Later this month, the University of Chester and partners are hosting a series of free events as part of the Being Human Festival.

The Being Human Festival runs from 10 November to 19 November and is led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, with generous support from Research England, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Returning for its ninth year with the theme of breakthroughs, this year’s festival will continue to explore the ways in which the humanities enable people to interpret the past, understand the present and imagine the future.

The University of Chester events will share breakthroughs in the past and present by exploring the impact of the Browns family on Chester and nationally, the histories of clothes, and how second-hand garments can be repaired and made into something new.

For the first, Dr Rebecca Andrew, Senior Lecturer in History at the University, will be joined on Saturday 12 November by experts from Cheshire Archives and Local Studies to look at how the Browns family shaped modern Chester.

The ‘More than a Shop’ event will run hourly between 11am and 3pm, at Cheshire Record Office, in Duke Street, Chester.

Browns of Chester was famous not only for its fashions but the department store itself, holding a significant place in retail history. The Browns legacy in Chester is far ‘more than a shop’, however. The event will share nationally-significant ‘breakthroughs’ the Browns family were involved in across the city, such as transport, energy, and politics, as well as retail.

People can view a pop-up exhibition in the search room, hear actors bring the story of the Browns family and the shop to life, with performances based on the new Browns collection, and explore items from the archive. Book your free place now.

Continuing the theme, Dr Rebecca Collins, Deputy Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Deborah Wynne, Professor of 19th-Century Literature, both from the University, and Holly Kirby from the National Trust, will host an event on Saturday 19 November exploring ways of breaking through our unsustainable relationships with garments in the 21st century.

An Archive of Stitches – The Living Histories, Geographies, and Biographies will be held from 11am to 3pm at The Contemporary Art Space Chester (CASC) Gallery, in the Forum Shopping Centre, Northgate Street, Chester.

Dr Collins, also of the Pop-Up Patch Challenge Team, said: We invite people to come along and celebrate the value of remaking, repurposing, and repairing clothing. We will consider the value of garment making and mending skills and participants will be encouraged to join discussions about the lives, histories and geographies of their clothes.”

The event will involve a hands-on garment repair workshop led by Dr Collins, providing the opportunity to learn how to do simple clothing repairs. Holly Kirby, Assistant Curator, will also talk about caring for a major historic costume collection at the National Trust’s Attingham Park in Shropshire. Book your free place now.

We are delighted to run these events as part of the Being Human festival celebrating research in the humanities across the UK. These events are a wonderful showcase of some of the exciting discoveries being made by researchers in humanities at the University of Chester; we hope they really spark people’s interest to get involved and explore them further.

David McGravie, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the University’s Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Click here for more information on the events hosted by the University.

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