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News and Events

See below for our latest news, events and publications.

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The History of Parliament Trust's annual undergraduate dissertation competition is now open. The HPT will award a prize of £250 to the best undergraduate dissertation presented in 2017 on a subject relating to British or Irish parliamentary or political history before 1997. Parliamentary History has agreed to consider publication in the Journal for the winning dissertation (the decision to publish or not will be at the discretion of the editor of Parliamentary History, who may ask for appropriate amendments).

We invite university history departments to enter one dissertation which they consider to qualify (please note: we will not accept entries directly from the students themselves, they must be submitted by their university department). The university departments should send an unbound copy of each dissertation being entered for the prize, together with a completed entry form (available to download here) to ‘History of Parliament Dissertation competition, 18 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NS’.  Copies will not be returned.

The closing date for receipt of entries is 31 July 2017.

For any queries, please contact the competitions email at the History of Parliament: competitions@histparl.ac.uk

For information on 2016’s winners, see our blog.  

The History of Parliament Trust is delighted to announce that its director, Dr Paul Seaward, is one of the recipients of the four British Academy Wolfson Research Professorships awarded this year, to begin from 1 January 2018. It will last for three years. The project outlined in the original bid was for a thematic history of Parliament, organised around concepts of time, memory, space, cultures and power, and covering roughly 500 years, 1500-2000 (or ‘from Reformation to Referendum’).

The Academy said in their press notice that: ‘The British Academy and the Wolfson Foundation have confirmed the awards of four new BA/Wolfson Research Professorships, to run from the autumn of 2017. The four successful candidates were chosen from a field of 100 applicants, giving a success rate of just 4%. The Academy's Research Awards Committee faced some very difficult decisions in making these awards as the standard of the competition was extremely high. The Academy is proud to be able to offer support through this scheme, in collaboration with the Wolfson Foundation, to the very best scholarship in the humanities and social sciences in the UK. The scheme is intended to help distinguished senior scholars have time away from their teaching and administrative commitments and to enable them to carry out a major programme of research.’

The Chairman of the Trust, Gordon Marsden MP, said that ‘we are enormously pleased that the British Academy has recognised Paul, and the Trust, in this way. The award will enable him to pursue a major and far- reaching research project on various aspects and issues of Parliament throughout its existence. It has the potential to be extremely complementary and beneficial to the work of the Trust, and not least in promoting the scholarship we have taken forward and our educational initiatives to relate that and Parliament's historical significance  to a wide range of audiences’.

The Chairman of the Trust’s Editorial Board, Professor John Morrill FBA, said that ‘the Board congratulates Paul on this award. These awards, which only come round every four years, are highly prestigious, and Paul's application was one of four chosen out of a hundred. The project has great capacity to deepen and strengthen the History’s approach to parliamentary history and to provide many more ways of increasing the impact of its work, and its public and parliamentary engagement’.

Paul Seaward said ‘I am surprised and very pleased to have been awarded one of the British Academy Wolfson Research Professorships: in this way the Academy has recognised not just my proposal, but also the importance and potential of the work that has been carried out by the History of Parliament. I’m enormously grateful to the Trustees and Editorial Board for allowing me to take up the award, and look forward to an enormously stimulating period of research and engagement, building on our published research and in collaboration with our remarkable collection of historians.’

The project summary is as follows:

The current crisis of representation and legitimacy in our politics reminds us that the historical basis of our understanding of parliament and its role and operation badly needs updating. This project will look at parliament over 500 years in a radically different way, viewing it as an institution deeply interwoven into British life culture as well as into the British constitution and state. Using the concepts of memory, time, space and culture, it will explore how these make up the institution and how they contribute to its structural strength, or introduce some of its weaknesses. It will encourage us to recognise once again the importance of structure and process, for so long seen as of secondary significance, in political contention, but also to understand more about why these things, through helping to consolidate elites, might help to deligitimise politics.
The Trust and Editorial Board will need to make alternative arrangements for the day-to-day management of the History over the three years covered by the award, and will make a further announcement on this in due course.

A full description of the project is available on request – please contact us or Paul at pseaward[at]histparl.ac.uk.

