Plague, Pandemics and Pestilence with Vanessa Harding
At Kensal Green Cemetery on the 14th October 2023 at 1:30 pm

Until recently, for many of us (epidemiologists and medical researchers excepted) the study of historical plague was something of an academic exercise. Almost none of us had experienced a deadly epidemic in our own society, or had to deal in person with its impacts. Covid-19 changed that: we endured it in real time, and felt its wide-ranging consequences at first hand.

It’s much easier now to appreciate that epidemics are social, economic and political events as much as medical ones, and to sympathise with the fear, confusion and conflict that we find in past epidemics. In this talk Vanessa Harding begs the question, can we now look back on the historical plague with new sensitivity to our predecessors’ experiences, and perhaps a less critical view of their ideas about epidemiology and appropriate response?

Tickets £12 including a 20% donation to a host of restoration projects at Kensal Green Cemetery. Please click here to purchase.

Vanessa Harding recently retired as Professor of London History at Birkbeck, University of London. She works on medieval and early modern London and aspects of its population, environment, health, mortality, and burial practices. The study of plague forms an important element in all these topics, and she has recently published several articles on plague in London, looking at its chronologies, geographies, and impact. Her current project is to create an atlas of London on the eve of the Great Fire of 1666 – that is, London as it was during the last great plague epidemic, so graphically chronicled by Pepys, Defoe, and others.





Kensal Green Cemetery Chapel