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Title: Revisiting New Towns of the Middle Ages, a conference

Convened by Dr Keith Lilley (Queens University Belfast) and the Winchelsea Archaeological Society

The focus of this conference is the continuing legacy of Professor Maurice Beresford’s seminal book New Towns of the Middle Ages. The conference draws together academic and general audiences of the book to reflect on recent advances in our understanding of medieval new towns. Key speakers include some of the leading specialists in the field:

  • Professor Chris Dyer (University of Leicester)
  • Professor Jean-Loup Abbé (University of Toulouse)
  • Canon Dr Terry Slater (University of Birmingham)
  • Dr Neil Christie (University of Leicester) 
  • Dr Patrick Ottaway (Archaeological Consultant)
  • Dr Richard Goddard (University of Nottingham)
  • Casper Johnson (East Sussex County Archaeologist)
  • Jeremy Haslam (independent scholar) 
  • David Martin (Archaeology South East)

Our distinguished speakers will talk and lead discussions on how recent geographical, historical and archaeological research --- much of it originally inspired by Professor Beresford --- has changed our views about New Towns of the Middle Ages, building on, but also challenging, his ideas and pointing research in new directions. The conference will explore the landscapes and townscapes, and the material and social cultures of medieval ‘new towns’ in both their international context and local settings.

Fittingly, the conference will take place in Winchelsea (East Sussex), one of the most renowned examples of a medieval ‘new town’ and the place where Beresford opened his book. Winchelsea uniquely preserves its original grid-iron street plan and has a collection of medieval undercrofts rivalled in England only by Southampton and Norwich. To this end, Winchelsea itself features in the programme and will be the subject of the field seminar that concludes the conference.


Friday, 21 May 2010

18:30 Registration & cocktails    
19:30 Welcome to Winchelsea Richard Comotto Winchelsea Archaeological Society
19:35 Introducing the evening session & speaker Dr Keith Lilley Queens University Belfast
19:40 The bastides & the new towns in the southwest of France: the results of recent research & directions for new research Prof. Jean-Loup Abbe Toulouse University

Saturday, 22 May 2010

09:00 Registration & coffee    
09:30 Introduction to the day Dr Keith Lilley Queens University Belfast
19:45 ”New Towns of the Middle Ages” and the legacy of MW Beresford Dr Keith Lilley Queens University Belfast
10:30 How town-plan analysis made planning medieval new towns more complicated than we first thought Dr Terry Slater University of Birmingham
11:30 Discussion of the previous papers & response Jeremy Haslam indepedent archaeological consultant
12:30 lunch    
13:30 The profit from a new town: aspects of the material culture and economic history of medieval urbanism – a view from the north of England Dr Patrick Ottaway PJO Archaeology
14:30 Rebuilding Medieval Winchelsea Dominic Andrews Archaeo-Art
15:30 tea    
16:00 Discussion of the previous papers & response Dr Neil Christie University of Leicester
17:00 Conclusion of the day Dr Keith Lilley Queens University Belfast
17:30 Reception by Winchelsea Archaeological Society    
19:30 Dinner at the Mermaid Inn, Rye (with a tribute to Maurice Beresford, by Dr Robin Glasscock of St Johns College, Cambridge, "some recollections of the man and of his work on medieval new towns")    

Sunday, 23 May 2010

08:30 coffee    
09:00 After Beresford: why new towns are still important Prof. Chris Dyer University of Leicester
10:00 The Story of Winchelsea 1280-1520, as told by its buildings David Martin Archaeology South East
11:00 coffee    
11:30 Discussion of the previous papers & response Dr Richard Goddard University of Nottingham
12:30 A review of archaeological research in Winchelsea 

Casper Johnson
David Rudling

East Sussex County Archaeologist
Sussex University

13:30 Conclusion of the conference Dr Keith Lilley Queens University Belfast
14:00 lunch    
14:30 Field seminar around Winchelsea David Martin Archaeology South East

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The programme

The conference starts on Friday evening with a talk by Prof. Jean-Loup Abbé, speaking about bastide towns; continues over Saturday and Sunday morning; finishing with a field-seminar by David Martin that should finish by about 4:15pm. For the full programme, see below.

Ahead of the field-seminar, attendees may wish to look at the QUB online atlas of new towns and the entry on Winchelsea.

Reception and dinner

Participants are invited to a drinks reception on Saturday evening between 5:30pm and 6:30pm, which will be hosted by the Winchelsea Archaeological Society.
Participants are also invited to join a dinner, at the historic Mermaid Inn in Rye on Saturday evening, which will be attended by the speakers, at which a tribute will be paid to Prof. Maurice Beresford by Dr Robin Glasscock of St John's College, Cambridge. The dinner will be at the historic Mermaid Inn in Rye and will cost £30 a head.

To book

The conference registration fee is £25. This includes refreshments at the morning and afternoon breaks, but (in order to keep the price down) does not include lunch.
To register, please send a cheque, made out to WAS --- together with your name, address, phone number and/or e-mail address --- to:

Winchelsea Archaeological Society
Firebrand House
East Sussex
TN36 4EA

We will confirm your booking my e-mail or post.


There is a range of accommodation in Winchelsea --- motel, pub with rooms and B&B --- and more in neighbouring villages.
There is an even wider range of accommodation in Rye, which is less than two miles from Winchelsea.
You can also download our list of nearby accommodation. However, if you would like some assistance with booking accommodation, please contact us.


How to get to Winchelsea and how to find your way around.

For further information

Phone 01797-224446

Firebrand House
East Sussex
TN36 4EA