Regional Heritage Centre Newsletter March, 2021

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Regional Heritage Centre Newsletter, March 2021

Welcome to the latest e-newsletter from the Department of History’s Regional Heritage Centre. If you have difficulty reading this email please open it in your web browser.

You are welcome to forward this email to any groups or individuals you think will be interested in our activities. If you have received this as a forwarded message please join our mailing list so that we can send you future newsletters directly.

In this edition:

  • Stay tuned for news of our upcoming RHC Study Events - we're aiming to bring you Medieval Ballad and Song in May and Refugees in the North West in June

  • Our Post-Graduate Certificate in Regional and Local History has a new look and a wider scope - and there's still time to apply

  • Your Adventures in Lockdown take a literary turn this month, as Diane Dey responds to our featured book A Voice From the Trenches 1914-1918

  • Successful annual appeal for RHC supporters to become Friends and Patrons plus a new online lecture on Mountain Names for those subscribing for the 20/21 season

  • A new book featuring the diaries and sketchbook of a WWI stretcher bearer


News of Our Upcoming Events

After another successful Archaeology Forum - the 48th in an unbroken series - we are now looking forward to our next Study Events. However, with the situation around lockdown and restrictions on educational provision still changing, we are unable to give you firm news – but we hope to be able to bring you a full update in our April newsletter, and we will of course update our website as soon as things become clear.

In principle, our May event will be Ballad and Song in the History of North West England with a live element on Saturday 15 May. We hope to be able to film the presenters in the university's beautiful new space at Lancaster Castle, so fingers crossed that lockdown restrictions ease as anticipated. Then on Saturday 19 June, it's Refugees in the North West from the early 20th century to the present. This Study Event is being held in association with Global Link (see further down the newsletter for more information about Global Link's fantastic work), and was originally scheduled for June 2020. But better late than never - and the theme of refugees is more timely than ever. We need to clarify what will and won't be possible by these dates, but as soon as we nail down the little details, tickets will be on sale through our Online Store, so watch this space and don't forget to save the dates!

And though the Centre's physical space remains closed for the time being, we are delighted that our RHC publications are once again available through our Online Store. We're working hard to keep up with orders, despite limited access to our book stock. This does mean delivery time is likely to be a little slower than we would wish. We hope to resume normal service when the current lockdown eases, but for now we appreciate your patience as we fulfil any orders that come through as soon as possible. However, please note this only applies to purchases through the Online Store - we will not be able to accept orders sent in the post.

In the meantime, staff continue to work from home on other RHC business. As always, our Director, Dr Fiona Edmonds, has been working hard to support her students and to develop various future research projects that are relevant to the region's history. Her most recent recorded lecture exclusively for the RHC's Friends and Patrons has been a hit according to your feedback - but keep reading to the end of the newsletter for more details on that.

Our Academic Supervisor, Dr Sam Riches has been a whirlwind of activity. She's been working with 12 undergraduate History students who are now moving towards the completion of their remote-working placements with Heritage organisations. In some cases the students will have their work included in social media and other forms of publication, so do keep an eye on the online presence of the host organisations: the Cumbria Archives Service at Barrow, Lancaster City Museums, Lancashire County Council Museum Service, the Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library in Preston and Wigan Archives Service. We are very grateful to all these organisations for their support, and we hope to feature some of the students' public-facing working in future newsletters. The Regional Heritage Centre is itself hosting two MA students, to work on an online exhibition of artefacts relating to the Elizabeth Roberts Working Class Oral History Archive - we look forward to sharing the fruits of their labours with you in due course. 

Sam has also been helping with filming and editing presentations for our online Study Events and she even found time to mark LGBT+ month in February with a free online Zoom lecture about her specialist research interest, St George. Sam presented 'Queer perspectives on St George and the Dragon' to the university's LGBT+ Forum, and a recording of that lecture is now available to the general public. Sam looked at some of the ways imagery of St George was used to enable discussion of gender and sexuality in late medieval European culture, and the impact that the rediscovery of this tradition is having on current reappraisals of the art and culture of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. If you missed it live, why not check it out here? And the outstanding programme, arranged by Lancaster University's Terry Abbott and Amy Stanning, also included Dr Colin Penny on historic graffiti left behind by gay prisoners in Lancaster Castle. Colin is Museum Manager at the castle and has spoken at previous RHC events. That lecture can also be viewed online here.

