I only learned about Derek's passing this morning, so my contribution comes in very late. I remember walking through the Tiergarten in Berlin, with Vanessa Harding and Derek, late one night, having a lot of fun laughing about the statues and the prostitutes we passed along the way. This must have been during the 2000 conference of the European Urban History Association. I was later honoured to contribute to the volume presented on the occasion of his retirement. Derek was a lovely person and much fun to be with. He also combined an incredible knowledge of London's history with a fine appreciation of the bigger picture of Europe's urban landscape and how it changed over time.
Lawrence Ivy , NewYork City31st May 2021
I had the good fortune of working for Mr.Keen as a teenager in Winchester, Brooks Street site one summer in 1971. He was a very inspirational archaeologist who taught me many things I have carried with me my whole life. His attention to detail and dedication to his craft were balanced with wit and a sense of humor that allowed him great insight into people past and present- I am grateful to have known him and is team of archeologists in Winchester.
CHRISTOPHER JOHN20th May 2021
Derek wouldn,t remember me but as a small 10 year old living in Northolt I would attend the excavations of the old moated manor house on Saturday afternoons,led by John Hurst, Dereks father Mr Keene as I knew him, and Derek. Didnt take up archaeology in later life but gave ma a lasting interest in history and archaeology. Thank you all three.
Katalin Szende (Budapest)12th May 2021
Let me join in reviving some deeply human facets of Derek's personality. He was not only an outstanding urban historian and the leader of so many innovative projects like "Feeding the City" and "Fuelling the City", but also a keen hiker, gardener, and joiner - all of which, I think, had an impact on the way how he approached scholarly issues as well. And he was ready to embrace unconventional comparisons (at least they were so 15-20 years ago), be it the Far East or East Central Europe. R.I.P.
Laura Wright05th May 2021
Many, many thanks to Suzanne, Fran and Tom for such a marvellously organised day celebrating Derek, right down to the dramatic cracks of thunder and lightning as we approached the magnificent view of St Paul's Cathedral through the teeming avenue of green spring foliage at Nunhead Cemetery. It could not have been better orchestrated. Or maybe Derek orchestrated it for us.
Louise Bacon05th May 2021
I've just got back from Derek's funeral, beautifully organized by Suzanne, Fran and Tom. All 3 bravely gave eulogies which had me in tears! Talking to friends and relatives at the wake I realize that I was probably one of the last people that Derek helped with their research. I am studying medieval copper alloy Burghmote horns and the social history of the times. This was just before the last lock down and even then he was able to point me in the direction of information and I was allowed to use the Winchester volumes on his desk and even allowed down into the basement to his library on my own! Even before this Derek has often helped me with research questions and everything I read on medieval society seems to be authored, co-authored, edited by or acknowledged to him. Thank you Derek for the huge volume of research you leave behind - truly an enduring memorial.
John Forbes04th May 2021
There was all this intellectual stuff going on but he had tremendous physical energy. Going for very long walks was always one of Derek's favourite things, and when I first met him his party piece, as it were, on a walk, was to jump up in the air and clap his feet together like an acrobat.
Buzz Forbes04th May 2021
Derek was my brother-in-law. Operating as he and Suzanne both did in the lofty heights of academe, that and a series of foreign postings that began soon after they married prevented my getting to know him then. But my house is now full of memories of him - a wonderfully usefully-slender book-case, some beautifully turned and polished bowls made of various exotic woods, a most handsome door-stop. And books - Derek had an endearing knack of connecting with my own interests: when I was a local Councillor in Wandsworth, he gave me Jerry White's excellent book on London in the 20thC. When I was planning to go to Germany, he recommended Claudio Magris's Danube. My last Xmas present from him was an enchanting Cats in Medieval Manuscripts. But my most typical memory was of a New Year he and Suzanne spent with me and another friend, at Rannoch Station. It was the year of -25C up there, and the owner of the cottage rang the night before to say everything! was frozen solid, 'but there's water in the well to use in the loo and you can melt snow for cooking.' Derek and Suzanne got there first, off the sleeper (goose in backpack) and not wanting to risk disaster, Derek set about digging a latrine in the frozen ground for the party's use. Fortunately another solution to that particular challenge was found. But I well also remember being in the cottage after a little afternoon amble in the freezing gloaming with Suzanne, anxiously waiting the return of Derek and my friend, who'd gone off to have a go at Schiehallion, a nearby Munro. Anxious time indeed, but they did get back just before we despaired. Thank you, Derek, for all the memories you've left me. I treasure them.
