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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 70  1956  page 40
The Origin and First Hundred Years of the Society

By Frank W. Jessup, Honorary General Secretary   continued

members; only thirty ladies graced the Society with their membership; the list of vice-presidents was more notable for social than for archaeological distinction, including six earls, an archbishop and a bishop, three viscounts, two barons, five baronets, and eleven Members of Parliament (of whom two were baronets). Undoubtedly much of the early support of the Society was born of county patriotism, rather than of any instructed interest in archaeology, but the 1850s and 1860s were a period when such works as Darwin’s Origin of Species were spreading amongst the upper and middle classes an intellectual curiosity about antiquity that perhaps has its mid-twentieth century counterpart in the widespread following of the televised Animal, Vegetable and Mineral programmes. This more general interest in archaeology and local history is reflected in the support which the Society today receives from all sections of the community, and from the sex that has now demonstrated that the fair may also be the learned. One regret it is, perhaps, permissible to voice, that present-day conditions make it impossible for the clergy of the county to play much part in the affairs of a Society that their predecessors did so much to create.
   The antiquarian intellectual curiosity of Larking’s day has developed into a more ordered, a more scientific, understanding of archaeology. This change, as already mentioned, is most apparent in the meticulous care of modern archaeological excavation compared with the

light-hearted throwing-open of tumuli of the nineteenth century. A similar change is noticeable in the attitude to antique pots, which are now seldom admired for their beauty (in any case, many are downright ugly) but are valued as type-specimens, and are illustrated abundantly in the archaeologica1 journals. Our collections of antiquities are now systematized and laid out with precision, where once was heterogeneity and confusion. These are changes which Larking would have approved, as tending to the more rigorous pursuit of Truth. But, however improper the question might be if asked in the counsels of the great, national, learned societies, cannot a county society permit itself some element of the romantic and the picturesque in its affairs? That last visit, late in the evening, to Canterbury Cathedral, on the day of the Society’s first annual meeting, when an unseen choir sang Luther’s hymn—surely that was a legitimate play of imagination, not just false romanticism. It was in this spirit that the Society held a luncheon at the Royal Star Hotel, Maidstone, in 1949, to mark the 1,500th anniversary of the coming of Hengist and Horsa with their Jutish followers. Perhaps it was unhistorical (pace G.W.) but it misled no one, and pleased many.
   For the pursuit of harmless pleasure, as well as of Truth, is the proper business of a county archaeological society. In seeking to assess the achievement of the last hundred years, it is easy to point to areas of

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