As Centre Administrator, I've had my hands full with organising this year's Archaeology Forum. If you missed this year's Forum (6 March), you missed out on some really fascinating discussion of new discoveries and new technologies in the field, very ably chaired by Dr Eleri Cousins, of Lancaster University's History Department. Eleri is a Roman lecturer, but told us she actually identifies as an archaeologist, and we're grateful to her for her enthusiastic engagement. While we're on the subject, the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies continues their generous financial support, and we are especially pleased that their engagement extends to so many of their members joining us. But now that Archaeology Forum 2021 is successfully concluded, I can breathe a thankful sigh of relief, and start thinking about next year's programme...that's the thing about the RHC: it just keeps rolling on. Did you know that we are approaching our 50th anniversary in 2023? So many wonderful events and fascinating speakers, not to mention some very long-standing relationships with supporters. It's so gratifying to be part of such a close-knit community - and every activity is a chance to connect with even more people. We've had quite a number of enquiries  (including from beyond the North West, even beyond the UK!) about our Post Graduate Certificate in Regional and Local History, and we hope that will be the start of a lasting relationship. But no relationship is without its ups and downs, and I know that some of you have suffered the occasional frustration. Whether it's forgotten log-in details or temperamental Teams access, don't let technology keep us apart. Remember, even if our physical office space remains closed for the time being, I'm still here for all your (email) queries and concerns - so don't feel you have to struggle alone. 

Some of you have noticed that our regular e-newsletters now feature your own contributions and ideas for satisfying the appetite for heritage activities even under the present difficult circumstances. If you haven't done so yet, why not write in and tell us about your adventures under lockdown? Our website is also fully functioning, so we encourage you to let us know as your various groups and societies resume activity (limited and socially distant, of course!), or find new means of connecting with heritage fans across the region. We're happy to list your news and resources, so do let us know what you're up to.    


New Post Graduate Certificate in Regional and Local History

The RHC is pleased to announce the return of our much-valued Post Graduate Certificate in Regional and Local History via distance learning, which is recruiting now for an October start. This new online programme offers an exciting opportunity for those interested in regional and local history to gain an award from a top UK university renowned for its expertise in this field and experienced in delivering high-quality distance learning programmes. The re-vamped programme consists of three modules focused on the history of the North of England, ranging from the Viking Age to the Victorian industrial era. However, the skills and contextual knowledge developed through this course are applicable to regional and local studies more widely. The final module is a substantial independent research project with individual support and supervision from your tutor. You will access a range of fascinating online learning materials and study at a time and place to suit you.

You will be able to discuss the different elements of the programme with other students via text-based discussion through the online learning platform, which includes guidance for each week, links to online reading lists, and a wide range of other resources such as videos. You will be in frequent online contact with your course tutors and you will receive one-to-one supervision for your independent project. The flexibility of this programme is ideal for people who want to pursue their historical interests around family or work commitments, and is suitable for learners accessing the programme from different parts of the world. But if you’re new to online courses, there’s no need to worry - we provide full guidance on accessing the materials and using the platform, and technical support is available for anyone who is new to this way of learning. Of course, our RHC Study Days make a useful and informative additional resource, but they are not a core part of the course, so you will not be disadvantaged if you are unable to participate. Want to find out more? For more information and to start your application, click here. Please note that we have already made a number of offers to applicants and there is a good chance that all the places available this year will be taken up. So if you are keen to enrol for this autumn please don’t delay.


Global Link Launches Online Exhibition

Check out the exciting new Learning from the Past online peace heritage exhibition, from the RHC's partner organisation Global Link. This exhibition is the final output of a 2.5 year Erasmus+ project, led by Global Link in Lancaster, and Dr Corinna Peniston-Bird (Lancaster University's History Department), another RHC collaborator and a speaker at our December 2020 Study Event on Lancaster Castle during WWII, was involved as an advisor.

During the project, partners from seven countries worked with local volunteers to uncover and document stories of people’s efforts to promote peace and internationalism in the years following the First World War. These heritage stories were then shared with groups of young people, who used creative arts to respond to the themes and issues raised. 

