Founded in 1984 and with a membership approaching 400, the principal aim of the Friends is to support the work of Canterbury Archaeological Trust, a registered charity and one of the foremost archaeological units in the country.
Friends’ support is provided principally through financial grants and volunteering. Each year the Friends make grants totalling thousands of pounds to the Trust to support its projects and provides bursaries to staff to assist with professional development. The Friends gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the Donald Baron Fund in contributing to these bursaries.
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We ask for an annual donation of £20 (more if possible!). This covers either an individual or a household based on one address. Communication to a household will be to a named individual and each household will receive one copy of each newsletter and Annual Review. Other members of the household will be eligible for concessionary rates for talks and other purposes advertised from time.
If you are a full-time student or in receipt of JSA or ESA we suggest an annual donation of £10 for individual membership.
Anyone interested in life membership should contact our Membership Secretary: memsecFCAT@canterburytrust.co.uk
The Friends endeavour to ensure that as much of the donation as possible goes towards supporting the work of the Trust.
Thursday 25 January 2018, 7.00pm
St Albans Cathedral
Venue: Canterbury Christ Church University, Newton Ng07
In the final few weeks of excavation at St Albans Abbey a remarkable find came to light. Ross will tell how the discovery of the burial of John of Wheathampstead revealed more than dry bones.
Saturday 24 February 2018, 6pm
The Frank Jenkins Memorial Lecture
Professor Paul Bennett
Joint event with Canterbury History and Archaeology Society.
Venue: Canterbury Christ Church University, Old Sessions House, Og46
Thursday 22 March 2018, 7pm
Excavations on the site of Slatters Hotel, Canterbury
Venue: Canterbury Christ Church University, Newton Ng07
Three months into the excavation at a key location in the Roman, Anglo-Saxon and medieval town, Alison Hicks will reveal what has been found so far.
Thursday 10 May 2018, 7pm
Finding Eanswythe: a community history and archaeology project on Folkestone’s Anglo-Saxon royal saint
Lesley Hardy and Ellie Williams
Venue: Canterbury Christ Church University, Newton Ng07
The ‘Finding Eanswythe’ project is revisiting tangible remains associated with an Anglo-Saxon princess and patron Saint of Folkestone. Lesley will describe how this community led project is combining historical detection with some innovative research.
For all events which do not have a stated charge, FCAT requests a donation of £2.00 for members and £3.00 for non-members to cover costs and to help to support the activities of the Trust. Registered students and CAT staff are very welcome to attend without charge.
Excursions organised by FCAT: Members and guests participate in excursions at their own risk. FCAT does not accept responsibility for any loss or injury. Excursions involve walking in the open and negotiating steps and stairs both externally and within buildings. Appropriate footwear and clothing should always be worn.
FCAT welcomes participation in its excursions by members and guests with impaired mobility, provided that they are accompanied by a person who can act as a helper. It is advisable to check in advance with the Excursion Leader or the Excursions Secretary to establish whether access problems are anticipated on a specific trip.
Reminders for events and visits to excavations: FRIENDS who are interested in receiving reminders about events and activities between Newsletters, are asked to leave their email address here: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your address will not be passed on to other organisations. If you do not have email, leave a stamped addressed envelope at the Trust for notification of excavation site visits at short notice.
FCAT c/o Canterbury Archaeological Trust, 92a Broad Street, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2LU
Contact the Chair of the Friends: chairFCAT@canterburytrust.co.uk
Contact the Treasurer of the Friends: treasurerFCAT@canterburytrust.co.uk
Contact the Membership Secretary of the Friends: memsecFCAT@canterburytrust.co.uk
Chair: Dr John Williams MBE
Vice Chair: Professor Chris Bounds
Treasurer and Gift Aid Secretary: Mrs Marion Gurr
Membership Secretary: Mr David Sadtler
Publicity: Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh
Canterbury Walks Organisation: Dr Doreen Rosman
Miss Jane Blackham
Mrs Sue Chambers
Dr David Shaw
Dr Anthony Ward
Dr Ellie Williams
The following accounts of the how the Friends came about and a pivotal fundraising initiative - The Shop - were written by Lawrence and Marjorie Lyle respectively. Both first appeared in the review of the Trust's first 40 years, published to accompany an exhibition celebrating the same event, and which was stewarded by the Friends.
The Friends were founded in 1984 as a result of the financial crisis which nearly sank the small, struggling unit. The Archbishop, the Lord Mayor and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent wrote a letter to The Times and Donald Baron launched the Friends of which he became Chairman and Hon Treasurer. A month later, 300 Friends had been signed up: numbers have hovered just below 400 for most of our history.
During its first two years the Friends gave £19,000 to save the Trust, involving fundraising activities and social events; the Dean hosted two sherry parties, Peggy Hayes organised a buffet lunch and auction of antiques donated by members. Marjorie Lyle ran Heritage week-ends for three years in association with the Chaucer Hotel. Donald was tireless in running the Friends and helping the Trust. He resigned in 1986 and I took over the Chairmanship. When he died soon afterwards, Donald Baron Bursaries were set up to which, among others, his widow Desirée has contributed generously ever since. The fund has enabled many staff members to attend courses and conferences at some of which they have delivered important papers.
