New Directions in Kent History Since Joan Thirsk

Joan Thirsk was an exceedingly important social historian of the 20th century, who understood the importance of putting the history of people, especially rural people, at the centre of academic studies.

Joan was a major force in the creation of a magisterial set of volumes spanning a period of time from the neolithic to the 20th century titled The Agrarian History of England and Wales. She also understood the importance of difference, that the various regions across England had developed differently in terms of ideas about lordship, how the land was managed, and the varying farming regimes and techniques that were employed.

After a distinguished academic career at the Universities of Leicester and Oxford, she retired to Kent. Among her activities in retirement, as Professor Christopher Dyer noted in his obituary of her, is a co-authored book entitled Hadlow: Life, Land and People in a Wealden Parish 1460-1600 (2007).

This history of the place that became her home for the last 30 years of her long and distinguished life highlights her desire to make ‘academic’ history accessible to a wide audience, as her successors will do in this conference.

Conference Details

The conference took place on Saturday 28 March 2015 Canterbury Christ Church University. The day was split into four themed sessions with plenty of room for lively discussion. Read and keep track of responses to the conference on our Centre blog.

Session 1: Early Modern Towns

            Duncan Harrington, ‘Early education and apprenticeship in Faversham’

            Dr Sandra Dunster, ‘Feeding the dockyard: the fight for Chatham Market 1660-1712’

Session 2: Producers and Consumers

           Dr Lorraine Flisher, ‘Adjusting to the market: the Clothier elite and entrepreneurship in the Weald of Kent during the 17 th century’

           Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh, ‘Going to visit: an imaginary tour of Sir Peter Buck’s house in 17 th -century Rochester’


Session 3: Challenging Authority in the Countryside

           Dr Susan Pittman, ‘As interface between lords and locals: the deer keeper’s dilemma in Elizabethan and Jacobean Kent’

           Dr Paula Simpson, ‘‘I marveyle what yow meine to carry my tythe barley away’: tithing out in the Kentish countryside’


Session 4: Kent and the Wider World

            Dr Claire Bartram, ‘Plough and pen: reviewing the place of agricultural texts and authors in early modern society’

            Dr Andy Kesson, ‘Canterbury onstage and backstage at the London playhouses’


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Last edited: 05/12/2017 01:13:00