Posted on 13 July 2013
The Minster specifically asked me to focus on the lives of the ordinary citizens of York during the time of Richard III; the figure of the controversial king, then, was ever-present but offstage, as it were. Instead, after our initial conversation, it was agreed that I would investigate life in late 15th-century York more generally, looking at cultural achievements and other developments. I did some general reading, and spoke to other members of the Minster team, who were able to answer many questions about the role of the Minster during the period.
It is safe to say there was no such thing as a typical day during this internship; each week I continued doing my own research, generally at the Old Palace library or the King’s Manor, reporting regularly on my findings with one of the Minster team either through meetings or email. I attended the press conference launching the Richard III programme, in which representatives from all of the York institutions taking part were present. Directors from the City Archives, the York Museum, and IPUP all gave short presentations on the aims of the programme, showing how the heritage and museums sectors can work in partnership with the university for a series of public engagement events. This was followed up by a meeting with the city council, about three-quarters of the way through the internship, in which the publicity and marketing managers of various York institutions (the Minster, York Museum, City Archives, York Theatre Royal, English Heritage) all reported on the status of their Richard-related activities, along with the IPUP team, who introduced the related website.
What my internship did for me
I had chosen this internship because I was interested in learning more about different aspects of public engagement in the heritage sector. The Richard III programme seemed a unique opportunity to see how various institutions develop their public events and exhibitions, particularly as this project was in response to the recent discovery of Richard III’s remains. The Minster, however, plans its activities many months in advance, and so I was not able to work on an on-going project.
One of the challenges of the internship was managing my time; my brief was quite open-ended, in that I was asked to identify some key themes that the Minster might like to pursue and develop into events at a later stage. Once these had been identified I was then asked to focus on one – the role of the Mystery Play and the rise of the guilds – and then, mid-way into my internship, this developed into a second, related but separate, theme about Richard III and the uses of propaganda. Because my brief evolved over the course of the internship I was concerned I might not produce anything useful for the Minster in the time allotted. All of the Minster team were very approachable, and supportive, however, so I contacted them on a regular basis. I have had a career in book publishing before returning to higher education and I was able to employ my previously gained skills during the internship.