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University of Roehampton Professor and the Cavalier

Professor Peter Edwards, in association with English Heritage and Liverpool John Moores University, will be participating in staging the ‘The Duke of Newcastle Returns!’ weekend celebrations, with history, equestrian and literary scholars from a dozen American and British Universities speaking over the two days.

Posted: 11 April 2012

image for news story University of Roehampton Professor and the Cavalier
Professor Peter Edwards in the Riding House

Peter Edwards, Professor emeritus elect from University of Roehampton, will join experts from around the world at an international conference to shed new light on the life of one of England’s greatest Cavaliers and Europe’s foremost 17th century horseman, William Cavendish, First Duke of Newcastle.

English Heritage, in association with University of Roehampton and Liverpool John Moores University, will be staging the ‘The Duke of Newcastle Returns!’ weekend celebrations, with history, equestrian and literary scholars from a dozen American and British Universities speaking over the two days.

Lucy Hutchings English Heritage event manager says, “This is a unique event, the first time there has been a celebration of William Cavendish’s life held at his beloved Bolsover Castle. It will mix family entertainment with presentations from international experts in their field. Visitors will be able to see displays of dressage in the Riding House Cavendish built at Bolsover to train his famous horses. There will be the spectacle of William Cavendish riding back to Bolsover Castle and Cavaliers displaying their horsemanship and combat skills in the Castle grounds. The conference will provide visitors with an opportunity to discover intimate details about the lives of William Cavendish and his wife, Margaret.”

Professor Peter Edwards from University of Roehampton in London, one of the conference organisers says, “I am delighted to be able to work alongside Elspeth Graham from Liverpool John Moores University and English Heritage to stage this international conference. Because of the venue, this event has a special attraction for anyone interested in the Cavendishes, and we are thrilled that so many respected experts in their field will be present to share their knowledge.

“William Cavendish was one of the greatest European horsemen. As a grandson of Bess of Hardwick and son of Sir Charles Cavendish, he was born into a family with Royal associations, becoming the governor of Prince Charles II and teaching him to ride. The Riding House at Bolsover Castle is a particularly important building in the cultural history of horsemanship and much of modern dressage owes its origins to Cavendish’s methods of schooling horses.

“But there was more to Cavendish than horseman and Cavalier as the conference will uncover. As well as being a prolific playwright, poet and musician himself, Cavendish was an important patron of Ben Jonson and James Shirley and an art collector, especially of paintings by Antwerp artists such as Van Dyck and Alexander Keirinex.

“The conference will also cover the life of his wife Margaret Cavendish, probably the most important and most researched female writer of the seventeenth century. She was the first woman to be allowed to enter the Royal Society.

“We will also be launching our new book ‘The Horse as Cultural Icon’ at the conference. Comprising a collection of essays, it considers the value that the influential elite placed on horses as essential accompaniments to their way of life and as status symbols, as well as discussing the role that horses played in society as a whole and the people who used and cared for them.

“Followers of horseracing and the breeding of thoroughbreds won’t want to miss the presentation by Professor Richard Nash from Indiana University, a world authority on the history of horses and horse-racing. He will be presenting his research which features in the book. His findings potentially change our understanding of the genealogy/breeding and history of the ‘foundation sires’ from whom all thoroughbred horses descend.”

‘The Duke of Newcastle Returns!’ family event and international conference is being held on Saturday 14 & Sunday 15 April at Bolsover Castle from 11am – 4pm each day (conference starts at 10am). For further information, please call Bolsover Castle on 01246 822 844 or visit: www.english-heritage.org.uk/bolsovercastle.

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