AboutI have a long-standing interest in the history of the everyday, especially in the medieval period, in patterns of documentation and in editorial work. My current research focuses on the objects of daily life, their significance and the meaning of material culture in the later Middle Ages. I have written about the medieval great household, sensory perception, food and diet, and published editions of medieval household accounts, and episcopal wills and inventories. I spent more than 30 years working as an archivist, latterly as Head of Special Collections at the University of Southampton Library, and I have interests in political, military and official papers – and in the study of diplomatic more generally.
I have been the editor of the Journal of Medieval History since 2009.
I have just completed an edition, with Barbara Harvey, of The States of the Manors of Westminster Abbey, c.1300-1422, published by the British Academy in its Records of Social and Economic History series in 2019.
For my current research project, on people and their possessions in late medieval England, see below.
I was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 2020
EducationBA (History and Archaeology): University of Southampton
PhD (Medieval History): University of Durham
Diploma in Archive Administration: University of Liverpool
B.F. Harvey and C.M. Woolgar, eds, The States of the Manors of Westminster Abbey, c.1300-1420. 2 vols, British Academy, Records of Social and Economic History, new series, 57-8 (London, 2019)
C.M. Woolgar, ‘Medieval Food and Colour’ Journal of Medieval History 44, no. 1 (2018): 1-20
C.M. Woolgar, ‘What Makes Things Holy? The Senses and Material Culture in the Later Middle Ages’, in R. Macdonald, E. Murphy and E. Swann, eds., Sensing the Sacred in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (London, 2018), pp. 60-78
C.M. Woolgar, ed., The Elite Household in England, 1100-1550. Harlaxton Medieval Studies XXVIII (Donington, 2018)
C.M. Woolgar, ‘Heirlooms and the Great Household’, in idem, ed., The Elite Household in England, pp. 432-55
People and Possessions in Late Medieval England
My current research centres on the objects of daily life, their significance and the meaning of material culture in the later Middle Ages. It focuses on the changes in mentality that came with a long-term social revolution. In England, in 1200, most people had few goods, and those they had were often intimately connected to individuals through custom and traditional links. By 1500, material possessions were everywhere. The elite had goods on an exceptional scale, and we have long, detailed inventories of them. Countrymen and urban craftsmen bequeathed lists of pewter tableware and metal cooking pots in a range of sizes, wardrobes of textiles and wooden furnishings; yet their ancestors, before the Black Death, had little in the way of metal domestic goods, probably few clothes, and little that would have been recognised as furniture. Objects and possessions are intertwined with the way people view themselves, and their social and cultural identities: these changes in the volume and range of goods people had were to transform medieval life.