IMEMS-Blackfriars Medieval Lectures and Lunch

Medieval Food and Culture

The Blackfriars / Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies bi-annual series of talks and themed lunches.

Reconstructing Medieval Blackfriars


On Saturday 11 September 2021 (having been moved from 1 May 2021), Blackfriars will host, in partnership with Durham University’s IMEMS (*), our 18th Public Talk with Medieval Lunch

We are delighted to welcome Dr Eric Cambridge to discuss the purpose, uses and archeological remains of our 13th century former Dominican friary.  Blackfriars presents a rare opportunity to study the standing remains of a medieval Dominican friary. Some of the buildings survived because they were converted to other uses after the end of the friary while others were demolished and are known only from excavation.

In this lecture we will attempt to reconstruct the appearance of the buildings in the Middle Ages and explore how the Dominicans might have used and adapted them to meet the evolving needs of their community over nearly three centuries.

The lecture will be followed by a guided tour of the site.

WHERE: Blackfriars Banquet Hall 
TIMES: 11am
Cost: £25.00 (student discount – please inquire via Blackfriars)

Our next Lecture and Lunch will feature Dr Michael Huxtable (Durham University – Department of English Studies) on Saturday 6th November

Fantastic Feasts and Where to Find Them

Join Dr Michael Huxtable and colleagues from Durham University for a tour of medieval literature and other sources on the theme of Fantastic Feasts and where to find them. We’ll cover the feast of foreboding in the Old English poem Beowulf, before the terror inflicted by the beast Grendel; the dialogue between the God Apollo and the cook in Henry of Huntingdon’s Garden of England, feasting and food in the poetry of Marie de France, an English poet of the 12th century, the curious story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and some of the famous and infamous incidents that happened at real feasts – did Henry I really die from a surfeit of lampreys? And what went wrong with the dance for Charles VI of France in 1393? And finally words of wisdom from Chaucer and contemporaries. A culinary journey not to be missed! 

WHERE: Blackfriars Banquet Hall 
TIMES: 11am
Cost: £25.00 (student discount – please inquire via Blackfriars)

The Blackfriars / Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies lectures and lunch series has been running since 2012. Every May and November we gather at Blackfriars for a talk and a suitably-themed lunch. Talks range from local interest and the history of the priory, to etiquette across medieval society, literary depictions of Viking feasting, the curious links between dining and bathing, the science of food and taste, and what peasants, hermits, and religious societies ate. Lunches offer the opportunity for the Eat Medieval team to explore new dishes with the chefs and new interpretations of the recipes. Cutting-edge research for public consumption! 

‘Really changed my perceptions of what and how food was eaten in the past.’

Coming to these lectures has made a big difference to my understanding of the Middle Ages: great to hear the experts and have some fun too.’

‘Sampling new recipes while learning about the past is a brilliant way to spend a Saturday lunchtime.’

Feedback from regular attendees

Previous Talks and Speakers

Eric CambridgeReconstructing Medieval Blackfriars
Giles E. M. Gasper & Andy HookEat Medieval: Heritage and Hospitality, Medieval and Modern
Fiona WhelanDid manners maketh the medieval man? Etiquette at the twelfth-century dining table
Debby BanhamThe Early English Bread Project: the Making and Meaning of Bread in Early Medieval England
Adrian GreenBlackfriars and the Newcastle Craft Guilds
Giles E. M. Gasper The Science of Food in the Middle Ages: Taste, Pleasure and the Senses
Christian LiddyCommon Rights and Natural Resources: the 1217 Charter of the Forest in Historical Perspective
Daniel NewmanFood of the Arabian Nights: An Introduction to Medieval Arab Cuisine
Elizabeth ArchibaldDining and Bathing for Health
Iona McCleeryThe Healthy Medieval Diet
Eleanor BarracloughA Feast of Trolls: Feeding, Fighting and Fornicating with the Trolls of Nordic Folklore
Peter BrearsEttiquette in the Middle Ages
Andrew JotischkyA Hermit’s Cookbook: Monks, Food and Fasting in the Middle Ages
John ClayHorses for Courses: Food and Faith in Early Medieval Times
Chris WoolgarCooking and the Peasantry Ate in Late Medieval England
Michael PrestwichCastles and their Food
Giles E. M. GasperEggs Benedict, Monks and their Food

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