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London, United Kingdom




Series exploring ordinary people's links with the past




The Charter of the Forest

Tom Holland with the last in the series, exploring new historical research and resonances. We travel to Durham to examine the world's oldest piece of environmental legislation, the Charter of the Forest which was made law 800 years ago in 1217. Tom reveals how travellers from Heathrow may well be taking off from one of the most important Iron Age sites in the UK. We also hear memories of family holidays from a unique collection in Leicester and reveal how key figures in Russia's October...

Duration: 00:27:59

Being Gay Before Gay Lib

Helen Castor takes the hot seat for the programme which shows why history matters. Today, testimony about coming out before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 and what we know about the lives of gay people in Victoria's Britain. Iszi Lawrence discovers that the 'gig' economy was widespread in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And Tom Holland is on Tyneside to celebrate the history of a building which played host to an almost forgotten intellectual revolution. Producer:...

Duration: 00:28:04

Hadrian's Wall

Tom Holland travels north to mark the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian becoming Emperor, by examining the impact of his biggest legacy in Britain - Hadrian's Wall. We also take-off for Heathrow to learn about its Iron Age origins and ask if a mound near a car park in Slough could really be a Saxon burial site. Producer: Nick Patrick A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Duration: 00:28:01

Jack Monroe and Rationing in the First World War

Helen Castor is joined by Dr Sam Willis to discuss food shortages in the First World War, Silk Roads, the history of the duffle coat and Franklin's infamous last voyage. Food blogger Jack Monroe heads for the National Archives to learn how the submarine war in 1917 presented a serious threat to food supplies. She discovers that the rationing put in place then was successfully used again in World War Two. Tom Holland meets the author of the best-seller Silk Roads, Peter Frankopan, to ask...

Duration: 00:28:11

Segregation in wartime Britain

Helen Castor and her guests discuss the history stories that are alive today. Seventy five years on from the first American bomber raid taking off from British soil to attack targets in Nazi-occupied Europe, poet Sugar Brown hears how the thousands of Yanks who arrived in the UK in 1942 were segregated by race - both when they were in uniform and when they were out on civvy street. On the eve of the announcement of the Art Fund Museum of the Year, we hear from two retired ladies who,...

Duration: 00:28:05

The Dunkirk Spirit

Tom Holland is joined by Dr Dan Todman from Queen Mary University, London and Professor Lucy Robinson at the University of Sussex. Britain's retreat from Dunkirk in 1940 was a precursor to the fall of France and a summer in which it looked like Britain too would be be overwhelmed by the Nazi war machine. The evacuation of thousands of troops from the beaches of Northern France in an armada of boats of all shapes and sizes has been spun into a defining moment when the plucky Brits snatched...

Duration: 00:27:59

The Stonehenge Tunnel

Tom Holland goes behind the headlines to look at the stories making history. Helen Castor travels to Salisbury Plain to hear more about a growing row between archaeologists and our leading heritage organisations about plans to build a tunnel under Stonehenge. She discovers how, increasingly, it isn't iconic Stonehenge that is at the centre of researchers' thinking but the wider and even more historic landscape. In Lincolnshire, Carenza Lewis and a team from the University of Lincoln are...

Duration: 00:27:51

The English Pearl Harbour

Tom Holland returns with the history magazine that showcases the latest research and demonstrates the relevance of the past in the present day. The Dutch Are Coming! 350 years on from a daring Dutch mission up the Thames estuary, in which the flagship of the English fleet was taken and Sheerness captured, we ask whether this was the pinnacle of power for the Netherlands navy and how the international ambitions of both countries in the 17th century may also have helped shaped their response...

Duration: 00:28:13


Tom Holland and guests discuss the stories that are Making History. Helen Castor is joined by Stephen Chalke and former Sussex cricket captain John Barclay to discuss the origins and rather odd structure of English (and Welsh) county cricket. Iszi Lawrence heads to North Yorkshire to hear a story of divorce and betrayal from the 1st century and the forgotten queen who was central to both. And the former head of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper, takes us to South America to remind us of...