Norman Smith became Chairman in 2004 and four years later Dr David Shaw took over, later adding Chairman of the Management Committee to his responsibilities. In 2015 he was succeeded by Dr Anthony Ward. For many years the Friends’ finances were in the safe hands of Roger Sharp. John Parsons, a loyal Friend, bequeathed his library and house to the Trust. The sale of the latter enabled central heating to be installed in 92a Broad Street.
Canterbury Festival walks, run for fifteen years by Meriel Connor and now by Doreen Rosman, have generated increasing revenue, now running at about £1,900 a year.
Short breaks in historic places from Exeter to the Orkneys were organised by Laurence Fisher and then Anne Vine and Meriel Connor. Day excursions to London museums and major exhibitions were run originally at £4 a head; coach hire is now almost prohibitive. However, local visits to important excavations (such as Sittingbourne, Thanet Earth, Ringlemere and Folkestone) continue. We have followed the many stages of the Dover Bronze Age Boat project from its discovery to the launch of its replica with increasing admiration.
From the first a Newsletter every four months has kept Friends in touch with the Trust. With advancing technology these have developed from a cyclo-styled sheet to full-colour booklets. The next issue will be No 100. Local Friends save postage by delivering Newsletters and Annual Reports.
Practical help at digs, such as pot-washing, sales and publicity started at the Marlowe site and continued at Northgate and the Longmarket where a viewing platform was built. At the Whitefriars Big Dig the Friends staffed the shop, exhibition and walkway for three years, seven days a week from 10 am to 4 pm, enabling visitors and school parties to receive up-to-date information. After briefing us the archaeologists could work uninterrupted.
Apart from help pot-washing, assisting in the environmental department and with other practical tasks, Friends have bought equipment ranging from a paper guillotine to GPS equipment costing £12,000. We have bought cameras and equipment for a dark room, several early computers and ancillary kit and a second-hand Land Rover. Support was given towards the re-roofing of the Finds Department, the installation of safety equipment and fire alarms. Several publications were subsidised and books and journals bought for the Library.
Our grants have helped the flourishing Education Department.
The Friends are proud of their share in saving the Trust in the 1980s, impressed by its major digs and publication record and pleased to give it financial and moral support as it faces difficult years ahead.
Lawrence Lyle, Chairman 1986–2004
My motivation in looking for a charity shop was the answer I received late in 1983 from Dame Jennifer Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust. At my request she had consulted Lord Montague, head of English Heritage: they concluded that the Trust should urgently find alternative funding for the current crisis and to plug future gaps in state provision, likely to diminish. Three people were crucial to the shop project. Mrs Blades, manager of the Hospice Shop in Canterbury advised me to buy a freehold, corner property near the centre. Then, the manager of the National Westminster Bank, dubious about the Trust’s survival, agreed to lend me £30,000 until the next election if I found £10,000 elsewhere and proved that I could repay it at least £1,000 a month minimum. Cllr Jim Nock, then leader of the City Council, offered an interest-free City loan of £10,000.
No 72 Northgate, a florist’s corner shop, with living accommodation above, was for sale at £38,000 odd and this the Management Committee allowed me to purchase on these terms. Amazingly, the Trust workforce, my family and the Friends of the Trust set to work so that we were able to open the shop in April 1984 with four students in converted rooms above. The Friends supplied every single item of furniture, bedding, pots and pans right down to everything except the light bulbs. For example, the wife of the retiring Governor of Dover Castle obtained sufficient ex-WD carpeting for the whole upstairs while Peggy Hayes acquired a cash register and carried through the streets a naked female mannequin for the shop window which she dressed every week for eight years. The Friends filled the rota for staffing the shop, turning up loyally in all weathers until 1992. I always had some misgivings about competing with charity shops for the homeless, needy and dying and so devised ‘Roundabout’, a children’s commission shop. Good quality children’s clothes and equipment gave the donors one-third of the price when sold to our needier customers. In addition, we stocked Trust books, mugs and diaries. Our ‘catchment area’ eventually extended from Thanet to Faversham. At this stage I was able to pay a small wage to two disabled helpers.
In 21 months we repaid £35,000 from sales and rents at more than our monthly pledge; the city council’s loan a year later. Thereafter we were able to supply between £12,000 and £15,000 towards the running costs of the Trust. But, by 1992, vandalism, graffiti, shop-lifting and drunken visitors and the ageing of our wonderful volunteers provoked a change. The shop was sub-let, I continued to run the student flats for two more years when our listed building required a new roof and it was time to sell. A few weeks later Frank Panton, Chairman of the Management Committee, wrote to me that the Shop had eventually raised over a quarter of a million pounds for the Trust.