Katherine Barclay 04th May 2021
Martin has wirtten below about Derek’sSurvey which I consult frequently, for illustrations and for detail. But only last month I was looking at Derek’s meticulous notes about the wood from the Brook St excavations in Winchester where he had been a supervisor. He was very practical, and lovingly cared for the slimy but precious planks and posts, for their labelling and their new tank homes. And once he got to know them, Derek wrote as carefully about the mundane pegs, spikes and bungs, as about the more remarkable medieval bowls.
Colin Taylor 04th May 2021
Like St Swithun, Derek was a bridge builder --- in his academic life linking people and disciplines and cities and metropolises. I first met him in 1975 on the steps of the British Museum where he had been to see the Savernake horn, and I went on to work with him for three years at the Winchester Research Unit, based (appropriately enough) at No 12 Parchment Street. It was a wonderful job working through the city court rolls --- and he was an incomparable boss: patient, stimulating, exacting, and fun. An unforgettable man.
Martin Biddle04th May 2021
I am very sad to hear of Derek's death. All of us involved with the history and archaeology of Winchester join Derek's friends and colleagues in celebrating his enormous contributions to the archaeology and history of Winchester, and to the history of towns in general. He was a founding member of the Winchester Research Unit (still hard at work!) in 1968 and had been a site supervisor on the Lower Brook Street excavation for some time before that. Derek was an outstanding colleague working to just the kind of scholarship which we wanted in both archaeology and documentary research, a combination which was at that time very unusual but was fundamental to the Winchester Research Unit and all it tried to do. It was wonderful to have Derek as a key member of the team and Assistant Director of the Unit. We are immensely proud of his Survey of Medieval Winchester, which was and remains one of the most significant volumes of our Winchester Studies series. It was essential to forging our attempt to bridge the gap, normal then, between archaeology and documents. Derek was a key figure in this objective. As an historian who was also a superb excavating archaeologist (a still most unusual combination), in which he followed in the steps of his father's contribution to the archaeology of Northolt Manor in Middlesex in the 1950s, we remember him with admiration and affection.
David Green04th May 2021
As a young historical geographer, and member of the London Journal board, I was always impressed with Derek's intellect and constant search for connections across centuries and continents. His enthusiasm for historical exploration was infectious and one couldn't help but be carried along by the excitement of the search that he so often initiated.
Andrea Tanner03rd May 2021
I was fortunate in getting to know Derek in the 1990s through the Wellcome-funded Metropolitan Mortality Project at the CMH, under the leadership of Bill Luckin, with Graham Mooney as lead research academic. He was always immensely kind and helpful. I think he knew that his physical presence, allied to that fierce intellect, could be intimidating, but his leadership was both challenging and benign. His conversation was filled with erudition and enthusiasm, and his seminars and lectures filled with unique insights. London has lost one of its finest historians, and his colleagues a stimulating and generous spirit. My sympathies and prayers go to Suzanne and the wider family. He was a truly good man.
Malcolm Airs03rd May 2021
Derek and I go back a long way. We were both research students together at Oriel where we had an instant affinity not just in history but also as state-educated boys in a predominantly public school college. We shared an unfurnished flat together in the attic of a rather grand country house outside Oxford where Derek's woodworking skills came in handy in making bookshelves. He then moved on to Winchester and I to London but we remained in touch with many shared interests. I remember visiting him and Suzanne on the weekend of the moon landing. Later in our careers we were both Commissioners of the RCHME and on advisory committees for English Heritage. I greatly valued his friendship and the times that we spent together.
Brioist Pascal03rd May 2021
I will always remember the generosity of Derek towards young researchers like me around 1990. I still cherish a moment of sheer happiness in Baltimore where we shared bushels of crabs together with Mike Berlin and Stephen Johnston. Of course, I also particularly acknowledge the wonderful scholars he was, and his profound curiosity for the London past.
