Previous Talks and Lectures

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Previous Lectures

Our lectures are all free to watch and enjoy, we even record them for you to enjoy at a future date or if you can't join us live. Do consider making a donation here of whatever amount you feel comfortable making if you are enjoying these talks.

Friday 29th May at 1pm - Oak Apple Day - Celebrating the only Saint to have been canonised by The Church of England

Do you know much about Oak Apple Day which takes place on 29th May each year? Did you know that King Charles I is a saint? Through this fascinating talk, explore the history of the day along with why King Charles the Martyr is regarded as such and what he did to earn this title.

This talk will is given by Fr Charles Card-Reynolds, Chaplain to The Society of King Charles the Martry and Parish Priest at St Bartholomew's on Stamford Hill

Watch the talk here

Thursday 4th June at 1pm - Did Henry VIII really “break” the Church? 

This talk is given by Dr Emma  J. Wells. 

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 11th June, 1pm - Images on the Edge - churches, manuscripts, and the world of Chaucer's Japes with Professor Paul Binski

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 18th June at 1pm - Contextualising Carved Cadaver Memorials in England with Dr Christina Welch

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Thursday 25th June at 1pm - Uncommon Prayer - The Tudor Chapel Royal and the High Church tradition with the Revd Canon Anthony Howe

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Thursday 2nd July at 1pm - The Business of Saints with Dr Emma Wells

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Thursday 9th July at 1pm - Martin Travers and Back to Baroque with Michael Yelton

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Thursday 16th July at 1pm - The Ringing Isle: An introduction to bells in Britain with Gareth Davies

An introductory canter across the centuries, exploring aspects of church bells and bellringing? How did Britain come to have ‘bells so many and so tuneable’ (Thomas Fuller, 1640)? What purposes did they serve? What powers were they believed to have? And how are they faring today? 

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Thursday 23rd July at 1pm - Uncovering the Parish Church’s Naughty Bits

Gazing at the inside or outside of an historic church, your eyes are likely to encounter strange beasts, frolicking figures and twisted foliage staring back at you from doorways, windows, friezes, corbel tables, roof bosses and stained glass – although plenty are just hidden enough to fool the eye. What are these strange images? Hidden messages and tongue-in-cheek depictions were actually widespread throughout medieval churches. Was the period simply rife with satire or did these etchings and carvings hold deeper meanings? Here, we will explore some of the most curious examples.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 30th July at 1pm - Matilda of Canossa and the Conservation of Ancient Churches with Michèle K. Spike

The medieval countess Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115) left a cultural legacy at her death that includes many of the monuments listed by UNESCO as among the heritage of our world.  These include cathedrals at the center of Florence, Ferrara, Lucca, Mantua, Modena, Pisa, and Volterra.  Known in Italy as the Gran Contessa, her memory is preserved in medieval structures throughout her ancestral lands that stretched from the foothills of the Alps to the northern border of Rome.  Matilda’s name is etched in history because the historic humiliation of the German King Henry IV before Pope Gregory VII occurred at her castle of Canossa.   She did more than make lunch, however.  Her building program supported the policies enunciated by her political ally, Pope Gregory VII, to renew the ancient roots of the Christian Roman Empire.   Matilda’s alliance with papal Rome broke Germany’s feudal hold over northern Italy.  At her death, the history of the free Italian communes begins. 

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 6th August at 1pm - Stained Glass in the English Parish Church – through the ages - Part One with Dr Jasmine Allen, Curator, The Stained Glass Museum

This talk, in two parts, will draw attention to the enormously diverse collection of stained glass windows to be found in the English parish church, from the medieval to modern era. By looking at a number of windows both in situ and ex situ we will explore the history, stylistic and technical development of this art form in the context of the parish church, uncovering a rich artistic and social heritage. 

Part 1 explores the earliest stained glass to be found in England up to the Reformation era, revealing the evolving use of stained glass in gothic architecture and its role within the medieval church and society. 

