FELLOWSHIP CONFERENCE 2023 - A HUGE SUCCESS
After three years of Covid, with conferences being cancelled or held over Zoom, the 'in person' 2023 conference took place in London over 26 - 29 July. The principal venue was the Old Hall, Barnard’s Inn, now part of Gresham College, off High Holborn in London. Barnard’s was, of course, the building where Pip lodged with Herbert Pocket when he first came to London (Great Expectations). Pip ‘found Barnard to be a disembodied spirit, or a fiction, and his inn the dingiest collection of shabby buildings ever squeezed together in a rank corner as a club for Tom-cats.’
The theme of the conference was Dickens, Law, and Disorder. Eighty delegates attended (the absolute maximim the hall would hold!), and greatly enjoyed the programme of talks and social activities.
The registration on Wednesday was preceded by a guided walk through 'Legal London', comprising the Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn, finishing at the Charles Dickens Museum in Doughty Street. About fifty people came and pronounced the experience interesting and rewarding. Registration at the Museum was followed by a wine reception, where members were welcomed by Professor Cathy Waters, the president of the Fellowship and Dr. Cindy Sughrue OBE, Director of the Museum. Members had the opportunity of viewing some special exhibits on display for the occasion. Judging by the animated conversation, laughter and merriment emanating from the Museum café and garden, delegates were enjoying every minute of it.
The programme of talks was held over the next two days and covered various aspects of crime, law and policing (fact and fiction) prevalent in Dickensian London. The session on Thursday concluded with a reading by the Dickens Declaimers, Bardell vs Pickwick. There was further conviviality at the Citte of Yorke Public House nearby.
The conference banquet was held at the Garrick Club on Friday evening. A drinks reception was followed by an excellent dinner in beautiful surroundings. Then there were speeches from Professor Cathy Waters, President of the Dickens Fellowship and Dr. Marzia Dati, President of the Carrara branch. Professor Michael Mainelli, Lord Mayor elect of the City of London, proposed the toast to the Immortal Memory. The evening concluded with a toast to the Fellowship proposed by Dr Cindy Sughrue OBE, Director of the Dickens Museum.
The final event of the conference was an optional coach trip to Rochester and Gad’s Hill on Saturday morning for those delegates feeling strong enough! There were quite a few hardy souls, judging from the picture below.
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