After a decade working in agriculture, Sheila studied History at the University of Kent completing her doctorate in 1999. Since then she has lectured in medieval and early modern studies at the University of Kent, as well as at Canterbury Christ Church University. As a freelance documentary researcher, she has worked for organisations such as the University of Huddersfield, English Heritage, Archaeology South-East and Canterbury Archaeological Trust. She is heavily involved in the CCCU, Centre for Kent History and Heritage and is a Council member of Kent Archaeological Society.
Drawing on the rich archival sources for medieval and early modern Kent, especially those from the Cinque Ports, and adopting a thematic microhistory approach, Sheila has investigated a broad range of topics. Her doctoral thesis on Kent’s medieval hospitals was published in 2004 where she explored the role of the hospital through the lens of gift-giving. Since then, she has used this approach to explore material and visual culture, including working on the ‘painted pillar’ at Faversham and the ‘Guy of Warwick’ mazer at Canterbury.
Using these Kentish case studies, she has published extensively, including editing three books. She is currently editing a collection of essays on Maritime Kent through the Ages with Elizabeth Edwards (formerly University of Kent) and Stuart Bligh (Royal Museums Greenwich). Keeping with the maritime theme, she is part of the team working with Professor Craig Lambert on an AHRC funding application concerning a proposed project on ‘English Calais’.