The Trust offers various opportunities for FCAT members and others to volunteer their time and skills in support of its work. Opportunities arise with regard to specific projects, for example the stewarding of the month long exhibition in the Spring of 2016 at the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge marking the 40th anniversary of the Trust. The contribution of the stewards was highly praised – and indeed the exhibition could not have been presented in its successful format with cases of valuable artefacts complementing display panels without the presence, seven days a week over four weeks, of the reliable stewards drawn from the ranks of the Friends.
Other opportunities for volunteering are firmly embedded in the ongoing operations of the Trust, for example the organisation of the library, a collection of over 8,000 items. Jane Blackham, a long standing Friend, has for several years helped curate the collection bringing her experience working in the Library at Canterbury Christ Church University to the cataloguing of new acquisitions and maintaining the good order of the shelves. Jane has assisted Trust Research Manager Jake Weekes reorganise the library better to meet the needs of Trust staff and other users. In addition to books and periodicals the library had until recently contained much ‘grey literature’ - reports of watching briefs, evaluation excavations, and desk-based site assessments for planning purposes, all work which would not usually be published, but which represents a rich corpus of data. Volunteer Andy Ashenhurst has scanned this large collection making electronic copies which, according to Jake, form the bedrock of an on-line gazetteer of the work of the Trust. The important gazetteer will shortly ‘go-live’ for public interest and research purposes. Jake is clear that improvements to the management of the library and the accessibility of its material could not have been achieved without the support of those who freely give of their time.
Nowhere is the ethos of volunteering more firmly embedded than in the Finds Department which is responsible for the initial processing of artefacts, all the stone, flints, pottery, metalwork, bone (human and animal), recovered each year through work in the field. Finds Supervisor Jacqui Matthews explains that the team of around 30 regulars who volunteer each week is vital to the initial stage of post-excavation activity: preparatory drying, washing and cleaning, categorising, and packaging.
This triage is carried out with meticulous attention to record keeping. Jacqui enters up the detail on the Integrated Archaeological Data Base created for each fieldwork project and the material can then be subjected to close analysis by specialists within and beyond the Trust. The information produced is critical to the interpretation of excavations. Volunteering in the Finds Department brings huge benefits to the Trust helping projects to be completed to time and within budget.
Finds volunteers include both students, gaining practical work experience, and others with a general interest in archaeology. Some have been helping over two decades. Long-serving volunteer and Friend Marion Gurr explains that the highly tactile work provides a very special opportunity to engage with past humanity while its variety encourages individuals to develop particular interests and expertise. “We don’t only drink tea” remarked Marion wryly, recalling sessions spent excavating cremation deposits within funerary urns or piecing together the fragments of eighteenth-century tankards recovered from the former George and Dragon Tavern unearthed in advance of the building of an extension to the Beaney.
Volunteers are also of fundamental importance in our environmental department. Trust Environmental Specialist Enid Allison currently relies on a loyal group of people to painstakingly sort through the huge amounts of ‘heavy residue’ resulting from the sieving of soil samples from all our major excavations. Bones of fish, amphibians, birds and small mammals, and shells of all kinds are extracted, along with metalworking waste and small artefacts such as pins and beads that would be unlikely to be recovered by hand-excavation. Over the years they really have sorted through tonnes of material. Volunteers are currently engaged in retrieving tens of thousands of fish bones from samples from the recent excavations in Dover. Other tasks might be measuring oyster shells, checking sample flots for plant remains such as cereals and pulses, and entering data on the IADB.
Canterbury Archaeological Trust is also an active partner in many community based projects around Kent which rely on the support of volunteers. If you would like to explore the possibility of volunteering at the Trust, please do get in touch. Call Jacqui Matthews on 01227 825274 or email her at email@example.com.
Since the foundation of the Friends in 1984, fundraising and the donations of individual members have contributed many hundreds of thousands of pounds to support the work of the Trust. The Friends’ charity shop alone raised over a quarter of a million pounds during its period of operation between 1984 and 1992.
Friends’ funding has supported the Trust in many, many ways. It has helped amongst other things with building maintenance and refurbishment; the purchase of computers and software, survey, laboratory and photographic equipment; vehicles for fieldwork and support for community excavations; library resources, educational and exhibition materials; publication; and even a burglar alarm!
Trust Director, Professor Paul Bennett, comments ‘Over many years in the later 1980s financial support from the Friends was key to the Trust’s very survival. Since those very challenging days grants from the Friends have significantly assisted the Trust develop the infrastructure and resources which make it one of the foremost archaeological units in the country. It now records and conserves the archaeology of its region and beyond, discharging its charitable purposes by disseminating the results of its work regionally, nationally and indeed internationally, both to its own community and wider scholarly audiences.’
The Friends also administer the Donald Barron Fund generously established by Desiree Barron in memory of her husband who was pivotal in setting up the Friends. The fund is dedicated to promoting the personal and professional development of Trust staff. Each year income from the fund, supplemented by the resources from the Friends, provide bursaries which allow staff to attend training events, courses and conferences, in the UK and abroad. Examples can be found in reports published in the Friends newsletters – see recent issues.