Jasmine Allen is Director of The Stained Glass Museum (charity no. 1169842), the only museum dedicated to stained glass in the UK, which is located in Ely Cathedral. She studied at the University of York and has published on the exhibition of stained glass in the nineteenth century. She is also a committee member of the Glaziers’ Trust, Stained Glass Repository, and British Corpus Vitrearum. In her spare time she enjoys walking her border terrier ‘Bramble’ and during lockdown has taken up home brewing, playing darts in the garden shed and learning how to use a sewing machine!

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 13th August at 1pm - Stained Glass in the English Parish Church – through the ages - Part Two with Dr Jasmine Allen, Curator, The Stained Glass Museum

This talk, in two parts, will draw attention to the enormously diverse collection of stained glass windows to be found in the English parish church, from the medieval to modern era. By looking at a number of windows both in situ and ex situ we will explore the history, stylistic and technical development of this art form in the context of the parish church, uncovering a rich artistic and social heritage. 

Part 2 looks at the Post-Reformation to the contemporary period, exploring the changes brought about during the Civil Wars and the subsequent restoration and revival of the 18th and 19th centuries, and modern renewal and approaches during the 20th and 21st centuries.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 20th August at 1pm - Death and the Maiden: Exploring Erotic Death Art, and the Gender of Death

In this second talk given by Dr Christina Welch, we will explore the 'erotic' proto- and Reformation-era Death and the Maiden artworks produced by the artists known as the Little Masters. It will set these in their historical context and consider how they relate to the perceived gender of Death as male in this socio-religious context.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 27th August at 1pm - Matilda of Canossa: the life of a woman who changed the course of history

Many of you who watched the lecture, Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115) and the Conservation of Ancient Churches, given by Michèle Spike on July 30, 2020 expressed an interest in learning more about the life of the Countess Matilda and about the “scandals in her life” which were discussed in the question and answer section.

Prof. Spike will discuss how Matilda and her mother, Beatrice, two women born into a feudal male hierarchy, managed to accomplish that transfer in the face of strong, at times overwhelming, male resistance. As in all human stories their road to victory involved sex, violence, war, and many rumors and innuendos which Prof. Spike will piece together to provide more details of Matilda’s extraordinary life.

The title of the lecture is based upon the exhibition curated by Prof. Spike at the Casa Buonarroti in Florence in 2016 and catalogue of the same name.

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Thursday 3rd September at 1pm - Harey Coppar, bell ringer and the historical graffiti in Winchester Cathedral with Dr Cindy Wood

Winchester Cathedral has a large amount of historical graffiti across all areas of this building, now nearly 1,000 years old. A survey and photographic record of this graffiti can be analysed to help an understanding of how this building has been used and viewed across the centuries by people who were not etherise commemorated here. This talk will consider this graffiti as evidence for an alternative view of its history and will also allow a discussion on how it may be viewed, conserved or even discouraged in the future.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 10th September at 1pm - Unlocking the Church: the lost secrets of Victorian sacred space with Professor William Whyte

The Victorians completely transformed our churches: not only building thousands, but restoring – which often meant rebuilding – thousands more. Still more importantly, they transformed how the British understood and experienced their churches. No longer mere receptacles for worship, churches became active agents in their own right, capable of conveying theological ideas and designed to shape people's emotions.

In this talk, Professor William Whyte explores this forgotten revolution – and its effects on us today. Watch the lecture here

Thursday 24th September - Picking up the Pieces, the Dissolution of the Monasteries and its Aftermath with Dr Hugh Willmott

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Thursday 1st October - Construction, Change and Crisis: Church building in the shadow of the Black Death with Dr Gabriel Byng

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Thursday 8th October - A Tomb with a View: Medieval Death with Prof. Paul Binski

This pre-All Hallows Eve talk will be about some of the most famous images of Death, how they came about and how they worked, looking especially at Christian attitudes to the body, the role of fear, and the way art itself comes up with ideas.

