Roy Palmer Lecture 2021

Brother Workmen: Solidarity in Trade Folklore


Jeremy Harte


7 pm, 2 November 2021, Conway Hall, 25, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL



The sixth Roy Palmer Lecture, ‘Brother Workmen: Solidarity in Trade Folklore’, which is being organized in association with the Folklore Society, will take place on 2 November 2021 at the Conway Hall, London. This is the lecture that could not take place last year because of the Covid-19 situation. We are delighted that Jeremy Harte has been able to carry his talk forward and we hope, fervently, that nothing will interfere with this year's event.

Jeremy's description of the talk is as follows:


'They worked in unison, they sang in unison. For traditional artisans, the trade was more than a job: it was a living presence which might take form as Old Clem or St. Crispin or Bishop Blaize. Rules of the workplace were enforced with the kind of mock-earnestness that masks real solemnity, and humour, often tested to breaking-point was a test of whether mates could be relied on: that was why apprentices had to be teased and sent on fools’ errands. Mere skill was not enough for initiation: the rules of the workshop explicitly protected the interests of the group as against those of the individual, keeping back the over-industrious in order to redistribute work to the needy. Like soldiers, artisans saw the outside world through an atmosphere of slightly boozed male camaraderie, preposterous but well-loved traditions, fiercely enforced loyalty, and absolute unity against a common foe – the bosses.'

Jeremy Harte is a researcher into the overlap between folklore and the landscape, especially places of encounter with the supernatural. His books include Cuckoo Pounds and Singing Barrows, The Green Man, English Holy Wells and Explore Fairy Traditions. A member of the Council of the Folklore Society, he trained as a museum professional, and is curator of the Bourne Hall Museum in Surrey.


Admission to the event is free, though it will be necessary to get a ticket. A link to do so will be added to this site a few weeks beforehand. The numbers allowed to participate will depend on any restrictions in place at that time. The talk will be recorded and will be available afterwards on YouTube.

    The Roy Palmer Lecture 2021 is supported by the Folklore Society

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