The Past Matters Festival of History is one of a number of public history and co-produced research initiatives undertaken by the University of Bristol Department of History. It is supported by a bequest from Nicholas Deas, a long-standing friend of Bristol University and a lover of history.  These initiatives aim to bring together academic historians, students, community groups, and the public to discuss and debate the place of history in contemporary society.

It has organised public lectures and university student master-classes, and  engaged in developing community-led research projects and fostered connections with local schools. The festival has used, and continues to seek, creative and innovative ways of bringing the past to life in Bristol.

Mr Deas’s vision was a resurgence of interest in the study of History as part of local and national life, at all social levels – and he entrusted the Bristol historians with the task of converting this vision into reality.

The Department of History seeks to give a lasting shape to Mr Deas’s aims, through the following initiatives:

    • A Visiting Fellowship in History and Society, to work alongside UoB staff, postgraduate researchers, and students, as well as engaging with Bristol’s communities.
    • A 7-year UoB programme to fund 14 research postgraduates.
    • An outreach programme to stimulate interest in the study of History at schools level, and to do so by working with disadvantaged children in the city of Bristol and environs. The funded research postgraduates are fully involved in these activities, and include: Seeds of Change: Growing a Living History of Bristol and The Cabot Project.
    • A programme of events under the umbrella of the “Past Matters Festival of History” which include community events and lectures, including the annual Penguin History Lecture.

For further information on the postgraduate scholarships, please contact the Graduate School of Arts and Humanities in Bristol University: its web pages include an application form. For further information, please contact Professor Tim Cole in the Department of Historical Studies.

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