This talk is given by Professor Paul Binski FBA. 

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 15th October - A Medieval Guide to Escaping Purgatory: The practices of the late Medieval Cult of the Dead with Dr Cindy Wood

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Thursday 22nd October - Macabre Church Lore: Ghosts, Witches and Monsters in England's Churches and Churchyards with Dr Francis Young

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Thursday 29th October - Raiders of the Grave: Macabre tales of Bodysnatchers & what churches did to stop them with Suzie Lennox

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Thursday 5th November - Making Headway with a Headstone: How to Look Beneath and Beyond with Sheldon K. Goodman

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Thursday 12th November - ‘Memorials of These Dark Days’: Art and Crafts First World War memorials in the Cotswolds with Kirsty Hartsiotis

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Thursday 19th November - The Box of Whistles: A short history of English church organs, 1500-1900 with Nicholas Thistlethwaite

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Thursday 26th November - Ghosts of Music and Shades of Light: the use of a parish church with Martin Renshaw

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Thursday 3rd December - Christmas Ghosts

This lecture is given by Dr Francis Young. Watch the lecture here

Thursday 3rd December at 7pm - The CCT Annual Lecture: Holy Inappropriate? “Secular” uses of the medieval church

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Monday 7th December - ANGELS a history with Peter Stanford

In his latest book which launched on 3rd December 2020, Author and Journalist Peter Stanford's 'Angels: A History' searches out the origins of angels in religious thought, history, psychology and wider culture, and asks why, in an age of disbelief, they remain more compelling and comforting for many than God.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 10th December - Christmas: Tradition, Truth and Total Baubles

We are all haunted by the ghost of Christmas as-it-never-was…Nick Page ditches the festive fake news!

Prized for his skills as a writer, speaker, unlicensed historian, applied ranter and general information monger, former BBC comedy writer Nick Page has written over 70 books, including most recently, his NEARLY INFALLIBLE HISTORY series.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 17th December - Curses, Legends & Murder: Folklore & Strange Tales of Thomas Becket with Mark Norman

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Thursday 7th January - IMPERIAL CAPITAL, GOTHIC KINGDOM, BYZANTINE OUTPOST: The Challenge Of Understanding Early Christian Ravenna

From AD 402 to 751 the small city of Ravenna, on the NE coast of Italy, became the capital of the Roman Empire in the West, then the centre of a Gothic kingdom and finally the western outpost of Byzantine government from Constantinople. During these centuries the construction of many early Christian churches, palaces, tombs and fortifications made it a repository of exquisite art and architecture, erected on the orders of a wide range of elite officials and through the skilful efforts of many anonymous craftsmen. This talk aims to explain how such a concentration of early Christian art occurred and why it survived, when so many other centres failed.

This lecture is given by Professor Judith Herrin. Her latest book is Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 14th January - THE BATTLE FOR BLYTHBURGH CHURCH: Restoration VS. Conservation in Late-Victorian Suffolk with Dr Alan Mackley

After decades of neglect, Blythburgh church, a grand fifteenth-century building in a small Suffolk village, was ‘mouldering into ruin’.  In 1881 the church was closed as unsafe.  Although the church was re-opened in 1884, proposals for restoration precipitated a twenty-five year long rancorous conflict between local vicars and restoration committees, and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.  Would the restoration of the church lead to the loss of medieval work and the means to understand its history through a study of its fabric, and transform the character of the church?  Was the alternative just ‘propping up a ruin’?

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 21st January - STAYING IN STYLE: Architectural Fashion In Medieval Parish Churches with Jon Cannon

Old parish churches are wonderful ways of experiencing the ways in which architectural tastes changed over many centuries. As well as being rewarding in their own right, these ever-shifting styles can be used to help put a date on the parts of a building as it develops. They also help make it a ‘time machine’ to medieval culture and medieval ideas. This lecture will outline the main identifying features of the succeeding styles- known as Anglo-Saxon, Norman or Romanesque, early Gothic or Transitional, Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular; it will also aim to give a picture of how these styles unfolded ‘in the present’, and how they might evoke the attitudes of the past.     

