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Educator's summary

Thank you to all participants. I have greatly enjoyed reading through the responses to the Week 4 material, and have learnt much from them and all the conversations (the advantages of bodkins over pens, for example)!

I was struck by the sensitive and discerning engagement with the primary sources: the values and challenges of personal testimony, the careful discernment of the witting and the unwitting evidence provided by the photograph, for example.

The discussion reminded me of the newspaper account of the royal visit to the munitions factories in the First World War in the Lancaster Guardian of 19 May 1917. It notes that small flags were waved and that men, women and children ‘cheered lustily as the Royal procession passed’. It also reports the conversations between the workers and the King and Queen, which were polite but frank (Queen: “I see you wear clogs. How do you like them?” “Oh they’re alright,” replied the Lancashire lass.)

If you’d like to read this account of another royal visit, take a look at the material from the Blasted exhibition at the City Museum that marked the Centenary of the White Lund explosion which includes the newspaper report.

The issue of Bob Edmondson’s pay also provoked some interesting questions about wages and living conditions at the time. For any historic figures cited to be meaningful, historians can make comparisons with contemporary wages or costs, or to find a way of conveying the figure in today’s currency. You might enjoy having a go on the ‘Measuring Worth’ website, though this site only works for figures from 1270 onwards!

On the physical challenges of policing, the North West film archive holds footage of police directing traffic before the introduction of traffic lights, as does Pathe: take a look, for example, at “Well Done!… “The Specials” (1932).

All this shows how starting with one locality, indeed, one building, can spiral out into myriad fascinating directions. I enjoyed most researching the experience of living in the castle, the difference of inhabiting a cell with an open or locked door, whether you could ever become blasé about having the John O’Gaunt Gateway as your front door.

The 1911 census lists three families as inhabiting Lancaster Castle, and its population at 104. I would like to know more about the inhabitants of the Castle over time, particularly the female prisoners. One Armed Forces Day in the Castle, I chatted to a member of the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service who had volunteered there, looking after family members visiting prisoners – now there’s an oral history I would have loved to have collected! So much more history to explore…

Thank you for coming on this journey with us. I hope you have enjoyed it, whatever your preferred period of history is.

Corinna Peniston-Bird

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This article is from the free online course:

Lancaster Castle and Northern English History: The View from the Stronghold

Lancaster University