University helps map environmental way forward with Green Heritage film

A major initiative aimed at raising the profile of green spaces in the Canterbury district has received a boost with the release of a new film by a Kent environmental historian.

Dr Karen Jones of the University’s School of History, working with Dr Eirini Saratsi of its School of Anthropology and Conservation, helped launch the Growing Canterbury’s Green Heritage initiative in October 2018.

The film provides a campaigning focus for those working on environmental and green space projects in the district.

Please read the full article here:

University historian Dr Emily Guerry uncovers Danny Dyer’s royal ancestry

Senior Lecturer at University of Kent, Dr Emily Guerry, has recently appeared on a BBC One documentary offering her knowledge and expertise on Medieval History.

The documentary, Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family, follows British TV actor and personality, Danny Dyer, as he discovers his royal ancestry. Dr. Guerry reveals to Dyer that he is distantly related to the French King Louis IX, a devout religious leader who died in 1270.

Dr. Guerry explained: “He wasn’t just a king… he was a Saint. Twenty-seven years after his death, the Pope canonised him Saint Louis. There are very few saints that aren’t virgins or martyrs, so to have the blood of a saint in your blood is an extraordinary thing.”

Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family aired on 23 January and is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer, or alternatively read about it here:


Do you want to study history? Top tips from a graduate

Recent history graduate George Evans-Hulme gives his top tips and advice on how to get the most out of your history degree.

George’s article for History Extra includes a day in the life of an undergraduate, information on how much reading is involved and what opportunities a history degree can give you. He also advises how best to progress.

You can read his article here: .


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.”



Age of Revolution project

Waterloo200 is a registered charity that was set up and funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport with a view to promoting and documenting the bicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015. With the remainder of the grant, Waterloo200 undertook to develop an educational programme that documents and supports teaching about the ‘Age of Revolution, c.1775-1848’, organised around four major themes which envelop the period and remain topical today:

  • political revolution
  • war and the international order
  • social and cultural revolution
  • economic and technological revolution.

The legacy project, developed by an educational committee and delivered through a set of partners in the education and heritage sectors, aims to reach some 2,000 schools by the end of 2020 and to make available a host of digital resources that includes the original military collection from Waterloo200 but enlarges it to cover all aspects of society in more scope and detail.

The University of Kent’s involvement in the project is led by Dr Ben Marsh, whose research and teaching experience in the subject area was the basis of his collaborative volume on pedagogy (co-edited with Mike Rapport), Understanding and Teaching the Age of Revolutions (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017). Marsh’s background in public engagement and the involvement of a number of specialists at Kent who have conducted research or taught extensively about the period in question – including Dr Ambrogio Caiani and Dr Mark Lawrence (European history), Dr Tim Bowman (military history), Dr Rebekah Higgitt (history of technology and science), and Dr Claire Jones (history of medicine) – made the School of History an obvious choice to support key strands within the project, because of the range and breadth of our research and our links with museums and archive partners.

The academics have helped feed into the selection and description of the many of the objects digitised and annotated within the main Age of Revolution project: These draw on collections from around the UK, and reflect discussions in partnership with major organisations such as Culture24 and the Historical Association. The project will continue to grow until June 2020, and one of the most exciting features has been the opportunity to involve School of History students at Kent in our ongoing partnerships and projects. We have our own internal blogsite that documents this work, as our student volunteers make important contributions to gathering information, authoring digital text, recording podcasts with major historians of the period, working with schools and museums, and delivering projects such as films and exhibitions:

In the months to come, we will be working with the Old Operating Theatre, the Peterloo2019 team, Bowes Museum, and a range of regimental museums and archives to pull together more resources and objects that can make a difference to how teachers, students, and the general public think of the Age of Revolution and its legacy – which remains relentlessly topical in today’s world plagued by concerns about nationalism, communication, new technologies, protests, human rights, and global sensibilities.

Let us know if you are interested in learning more, or wish to get involved, at:

BOOK LAUNCH OF “YPRES” by Professor Mark Connelly and Dr Stefan Goebel

– A book about the history of Ypres and its first tourists after World War 1 –


Tuesday 22 January 2019 @ 18.00

Flanders House, 1a Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0LD

Professor Mark Connelly and Dr. Stefan Goebel, from the University of Kent’s School of History, have co-authored a new book entitled “Ypres” as part of Oxford University Press’s Great Battles series.

Over the last century, Ypres has become an iconic city for the British Commonwealth, and the Germans during the mid-20th century, as well as its significance for the Belgians and French. In this this new book, the authors take a look at the image of Ypres as it was built up in wartime media coverage, through painting and photography, and in the post-war years to look at the memorial projects undertaken by the British and the Germans. It takes a look at the way in which Ypres was also woven into Second World War public debate, and then the revival of a battlefield tourism industry after 1945.

VISITFLANDERS would cordially like to invite you to an informal book launch to celebrate the publication of this thoroughly informative and engaging insight into the way that Ypres has been viewed, imagined and visited over the years.  Joining us, will be the authors and their publication team with opportunities to interview them.

R.S.V.P to or  to confirm your attendance.

