What a year it’s been! After all of the staff changes at the end of 2017 we started the new year with a new Director, Stephen Roberts, Assistant Director, Emma Peplow, and Public Engagement Officer, Sammy Sturgess, who, in addition to our continued research, were ready to forge ahead with a bumper public engagement programme involving our academic projects and beyond.
2019 will see the long anticipated publication of the first set of volumes from our House of Commons 1422-1504 project. Linda Clark and her team have been working hard throughout 2018 to ready their work for the publishers. Similarly, the House of Lords 1604-29 project, headed up by Andrew Thrush, is putting the finishing touches to the introductory survey and proofing their work for the project’s forthcoming volumes, to be published shortly after the fifteenth century set.
Congratulations are in order to Paul Hunneyball who has been appointed as Associate Editor of the Lords 1604-29 project after taking over as Editor of our ongoing project on the proceedings of the 1624 Parliament. Paul and his co-convenors of our IHR seminar, Parliaments, Politics and People, continue to coordinate a diverse programme from the medieval to modern periods. You can catch up with previous papers here and keep up-to-date with what’s on next term via the IHR website. Since the autumn we’ve also seen the return of our internal staff seminar, thanks to the initiative of Martin Spychal. So far it’s been a great sounding board for exciting future projects, including a new engagement programme with universities and future conferences – watch this space!
Thanks to the contributions from our researchers, our blog has gone from strength to strength in 2018. This included Kathryn Rix’s blog series ‘World War One MPs’ being featured in the national and regional media. Kathryn, Assistant Editor of the House of Commons 1832-1945 project, discovered that the name of Gerald Arbuthnot was missing from the Parliamentary War Memorial in Westminster Hall whilst researching the series; his name was added before the Armistice commemorations to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War in November. Gordon Marsden, the chair of the History of Parliament Trust, and Kathryn Rix appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour to talk more about the war’s impact on Parliament. Kathryn also continues to edit the Victorian Commons blog which accompanies the project’s work on the House of Commons 1832-1868.
The Georgian Lords blog page has continued to grow in readership this year with several contributions from guest bloggers: Jacqueline Reiter; Rachel Wilson; and Robert W. Jones. Our former Director and holder of a prestigious British Academy/Wolfson research professorship, Paul Seaward, continues to blog about his research project, ‘Restoration to Referendum: Writing a New History of Parliament’ here. In addition to our existing blogs, the seventeenth century enthusiasts among you may have noticed our new page, James I to Restoration (JI2R), which began posting during LGBT History Month with ‘James I and his favourites: sex and power at the Jacobean court’. JI2R is jointly edited and managed by Assistant Editor of the House of Commons 1640-1660, Vivienne Larminie and Paul Hunneyball.
Throughout the year we have been working closely with the UK Parliament Vote 100 project to mark the centenary of the first women winning the parliamentary vote. Kathryn Rix, Philip Salmon (Editor of the House of Commons 1832-1868 project), Emma Peplow and Priscila Pivatto (coordinator of our oral history project) assisted the curators of the project in producing various sections of the Voice & Vote exhibition in Westminster Hall. Emma and Kathryn also contributed to the book Voice & Vote: Celebrating 100 Years of Votes for Womenwhich accompanied the exhibition and was co-edited by Paul Seaward, Melanie Unwin and Mari Takayanagi.
In September we held the ‘Century of Women MPs’ conference in collaboration with the Vote 100 team and the University of Westminster, which attracted international, interdisciplinary scholars for a two-day event jointly hosted in Parliament and at the University of Westminster. These events and further highlights from our research feature in our ‘Women and Parliament’ blog series – including a taster of what women MPs have shared with our interviewers during their interviews for our oral history project. The project’s coordinator, Priscila Pivatto, has endeavoured to collect interviews from as many former women MPs as possible throughout 2018; many of their full interviews can now be found on the British Library Sound Archive Online.
We were successful in being awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project to mark the 75th anniversary of the death of the founder of the History of Parliament Trust and former MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, Josiah C. Wedgwood. Following an exhibition and public lecture in Parliament in July, the project has been focused in Wedgwood’s native Staffordshire. This included a touring version of the Westminster exhibition, two public lectures and a workshop for students from Newcastle Academy. The project has also produced a pack of Key Stage 3 education resources, which are free and available to schools and history teachers. In due course the materials will be available on our website – for further information please contact Sammy Sturgess: firstname.lastname@example.org . Inspired by the project, we collaborated with Keele University and the Remembering Eleanor Rathbone Group to host a conference at Keele University to commemorate Wedgwood’s assistance of Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe in the 1930s – read more in these guest blogs from Jennifer Craig-Norton and Lesley Urbach.
As you can see from the above we have had a busy programme of events in (and outside of) Parliament this year. We started the year with an alternative format for our annual lecture, hosting a debate between Lord Adonis and Kwasi Kwarteng MP about the 1867 Reform Act. In March we held an academic event which brought together some highlights from the 2017 conference ‘Parliaments and Popular Sovereignty: Political Representation in the British World, 1640-1886’- see here. Finally, to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War we hosted a panel discussion chaired by writer and former Brigadier in the British Army, Allan Mallinson, to discuss Parliament and policy making in the First World War.
Within the last month we have congratulated two colleagues, Simon Healy and Emma Peplow, on the safe arrival of their baby boys. Emma is now on maternity leave, so at the beginning of December we welcomed a new Events and Engagement Assistant, Nikki Luke, who has been working hard to prepare for our event ‘Electoral Firsts in the 1918 Election’, which will take place on 16 January at 6 p.m. in Parliament – a great way to kick off the new year! Another new starter and a very important addition to the team is Alex Monaghan, who is working on a redesign of historyofparliamentonline.org .
From everyone here at the History of Parliament Trust thank you to all of our readers and followers on Twitter and Facebook, old and new. We appreciate all of your support, and here’s wishing you all a peaceful festive period and a Happy New Year for 2019.