22nd Biennial New Chaucer Society Congress
Durham, 11th–14th July 2022
Durham lies in the heart of England's North-East. The lively modern city of Newcastle is just 10 minutes away by train; and the historic city of York can also be reached in less than an hour.
The academic sessions of the Congress will run from Monday 11th July to Thursday 14th 2022 (with excursions on Friday 15th).
Anyone thinking about being in Durham on Saturday 9th July should be aware that this is the day of the 136th Annual Durham Miners' Gala. This is a major event in the city's calendar, and a colourful and lively occasion. However, it also means that the streets will be very full during the day, and that there will be various traffic closures. Accommodation in the city may also be more difficult to come by on the evenings of Friday 8th and Saturday 9th. Further information about this event can be found here.
How do people in County Durham pronounce "gala"? See here!
Statement by the NCS:
"NCS recognises that travel, especially international travel, remains daunting. The pandemic has transformed how we travel, the rules and regulations around travel, and the way we interact with each other. NCS is keeping up to date with the British and English regulations about Covid-19 and will update this page accordingly.
At the time of writing [23rd May], there are practically no mandatory Covid restrictions in England. The national advice (https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus) is to get vaccinated, to allow as much fresh air as possible for indoor meetings, and to consider wearing a mask in crowded spaces.
At the NCS Congress in Durham, rooms have air-quality monitors, there are heightened cleaning and sanitation regimes, and you will find cleaning materials at every lectern, which you are urged to use before and after presenting. We would like to ask delegates to be thoughtful about giving people plenty of personal space. Delegates are not obliged to wear a mask but we encourage people to do so if they wish.
At the time of writing, delegates do not need to test to come into the UK and there is no quarantine period.
Some delegates may require a Covid test to return to their home destination (usually called a ‘Fit to Fly’ test). Re-entry regulations are different for each country; please carefully review the regulations of your own destination. Covid testing is a private service in the UK, and the price can vary greatly, from about £15 to about £150. The national pharmacy chain Boots offers an in-store testing service with various options (Boots has a branch in central Durham; prior booking necessary) but delegates may prefer to arrive early at the airport and take their test there - Newcastle Airport, Manchester Airport, and London Heathrow Airport are all offering rapid tests on-site. You may wish to check that your travel insurance or your employing institution’s insurance will cover you for Covid-related delays.
Arriving by Train
Durham is located on the main east-coast rail line, with direct services to London King’s Cross (less than 3 hours away), Edinburgh (less than 2 hrs) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne (10 minutes). It is also relatively easy to reach Manchester (2.5 hrs), Leeds (75m) and York (45m). The railway station in Durham is quite central: John Snow College and the TLC are 20 minutes’ walk away (or a 10-minute taxi-ride). There is also a little bus (the "Cathedral Bus") that runs regularly during the day between the Station and Palace Green: https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/1974/Durham-Cathedral-Bus.
For further information about railway services, see https://www.nationalrail.co.uk.
Arriving by Car
Durham's topography and medieval street-plan make it very difficult to get around the city centre by car, and the university does not provide parking for delegates. The area around Palace Green is only accessible via the city-centre pedestrianised zone, and is subject to a congestion charge: https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/3437/Durham-Road-User-Charge-Zone-congestion-charge.
However, the city centre is very compact, and almost everything is within a 20-minute walk. The "Cathedral Bus" runs regularly from the railway station, via North Rd and the marketplace, to Palace Green. There are also several taxi companies based in the city. E.g.:
Durham City Taxis
For Park-and-Ride facilities, see http://www.durham.gov.uk/parkandride.
Flights to North-East England
The nearest international airport is at Newcastle, which has regular flights to London Heathrow, and to other European hubs (such as Amsterdam, Paris and Düsseldorf). It is about 45 minutes away by car from Durham city-centre, with a reliable taxi link via Airport Express (http://airport365.com (£75 return; £40 one-way). It is also possible to use the Metro (light railway) to travel from the airport into central Newcastle: there are regular trains to Durham from Newcastle Central Station (via the East Coast rail line).
There is also a small airport near Darlington, now called Teesside International Airport (formerly Durham Tees Airport): it has a regular link to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, and to a few other destinations. To get to Durham from Teesside by public transport, it is necessary to get a taxi to Darlington (there is no direct bus or train): from Darlington it is easy to reach Durham via the East Coast rail line (Durham is one stop north of Darlington). Teesside International also has some car-hire firms.
There are also (much larger) international airports at Manchester, Leeds/Bradford, Edinburgh and Glasgow, all of which can be reached from Durham by train.
The ruins of Finchale Priory lie in a quiet riverside setting just to the north of the city (about 10 minutes drive from the centre). The Priory was built on the site of St Godric's hermitage, and served the monks of Durham Cathedral as a kind of "holiday retreat".
Ruthwell church now gives shelter to the Anglo-Saxon stone cross that bears a runic inscription containing much of the poem known as 'The Dream of the Rood' (which survives elsewhere only in the Vercelli Book). Ruthwell is in Dumfriesshire, about 90 minutes away by car.
Hadrian's Wall runs from Wallsend (in Newcastle) to the Solway Firth. The forts at Vindolanda, Housesteads and Chesters are all within an hour's drive from Durham. There is also a footpath that runs the whole length of the Wall.
Lindisfarne Priory Ruins
Holy Island is 90 minutes away by car, but it can only be reached (via a causeway) at low tide. Please check the tide tables if you are planning to travel there!
Crook Hall, Durham
Crook Hall, parts of which date back to the thirteenth century, has beautiful gardens and a pleasant café. It is just a few minutes walk from Durham city centre. Rather sadly, it closed to the public as a direct consequence of the pandemic, but – happy ending – it was bought by the National Trust, and – stop press – formally reopens at 1pm on Wedneday 13th July (ie. during our conference!).
The Sage Concert Hall, Gateshead
The North-East's premier concert hall is located in a spectacular building overlooking the Quayside and the Millennium ("blinking eye") Bridge. It is just 25 mins from Durham by car (or 10 mins walk from Newcastle Central Station). It always has a varied programme of events.