William Sterling

An introduction to the history section

My main area of academic study has been History.  My first degree at Keele University (1976-1980) was a Joint Honours in History and Geography.  The areas I specialised in for History were The Greeks, The Enlightenment, Tenth Century England, Thirteenth Century France, Renaissance England and The Hundred Years War.  I wrote several extended essays including ones on Charles III of Spain and Gothic Architecture.  My essay entitle “Athelstan, Rex Totius Britanniae” won the Wedgwood Prize.  My final year dissertation was on “Brittany and the Honour of Richmond” which examined the close relationship between the Dukes of Brittany and their English territories, especially in Richmond, North Yorkshire, and the part this played in Anglo-French relations from the Norman Conquest to the Hundred Years War.  I also  studied the Historical Geography options as part of my Geography Degree (as well as Geomorphology and Quaternary Studies) and my final year dissertaion was on “Nineteenth Century Knutsford”, a comparative study of sources using the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, especiilay “Cranford” and the 1851 and 1861 Census returns.

For my MA I studied part-time at Birkbeck College, London University, Historical Geography from 1985 to 1988.  My dissertation was on “Property Ownership in Nineteenth Century Maidstone”, a study using the 1851 rate books to make a comparison with the study done by R. S. Holmes of Ramsgate using the same resource.

For my PhD I returned to Mediaeval History, and my first love, the Anglo-Saxons.  It took me several years to decide on a specific topic but I eventually registered to study part-time with Dr Janet Nelson (later Professor Dame Janet Nelson) at King’s College, London, with the title of my thesis as “The Royal Women of Anglo-Saxon England”.  The main source for this study was the body of charters and as there are nine women for whom substantial charter evidence exists I concentrated on the seven who had not previously been studied in depth using this resource.  I had to take several years out from the study due to family reasons but eventually submitted my thesis in 2006 and graduated in 2009.

My first job after graduating from Keele was as Head of History at a small school in Walmer.  I devised and taught the whole syllabus there for British History from the Stone Age to the Twentieth Century.  For family reasons I left teaching in 1984 for a career in the Civil Service.  This gave me a greater amount of free time to study and I undertook courses at Morley College and Goldsmiths College on the Anglo-Saxons, the Greeks, the Celts and other early civilisations under Professor Michelle Brown, Dr Sue Blundell and Joan nicholson.  I returned to teaching as a part-time Adult Education tutor in 1992.  I also used my Historical background to become an eyeOpener guide at the British Museum in 1994 where I have trained to guide in numerous galleries from the Ancient World of Greece and Rome to the Mediaeval and Modern European galleries.  I have taught a number of courses at Bexley College and the City Lit based on the lives of the Kings and Queens of England but also on the areas that I have been trained on by the British Museum experts.

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