Spotlight on the Black Death

Healing the sick, a fresco by Domenico di Bartolo, 1441 - 1442

posterThe Black Death was estimated to have killed between 75 and 200 million people and devastated Europe between 1346 and 1353 – which is why some churches are built on the edges of villages, or a little way off. Death and burial was to be kept at arm’s length.

At least 60 academics are expected at Rye’s fifth Medieval Conference on Saturday October 18 to hear about and discuss “The Hazards of Life and Causes of Death in Late Medieval England”.

Admission to the conference at Rye College, in the Milligan Theatre, costs £35, which includes a light lunch. The publicity poster seen around town was designed by Jordan Seabrook, a student at Rye Studio School.

The conference is organised by Rye Castle Museum and sponsored by the Rye Fund and Rye Academy Trust, and the speakers are:

* Professor Carole Rawcliffe (University of East Anglia) – Poky Pigges and Stynkynge Makerels: Food Standards and Urban Health in Late Medieval England

* Dr Simon Roffey –  An Archaeology of Disease: Leprosy and Leprosaria in Medieval England

* Professor Tom James (University of Winchester) – The Black Death: Fact or Fiction?

* Professor Tony Waldron (University College, London) – The Health (and Death) of Children in Medieval England

* Dr Rebecca Oakes (University of Cambridge) – Growing Pains: Adolescent Life Experiences and Expectancy of Medieval Scholars and

* Professor Michael Hicks (University of Winchester) – The Incidence of Accidents: Broken Bones and Death by Misadventure in the Proofs of Age

Ticket sales are holding up against previous years, but there are still tickets available. For further details visit the museum’s website or call 01797 226728 or email

On Tuesday September 30 the museum is holding a course at its East Street site on “Pest Identification and Management” from 9.45am to 1pm, but this is not about health or disease. Instead it is focused on the problems pests can cause in museums by damaging and destroying exhibits. The next Rye Museum Association talk is on Tuesday October 14th at 7.30pm in East Street by former Winchelsea Town Clerk Malcolm Pratt on “Winchelsea Corporation and the Court Hall Museum” and the history of our fellow “Antient Town”.


Leaflet design by Jordan Seabrook of Rye Studio School