We are sorry to have heard of the death of Peter Hasler, former General Editor and Secretary to the Editorial Board of the History of Parliament on 30 April. Peter joined the History in 1958 as sub-editor, became deputy editor, and then (originally with Sir John Neale) editor of the House of Commons 1558-1603 section. He was appointed General Editor and Secretary to the Editorial Board in 1979 and retired in 1991. We hope to write a brief appreciation of Peter’s contribution to the History of Parliament on our blog in due course.

The details for our annual schools competitions are now available! For the thirteenth year running we will run a competition for 16-18 year olds (A level students). The winner will receive a small money prize and will be invited to Westminster with members of their family and teachers for the presentation.

This year we are reviewing our schools offering, so we are not running a Key Stage Three competition.  Our specially-written KS3 resources are still available on this website, focussing on the Reformation and Political Reform. If you would like to contribute to our schools competition review, please Contact Us.

Our Sixth Form competition is again an essay competition, with the prize awarded to the best essay on a subject of the candidate's own choice related to the parliamentary or political history of Britain and Ireland.

The winner will receive a cash prize and be invited to Westminster to receive it. The closing date is after the summer holidays to give students who have just finished their GCSEs and are preparing for their A Levels a chance to enter as well. The closing date is 29 September 2017.

For full details on competition rules and how to enter, click here.

Good luck to all the entrants!

The History of Parliament’s schools competition enters its thirteenth year in 2017. The winners will receive prizes of book tokens, and will be invited to Westminster with members of their family and teachers for the presentation of their prizes.

The prize will be awarded for the best essay on a subject of the candidate's own choice related to the parliamentary or political history of Britain and Ireland. Although candidates for essays covering the period before 1832 are encouraged to look at and use the material on the History of Parliament’s website it is not required that they should do so. Essays should be of not less than two thousand words and not more than four thousand words. Essays should be typed, or clearly hand-written, on one side of the paper only.

The closing date for this competition is 29 September 2017. Students who are currently studying for their GCSEs and planning to begin A level studies in 2017 are welcome to enter.

Competition rules:

1. The winner of the competition will receive a prize of £100. The winner will be invited to visit the Palace of Westminster with up to two other members of their family, and a member of the school’s staff for the presentation of the prizes (the History will pay reasonable travel/accommodation expenses for the student and accompanying members of his/her family: normally expenses will be limited to a maximum of £300, and we regret that we cannot pay the travel or accommodation expenses of any accompanying school staff). 

2. The competition is open to any student at a UK school or college, preparing to study or currently studying for AS or A2 levels (years 11, 12 and 13), who will not have passed his or her 19th birthday by 29th September 2017.

3. Essays should be submitted by a school, and no school should submit more than four essays.

4. Essays should be of not less than two thousand words and not more than four thousand words. Essays should be typed, or clearly hand-written, on one side of the paper only.

5. All entries must have securely attached to them a sheet of paper stating:

a)    The candidate’s name
b)    The candidate’s school and its address, with a telephone or email contact for the school, and email contact for the candidate, if they have left school.
c)    The candidate’s age at 29 September 2017
d)    A declaration, signed by the teacher, saying that the work is all the candidate’s own.

(We regret that entries cannot be individually acknowledged, and will not be returned after the competition.)

6. Entries should be sent to:

History of Parliament competition
18 Bloomsbury Square
LONDON WC1A 2NS

Or to the competition email account:

Competitions@histparl.ac.uk

(If sending entries by email, please send one email per individual entry)

7. Entries must be received by 29 September 2017.

8. Judging will be by a panel appointed by the History of Parliament.  Their decision will be final, and no correspondence can be entered into.

9. For each competition there will be one winner, although the judges may make special commendations if they think fit.


For any queries, please contact us at Competitions@histparl.ac.uk

Good luck!

