We have been giving considerable thought, like many others, to how and when we might expect to resume our normal activities. Many uncertainties remain, and are likely to do so for some months, and social distancing is here to stay for some time to come. These are among the factors that have led us to the decision not to attempt a restart of our programme before next year, and so, having reached that decision we wanted to share it with you, together with our thoughts on ‘where next’.
Obviously future circumstances might force us to rethink, but we hope to restart our programme at Hatton in March 2021. Following up on interests that some of you have mentioned at past meetings, our first day will focus on the Knights Templar,
a much maligned and fantasised topic, but which will take us, hopefully seamlessly, from the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem to Warwickshire in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Full details of this day will be announced later, when we are confident that arrangements made can be regarded as relatively secure.
We will similarly announce a full programme of study days later on. The themes have been chosen, but we have yet to arrange a workable pattern of meetings and secure the dates and venue for these. As a part of this programme we plan returning to our cancelled day on, Buildings, monuments and mentalité, featuring a visit to Nuneaton Abbey. It was disappointing not to be able to offer this day as planned earlier this year due to the lockdown, so there is a sense of ‘unfinished business’ here.
Meanwhile, we have a further proposal on which we would welcome your thoughts and, hopefully, expressions of interest. Many of you will know that over the last three months there has been a growing reliance across society on the use of online communications, and the world of learning and study has been at the forefront of this. We would like to sound out our Portcullisfriends on whether some of you might be interested in participating in some online / internet sessions? These would be shorter sessions than our normal days, initially either one hour or two in duration. We think that we might look at using Zoom to run these, which would require participants to download the free and easily accessible software to their computers first, but once done we can provide access to any of our online sessions. Karen would manage this process and help participants to join our sessions, and will also provide guidance on downloading the package initially. If you think that this is something you would be interested in having a go at, please let Karen know by email. We obviously need to know that we have sufficient interest before proceeding to set it up.
If we have the necessary numbers, we would intend to offer our first online session in January 2021. This new way of doing things will require that sessions be organised a little differently to our normal offer – essentially, shorter and more focussed in their content. Our first online session will take up the subject of medieval wills, from great noblemen to knight, burgess and peasant, male and female. We have often touched on wills as evidence in past Portcullisdays, but we have not really looked at their diversity and how they developed over time, or at the administrative processes that underpinned them. Recent work by John for the publication of a thirteenth century peasant’s will, which are not common, has prompted the idea that wills and probate might provide a fascinating topic to kick-off with. Please let us know if you would be interested.
We look forward to hearing from you, and to the chance of all meeting up again when some semblance of normality returns.
With our best wishes,
John and Karen.