David Crouch03rd May 2021
I'll never know what Derek saw in me when he employed me on SESML in 1983, a more than somewhat bumptious Welsh schoolteacher with a recently completed PhD in Anglo-Norman history. But he did, and it's fair to say he enabled my subsequent academic career. He also opened a lot of intellectual doors and taught me a little humility, in the nicest possible way.
Sandy Nairne02nd May 2021
Derek was a brilliant and stalwart member of the Fabric Advsory Committee of St Paul's Cathedral, which is where I met him in the 1990s. His knowledge of the Cathedral was incredibly impressive. And he always had the most astute and intriguing comments about any matter in hand, always delivered with a twinkle in the eye. His great St Paul's volume is a wonderful legacy for generations to come.
Mike Berlin30th April 2021
Derek was a very fine person. He was eternally young at heart, always inquisitive about the past, about cities and landscapes and people. He was generous with his time, brought people together, creating a nurturing and creative environment for young scholars from many backgrounds. It is no accident that live long friendships, and indeed families were formed while he headed the CMH. The sheer challenge of keeping pace with him in a cityscape was indicative of a broader sense of his active, engaged pursuit of the past. It was a pleasure to follow the wake of this kindly, scholarly companion who shared his curiosity about the world with others around him.
Beatrice Clayre30th April 2021
Sad news indeed. I have happy memories of working with Derek at the Winchester Research Unit. He gave me a lot of help when I started working on the documentary evidence for the Castle volume. I remember too the detailed work he did preparing the maps for the Historic Towns Atlas of Winchester, and more recently, our correspondence concerning entries in its Gazetteer. I will remember him each time I open 'Survey of Medieval Winchester'.
bob morris29th April 2021
sad news; we have lost a lot of wisdom there; fond memories of trip to Salonika and Thrace which included a climb up mount olympus - will try and insert the photo on the top
Melanie Winterbotham29th April 2021
Whenever I think of Colchester or, of course, Winchester, I recall the wonderful knowledge with which Derek entranced his students (as long as we could keep up with him!). I remember the deserved pride with which he showed us plaques in Winchester that were informed by his own research. He was an inspiring tutor of Metropolitan History, and it was my misfortune that he retired half way through my course. I shall be for ever grateful for his firm, but friendly guidance to someone returning to academic study in their mature years.
Dr Peter Hounsell29th April 2021
I never worked with Derek, and I am not an academic historian, but I attended the Metropolitan History seminar at the IHR for many years and encountered him there. In his obituary Matthew Davies remarks on the influence of Derek's father on him. I live in the same area of London where Derek was brought up and my wife and I met Charles Keene, and have copies of transcripts of documents that he made. I also realise from one of the photos on this site that Derek and I went to the same secondary school. I have a copy of a newspaper photo of a young Derek with his father at the Northolt dig, which I am happy to contribute if you would like to contact me.
Axel Müller29th April 2021
I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Derek for a numbers of years, most intensely to organise the International Medieval Congress in Leeds in 2007 on 'Medieval Cities'. I will always treasure the academic discussions which both showcased at ample opportunities Derek's academic brilliance and his no-nonsense pragmatism. Rest in peace.
Benjamin Ward27th April 2021
Having Derek as a next door neighbour was a privilege. Conversation over the fence would often lead into enlightening snippets of history, unexpected insights into our corner of South East London, or simply good tips for keeping blackfly off broad beans.
Once we put in a fence post together and to our delight found a horse brass from the Lewisham Horse Show of 1910 - pretty much the year our houses were built. I'll always remember this impromptu excavation and Derek's company and neighbourly good cheer.
David Bates27th April 2021
I first met Derek in 1974 (or thereabouts) when Henry Loyn and I took a party of students from Cardiff to visit the ongoing excavations in Winchester. Our paths crossed several times over the following decades, but it was only when we were colleagues at the IHR from 2003 to 2008 that I came to know him well. He was a constant source of good and wise advice, a model for all in the academic profession. His support for those starting to make their way in the profession is something that we must all applaud loudly.
