Dr Elizabeth Griffiths
Honorary University Fellow
My association with Exeter University dates back to 2002 when Professor Jane Whittle asked me if I was interested in a research project on the household accounts of Alice, Lady Le Strange of Hunstanton in Norfolk. Despite being in full time employment, I accepted with alacrity; the research proposal to the Cultures of Consumption Programme, which ran from 2003-2007, was successful and I started work in 2003 as Jane’s Research Assistant. My interest in Alice went back to 1981, when I was researching subjects for a PhD on the management of medium-sized Norfolk estates in the seventeenth century. As it happened, the Le Strange estate archive for that period – mainly Alice’s records - proved too large and unwieldy for a comparative study, but I promised Alice I would return, and this was clearly the call!
The result was a co-authored book with Jane, Consumption and Gender in the Early Seventeenth Century Household; the World of Alice Le Strange, published in 2013 - delayed by the arrival of Jane’s two daughters. In the meantime, I convinced Professor Mark Overton of the need for a research project on sharefarming in England. Submitted by Mark and Professor Mike Winter, the proposal was successful and ran from 2003-2005; the result was a book with Mark, Farming to Halves: the Hidden History of Sharefarming in England, (Palgrave, 2009) which included an excellent contribution by Mike on the latest developments in sharefarming.
The work on sharefarming had led me back to the estate archive at Hunstanton. I thought Alice’s husband, famous for his defence of Kings Lynn against the Parliamentary forces in 1643, needed further recognition as a sensitive agricultural improver. The result was a chapter ‘A Country Life: Sir Hamon Le Strange of Hunstanton in Norfolk, 1583-1654’, in R. W. Hoyle’s book, Custom, Improvement and the Landscape in Early Modern Britain (2011) and later a chapter ‘Improving Landlords or Villains of the Piece? A Case Study of Early Seventeenth Century Norfolk’ in J. C. Whittle’s Landlords and Tenants in Britain, 1440-1660 (2013). In 2012 I photographed hundreds of documents for Jane as part of a research project on the Le Stranges’ medieval and sixteenth century estate and household records. At the moment, I am completing a volume for the Norfolk Record Society, to be published in 2015, on the Family and Farming Records of Alice Le Strange and an article on ‘The Drainage of the Coastal Marshes in North West Norfolk’ for The Agricultural History Review. The next big venture is a monograph, Managing for Posterity; The Le Stranges at Hunstanton and their estates, 1600-1760 for Ashgate’s new series, Rural Worlds. I would like to extend my thanks to the History Department at Exeter for their continuing support and encouragement.