Local historical sites and students benefit from Medieval Weekend

3 October 2016

A celebration of medieval Canterbury featuring more than 20 leading historians has helped to raise funds for four of the City’s historic buildings and initiate the Ian Coulson Memorial Postgraduate Prize for Canterbury Christ Church University History students.

In April hundreds of people flocked to Canterbury Christ Church University to hear talks from top historians and attend guided tours of key medieval sites within the City.

The success of Medieval Canterbury Weekend, which was organised by Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh and colleagues from the University’s Centre for Kent History and Heritage and School of Humanities, led to £12,000 being raised.


St John's Hospital

A total of £4000 has been split equally between four medieval buildings that featured as venues for the guided tours during the weekend. They are St John’s Hospital, St Mildred’s Church, the Westgate Towers and Poor Priests’ Hospital.

The remaining funds raised have been donated to set-up the Ian Coulson Memorial Postgraduate Prize for Kent History. The award will provide funding for postgraduate students at Christ Church who are studying Kent history at the Centre for Kent History and Heritage.

Dr Sweetinburgh explained: “Our Medieval Canterbury Weekend was a great success, with over 1,500 tickets being sold for both the lectures and the guided walks. Canterbury was of international importance during the medieval period and we are very lucky to be able to visit and research many of the sites that pilgrims and kings visited hundreds of years ago. Therefore, we are delighted to be able to give a donation to four of the places that were part of the tours to help with their upkeep for generations to come.

“In 2015 we lost one of Kent’s great educators in history and archaeology. Ian Coulson was enthusiastic and wanted to share his passion for history and archaeology with anyone he came into contact with. His had a wonderful desire to teach well-researched history; to explain the complex simply without losing either the audience or the subtlety of the topic, and he worked with primary school children through to adults of all ages and background.

“We feel that as a Centre for Kent History and Heritage, it is a fitting memorial to Ian’s dedication and work on the region’s history and archaeology to set-up this fund in his name, and to give the next generation of historians the chance to explore the wonderful history of our county.”

Two of the five Christ Church postgraduate students who received the award are Joe O’Riodan and Jacie-Ann Cole.

Joe was chosen because he has identified materials in the Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library that will enhance his project. His study for a Masters by Research will expand considerably on his undergraduate dissertation in which he looked at how the Reformation affected the lives of people in Canterbury.

Joe said: The Ian Coulson prize has acted as both a reassurance and morale boost. Beginning a Masters knowing that financial security is likely, and that my project proposal caught people’s imagination is after all, a rare privilege.

“It is also an honour to partake, however slightly, in the legacy of Mr Coulson, whose passion for his field was beyond question. My project centring around the Reformation, specifically its impact on the city of Canterbury across social, political and religious lines is more secure by this prize money. It is fantastic to live and work in the City I loved as an undergraduate, and to see that history come to life around me. This is something I believe will contribute to a successful, enjoyable Masters by Research.”


L to R: Dr Keith McLay, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Joe O’Riodan and Jacie-Ann Cole and the Lord Mayor of Canterbury Cllr George Metcalf, who presented the awards. 

Jacie will be studying for her Doctorate. Her project is also a progression from her postgraduate degree. She will look at food production during the Second World War, specifically how the rural communities of Kent reacted to the demands placed on them by central government to produce more food and the impact of rationing.

She said: “I am extremely excited to be embarking on a PhD in History at Canterbury Christ Church University. My undergraduate degree was in Food and Nutrition and during this course I began to realise the significance of food throughout history and how it can influence where and how we live. 

“In the last few years my interest in this has been drawn to Kent during the Second World War and I wish to explore the impact and implications of rationing in rural communities.

“From my initial interview at Christ Church, the lecturers here have been encouraging, supportive and enthusiastic about my project and I cannot imagine doing my PhD anywhere else. And being a recipient of the Ian Coulson Memorial Postgraduate Prize is such a privilege and a wonderful boost for my studies. I did not have the pleasure of meeting Ian but I have learnt that he was an inspiring and passionate historian who spent his life encouraging people from all age groups to enjoy history. As a mature student winning this prize will help me financially to pursue my research, but more importantly, the positive acknowledgement that my thesis is invaluable.”


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 23:03:00