Students visit historical sites in London

Our first stop was the Wellcome Collection where we had the opportunity to visit the library and the museum there. Whilst visiting the library we were given access to a selection of pieces from the Wellcome’s archive. These included medical text books and hand-written lecture notes from students of some of the ‘founding fathers’ of surgery like Joseph Lister. The star piece, however, was a letter from a student surgeon writing home to his father to ask for money, and also to complain of how hard it was becoming for the resurrection men to supply bodies for the student’s anatomical study. Luckily for us, a magnifying glass and transcripts were supplied since the letter showed that doctors’ handwriting had a long history of being awful.

The Wellcome’s museum held several exhibitions all related to medicine and the understanding of our bodies. These exhibitions demonstrated that the Wellcome’s claim to be a space for the ‘incurably curious’ didn’t lie. From a slice of a human body to a skeleton with its pelvis replaced by its skull, one exhibition provided an artistic interpretation of modern medicine. The Wellcome’s real highlight however was the ‘Medicine Man’ exhibition, displaying parts of Henry Wellcome’s collection of curiosities concerning medicine, health and the body. We were half way through our module on the history of surgery and finally the objects allowed us to see the transformation of the rough barber-surgeon to the nineteenth-century refined and professional man of surgery that we had been studying. Rows of amputation saws, forceps and enema syringes suddenly made the pre-anaesthetic operations that we had been reading about feel very close and real. Beyond surgery, the exhibition also satisfied our human fascination for all things weird. Using objects like phallic amulets with horse legs (…really) and male anti-masturbation instruments, the exhibit demonstrated that the need to understand the body from its birth to its death transcends cultures and ages. 

Our day got even stranger when, to get to our next destination, we were led through a tiny door and up flights of a tiny, wooden spiral staircase. In the attic at the top of the stairs we found the Old Operating Theatre. Part museum, part cabinet of curiosities, the Old Operating Theatre was really unique. Then, we were led into what resembled a lecture hall made entirely of wood and filed into rows looking down on to a wooden table. From the gouges in the wood it was clear that this was an operating table and that we were standing in a nineteenth-century operating theatre. It was even more clear that this was the case during the talk we were given on nineteenth century surgery. During the talk our speaker revealed that when the theatre was rediscovered underneath the floorboards workers also found a thick layer of blood-soaked sawdust. When we were told this we quickly volunteered a member of our group -Marissa- to go down to the operating table and help give a demonstration of how an amputation procedure would have been carried out before the introduction of anaesthetic and development of antisepsis. During this talk we also got the chance to handle a few surgical instruments. The lithotomy scoop in particular showed us why it was that patients preferred the fastest surgeons.

Following the talk we were able to explore the rest of the museum which included collections of surgical equipment, human remains and medicinal herbs giving us an idea of how medicine and illness had been understood in the past. By this time our day was ending and after finding out that the operating theatre and museum were in the attic of the church of the old St. Thomas’ Hospital this suddenly wasn’t a place that you wanted to be left alone in the dark in.

School of History Newsletter: June 2018

The latest edition of our School newsletter, History Today, is now available to download here: History Today June 2018.

Released monthly, the newsletter features the latest news and updates from the School, as well as upcoming events and recent student and staff achievements.

In this issue:

  • The School’s Athena SWAN success
  • Highlights of the academic year 2017/18
  • History academic exhibits work in the British Academy Summer Showcase
  • Report from the MEMS Festival 2018
  • The Gateways Project investigates the Zeebrugge Raid of 1918
  • Get to know our new PA to the Head of School

AHRC CDP Studentship with the National Maritime Museum

The standard tuition fees and stipend (maintenance grant) will be paid by the AHRC to the award holder subject to the eligibility criteria outlined by them. The AHRC stipend for 2018/19 is £14,777 (full-time, pro-rata for part-time) plus an additional stipend of £500 for Collaborative Doctoral Students.

Project Title: The Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and its networks of support and influence, 1675-1742

We seek applications from outstanding postgraduate students for this collaborative doctoral award, starting in September 2018. This project aims to develop a new approach to the institutional history of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Using the Observatory as a central hub, it proposes to explore the local, national and international networks of astronomy, practical mathematics, navigation, education, print and instrument making that supported its work and developing reputation. It will focus on the period of the first two Astronomers Royal, John Flamsteed and Edmond Halley, aiming to better understand the role, milieu and development of this key institution in its foundational years.

This research will draw on work on geographies of knowledge, material culture and book history in order to gain a fuller picture of contexts in which mathematical and instrumental knowledge was developed and used. The project will make use of a range of archival sources and object, book and image collections, especially those of the NMM.

The student will have the opportunity to enhance the Museum’s cataloguing and interpretation within public programming and displays, and to feed into the development of plans for the 350th anniversary of the Royal Observatory (2025-26), which forms part of the NMM (collectively, with The Queen’s House and Cutty Sark, known as Royal Museums Greenwich). They will also be able to contribute to Dr Higgitt’s research project, Metropolitan Science: Places, Objects and Cultures of Knowledge and Practice in London, 1600-1800, in partnership with the Science Museum.


Applicants should have: a First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree in an appropriate discipline; a masters degree in an appropriate discipline, although applicants who do not hold a masters degree will be considered if they can demonstrate sustained and relevant experience and meet the criteria outlined in the AHRC guidelines.

Candidates must meet the AHRC’s academic criteria and eligibility criteria:

For further details, please contact Dr Rebekah Higgitt:

To apply for the scholarship please see the Scholarships website here:


21 May 2018