Howard Clarke27th April 2021
For me Derek was an academic kindred spirit, versed in the historical records and able to combine them with archaeological and above-ground material evidence. He also had a strong international dimension, as is reflected in comments from members of the ICHT. On one occasion it was my privilege to conduct him on a field trip into the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin - a wonderful day. Over dinner in our house, my wife Máire and he discussed the possible origin of his family name. She is a fluent speaker of Irish and the probability is O'Catháin, which surfaces in English as Kane, Kean, Keen(e) etc. It was also my privilege to co-edit his contribution to the ICHT-related volume 'Lords and towns' (2015), an essay of mature scholarship on the symbolic landscape of medieval Winchester. A brilliant scholar with a friendly approach, leaving a big hole in my academic attic.
jowanna Magande27th April 2021
It was nice knowing you for the short time that you were in hospital . You challenge me that despite how ill you were , you did not lose your love for reading . So go well Derek : May the road rise up and meet you and May the wind be always at your back , May the sun shine warm upon your face as you rise and rise . Goodbye and sleep well RIP
Marc Boone27th April 2021
For many years Derek Keene has attended the meetings of the 'interuniversity attraction pole' (the very name the administration had invented for this kind of networks) on urban history of the medieva and early modern period in Belgium. I'll remember him for his generous advice, challenging questions and open mind, which proved to be very valuable, especially for the younger PhD students active in the network. His experiences and human touch were important. Derek could build bridges and had a pacifying influence when egos of colleagues clashed as I experienced seeing him at the rescue of a programme of the European Science Foundation on cultural transfers... I also came to know him better in the international commission for urban history and remember some great moments (and nice meals!) when being colleagues in academia turned into friendship.
michel pauly26th April 2021
Derek Keene stood out wherever he appeared: it wasn't just his tall figure that you couldn't overlook. His intelligence, his knowledge, his ability to understand and to react quickly contributed at least as much. But his modest demeanor, the friendliness he radiated, made it easy for colleagues less versed in English to converse with him. When I was elected president of the ICHT in 2006, he was, of course, a member of the board. With concise contributions and polished formulations he contributed significantly to the mission statement of ICHT that we elaborated in those years. His discreet advice was always aptly and provided the solution when everyone else was at a loss. I was very sorry to see him leave the board on my second term, not knowing that he was older than he appeared to be. Now he has said goodbye forever. R.I.P.
Neven Budak26th April 2021
Derek visited Zagreb in 2006 to attend our conference on towns and communications. Afterwards he wrote a wonderful introductory article to the volume with conference papers and I remember our long, interesting and very pleasant talk in a Zagreb cafe. Derek impressed me with his knowledge, but also with his cheerfulness and sense of humor. It was a privilege to know him and cooperate with him, if even for a short while.
Keith Lilley26th April 2021
I first knew Derek professionally through reading his published work on medieval suburbs, and of course his monumental Survey of Medieval Winchester, long before I first met him. Later his important and influential work on the British Historic Towns Atlases and for the Historic Towns Trust connected us. I really valued Derek's 'topographical eye' as an urban/medieval historian, and enjoyed our discussions when we had opportunities to meet and talk--Derek really made me think, challenged me, I shall remember him fondly and with thanks.
Ferdinand Dr. Opll26th April 2021
I have met Derek ibn the context of the General Assmblies of the International Commission of Towns regularly and I always was fascinated and thrilled by his qualities as most outstanding historian and at the same time as very friendly man. I do remember very well to have been invited to Suzanne's and Derek's house in London as well as one visit of Suzanne to my wife's Roswitha's and my own home in Perchtoldsdorf near Vienna. Together with his family, his colleagues and friends I will miss him - R.I.P.
Tom keene26th April 2021
I will always remember a long walk with Dad on the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Spain. We came across a watercourse that travelled through the mountains and serviced the villages below. It was covered in heavy flat stones and must have been an extraordinary effort to build and maintain. As we drank the freshwater we saw cowboys herding cattle down a steep slope at top speed. Such a beautiful walk.