Trip to Paris, December 2018

From 11–13 December 2018, Dr. Emily Guerry led a group of twelve third -year students from her Saints, Relics, and Churches and Gothic Art modules on an exciting fieldtrip to Paris. She was joined by two of her PhD students, Mr Noah Smith and Mx Han Tame, who work as GTAs in the School of History and who provided invaluable support throughout the excursion.

Together, they visited the Basilica of Saint-Denis, the cathedrals of Notre -Dame de Paris and Notre-Dame de Chartres, and the Sainte-Chapelle to marvel at medieval design and engineering. They also went to the Musée du Louvre, Musée du Cluny, and the Cité d’Architecture et du Patrimoine to examine dozens of medieval objects crafted in wood, stone, plaster, glass, gems, gold, and ivory.

The fieldtrip was an astonishing success as it enhanced and enriched the students’ understanding of the source material through close encounters with the sites and things we examined in our modules. We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the School of History and the University of Kent Internationalisation fund for supporting this once-in-a-lifetime educational experience for our third-year students.

Some student reports and testimonies from the trip are below:

Edward Aylott

“At the end of last term, we as a group of third-year history students were given the opportunity to visit many of the cathedrals, abbeys and churches that we have spent the last three months reading and being taught about. It was fantastic, and quite surreal to see these buildings in the flesh, and something I’m quite sure I would not have been able to do without the help of funding from the University. A particular highlight for me was out visit to Cité d’Architecture, which among other things houses a collection of plaster casts of many of France’s finest examples of medieval architecture. Seeing some of these pieces of monumental sculpture up close more than anything gave me a real sense of their truly massive scale; something that could never have been appreciated through the photographs I’d seen in books and on lecture slides. With this in mind, I’d like to thank Dr. Guerry, Rob Brown and the University for organizing this for us. It was a splendid trip that I’ll remember for some time, not to mention the great help it has had to my studies in medieval art history.”

Lydia McCutcheon

“The trip to Paris was an incredible way to end the term of studying the rise of Gothic architecture and medieval belief. Even those who had visited Paris before saw the sculpture. architecture and artwork in a new light due to knowledge acquired during the term. We were so fortunate to have the trip funded by the School of History, allowing everyone to experience medieval Paris.”

Lucy Gwyther

“The Paris trip was an amazing opportunity to experience the art and architecture which I have studied in the Art of Death, Gothic Art, and Saints, Relics and Churches modules, in real life, guided by the expertise of Dr. Emily Guerry. It gave me a clearer understanding of the scale and extraordinary detail of the work, and thus the impression it would have had on those viewing it over 700 years ago. Thank you so much to the School of History and Dr. Guerry for making this once-in-a-lifetime experience possible, and for enriching my understanding of medieval art and architecture.”

Ellen Meade

“I would like to thank the School of History for funding the field trip to Paris. It was a great asset to my studies to view so many artworks that we had studied as the trip helped me to contextualize and view in detail the spaces we have spent so long learning. Being able to visit the sites and view the decorative elements of the Cathedrals up close was a privilege I would not have been able to undertake on my own and I would like to thank the School of History for allowing me to do so.”

Gemma Downing

“The recent trip to Paris was both interesting and very beneficial for my studies. This is not only because it was fascinating to explore and study the different medieval cathedrals and churches, it aided me with my studies on the ‘Saints, Relics and Churches’ module. In particular, it allowed me to visually learn about the building that we had previously looked at in our seminars, such as the Saint-Denis, Chartres, the Notre Dame, and the Sainte-Chapelle. This was very useful to me as prior to studying ‘Saints, Relics and Churches’ I had only studied modern and social history – therefore, I found this module challenging at the start because of it’s medieval nature. Hence, I did not have a clear understanding on the history of these cathedrals, nor did I have a great understanding of their importance in the veneration of saints. Therefore, the trip to Paris allowed me to clarify my understanding of cathedrals such as Saint-Denis and the Sainte-Chapelle and expand my understanding of their importance in medieval Paris. I am very grateful for the School of History for giving us the opportunity to visit Paris, as it provided me with a new experience of Paris. This is because when I have previous visited Paris, I had only visited the Eiffel Tower and the outside of the Notre Dame. The trip therefore provided me with a new understanding of Paris and it’s medieval history.”