Spring Lecture Series 2021

In association with the ‘Borders and Borderlands’ research network at the University of Bristol, the Historic Towns Trust is delighted to present a series of online lectures.

Lectures will be delivered via Zoom, and are free to attend. Register for each lecture via Eventbrite, following the link below.


MONDAY 19 APRIL, 5.00pm to 6.00pm

Early Tudor London: On the Brink of Transformation?

Professor Vanessa Harding

London in 1520 - the date of the Historic Towns Trust’s map – was still essentially a medieval city, but on the brink of two transformative events: the Reformation, and the ensuing dissolution of the monasteries, and explosive population growth. London’s medieval monasteries, nunneries, and friaries had been closed down by 1540, and only some of the hospitals survived. Meanwhile, the capital’s population, perhaps 50-60,000 at the beginning of the century, had expanded to c. 200,000 by the end. This lecture will  consider the physical form of the city around 1520, and the changes that were already perceptible.

Vanessa Harding is Professor of London University at Birkbeck, University of London, and a Trustee and Hon Secretary of the British Historic Towns Trust. Her research and writing focus on the social history of early modern London, c. 1500–1700, and especially on family and household, environment, health and disease, death and burial. She contributed to the HTT maps of Medieval London and London c. 1520, and is currently developing a project to map London on the eve of the Great Fire.



MONDAY 24 MAY, 5.00pm to 6.00pm

A Northern Way? The Archbishops of York and Urban Development in the Fourteenth Century

Professor Sarah Rees Jones

The lecture will explore the administrative records of the Archbishops of York as a source for the history of Beverley, Hexham, Hull, Ripon, Southwell, and York during the fourteenth century. This was a century of crisis: of famine, war, and plague. The talk will explore the reactions of the archbishops to these events through their interventions in some of the major urban communities of the northern province.

Sarah Rees Jones is Professor of Medieval History at the University of York. A former contributor to the Historic Towns Atlas for the City of York, she is currently the Principal Investigator on an AHRC-funded project that is seeking to make the vast administrative archive of the medieval Archbishops of York accessible to the public online. The project is called ‘The Northern Way: The Archbishops of York and the North of England, 1304–1405’, and you can find out more here:  https://www.york.ac.uk/history/research/northern-way/



MONDAY 28 JUNE, 5.00pm to 6.00pm

Making Bristol Medieval

Helen Fulton and Giles Darkes

The research project, ‘Making Bristol Medieval’, funded by the University of Bristol, aims to re-position Bristol as a medieval city, bringing to light its architectural, topographical, and documentary legacies in ways that appeal to the city’s residents and its many tourists. One important outcome of the project has been the Map of Bristol in 1480, created by a team of local historians and archaeologists and published by the Historic Towns Trust. In this lecture, the project leader, Helen Fulton, will talk about the reasons why medieval Bristol was one of the most important cities in Britain in the late Middle Ages, and Giles Darkes, cartographer for the map, will talk about the challenges of capturing medieval Bristol in the form of a map.

Helen Fulton is Chair of Medieval Literature at the University of Bristol and a Trustee of the Historic Towns Trust. Her research focuses on the March of Wales and its links with the urban culture of England and Europe.  Giles Darkes is Cartographic Editor for the Historic Towns Trust.