Come and hear academics from across the country discuss the medieval history of Chester Cathedral in our Heritage Lecture Series. Including the relationship between the secular and religious parts of Chester’s history, attitudes towards the saintly remains of St Werburgh, and the music sung daily by the monks of the Abbey. Engaging lectures with something for everyone – not to be missed!
Tickets £5 per lecture (£10 for whole series)
- 19.10.22, 11am – Why was St Werburgh so important? Dr Tom Pickles, University of Chester.
This public talk (rather than academic lecture) will consider how we know that St Werburgh was an important national saint, what we know about her cult and how it was orchestrated, and – crucially – why we think she was a popular cult figure. Along the way we will travel from the midlands to Kent, Cornwall, and of course Cheshire, hear some entertaining miracle stories, and we will consider the social and psychological functions of processions, feasts, fairs, and miracles.
- 19.10.22, 1:30pm – Telling Stories from Handling Medieval Objects: Mobility of Objects Across Boundaries. Dr Katherine Wilson, University of Chester.
What stories do medieval and early modern objects tell? Why might it be important to study everyday objects from the past and how can they help us understand our present? In this lunchtime lecture, Katherine Wilson (Associate Professor of Later Medieval European History at the University of Chester) will explore and use everyday medieval and early modern objects (shoes, keys, tiles, ceramics, pottery, devotional and pilgrim badges) excavated in and around Chester. We will uncover the stories these objects have to tell and think about how they can be used and made accessible in the present to members of the public, to educational practitioners, and to students of all ages.
- 20.10.22, 11am – The Earls of Chester were here: the evidence from Chester Castle and St Werburgh’s Abbey. Dr Rachel Swallow, University of Liverpool.
This talk will explore and restore the link between the Anglo-Norman secular and religious powers in Chester. It will focus on the built heritage of Chester Castle and St Werburgh’s Abbey during the medieval period, and the documents that tell us how the Earls of Chester were linked to both.
- 20.10.22, 2.30pm – She Has Been Translated to Chester, Where She Now Rests: St Werburgh and the Sanctioned Theft of Saintly Remains. Glenn Cahilly-Bretzin, University of Liverpool.
The talk will discuss the theft or dubious acquisition of saintly remains during the medieval period, as well as how the legitimacy of a saint’s remains was discussed in contemporary texts. While the talk will focus on the varying attitudes toward Werburgh’s translation from Hanbury to Chester, it shall also place these narratives in the wider context of medieval reliquary theft and the debates between various ecclesiastical foundations concerning the authenticity of particular relics. Audiences will understand some of the ways medieval authors justified exhuming/translating holy remains, stealing bones from another ecclesiastical found, and the motivators behind retaining/taking bodies such as Werburgh’s.
- 21.10.22, 11am – Dr Matthew Cheung-Salisbury, University College Oxford.
Title and abstract to be released shortly
- 21.10.22, 1.30pm – The life and intellectual world of Ranulph Higden. Dr James Freeman, University of Cambridge.
Ranulph Higden is perhaps the most famous former inhabitant of St Werburgh’s Abbey, but more is known about the Polychronicon than about its author: a geographical and historical compilation that described the world and its events from Creation to Higden’s own times, the Polychronicon survives in approximately 150 medieval manuscripts and fragments. Although direct evidence for Higden’s life and intellectual world is frustratingly scant, this talk will show that close study of Higden’s writings – both historical and pastoral – can shed valuable light on medieval Chester’s connectedness with important intellectual currents of the late medieval period.
- 22.10.22, 11am- St Werburgh’s Abbey and the burial monopoly of Chester. Dr Ruth Nugent, The University of Liverpool.
Burial in medieval England could be a hotly contested source of income for urban churches and cathedrals, and Chester was no different. This talk uncovers the strategic deals made between St Werburgh’s Abbey (now Chester Cathedral) and other churches and religious houses in the city to control who could be buried where and by whom, and the impact their monopoly had on the medieval citizens of Chester.