Latest Event Updates

Marie Stopes re-assessed: reluctant Mancunian, sexual revolutionary, birth control pioneer

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Palaeo Manchester

Our very own Honorary Researcher Dr. Clare Debenham will be giving a talk about the life and impact of Marie Stopes at Manchester Museum on:

Saturday 10th of March 2018, book your ticket on Eventbrite!

Marie Stopes studying plant fossils now in Manchester Museum
Image courtesy of John Rylands Library

Marie was controversial in her lifetime, but since the Second World she has been maligned both in the academic world and in the popular press. Now is the time to re-assess her achievements. This talk offers a frank appraisal. 

Marie Stopes was the first female lecturer at the University of Manchester and worked on the Museum’s fossil plant collection. Her book, Married Love was published 100 years ago and became an immediate best seller as capturing the mood of the age. The enthusiastic response to Married Love encouraged Marie to set up the country’s first birth control…

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Coffee or tea, madam?

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It’s rather strange to think about it, but I suppose I have been living through something of a revolution in hot drinks in the UK. Traditionally, we are considered to be a nation of tea drinkers, but now on my way to work, I suspect that the majority of travel mugs clutched by my fellow commuters contain a more stimulating coffee instead. In 2008, the UK started to import more tonnes of coffee (green and roasted) than tea. Of course, you get more cups out of a kilo of tea than you do out of a kilo of coffee, but the upward trend for coffee importation continues (FAOSTAT).













It used to be that the nearest my coffee drinking came to any kind of ceremony was if I happened to be the lucky person who got to pop the seal on a new jar of instant. Now, however, even if there isn’t a gadget in the kitchen, then there’s ususally a coffee shop nearby to provide you with your morning ritual and your perfect brew. In 17th and 18th century London and Oxford, coffeehouses were also the place for men to go and read the news, make financial deals, reason about academic subjects and perhaps even discuss something a little seditious. By the end of the 18th century, these coffeehouses had all but disappeared. Many factors have been suggested for their decline, including that printed news was easier to come by, and the development of gentleman’s clubs. Tea drinking was on on the rise as it became fashionable at court, as women could participate in a way that they couldn’t in coffeehouses, and of course, through the promotional of the British East India Company’s trading interests in tea from China and particularly from India. Names such as Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Kangra and Niligri became familiar in the UK through the tea gardens established there by the British in the 19th century.


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Easier to prepare, tea remained the hot drink of choice in the UK for about two centuries providing warmth, comfort and calories (with milk and sugar) with every cup. Many countries favour either tea or coffee at the expense of the other, and in the UK a 2012 YouGov poll still showed more people still rate a cuppa as their favourite hot drink (52% tea/ 35% coffee). The coffee shop sector is one of the strongest businesses in the UK economy, turning over £9.6 billion in 2017. So when you next get to the counter of a coffee shop, what will it be – coffee or tea?


Further reading

David Grigg (2002). The Worlds of Tea and Coffee: Patterns of consumption. GeoJournal 57; 283-294



Out and About: Derby Museums —

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A blog post from Hannah with the help of Rachel Webster, Campbell Price, Irit Narkiss and Emma Horridge At the end of January, a group of staff from across the Museum visited Derby to find out more about how Derby Museums have been working to put people and communities at the heart of their museum. […]

via Out and About: Derby Museums —

New year, new challenge? Funded PhD available!

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A guest blog post from Hannah, Learning Manager, on our upcoming collaborative PhD that is part of the Courtyard Project at Manchester Museum:

The Courtyard Project is a great opportunity for us to reflect on, research and develop our work, and as part of this, we are keen to gain a better understanding of the impacts of cultural engagement on our audiences. In spite of our best efforts, we often to struggle to get to grips with the impact of our work and tend to rely on teacher feedback, questionnaires and anecdotal evidence. Take, for example, our work with young children; we know that young children benefit from visiting the Museum because teachers and practitioners tell us this, but precisely how young children benefit, how long such benefits actually last, and whether there are knock-on effects for caregivers or teachers are questions that have tended to be beyond our capacity…

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#AdventBotany Christmas Day: A rose with no thorns; eyes without sight By Alastair Culham

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By Alastair Culham This is the 100th #AdventBotany blog and the fourth for Christmas day. The first Christmas blog featured the Star of Bethlehem, the second, Christmas Cactus, and the third, a tough and Christmas flowering heather. This is the first Christmas blog to feature an edible plant. This blog is a brief introduction to…

via #AdventBotany Christmas Day: A rose with no thorns; eyes without sight — Culham Research Group

#AdventBotany Day 24: Juniperus communis – the most delicious of the Cupressaceae By Meg Cathcart-James

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By Meg Cathcart-James Juniperus communis with cones Juniperus communis is the most widespread of the juniper species. Juniperus is within the conifer family Cupressaceae. Whether as a small evergreen tree or a shrub, it is one of the most globally widespread woody plants. J. communis is cultivated in the horticulture trade as an ornamental, with…

via #AdventBotany Day 24: Juniperus communis – the most delicious of the Cupressaceae — Culham Research Group

#AdventBotany Day 23: Rosemary, love and controversy – By Alastair Culham

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By Alastair Culham Rosemary makes a tasty addition to many savoury dishes. My favourite is a rub of salt and crushed fresh rosemary leaves put on potatoes before roasting but it’s also lovely with lamb and even with citrus based desserts. Rosemary was probably introduced to the U.K. in Roman times and it is reported…

via #AdventBotany Day 23: Rosemary, love and controversy — Culham Research Group