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Sheila Sweetinburgh

Sheila Sweetinburgh

Member of Council

After a decade or so in agriculture, mostly livestock and especially dairying, I came to the University of Kent to study for a BA in History. I successfully completed that degree in 1991 and decided I would like to do more, going on to complete a Masters where I explored women’s roles in small town society, especially in late medieval Hythe and Appledore, followed by a doctorate on the role of the hospital in medieval Kent. What had become apparent was just how rich the documentary sources are for Kent and I decided to continue to work on them by combining sessional teaching, first for the University of Kent (1999) and then adding Canterbury Christ Church University in 2006, with freelance archival research. From the latter began my association with Canterbury Archaeological Trust in the 2000s, and to a lesser extent Archaeology South East, which meant I worked on the historical sources for desktop assessments, archaeological excavations and architectural surveys. Some of these have reached publication and I have essays in CAT monographs on Townwall Street in Dover and the Canterbury Whitefriars.

 

After four years at the University of Huddersfield working primarily on a Leverhulme-funded project, while still teaching at Kent and CCCU, I joined Christ Church more formally in 2016 as a part-time Principal Research Fellow in the Centre for Kent History and Heritage. I am still there, as well as doing some postgraduate teaching in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Kent. In addition to postgraduate teaching and supervision at CCCU, I organise history events for the Centre, including the highly popular History Weekends that alternate between the Middle Ages and Tudors & Stuarts, and write the Centre’s weekly blog. The Centre’s involvement in the community involves an increasing number of partnerships, and, as a member of the Friends of CAT committee, I am heavily involved in organising joint evening lectures, as well as contributing to the CAT day courses.

 

In terms of my own interests, I have researched and published several books and numerous articles on a wide range of medieval and early modern Kent topics. My time as a student at Kent showed me the great resources available to investigate Kentish society below the elite using a microhistory approach and I have adopted this method ever since. My interest in peasant society was fostered by my time as secretary of the Romney Marsh Research Trust, but most of my publications draw on the records of Canterbury and the Cinque Ports. Currently, I am editing with Elizabeth Edwards (chair of the KAS Publications Committee) and Stuart Bligh (Royal Museums Greenwich) an essay collection on Maritime Kent through the Ages that will be published by Boydell.

 

I joined KAS in 2000, becoming a member of the Churches Committee in 2006. I joined the Council the following year and am still there, as well as being on the Publications Committee. Under the Churches Committee, I was heavily involved in organising several conferences and study days in conjunction with churches and other organisations across the county. Branching out from these, I ran joint Kent history conferences with the two Canterbury-based universities, as well as helping to organise study days with the KAS Historic Buildings Committee and the Agricultural Museum Brook, where I am the KAS nominated Trustee. Moreover, having been a committee member of the recently disbanded Kent History Federation, I am hoping to start a Local History Societies Forum as part of KAS’s offer to the membership.