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Toby Donegan-Cross

Food production and consumption on Durham Priory’s estate, c. 1250–1500

Food production and consumption on Durham Priory’s estate, c. 1250–1500 in the Department of History



I am a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Durham University, co-supervised by Dr Alex Brown, Professor Giles Gasper (both at Durham) and Professor James Davis (Queen’s University, Belfast). My research interests lie primarily in the late medieval English Benedictine order, and in particular in their daily life and consumption patterns, with wider interests in monasticism in general and late medieval economic and social life.

For my doctoral project, ‘Bread of Heaven: Eating and Drinking at a Late Medieval Priory’, I am using the vast archives of Durham Cathedral to investigate the monastic community who lived here. In particular I am trying to understand how they provisioned, consumed, and thought about their food and drink. I also wonder how they compare with other late medieval monasteries and great households, and whether these comparisons are plausible.

Before beginning my PhD, I studied for a BA in History at Durham with a year at Sciences Po, Paris. I then took the Economic and Social History (Research Methods) Masters. I am grateful to have had my masters and PhD fully funded by the ESRC NINE DTP scheme.

Besides my studies, I try to be active in the postgraduate community at Durham, and enjoy co-chairing MEMSA (the Medieval and Early Modern Students Association). Last year I co-organised the conference, and I am keen to do more of this in the future. I also have an interest in writing and journalism, and edit my college’s blog, John’s Chronicle, having previously edited the student newspaper, Palatinate. My main hobbies are any and all things to do with classical music, spending time in the outdoors, reading cookbooks and cooking.

I welcome correspondence relating to my research or other interests.


‘Late medieval monastic food culture in England, 1250-1540’, Blackfriars Eat Medieval Summer School, August, 2023

‘Monastic Leisure: Durham Priory’s Play-Week retreats (Ludi), c, 1390-96’, MEMSA Community Course, Leisure, July, 2023