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Twenty-Second Warwick Symposium on Parish Research - 'Parish Memory'

University of Warwick, Hybrid Format (Institute of Advanced Study / Online), Saturday 11 May 2024

Co-organized by Miia Kuha (Jyväskylä / My-Parish Visiting Researcher) & Beat Kümin (Warwick / My-Parish)
with Angus Crawford & Kristi Flake (Warwick)


Symposium Poster

Symposium Poster. Design: Kristi Flake (right-click for download & display)


The 2024 theme intersected with the interdisciplinary field of memory studies, focusing particularly on when / how / why parishioners remember(ed) events, customs, people and other aspects of their locality & culture. The Symposium coincided with Miia Kuha’s visiting fellowship at My-Parish & Beat Kümin’s project on tower capsule deposits.


Katalin Szende (Central European University)

Katalin Szende

'The Parish as a Place of Memory in Medieval Central Europe'

The parish system emerged in Central Europe during the thirteenth century as a lasting result of the Christianization process. From that time onwards, the parish became the basis of both pastoral care and community life, particularly since the establishment of new communities usually implied the right of electing their own parish priest who often stayed and served there for several decades. This talk explores the multi-level importance of the parishes as founders and keepers of local memory, especially in the secular sphere. First, will survey the parish as an institution connecting past and present. This includes the roles of the parish priests as envoys and often the first notaries of their community, the parish churches as frequent safekeepers of the most important local documents, and the parish schools and schoolmasters as transmitters of local memory. I will also show visual references to founders and patrons: coats of arms on keystones and pillars in parish churches and examples of preserving common memory by chronicles painted on the church walls. Second, I will look at other ways of how the parishes connected the secular and the ecclesiastical through the churchwardens as well as the guilds and their altars. Finally, I will consider how parishes connected the living and the dead through burials in the parish church and the parish cemetery and the memorials erected to them. The examples to be presented from the kingdoms of Bohemia, Poland and Hungary can serve as comparisons to other parts of Europe, but also show features that played out differently in the eastern half of the Continent

The Symposium has always been an inclusive forum of exchange between anyone with active research interests in parish culture from whatever background or career stage. This year we invited short contributions on any related topic, source, concept, method or debate and featured 15 papers on different British and European contexts from the Middle Ages to the present.


Full Symposium ProgrammeLink opens in a new window 

 Paper Abstracts & Biographies of SpeakersLink opens in a new window (zip file)
List of in-person & virtual participantsLink opens in a new window
Revisit the day: #PaSymp24Link opens in a new window
(Symposium report to follow)




Further information and updates will be published here
on our homepage at:



Check out our new posts, specially written for the Symposium
by two My-Parish Fellows:
- Valerie Hitchman (Kent): 'Parish Memory: The Churchwardens' Accounts of St Botolph Aldersgate'
- Miia Kuha (Jyväskylä): '"The Mother of the Parish": Finnish Pastors' Wives in Late 17thC Funeral Biographies'

Kuha Paper

Miia Kuha presenting and keynote speaker surrounded by organizers.

Organizers + Keynote

 The organizers gratefully acknowledge the support of our Symposium partners:




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