After working for over 40 years as a Chartered Tax Advisor I decided to go to University when I retired. I have a BA (Hons) in history and a MA in medieval and early modern history from the University of Kent. I am now studying part-time for a PhD at Canterbury Christchurch University.
Tonbridge: the evolution of a town, 1250 to 1700
In recent years a growing body of work on towns has examined not just the urban area but also relationships with the surrounding hinterland and wider society. Urban historians have also increasingly looked beyond the traditional division into medieval and early modern periods to chart the complex evolution of British towns over a longer period and provide a meaningful context for their development during a time of major transformative change. This enables the evaluation of the long-term impact of economic expansion as well as social and cultural changes within an urban framework.
Tonbridge offers an excellent case study for this methodological approach and will allow me to answer key questions such as what factors shaped its development and how were they influenced by growing autonomy from seigneurial control, as well as considering inter-relationships in a period of increasing industrialisation. I want to look at how dis-parking the medieval deer parks affected land usage and immigration, as well as the role that the town played in Wealden industry.
The thesis will build on a community history project that the Tonbridge Historical Society initiated in 2016 to raise awareness of Tonbridge's medieval history and produce a book for a local readership. My research will continue my work as a member of this project, but with a more academic approach, and will provide the opportunity to consider issues falling outside the project's remit.
- Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh
- Professor Louise Wilkinson