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Grace Owen

History, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

A comparative study of rural and urban manorial officialdom in the later Medieval period

My thesis is an examination into manorial officialdom in fourteenth century England. Using the manorial records of the Abbey of Glastonbury, my research explores and compares the impact of the local topography and rural and urban envinroments upon the administrative structures, responsibilities, remunerations, and activities of manorial officials on five manors. It also analyses the interactions between officers and their wider community, and the changing perceptions of seigneurial authority in the period. My research also explores the peasantry beyond the manorial record, it examines how the peasantry and manorial officials are depicted and perceived in a wide range of images, literature, and treatises. This then enables for valuable comparison with the activities and interactions of oficials as shown in the manorial accounts and court rolls in order to determine how officers were regarded by their wider community and their place within medieval society.

Research Area

  • History



  • "The Manorial Climate: The Influence of Peasant Officials in Manorial Society", Leeds International Medieval Congress, July 5-9th 2021.

  • "The Activities of Manorial Officials in the Hallmoot Courts of Glastonbury", Sowing the Seeds VII at the London School of Economics, April 29th, May 4th, May 11th, 2021.


  • "Negotiating the Boundaries between Manorial Officials and the Peasantry in Later Medieval England", Leeds International Medieval Congress, July 6-9th 2020.

  • "Memory and Perception: Representations of Manorial Officers in Medieval England", EMREM Annual Symposium The Good Old Days?: Memory, Reflection and Commemoration, May 14-16th 2020.


  • "Space and Peasant-Exerted Authority", Social History Society Annual Conference, at the University of Lincoln, June 10-12th.

  • "The Rewards of Peasant Officialdom in the Fourteenth Century", Sowing the Seeds VI, London School of Economics, June 15th.

  • "My Experience with Roundhouse Birmingham (National Trust)", M4C Residential Induction, September 25th.

Public Engagement & Impact


University of Birmingham:

  • "Discovering the Middle Ages", first year undergraduate history module (20 credits).

  • "Living in the Middle Ages", first year undergraduate history module (20 credits).

  • "Reformation, Rebellion, and Revolution: The Making of the Modern World, c. 1500-1800", first year undergraduate history module (20 credits).

University of Nottingham:

  • Assisted in postgraduate Latin and Palaeography seminars on fourteenth century court rolls.

The Brilliant Club:

  • Scholars Programme Tutor, 2021 - Present. Module Title: "Lazy or Laudable? The Peasantry in Later Medieval England".



  • Volunteer researcher for the Victoria County History of Herefordshire.

  • Co-organiser of the annual EMREM (Early Medieval Renaissance Early Modern) Symposium, "Forging and Forgetting: the (re)writing of history, community, and memory." 7-9th May 2021.


  • Co-organiser of the annual EMREM (Early Medieval Renaissance Early Modern) Symposium, "The Good Old Days?: Memory, Reflection, and Commemoration", 14-16th May 2020.


  • Co-organiser of the annual EMREM (Early Medieval Renaissance Early Modern) Symposium, "Powerful Places". This was held at the University of Birmingham 10-11th May.


  • Co-organiser of the Medieval Midlands 2018 Postgraduate Conference, May 4-5th, at the University of Nottingham, https://medievalmidlands.wordpress.com/medieval-midlands-postgraduate-conference/

  • Poster presentation, "The role of manorial officials in pledging in the manor court", given at the M3C Research Festival in Birmingham.

  • Three month placement with Roundhouse Birmingham, a heritage site enterprise between the National Trust and the Canal & River Trust. My main responsibilities were the recruitment and co-ordination of 19 research volunteers, event organization, running and evaluation, as well as market research and interaction with cultural organizations in Birmingham to help create new methods for heritage sites to engage with the public.

  • Committee member of the University of Birmingham's postgraduate led EMREM (Early Medieval Renaissance Early Modern) forum which hosts events and has created a Palaeography reading group to enable all students to come together and share their knowledge and network.


  • I was awarded a scholarship by BRIHC (Birmingham Research Institute for History and Cultures) for my Masters degree. This enabled me to engage in the assistance of running conferences, outreach programmes, and participating in interdisciplinary discussions across the School of History and Cultures.


  • Voluntary work in community history projects, including:

    • At Hartlebury Castle, a local heritage site, I participated in the maintenance of the site, ushering, and was involved in numerous events that encouraged public engagement with local history.

    • 'A Thousand Years of Building with Stone', was an Earth Heritage project that recorded the location and history of stone buildings in Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

Other Research Interests

  • Social & Economic History

  • The Peasantry

  • Manorial History
  • Social Network Analysis

  • Pledging

  • The Black Death

  • Power structures

  • Gender History


Member of:

  • Social History Society, 2018 - present

  • Royal Historical Society, 2019 - present

  • Economic History Society, 2019 - present

  • British Agricultual History Society, 2021 - present