Oxford Experi-rents!

I’ve not been updating my blog frequently recently, since I’ve been caught in a flurry of moving house and starting a new job – my first postdoctoral research position. This is also a short one – I’ve got people to go, places to see 😉  I’ve moved to Oxford to take up the post of Winton Institute Intern at the Ashmolean Museum. My task is to contribute to what aims to be a pilot study for a bigger project on the rental of property from the late-medieval period up until the 1700s. I won’t blog too extensively about my day-to-day tasks and findings, because the project is not my own, and so I cannot, and do not want to, push it into the public domain prematurely. Briefly, my job is to transcribe and analyse a book from Balliol College, Oxford, which records the leases of its property from the 1500s to the 1800s. I am extracting the information about to whom the college leased its property, for how much, and any other relevant information (was it in a bad state of repair? Did it have any land or outbuildings?). The aim is to gather together an impression of how urban properties were rented in this period – something that has not been researched extensively until now.

I’ve been relishing this opportunity. In some ways, the job is repetitive: it is essentially early modern data input. However, it is refreshing to make a new start, and get my teeth into some work that is not my doctoral research. However, it  is related to my doctoral research, and it is great to learn more about the documents that I have hitherto studied from a social history or palaeographical perspective. Even after I’ve had my feet under the desk for only a week, I’ve already found out lots about medieval and early modern administrative and legal history. It floats my boat to know a bit more about how people of the 1600s lived, paid their rent, repaired property (or allowed them to fall down!) in the exact same city that I walk around every day.


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