Duration: 00:27:35


Helen Castor is joined by Professor Ted Vallance from the University of Roehampton and Dr Alex Woolf from the University of St Andrews. On the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, Dr Tom Charlton heads to St Paul's to learn how preparatory work by Sir Christopher Wren and the storage of printers manuscripts fuelled the inferno. Afterwards, the building lay in ruins and accusations flew freely - many suspecting the destruction of the historic church was the work of Catholics....

Duration: 00:27:38


Tom Holland is joined by Dr Lucy Robinson from the University of Sussex to consider jazz in the trenches, woad and the women behind the Notting Hill Carnival. Helen Castor meets Dr Michael Hammond, Associate Professor at the University of Southampton, to hear about Blues in the Trenches. Dr Hammond argues that 'the blues' as a musical tradition was brought to the trenches of the Great War by African-American soldiers from all parts of the US and they shared different performance styles and...

Duration: 00:27:51


Helen Castor is joined by the architectural writer and cultural commentator Travis Elborough and garden historian Deborah Trentham. Tom Holland takes a ride on Brighton's new attraction, the British Airways i360, and is joined at 450 feet by Professor Fred Gray to gain new insight into the history of seaside attractions. Surprisingly, the new doughnut on a stick (as locals are describing it), offers similar experiences and challenges to those of the West Pier which opened 150 years ago. In...

Duration: 00:27:56


Tom Holland considers historical revelations with a resonance today. He's joined by two archaeologists - Professor Carenza Lewis from the University of Lincoln and David Miles, the former Director of Archaeology and Chief Archaeologist at English Heritage. As combine harvesters tear into Britain's corn crops, David Miles takes us back to the birth of farming and the transformational period that was the Neolithic. Iszi Lawrence changes into her running gear to recreate the Battle of...

Duration: 00:27:52


In the first in a new series of the topical history programme Helen Castor is joined by the historian of women in medieval Ireland, Dr Gillian Kenny and Dr Jennifer Redmond who lectures in Twentieth Century Irish History and is President of the Women's History Association of Ireland. Tom Holland is in Northern Ireland, close to to the border with the Republic near Enniskillen. There are no customs officials or soldiers these days but will Brexit change that? Tom meets the historian Seamas...

Duration: 00:27:47


Helen is joined in the studio by BBC New Generation Thinker Danielle Thom from the V&A in London and Dr Gillian Kenny from Trinity College in Dublin. Dr Tom Charlton uncovers some surprising evidence that the original Darby and Joan were 17th Century radical pamphleteers. He heads to the first Darby and Joan club, which was opened in 1942 in Streatham, South London, and talks to Professor Ted Vallance at the University of Roehampton. Maurice Casey joins us from Cambridge to discuss new...

Duration: 00:27:56


Tom Holland is joined by Dr Nick Beech from Queen Mary University of London and Professor Emma Griffin from the University of East Anglia. We're in Toxteth, Liverpool, to find out more about the history of the terraced house. Christian Wolmar joins us from King's Cross railway station where he asks whether the Flying Scotsman deserves to be so famous. And we explore the history of Easter with the Bishop of Norwich who explains why it moves around the calendar. Helen Castor catches up with...

Duration: 00:27:52

Helen Castor and guests discuss the stories that are Making History

Helen Castor is joined by Dr Jane Hamlett from Royal Holloway University of London and the critic and writer Kate Maltby. Tom Holland travels to Thetford, the ancient capital of East Anglia, to hear evidence that the Iceni were speaking a form of English in the years before the Romans arrived. Dr Daphne Nash Briggs and Dr Sam Newton have examined coins of the period to reveal that the people of Norfolk had as strong a relationship with the Continent as they did with the rest of Britain -...

Duration: 00:27:45


Tom Holland is joined by Professor Louise Jackson from the University of Edinburgh and journalist Sarah Ditum. Dr Naomi Paxton explores how sex trafficking and moral panic thed to the birth of the Women's Police Service in 1914. Dr Fiona Watson explains why 1302 is her favourite year in history - and, in particular, one day when, at a battle on the Continent, the mounted knight was rumbled. Helen Castor explores the origins of Marriage Banns and Dr John Gallagher argues that historians...

Duration: 00:27:57


The latest historical and archaeological research.

Duration: 00:28:01