We are delighted to welcome the publication of Alasdair Hawkyard’s volume in the Parliamentary History Texts and Studies series: The House of Commons 1509-1558: Personnel, Procedure, Precedent and Change. Research for the volume was funded by the History of Parliament Trust, and the volume is more generally based closely on the research in the 1509-1558 volumes of the History of Parliament edited by S.T. Bindoff and published in 1983. Those volumes were published without an introductory survey, as had been the other volumes in the series, and so Alasdair’s book will serve as that survey. It studies in detail the process of elections, the members, organisation and procedures of Parliament in the early Tudor period, and includes a number of appendices which provide some important updates to the information published in the Bindoff volumes. It will be a major contribution to the study of the early Tudor Parliaments.

Parliaments and Popular Sovereignty: Political Representation in the British world, 1640-1886

The People’s History Museum, Manchester; The History of Parliament; and Durham University are collaborating to host a conference on Parliaments and Popular Sovereignty on 3-4 November 2017.

The 150th anniversary of the 1867 Reform Act, which made important strides towards the inclusion of working people amongst the electorate, is an occasion for wider reflection on the claims for – and of – parliaments to be truly representative of the people. We wish to facilitate discussion across the traditional boundaries of early modern and modern history and to include the Irish parliament and legislatures of British colonies – as well as those excluded from them – alongside the houses of parliament in Westminster.

The Call for Papers is now open, you can see it here. Final date for paper submissions is 25 April 2017.

For more details about the conference, please visit the conference website at parliamentsandpopularsovereigntyconference.wordpress.com/

The conference is generously supported by the Royal Historical Society, History of Parliament Trust, Durham University Department of History & the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies.

A Century of Women MPs Conference: London, 6-7 September 2018

November 2018 marks one hundred years since the passage of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act. This Act together with the Representation of the People Act, passed early in the same year enabled women to participate in the December 1918 election as both voters and candidates for the first time. Constance Markievicz was elected, but did not sit, and so Nancy Astor, elected at a by-election the following year, became the first woman sitting MP. ‘A Century of Women MPs’ is a major international conference, hosted in London by Parliament’s Vote 100 project, the History of Parliament Trust and the University of Westminster, which will explore the experiences, contributions and achievements of women MPs, the challenges they faced, and debates and issues around gender and representation. The conference will include contributions from previous and current women MPs and from scholars from a variety of disciplines working in the field. It will be of interest to politicians, policymakers, women’s organisations and those working in disciplines such as history, politics and sociology.

More information and the call for papers will be available later in 2017. In the meantime, please save the conference dates: 6-7 September 2018. We look forward to seeing you there.

The History of Parliament’s 12th annual lecture will take place on the evening of Wednesday, 7th December 2016 at Portcullis House, Westminster. Professor the Lord Morgan FBA will mark the anniversary of the crisis that led to David Lloyd George becoming Prime Minister with his lecture: ‘7 December 1916: Asquith, Lloyd George and the crisis of Liberalism’.

Professor Morgan has written biographies of Lloyd George, Keir Hardie, James Callaghan, and Michael Foot, and many other works on contemporary British political history, including Labour in Power 1945-1951, The People's Peace, and Ages of Reform. His Oxford Illustrated History of Britain has sold over 750,000 copies. He is a trustee of the History of Parliament Trust.

The lecture is free and open to the public but you will need a ticket to do so. If you would like to attend this lecture, please sign up on the Eventbrite page.

Henry Bennet, earl of Arlington, was one of the foremost figures at the court of Charles II. Rising from being the second son of a Middlesex gentleman to secretary of state, lord chamberlain and a member of the House of Lords, Arlington’s career embraced diplomacy, parliamentary politics and patronage of the arts. In spite of this he is perhaps the least well known member of the infamous CABAL. Now, just over a hundred years since the publication of the principal study of Arlington’s life, a new conference organized by Dr Coleman Dennehy and Dr Robin Eagles will seek to reappraise his importance.

The conference will take place at University College London on Saturday 19 November 2016. The conference programme and details on how to register are now available to download here.

For more details email Dr Robin Eagles (reagles@histparl.ac.uk) or Dr Coleman Dennehy (coleman.dennehy@ucd.ie)

This Parliament Week, 14-20 November 2016, the History of Parliament will bring you two virtual events to help you explore Parliament’s history.

Throughout the week we’ll be blogging on ‘unlikely parliamentarians’ – the men and women across history who be