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 28th January - SAINT OSWALD'S MANY HEADS: The Life & Afterlife Of A Seventh-Century Northumbrian King with Dr Johanna Dale

King Oswald was a Christian king of Northumbria who died in battle in 642, and was soon recognised as a saint.  He was slain by the Mercian king Penda, who cut off Oswald's head and impaled it on a stake on the battlefield as a sign of his victory.  By the end of the Middle Ages 4 different religious foundations claimed possession of Saint Oswald’s head.  Durham, in Oswald’s native Northumbria, had the best claim to possess the authentic relic, but communities in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland also claimed the king’s head. This talk explores the life and afterlife of a Northumbrian king, who became a cult figure not only in his native north-east of England, but also, and more surprisingly, across medieval Europe.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 4th February - A ROOD AWAKENING: The Pride of The Parish Church with Richard Hayman

Join us on a historical tour exploring how and why Rood Screens came to be built that separated the congregation from the priests in parish churches. Through illustrated examples, some of the care and attention devoted to embellishing these screens by the parish congregations will be revealed. Finally, Richard Hayman explores the reasons why, since the Reformation, some screens have survived but the majority have not.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 11th February - DREAMS, DISTRACTIONS & DESTRUCTION: Britain's Lost Arts & Crafts Churches with Dr Alec Hamilton

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Thursday 18th February - DIVINE DESIGNS: The Secret Lives Of Palaces with Lisa McIntyre IHBC

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 25th February - A LIFE IN RUINS

Over the past thirty years Andrew Ziminski has worked as a stonemason-conservator as a partner of Minerva Stone Conservation.

In his talk Andrew will  give a behind the scenes look at how craft skills and conservation combine to care for some of the Churches he has worked on in the CCT’s estate. Including St Marys at Hemington, Somerset. A recent vestment where Andrew and his team are currently working.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 4th March - TO SHOW THAT THE PLACE IS DIVINE: Consecration Crosses in English Parish Churches with Prof. Andrew Spicer

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Thursday 11th March - MEETING VIKINGS IN ENGLISH CHURCHES with Dr Eleanor Parker

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Thursday 18th March - CURIOSITIES IN CHURCHES AND CHURCHYARDS: Their Bizarre Legends and Weird Folklore with David Castleton

Buy David's new book on the subject of this lecture here for just £8 plus P&P

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 25th March - MOST HIGHLY FAVOURED LADY: The Annunciation in the Art of our Medieval Churches with Canon Jeremy Haselock

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Thursday 1st April - PAINTING THE PASSION WITH PASSION: Giotto and the Easter Story in Padua with Dr Richard Stemp

Giotto’s frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, painted between 1303 and 1305, constitute one of the most beautiful, most coherent and most complete decorative schemes to have survived the ravages of time, the changes of taste, and the vagaries of flood, fire and other ‘Acts of God’. Telling the stories of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and of Jesus himself, from his birth through to his death and resurrection, all is contained within a framework governed by the Last Judgement and Annunciation, when the Light of the World came into the world. As we reach Easter – and precisely on Maundy Thursday when Christians celebrate the Last Supper and Christ’s washing of the apostles’ feet – we will focus on the frescoes of the Passion, from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection, and go just a little bit beyond, to the Ascension and even Pentecost. Giotto’s storytelling is always compelling, and the paintings profoundly moving – a perfect prelude to the Easter weekend. This lecture is given by Dr Richard Stemp.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 8th April - DECORATED IN GLORY: Church Building in Herefordshire in the Fourteenth Century with Prof. Nigel Saul

In November 2020 Professor Saul published his new book: Decorated in Glory: Church Building in Herefordshire in the Fourteenth Century. You can buy a copy of this book via our shop here for just £10 plus P&P

