Henry III Fine Rolls Project Launch, 24 November 2010

For those of us in the “engine room” of the project, constantly shovelling coal on the historical fires to prevent the good ship FRH3 from colliding with the iceberg and sinking without trace (I borrow a metaphor here regularly wheeled out by David Carpenter – I kid you not!), the chance to view the dazzling lights of the outside world and to demonstrate our achievements is rare indeed. Such an opportunity arose on 24 November when the project hosted a launch in the wonderfully appropriate setting of the Weston Room, King’s College, formerly the Rolls Chapel of the Public Record Office in Chancery Lane. Over seventy invited guests braved the elements, enticed mainly by the prospect of unlimited wine and canapé privileges, to hear members of the project team, King’s College, Canterbury Christ Church University College and the Arts and Humanities Research Council give various brief talks which set the project and the Fine Rolls in their historical and administrative context and celebrated the project’s contribution to historical and digital humanities scholarship and its place within the wider UK research environment.

The launch principally marked the upload of a large amount of new content to the website, all of which is freely available:

  1. Translations of all the rolls down to 1272.
  2. Images of all the rolls from 1248-72.
  3. A search facility to the rolls now down to 1242.

 It also marked the fifth birthday of the ‘Fine of the Month’ feature, which now numbers sixty articles and has contributed ten of thousands of words of original research on top of the calendars and scholarly introductory material. The event passed very successfully with some particularly kind and encouraging words from Rick Rylance, Chief Executive of the AHRC, and Sir Alan Wilson, Chairman of the AHRC, to whom we were able to demonstrate from the Fine Rolls that Henry III had visited his home town of Darlington on two separate occasions.

 Obviously, events like these require a good deal of planning and arranging, and our particular thanks go to Paul Caton of CCH, who saved us from IT paralysis with about 30 minutes to go before the kick-off (how many historians does it take to turn on a computer?), to the King’s catering staff, and to several King’s MA and doctoral students who were given the unduly onerous tasks by their nameless supervisor of manning the doors and serving the canapés. Unfortunately, our well-laid plan of welcoming Michael Wood and his fabled magnifying glass was foiled when Michael got the days mixed up and arrived at the correct time but on the following day!

 Above all, the launch was the brainchild of David Carpenter. Given the amount of nervous energy he had expended in the run-up to the event, including forcing us to do about seventeen full run-throughs and subjecting the audience to a hideous picture of Yours Truly woofing a fish supper at a chippy in Leeds, he can now rest easy and bask in one of his greatest triumphs.

Members of the Project Team at the Reception on 24 November 2010

Members of the Project Team with Representatives from the AHRC, Canterbury Christ Church University, King's College London and The National Archives

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