In the summer of 2013, I was finishing up my MA in Early Irish History. My supervisor was wonderful, and actually found me a place on a panel at the Leeds Medieval Congress. Although I have a non-academic job, presenting at Leeds is still one of my biggest accomplishments. I has one of my best friends with me, Katelynne, but M wasn’t able to come. I felt nervous and unsure and like people were always looking at me- they weren’t… But when you think that you are going to continue in this profession and you think that all of these people are going to be your colleagues, you are rather on edge. Unfortunately I did not have many photos from Leeds, but Katelynne does! These photos are all courtesy of Katelynne of Doing Yoga to Dubstep.
Leeds is a very cool city, while it’s industrial looking to a point, it’s also got some terrific old buildings. It’s located in West Yorkshire, and you can actually get a direct flight from Dublin to Leeds. We stayed at the Ibis Hotel and walked through the city to get to Leeds University. Leeds University is a gorgeous campus, and if you have few moments, I recommend spending a little bit of time looking through the images available! I repsented on the second day of the conference, so I was able to really enjoy the city and the campus after that. Sure, it’s a bit of a hike but there’s lovely architecture and it’s nice to move about when the majority of your day is sitting. My recap of the Congress itself will be up in a post in the near future, but for now, Leeds!
I’m hoping to be able to go back to Leeds again, but not sure when that will be! Katelynne and I went on an excursion on the last day of Congress to Markenfield Hall, a hidden gem if you will! It is a country house from the 14th century, one of the only remaining houses of the period to survive. Our tour guide was wonderful- she was fantastic at showing us what changes had been made to the building and why potentially they happened. I’ve never thought about why a medieval structure would have bricked in windows- but if there is a window tax, it might be in your best interest to get rid of some of those windows. If you are ever close to Ripon (of Downton Abbey fame) or Leeds, I would highly recommend visiting Markenfield Hall. Because it is also still a working farm, you can wander near the livestock and really get a feeling for what country life was really like.
Overall, Leeds was great. I grew as a person and as an academic, and getting to see Markenfield Hall was fantastic for a medieval historian! Leeds isn’t always a common destination for people travelling to the UK, but I would really recommend giving it a shot. It is smaller and more affordable but still chock full of history, beautiful architecture, and things to do!
What lesser known city have you enjoyed? Any recommendations?