HALH Spring Meeting, Tewin Memorial Hall

11am on Saturday, 19 May 2018

By John Cox

This year's spring meeting of the Hertfordshire Association for Local History will be held at the Tewin Memorial Hall. The programme is as follows:

10.30 Doors open

11.00 Welcome

11.20 A series of talks by local history societies about their work and projects (Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon; Rickmansworth Historical Society; Tring Local History Society; Watford & District Industrial Society; Wheathampstead Pubs Research Project; Community Archives Project)

12.40 Readings from John Carrington's Diaries (vol. II)

13.00 Refreshments with the opportunity to visit St Peter's Church

13.45 HALH AGM with presentation of awards

14.15 The Lionel Munby Lecture: The Concealed-Revealed Project, Dr Ceri Houlbrook (see below)

Admission is free for HALH members; £2 for visitors.

Abstract for this year's Lionel Munby Lecture
The Concealed-Revealed Project is currently being undertaken by the University of Hertfordshire. Its aim is to explore the very old custom of hiding objects within houses in the belief that they will keep bad luck at bay. Such objects may comprise a shoe hidden up a chimney breast, a mummified cat in the roof space, a child’s cap in a wall cavity, or a horse skull under the floorboards. From time to time these and similar objects come to light as the owners of older properties carry out renovations. Finding such objects can be surprising and sometimes disturbing. In most cases it seems they were deliberately concealed and this raises many questions. When were they put there? – and why? – and by whom?

Dr Houlbrook will talk about what these objects might have meant to the people who originally concealed them and how today’s owners react when they come across them in their homes. As far as is known, there are no historical texts which explain the practice, so we have to rely on material evidence. To this end, the Concealed-Revealed Project is appealing to the public to let them know about any old objects which they may find in their homes in an unusual location. Clearly, the more people who respond to this appeal, the more we may learn about this mysterious practice.

Ceri graduated at the University of Manchester where in 2014 she completed her PhD on the archaeology and heritage of the British coin-tree. She joined the University of Hertfordshire in 2015 as a Postdoctoral Researcher, and has pursued research into the heritage and material culture of ritual and folklore in the British Isles from c.1700 to the present day. She has published a number of journal articles on this subject and has co-edited a volume, The Materiality of Magic, which looks at the artefacts associated with ritual practices and popular beliefs.

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