The online exhibition brings together the stories and artwork from all the project partner countries, alongside a ‘peace timeline’ and a collection of postcards from visitors to our events across Europe.

Visit the exhibition here:


New High Streets Heritage Action Zone

In 2020 Lancaster City Council were awarded £1.15M by Historic England to set up a High Streets Heritage Action Zone around the Old Mill Race area of Lancaster – part of North Road, Lower Church Street, Damside, St Leonards gate, Rosemary Lane and Stonewell. Overall this is a £2.875M programme covering three main capital projects: 

1.    Connecting City and Spires - North Road and Lower Church Street public realm improvements  
2.    Grant-based building repair and enhancement scheme  
3.    Grand Theatre - repair works and support to deliver the new foyer

The city council has matched the Historic England investment with support from Lancaster Business Improvement District and Lancaster University. Funding has been allocated for a Project Officer and to deliver complementary activities such as skills training and capacity building.   

Complementary to this the council is also working with the Churches Conservation Trust to support the repair and re-use of the Grade II* St John’s Church, North Road, and has earmarked separate funding towards this.  

In addition, an application has recently been submitted to Historic England to deliver cultural activities in the HSHAZ area up to 2024 aimed at increasing understanding and engagement with the area’s heritage and creating new opportunities to spend time in the city. The application has been submitted on behalf of a consortium that is being led by Lancaster Arts and an award is expected this spring. 


Local History Under Lockdown - Again

We at the RHC put a lot of effort into our regular newsletters, so it's wonderful that our readers give so much back. Recently Diane Dey wrote in to tell us about her personal connection to a newsletter item - and how her memories of a wonderful day out acquired new meaning during lockdown...

Last month, my husband and I were chatting over breakfast about where we might escape when Boris finally lets us out.  Dunnerdale was suggested, which led us to recall the original painting by Bernard Walker of Seathwaite Bridge in that valley that my husband had inherited. Later the same day, I opened the February RHC newsletter and what did I read?  New publication about Bernard Walker’s diaries and WWI experiences! An odd coincidence.  A few years ago, we went over to the valley and photographed the bridge from where he must have sat to paint or sketch and interestingly, the view has changed.  The unwooded riverbank in the painting is now a mature copse, suggesting that perhaps the timber had been felled for the war effort.  Did he realise that he was recording a piece of history? Intrigued by the man, and with time on my hands due to lockdown, I did a little research and found this in The Lake Artists’ Society, ‘A Centenary Celebration’ compiled by Jane Renouf, 2004.

Bernard Eyre Walker [1887-1972], although born in Essex, came from a north country family and an artist father.  As a young man his love of the mountains drew him to Skye, where he would camp in the Cuillins so that he could capture the light at the right moment.  One of his favourite maxims was, “Watch, watch and then, watch again.”  In the 1930s he moved to the Lake District.  Described by a friend as “a gentle and philosophical man”, he became one of the Lake Artists’ Society “most revered and respected members and one of the country’s foremost watercolourists.”  Because of his colour blindness, he used a limited palette but that was more than compensated for by his sensitive rendering of tone, light and atmosphere, for which he was much admired by his friend, William Heaton-Cooper. 

Sad to say that as the painting in pre-war style was, although admired artistically, not to our taste, it is no longer in our possession.  We only have a photograph. An opportunity lost to have print and paint linked, but thank you Bernard for being the spur for a magical day out in the tranquillity of one of Wordsworth’s favourite and “romantic” dales.

Not sure why I’m telling you this…It was just a funny ol’ happenstance.  History is like that isn’t it? 

It certainly is...our thanks to Dianne for such an interesting contribution.  And since we do still need these little distractions - at least for a while longer until the vaccine works its magic - if anyone else comes across something interesting in the course of their government-sanctioned and socially distant exercise, why not share it with us? Learning about local heritage is such a rewarding way to spend your time, and it certainly helps broaden our (temporarily) narrowed horizons.


Annual Enrolment of Patrons and Friends of the Centre

Many of you will have heard from us recently with information about enrolling or renewing as a Friend or Patron of the RHC. One long-time Friend of the Centre, Denys Vaughan, is particularly enthusiastic about one of our latest benefits offered exclusively to current Friends and Patrons.

