The BL at Boston Spa

A trip to the British Library beckoned. Seemed a good plan for that troublesome post-turkey period. Confession: I’d never been to the BL at Boston Spa, despite practically passing the door every time I head for Leeds.

And what I found was this, that the facilities there have been vastly extended during the past couple of years. All the local and regional newspapers formerly kept at Colindale are now safely stashed at Boston Spa, and can be called up there. What’s more, the proportion of BL collections available to be consulted in the Boston Spa reading room has risen from 15% two years ago, to 85% now. Note that for rare books and manuscripts you’ll still need to go to London. The new arrangements at the Yorkshire branch mean that a full reader’s pass is now required, but the process is simple and the staff really helpful. Pre-ordering is needed.

img_0544It’s actually outside Thorp Arch, and not the easiest place to reach without a car. The photo suggests I arrived by helicopter, but is in fact a model of the huge BL site.

I’m so pleased to have found it, and will be back to take advantage of this excellent and unsung resource bang in the centre of Yorkshire… In case you are politely wondering about the results of my research, it turned out to be what we historians call ‘eliminating possibilities’ i.e. completely fruitless. But that wasn’t the BL’s fault!

Travel problems on the A1

If your planned journey this Christmas looks likely to be disrupted by weather, striking baggage handlers, rail maintenance works, etc etc, this may be a comfort: It’s nothing new.
Thanks to Kirsty McHugh for this, from Ralph Thoresby’s review of his life (YAHS archives, MS26) about a trip to London in 1708:ducatus-1
28 December 1708
The next day prov’d tempestuous with wind and snow, that we got each of us a fall but landed without damage. But we could only reach Stamford, and, which was worse, were forced to ly by til Munday the week after [3 January 1709], there being no travelling by coach, waggon, or horse; the very neighbouring people could not come to market to buy or sell corn. But we had comfortable accomodation and company…being near 20 in company, we ventured on Munday, but the guide we hired durst adventure no further than one mile. We got another, who conducted us by inaccessible ways.
The second guide conducted us per invias vias [through roads that were no roads], the snow being higher than the hedges in the lanes. At long run, we got (thro’ mercy) to our journey’s end, tho’ at Enfield we had the mishap of being plunged belly-deep by the breaking-in of the ice, that the water run in not only at my boot tops but my pockets, to the spoiling of my papers. But, borrowing dry stockins and breeches at Mr Foxcroft’s, found no inconvenience. Blessed be the God of my Mercys!

Newcastle Lit and Phil

Made occasional trips to the Newcastle Lit & Phil in my Durham VCH days, but I’d forgotten just how wonderful the place is. And it’s a hive of activity too. Almost next door to the main station (and adjacent to NEIMME, the mining institute), all kinds of lectures and events on offer, many of them free of charge, very welcoming. Recommended.

img_0517Their portraits of past luminaries, throughout the building, are pretty good. Here’s George Stephenson. A bad angle as I was stumbling over a book-binding group in action.



York Heritage Research Seminars

Most YOHRS talks will be live-streamed and accessible to viewers from around the world. For more information on the seminars, please contact Sara Perry. The live-streams will be available via YouTubeor Google+. An archive of previous talks (from Autumn 2012 onwards) is available here.

Tue 17 JAN

Heritage Interpretation in an Age of Migrations

Nicole Deufel (ICOMOS/Interpret Europe)

Tue 24 JAN
Tue 14 FEB

Critical Heritages of Europe?

Chris Whitehead (University of Newcastle)

Tue 21FEB

The Lakes, the Deep Future and the Sublime

Sarah May (University College London)

Tue 2 MAR

Interpreting medieval monasticism

The fourth lecture in the IMS Open Lecture Series 2016-17 at the University of Leeds is titled ‘The Present Mirrored in the Past: Why Interpreting Medieval Monasticism Matters’. It’s on 6 December and starts at 5.30pm in the Parkinson Building: Nathan Bodington Council Chamber.

This event will be the inaugural lecture of Emilia Jamroziak, professor of medieval religious history at the University of Leeds. She is a specialist in medieval British and European religious history of the 12th  to the 15th  centuries, the Cistercian order, and frontiers and borders in medieval Europe.images

Professor Jamroziak will explore how, since the 19th century, the history of European Latin monasticism has been interpreted by historians, archaeologists and art historians in a way that reflected the changing concerns of contemporary society. The most dominant of these models of interpretation was the modernisation paradigm, which shaped much of the 20th-century interpretation  of monastic history and its linear development. With that context, Prof. Jamroziak will explain how her own current work on late medieval Cistercian monasticism attempts not only to move away from the past paradigm but also shows how monastic history continues to reflect the present and its concerns.