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19 December 2016

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Professor George Garnett lectures on Barking’s medieval past

On 23rd November, Professor George Garnett gave a medieval history lecture entitled Barking’s First Golden Age at Eastbury Manor House, Barking, Essex. Professor Garnett’s assessment of the town’s rich medieval past was delivered on the invitation of Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, and marked the beginning of a high profile urban regeneration project.

Dr Garnett notes the key role that Barking and its Abbey in our understanding of the medieval period: ‘Barking Abbey was the premier nunnery of medieval England, with close links to royalty and the diocese of London.  It was populated by very well-connected and highly educated nuns who,  archaeological evidence suggests, were distinguished by an unusually great attention to their personal appearance. Despite the best efforts of Henry VIII, plentiful written documentation survives from this period, including the second oldest surviving original charter from Anglo-Saxon England, and a cache of charters recently discovered in a sixteenth-century transcript. After the Norman Conquest, the Abbey became the most important centre of French verse hagiography in the twelfth-century renaissance.’

The property developer, Estates and Agency Group, has very generously pledged to fund the publication of an edition of the Anglo-Saxon charters of Barking. This volume will be published as part of the current British Academy Project to edit and make available all surviving Anglo-Saxon charters.

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