'I no longer drive and mobility is somewhere between difficult and impossible, so the privilege of access to online lectures is a most valuable benefit of being a Patron. Discounted books are also welcome, so I read them then give them as presents. While we are missing family and friends, contact with the RHC is so welcome and it is good to know in this unpleasant year of sadness and loss, the RHC has been active encouraging research, knowledge and teaching at Lancaster. Do become a Patron - it does make sense, anyone who is dithering.'

Whether as a Friend or a Patron, those who subscribe this year will have access to our new online lecture initiative - the closest thing we have to a day school at the moment. Of course, anyone able to support us in this generous way will not only have the satisfaction of seeing their gift help to ensure the future of the RHC and its programme of heritage activities - you'll also be invited to special events just for Patrons and Friends. We've had a great response already, and we want to say a big thank you, while clarifying the little details... If you are currently a Friend or Patron and pay by Standing Order or Direct Debit, your membership will automatically renew, but if you pay by cheque you will need to contact us in order to renew your membership. If you have not been a Friend or Patron in the past, please do consider supporting us in this way, now more than ever. Our subscription year runs from August to July, so to get the most out of our offer, take a look at our website now or contact us, and we will be happy to send you the relevant forms. The best way to reach us is via email since the Centre phone is not currently being monitored.


Another Online Lecture Exclusively for Friends and Patrons

We offered our first-ever online lecture as a 'thank you' to our existing Friends and Patrons this past summer, and it has been receiving very good feedback. For those Friends and Patrons who have not yet registered, it is not too late to access Dr Fiona Edmonds's lecture 'The Medieval Past and Northern English Identities' and its supporting materials. Just email to find out more. But if you have already registered, there's more good news...another online lecture is now available. Entitled 'Mountain Names in Lakeland', this is again exclusively for current RHC Friends and Patrons. This initiative - along with your much-valued feedback about the experience of accessing the video lecture through an online platform - will help us to develop online platforms and resources that may be used in future to support attendance at Study Days, especially as social distancing may reduce the capacity of our venues and some supporters may be unable to participate in person due to health concerns.

Click here to find out how you can become a Friend or Patron 


External Events and Announcements

Please note that the RHC now lists external events on our website. The RHC cannot provide further information on these events and announcements, nor be held responsible for any inaccuracies in what is posted. If you have queries or wish to book for any event listed here please contact the organiser/venue/promoter directly.


A Voice From the Trenches 1914-1918: From the Diaries and Sketchbooks of Bernard Eyre Walker

New WW1 Publication edited by Sara Woodall

After the bombing of a British hospital on the Somme, a sensitive German picks up an illustrated diary and years later, manages to track down the owner to Cumbria. When Sara Woodall discovered her great uncle's mud-splattered notebooks in an archive box in Leeds, she realised that illustrated accounts by stretcher-bearers were rare and that these diaries gave a unique insight into the war. Stretcher-bearers were the unsung heroes of the First World War, but sadly, most of their accounts have disappeared. Before 1914, Bernard Eyre Walker was a landscape artist and an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Painters-Etchers. After the war he lived most of his life in Cumbria and became one of the Lake District's foremost water colourists. 

Alongside the text of the diaries are sketches of shattered landscapes, line drawings of numbed soldiers, billet interiors and a gruesome drawing of a dead soldier, wired with explosives; a cruel booby trap for unsuspecting stretcher-bearers. Written under nightmare conditions, the pages bring the war alive. Published by Blackthorn Press, this beautifully illustrated book is £19.95 plus £3.20 shipping. To order, contact Sara Woodall on 01223 262371 or email


This book would make an ideal gift - and that includes treating yourself - but for even more great ideas, why not trawl through the RHC's back catalogue? Beat lockdown lassitude and use your time to learn new things, all from the comfort and safety of home.

We hope this newsletter gives important information on heritage activities and organisations locally. We do hope to see you at an RHC event in the future, but for now, keep safe and enjoy the wealth of online options.  As we begin another year of fighting the Covid virus, there's no reason to let lockdown mean shutdown - learning about local history and heritage is a wonderful way to keep active. 

Here's hoping 2021 is the year you'll join us. Ann-Marie

Ann-Marie Michel