will look more broadly at the manuscripts and documents produced in Anglo-Saxon Canterbury at two of the most important scriptoria in the land. Sunday will bring us forward in time to the ‘Age of Chaucer’ and Peter Brown’s entertaining assessment of what was being produced by way of texts by Chaucer’s contemporaries – another treat.
I have also heard from Martin Watts, who tells me that tickets for his ‘Richborough through the Ages’ are selling. This one-day conference on Saturday 25 June promises to be a great day. Now as a medievalist I am particularly interested to hear what Ges Moody has to say about the area as a contested landscape and Paul Dalton’s assessment of Richborough’s medieval context also looks to be in my area. However I’m sure the modern history lectures will be exciting too, and as an ex-dairy farmer I’ll be interested to hear what John Bulaitis has to say about G.C Solley of King’s End Farm, whose activities in the early 20th century extended well beyond farming!
I’m also thinking about the autumn, when hopefully the first recipient of an award from the Ian Coulson Memorial Postgraduate fund will be embarking on his/her new research project towards a higher degree on a Kentish history topic at Canterbury Christ Church. At the moment I’m looking at a one-day conference on ‘Early Medieval Kent’ on 10 September, and possibly towards another joint lecture with Brook Agricultural Museum, the Nightingale Memorial Lecture. Last year we were treated to a brilliant talk by Canterbury Christ Church’s own John Bulaitis on the ‘tithe wars’ in early 1930s Kent, a lecture that is still discussed in glowing terms. Indeed it was one of the topics raised at a meeting of the Trustees of the Brook Museum yesterday, and hopefully the next lecture will be equally successful. I have an idea for a potential speaker but before I reveal anything more I want to talk to a few key people. However I am really excited about the prospect, so do watch this space.
This concept of joint conferences and lectures has been actively embraced by the Centre and I believe the Kent Archaeological Society’s Place-Name conference for 2016 will also take place under such a scheme. Again when I know more details I’ll let you know. To a degree keeping with an archaeological theme, it is probably worth mentioning that Canterbury Archaeological Trust’s ‘40 years’ exhibition at The Beaney will be opening at Easter and will be in The Front Room there for about a month. Andrew Richardson of CAT has also been involved as the honorary curator of the KAS in overseeing the cataloguing of the Society’s artefact collection held at Maidstone Museum. In addition, photos of the pieces are going on the Society’s website making a fantastic resource for teachers, students and those having a more general interest in the county’s archaeological heritage.
Finally, it was good to see this evening that the BBC’s regional news programme was actively exploring links between Shakespeare and Kent under the banner of the regional and national aspect of Shakespeare 400. Thus it was excellent to watch Liz Finn at the Kent History Library Centre in Maidstone pointing out entries in Dover’s chamberlains’ accounts relating to early modern players, in this case the theatre company linked to the Bard, the King’s Players, who visited the town on more than one occasion. The camera crew had also been to Dover Museum because we were treated to Jon Iveson pointing out details on William Eldred’s fascinating map of the town dated c.1641. So it was great to see Kent’s history brought to life in this way, and it would be equally fantastic to do the same for Canterbury, although hopefully we will not have to wait until the 2020 anniversary of St Thomas Becket’s Translation.
Another busy week at Canterbury Christ Church because on Wednesday Dr Michael (Mike) Bintley gave a paper to the staff and postgraduates in Humanities in St Martin’s Priory and then on Thursday Professor Louise Wilkinson was ‘up the hill’ at Kent giving a paper to the Medieval and Early Modern Studies group of postgraduates and staff members on the daughters of Edward I. I also spotted among the Christ Church tweets that the Folkestone People’s History Centre, which involves Dr Lesley Hardy of Christ Church and Dr Andrew Richardson of Canterbury Archaeological Trust, had recently held a couple of events: a lecture by Andrew on the period after the Romans left when various Germanic and other groups arrived in Kent (and England), and a family activities day last Saturday, including activities reflecting this same transitional era.
This week has seen the ‘Richborough through the Ages’ conference details and booking information go up on the Centre’s webpages and more preparations for the Medieval Canterbury Weekend, including Diane Heath’s work on the souvenir programme and the arrival of posters for the postgraduate poster competition. We are still putting out publicity because only the guided tours are fully booked, and for people interested in books and manuscripts there remain tickets for some fascinating lectures on Anglo-Saxon treasures by Richard Gameson (Durham) and Michelle Brown (British Library), as well as the literary works of Chaucer’s contemporaries by Peter Brown (Kent). For those interested in warfare, Gordon Corrigan’s lecture on the Hundred Years War will highlight how and why England employed new military ideas, partly borrowed from the Scots, while Diana Webb and Carole Rawcliffe will focus respectively on pilgrim experiences and what medieval towns were like to live in. So things seem to be in hand for both Richborough and the Medieval Weekend and I’ll soon be turning my thoughts to planning an ‘Early Medieval Kent’ conference in the autumn. Early Medieval Kent, 800-1220 looks to be on track for its mid-June publication date and it will be great to be able to celebrate this final chapter in the Kent History series.
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.