Current Master, Professor Anne Curry

Our current Master, Professor Anne Curry was installed on 20 April 2021. The Master is elected for a year and presides at all our functions.

The Worshipful Company of Fletchers is led by the Master aided by a Court of Assistants and the Clerk. Our current Master is Professor Anne Curry, who was installed on 20th April 2021. The Master is elected for a year and presides at all our functions.

 

Anne is a medieval historian and an expert on the wars between England and France in the later middle ages, publishing many books and articles on this period. It was her historical research which brought her to the Fletchers, especially her work on Agincourt (1415). In 2011 plans began to be developed for the 600th anniversary of this iconic battle in 2015. Given her previous work and her links with the Royal Armouries Anne was soon involved in a group established to guide these preparations. She was delighted to meet, at one of the first meetings, representatives of the ‘Warrior Companies’ (Armourers and Brasiers, Bowyers, Cutlers, Fletchers and Gunmakers).

Thanks to the support of PM Tony Poulter, Anne joined the Worshipful Company of Fletchers in 2013. Amongst a host of amazing experiences for Anne in the Agincourt 600 year, one of the most enjoyable (although definitely the wettest) was the Lord Mayor’s Show. What a special feeling to sit in the horse-drawn carriage with the then Master, Adrian Scott-Knight, PM Poulter and representatives of the other Warrior Companies (including Bowyer Dr Sinclair Rogers, now also a fellow Fletcher) and process around London ahead of a special Agincourt float populated with re-enactors representing the people of 1415.

Anne’s interest in the middle ages began as a child in the north-east, at Chester-le-Street in Co. Durham, where she could see from her bedroom window Lumley castle, built in the late fourteenth-century. She studied at the University of Manchester where her developing Henry V obsession (she is the author of Henry V in the Penguin Monarch series) was stimulated by her Master’s work on his earldom of Chester. She was appointed to a post at what was then Teesside Polytechnic where she worked the English army in Normandy 1422-50 as well as meeting her future husband, John Painter, who was studying the equally fascinating topic of councillors’ reactions to local government reorganisation!

Anne and John have lived in Reading since the early 80s, very close to the University where Anne took up a lecturership in 1978. In 2000 she became a professor as well as the Faculty Director of Teaching and Learning, but in 2004 she moved to the University of Southampton where she was Dean of Humanities from 2010 to 2018, leading Faculty of over 5,000 students, with 250 staff and a budget of £70m. She was a member of the University’s Executive Board and at various times chaired the University-wide Graduate Schools Committee and Undergraduate Programmes Committee. She was also an active reviewer for the Quality Assurance Agency in various institutions’ applications for degree awarding powers. She retired in 2019 but still seems to have as much work to do!

Retirement has also enabled her to resume a hobby which began in her teens – classical singing. She’s particularly proud of notices in the Evening Chronicle for a solo at festival of north-east choirs, and in the Manchester Evening News for her Barbarina in the University opera group’s Marriage of Figaro. She went on to play First Lady and Papagena in The Magic Flute and Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte. In later decades she gave recitals in the Pump Rooms in Bath and Leamington and at Leighton House, and was soprano soloist in Mozart’s Requiem in Dorchester Abbey. The passing of the years has transformed her into a deep contralto. She launched her G&S career as Dame Hannah in Ruddigore, with a Katisha in Mikado postponed due to Covid, and has appeared as soloist with Reading Male Voice choir (that her husband is chairman is entirely coincidental of course!).

Anne and John have one son, Tom, who married Alice, a speech therapist specialising in head and neck cancer, in 2017. Tom’s childhood passion for railways translated into jobs at Chiltern Railways and now the West Midlands Combined Authority, which brings back many happy memories for Anne not only of her station-master grandfather, but also of her parents who first met by phone when her mother supplied the BR trucks for her father’s NCB coal orders. Cricket is also a long-standing family passion. Anne and John are members of Kent County Cricket Club as well as TV cricket fanatics.

History for Anne is by no means a dry and dusty subject. For a start, it has taken her all over the world to give talks, and given her many links with French academics in particular.  Even though she is an expert on English conquests she has also worked on Joan of Arc and appears as a hologram in L’historial de Jeanne d’Arc in Rouen. Anne was President of the Historical Association between 2008 and 2011, an organisation which brings together academics, teachers and enthusiasts across its 50+ branches. She has recently been Chair of the Battlefields Trust, and, before that, a Trustee of the Royal Armouries as well as a Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society.

For Anne it is a great honour to be Master in the 650th anniversary year of the Worshipful Company of Fletchers. ‘It’s like living through the period I have studied, all the more so since I am currently involved in a project on the Peasants Revolt of 1381’, she says. ‘I am so proud of the Company, not only for its fellowship but also for its philanthropic activity and especially its support for disabled archery. With our anniversary and also Team GB archers at the Paralympics this is quite a year.’

You can find out more about Anne’s research and publications at www.soton.ac.uk/history/about/staff/aec.page?

She has a particular interest in making research accessible: see www.medievalsoldier.org; www.gasconrolls.org. She was also an editor of the Parliament Rolls of Medieval England.