That point we have all been dreading has arrived: it’s time to remember ‘Remembering the Reformation’. As the project finished on Sept. 30, 2019, there is indeed much to recall and celebrate. Over the last three years, the team has made significant contributions to Reformation studies: a digital exhibition comprised of over 130 items, including documents, images and objects that have contributed to the Reformation’s varied legacy; two edited volumes, Memory and the Reformation (CUP, forthcoming) and Remembering the Reformation (Routledge, forthcoming); three conferences; outreach events for schools and the general public; and various other publications. All these outputs arose from fruitful collaboration and exchange between historians and literary historians fascinated with memory’s mediation of European religious upheaval.
We owe much of the success of the project to our many generous partners, who shared their resources, time, expertise, buildings, and labour. We would like to thank York Minster Library; Cambridge University Library; the Fitzwilliam Museum; Trinity College, Cambridge; Lambeth Palace Library; The National Archives; and The Victoria & Albert Museum. We are immensely grateful to the AHRC for making the project possible.
To mark the end of the project, Alexandra Walsham, Brian Cummings, Ceri Law, Karis Riley, Tom Taylor, and colleague Freya Sierhuis gathered in York 27th–29th September to visit some places where memory of the Reformation was violently contested, yet survived in altered form. Our first stop was the church in Stainton, home to the project’s emblem ‘The Wounded Missal’ (you can read about it in Cumming’s chapter in the forthcoming Cambridge volume). We wandered in the poignant ruins of Mount Grace Priory, abandoned since the Dissolution in 1539, and hiked to the Chapel of our Lady in the hills above the priory. A site of Marian devotion since at least the fourteenth century, it was later funded by Katherine of Aragon. Worship persisted into the Carolingian era, although the chapel came under religious surveillance that witnessed the arrest of sixteen devotees. Our day of pilgrimage culminated with a trip to the majestic Rievaulx Abbey. Another victim of sectarian violence, the romantic remains that have stood since the sixteenth century make a wonderful protest against the oblivion of medieval Catholic memory.
On the final day we reflected on the legacy of the project and the fruitfulness of interdisciplinary research. Historians and literary historians do not always see eye to eye, but all members of the team reflected on how getting these disciplines in the same room, to look at the same things, had proved an enriching experience that changed perspectives and assumptions.
But stay tuned. We are still working on the manuscripts for both the project volumes, and the team plans to re-gather for the book launch and another pilgrimage, masterminded by Brian Cummings, in the spring of 2020.