Mrs Claire Kennan

Supervised by

  • Nigel Saul First/primary/lead supervisor

    1/10/14 → …

Educational background

MA Medieval Studies with Distinction, Royal Holloway, University of London (2013-2014).

BA History with First Class Honours, Royal Holloway, University of London (2010-2013).


Research interests

Thesis Title: 'Guilds and Society in Late Medieval Louth, Lincolnshire c.1389-1550'.

My research looks at lay, religious, social and cultural activity from the end of the fourteenth century until the Reformation. In particular, I examine the role of parish guilds in their local communities and their importance in the formation of social and political identities. This thesis combines a detailed local study of parish guilds in Louth, Lincolnshire with reflections on much wider issues relating to lay piety and social identity in the century or so before the Reformation. Louth has an excellent array of surviving primary source materials and these documents mean that the changing focus of pre-Reformation parish guilds can be accurately traced as they developed from purely religious, devotional and voluntary outlets for parishioners into elite associations which leading members of the community, often merchants, used to gain access to political office and to exert their influence in the local vicinity.

My thesis examines the membership, activities and income and expenditure of Louth’s two leading guilds, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity. It also addresses broader issues of women’s involvement in parish guilds, questions of inclusion and exclusion in the parish and how this affected the formation of individual and group identities. There is detailed analysis of the connectivity between local merchants, office holders and trading networks and the impact that the Reformation had on the religious, social and political outlets that ordinary men and women had in late medieval provincial towns. 


Scholarships and Prizes:

Dobson Scholarship, Harlaxton Medieval Symposium (2017).

Three Minute Thesis Competition (Runner Up), Royal Holloway, University of London (2017).

Postgraduate Teaching Prize (Winner), Public Speaking for Historians, Royal Holloway, University of London (2016-17).

Helen Cam Travel Award, Royal Holloway, University of London (2015).

Reid Scholarship and AHRC TECHNE Associate, Royal Holloway, University of London (2014-17).

Caroline Barron Award, Royal Holloway, University of London (2013-14).

Herringham Scholarship, Royal Holloway, University of London (2013-14).

History Friendly Hand Bursary, Royal Holloway, University of London (2013-14).

Robert Patterson Prize, Royal Holloway, University of London (2010-11).


Research Papers and Presentations:

'Piety, Pilgrimage and Plunder: The Reformation and Parish Guilds', Medieval Religion and Reformation, London Medieval Society (18/11/17).

'Reforming Local Parochial Practice: Louth, its Parish Guilds and the Lincolnshire Rising', Reformation on the Record, The National Archives (04/11/17).

'Brotherhood or Otherhood? Issues of Inclusion and Exclusion in Lincolnshire's Late Medieval Guilds', International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (05/07/17).

'A Tale of Two Guilds: Rivals, Associates or Co-Conspirators?', Late Medieval Seminar, Institute of Historical Research (24/02/17).

'Life after Death? Late Medieval Guilds and Perceptions of the Afterlife', Memory and Perception Conference, Rich Mix London (03/11/16).

'From Parochial Association to Political Players: The Holy Trinity Guild in Fifteenth Century Louth, Lincolnshire', The Fifteenth Century Conference, Royal Holloway, University of London (01/09/16). 

'Don't Hog the Drinking Cup! Saints and Socialising in Lincolnshire's Guilds', International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (06/07/16).

'Living on a Prayer? Lincolnshire's Guilds and Religious Observance', Postgraduate Research Forum, Royal Holloway, University of London (27/04/16).

'Guilds and Government: Dialogues in Lincolnshire's Guild Networks in 1389', Dialogue and Difference in the Middle Ages, University of Bristol (25/02/16).

'Stuck in Time? Moving Towards an Understanding of Medieval Documents: An Interactive Workshop', Kinesis and Stasis (un)Conference, Barbican Performing Arts Centre (27/11/15).

'Community Cooperation? Lincolnshire's Guild Networks in 1389', Royal Holloway Postgraduate History Seminar (04/11/15).

'Community Connections: Responses in Lincolnshire to the 1388-9 Guild Enquiry', Archive Fever Conference, University of Brighton (08/07/15).

'The English Guild Enquiry of 1388-9', Royal Holloway HARC Postgraduate Research Poster Competition, joint winner (02/06/15).

Panels and Conferences Organised

'Collective Memory and Memorial Culture in Town, Parish, and Guild', International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (05/07/18).

Medieval Religion and Reformation, London Medieval Society (18/11/17). 


Citizens Project Officer (Education and Community Partnerships), Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London (2017-20).

'Parish Festivals before the Reformation', Customs in Common, Oxford University, Department for Continuing Education Day School (17/03/2018). 

'Making History: The Charter of the Forest', BBC Radio 4 (01/08/2017).

'Peter Vannes, Henry VIII and Early Modern Marriage', The National Archives Blog (13/04/2017).

'Til Death Do Us Part? Divorce in Medieval England', The National Archives' Blog (06/04/2017).

'Magna Carta: 1215-2015', public talk, Epsom (07/09/16).

'The Medieval Cult of St. George', interview for BBC Songs of Praise (17/04/16).

Group Mentor for the Magna Carta Constitutional Convention, Royal Holloway, University of London and Egham Museum (2015-16).

'Magna Carta through Time', public talk, Guildford (03/09/15).

Magna Carta Project Assistant, Community Action, Royal Holloway, University of London (2014-15).

Volunteer Researcher, Egham Museum (2013-15).


Administrative Positions

Membership Secretary, London Medieval Society (2015-present ).

PhD Student-Staff Committee Representative, Royal Holloway, University of London (2014-present ).

Co-Convenor for the monthly Royal Holloway Postgraduate History Seminar (2014-15).


Internships and Placements

Doctoral Training Placement with the Medieval and Early Modern Records Team at The National Archives (2016-17).



Graduate Teaching Assistant, The Making of Britain 400-1400, King's College London (2017-19). 

Visiting Teacher, The Sacred and the Profane: Cultural Life in Renaissance Europe, Royal Holloway, University of London (2017). 

Co-Creator and Lead Tutor, Public Speaking for Historians, Royal Holloway, University of London (2016 and 2017).

Advanced Skills PhD Tutor (KS2-KS5), The Brilliant Club (2016-17).

Visiting Teacher, Rome to Renaissance: An Introduction to the Middle Ages, Royal Holloway, University of London (2015-16).

Teaching Assistant, Magna Carta and its Legacy, University of London and Coursera MOOC (2015).

Undergraduate Essay Advisor, Rome to Renaissance: An Introduction to the Middle Ages, Royal Holloway, University of London (2014-15 and 2016-17) and Gods Men and Power: An Introduction to the Ancient World from Homer to Mohammed (2016-17).


Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in recognition of attainment against the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and learning support in Higher Education (2016).

inSTIL Teaching Course (accredited by the Higher Education Authority) (2015-6).

Papers Presented

'Engaging Students with Public Speaking', RAISE Conference, Loughborough University (08/09/16).


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