Battle Conference of Anglo-Norman Studies

 

 

R. Allen Brown on the field of Battle R. Allen Brown on the field of Battle

The Conference was founded by R Allen Brown in 1978 with crucial financial support from the Education Committee of East Sussex County Council and vital organisational assistance (until 1992) from Mrs Gillian Murton, Deputy Education Officer of East Sussex. 

Allen Brown remained an inspirational Director of the conference until his death in February 1989. The news that he had been appointed 'Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres' came through on the last day of the 1988 conference.

His role as Director was then taken over by Marjorie Chibnall (1989 to 1993) who master-minded our most audacious move so far, the conference at Palermo; followed by Christopher Harper-Bill (1994-2000), John Gillingham (2000-04) and Chris Lewis (2004-10).

The first Allen Brown Memorial Lecture was given by Eleanor Searle in 1990, the historian of medieval Battle and its abbey, and a great American friend of the conference, appropriately entitled 'Inter Amicos: The Abbey, Town and Early Charters of Battle'. 

In 1992 East Sussex County Council helped set up the Allen Brown Memorial Trust which, together with Pyke House and the Hastings College of Arts and Technology, is now responsible for running the conferences.

In 1982 Warren Hollister, another great American friend of the Battle Conference, founded the Haskins Society for Anglo-Saxon, Viking, Anglo-Norman and Angevin History, described by Allen at the time as 'a daughter house'. Besides publishing the Haskins Society Journal, this issues a regular newsletter, the Anglo-Norman Anonymous. Naturally the Haskins Society entered cyberspace long before the Battle Conference and can be contacted at www.haskins.cornell.edu

Allen Brown’s preface to the first volume of the conference proceedings mentions three things which became central to Battle tradition.

      1. A conference outing - in 1978 round and about Canterbury Cathedral. 
      2. The close links with Richard Barber and the Boydell Press which have materially helped to 

          ensure that each volume of proceedings is in print before the next conference meets. 
      3. A tour of the battlefield conducted by Ian Pierce, and often combined with a display of 

          arms and armour in the back garden of Pyke House - although since 1983 there has been 

          no sign of anyone feeling inclined to emulate Allen and Ian in riding in full armor up the 

          battlefield slope. 

Sadly Ian Peirce, who made a massive and irreplaceable contribution to the conference, is no longer with us. And with Pyke House no longer available, the traditions associated with the next-door Chequers Inn can no longer be a part of the annual conviviality. Nonetheless, the conference seeks to continue its traditions for sociability and warmly welcomes newcomers. And Boydell and Brewer remain staunch and invaluable supporters of the Conference.