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 15th April - PARISH CHURCHES, PRIORIES AND PALACES: The Archaeologies of Religion and Ritual with Natalie Cohen

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Thursday 22nd April - DEFENDER OF THE FAITH? Henry VIII and the Parish Church with Dr Emma Wells

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 29th April - EXCAVATING EARLY CHRISTIAN BRITAIN: The Unique and Enigmatical Pillar of Eliseg - A Rare Welsh Survival with Prof. Howard Williams

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 6th May - THE ROYAL TOMBS OF ENGLAND

You can buy a copy of Prof. Dodson's book on this topic from our shop here

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Thursday 13th May - THE MANY MEANINGS OF "THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND"

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Thursday 20th May - THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE: Church Design In The Twentieth Century

You will be able to purchase the book on the CCT website here

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Thursday 27th May - CLOISTERS: Remarkable Cathedral Survivors - our one-year weekly #LunchtimeLecture anniversary 

Medieval cloisters, originally spaces linking monastic buildings, are miraculous survivors of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. English cathedral communities recognised the practicalities of cloisters and experimented with cutting-edge architecture to build, improve and embellish them. The result is that England’s Cathedral cloisters are some of the most extraordinarily beautiful spaces in the world. This talk explores the 20 or so medieval cathedral cloisters in England, with spectacular photos and encourages audiences to venture beyond the nave when they next visit a cathedral.

Janet has published a book called Cathedrals of The Church of England which you can purchase here

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 3rd June - FULL CIRCLE - LIVERPOOL METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL: History and Conservation

This talk will look at the history and recent conservation work on one of the countries most well-known and divisive Post-War buildings. It’s distinctive shape and vast, circular nave make it unique in European architecture, but it has had significant and long-standing issues, some of which Purcell have tried to address through their recent Getty-funded projects. From the competition to design a new cathedral, its’ rapid construction in 1967, to now, this talk will look at the care now being taken to conserve one of the most iconic Post-War churches in the world.

Jon Wright is a Heritage Consultant with Purcell Architects, specialising in the architectural history of and conservation practices for, buildings of the twentieth century. A former case officer for the Twentieth Century Society and now a member of the Working Party for the UK chapter of DOCOMOMO, Jon has worked on some of the country's best-known modern buildings and fought for the survival of some of the most contentious of the Post-War period.

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 10th June - AN ELEPHANT IN ROME: Bernini, The Pope And The Making Of The Eternal City with Loyd Grossman

In 1655 a new Pope, Alexander VII, fired with religious zeal, political guile and a mani for building, determined to restore the prestige of his Church by making Rome the must-visit destination for Europe’s elite. To help him do so, he enlisted the talents of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, already celebrated as the most important artist of the age.

Together, Alexander VII and Bernini made one of the greatest artistic double acts in history, inventing the concept of soft power and the bucket list destination. Bernini and Alexander’s creation of Baroque Rome, a city grander and more beautiful than since the days of Augustus Caesar, continues to delight and attract.

Buy the book here

Watch the lecture here

Thursday 17th June - ‘FROM JUDGEMENT TO PASSION’: The Evolution of the Rood in the High Middle Ages with Dr John Munns

The focal image in almost every late medieval English church would have been a large crucifixion at the east end of the nave, usually mounted above the chancel arch on a screen or beam. Of the many hundreds of these monumental roods that must once have existed, only a handful of fragments remain. For many ordinary parishioners, their primary point of engagement with the image of the crucified Christ would probably have been their parish rood. Between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, crucifixion imagery underwent a process of change. This lecture will attempt to piece together some of the key elements of these changes, and to discern something of their motivations and effects. It will chart the iconographical development ‘from judgment to passion’ that was to prove a cornerstone of later medieval religious devotion.

John Munns is a Fellow and Tutor of Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he teaches medieval history and the history of medieval art.

Watch the lecture here