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When you’re wandering about a historic place, what voices do you hear echoing off the walls? Are they the ones you learnt about at school – or do you wonder about the shadowy, quiet voices that may have gone unheard?
Speaking with Shadows is the podcast that listens to the people that history forgot, and we’re back for a second series. This time, we travel from 17th-century Northamptonshire, where we hear about the heroic servant who may have become Britain’s first black pub landlord, to wartime Essex, where Polish special forces soldiers trained in secrecy for life or death missions to their homeland. Start listening now, and explore our first series, below.
The first episode of our second series travels to 1660 to meet Margaret Cavendish, a prolific writer and philosopher who challenged conventions for women through her intellectual ideas, dress, and fiction. As well as books of philosophy and poetry, she penned one of the world’s first science fiction novels. We get into the head of this unique and captivating woman, and investigate the obstacles she faced, as well as the legacy she left behind.
Listen to the episode here and follow the link below to read more about Cavendish’s life and writings.Read more about Margaret Cavendish
Framlingham Castle was home to the fiercely powerful Dukes of Norfolk for 400 years – so how did it end up as a workhouse in the 17th century? Join Josie Long as she delves into the castle’s second life and English society’s changing attitudes towards poverty over the centuries. Hear about people who lived and worked in the workhouse, and why life wasn’t always like a scene from Oliver Twist.
Listen to the episode here and follow the link below to read more about the castle on the hill.Read more about Framlingham Castle
Josie Long heads to Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire on the trail of a mysterious man who saved the life of the owner of this fine house.
James Chappell’s heroic story lives on in local legend, but who was this black servant, living as a free man? And what questions does his story raise or add to the under-documented story of being black in Britain in the 17th century?
Listen to the episode here and follow the link below to read more about James Chappell.Read more about James Chappell
Josie Long heads to Chiswick House in south-west London to find out about a little-known episode in its history. In the Victorian and Edwardian eras it housed an asylum for people with mental illnesses.
Who were the people who needed the care that the asylum provided, and what does this reveal about attitudes to mental health not much more than a century ago?Read more about Chiswick House’s history
In this episode Josie Long uncovers the story of a group of daring Polish soldiers and their secret wartime history in Essex. She visits Audley End House, known during the Second World War as Station 43, to find out about the Cichociemni: elite special forces soldiers who volunteered to go above and beyond for their nation and Allied victory.
Read more about the Cichociemni at Audley End
Josie Long visits York Cold War Bunker, one of over 1,500 bunkers and monitoring posts across the UK that were in operation during the Cold War. Here, the Royal Observer Corps (ROC), mainly civilian volunteers, were trained to receive, record and relay vital information on nuclear fallout in the event of a nuclear attack on Britain. We explore the bunker and the history of the Cold War in Britain, and hear first-hand from one of the ROC volunteers who trained here.Read more about York Cold War Bunker
Discover the story of Gwen Lally, a former actress who directed thousands of performers in Battle’s 1932 pageant. We hear about Lally’s pioneering role as the first female pageant master and her exploration of gender roles both on and off stage.
We visit Portchester Castle to hear about the black prisoners of war who were captured during the Napoleonic wars and brought all the way from the Caribbean to be imprisoned at the castle.
Clifford's Tower in York was the site of a tragedy in 1190 where the entire Jewish population of the city was persecuted to their deaths. We ask how and why such a shocking event could take place, and hear how the local Jewish community reflect on it today.
At Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire Josie discovers the stories behind some of the thousands of graffiti inscribed on the walls of a cell block, many of which were left by conscientious objectors imprisoned here during the First World War.
At Pevensey Castle in East Sussex we learn about Joan of Navarre, the medieval Queen of England who was accused of witchcraft and imprisoned at the castle by her stepson, Henry V.
Josie travels to Birdoswald Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall to learn about the complex and diverse communities that travelled there from across the Roman Empire.
Series 2 of Speaking with Shadows invites you into the mind of 17th-century philosopher and writer Margaret Cavendish, at Bolsover Castle, before heading to Framlingham Castle, where our perceptions of cruel Victorian workhouses are turned on their head. Other stories from the series include the heroic servant who may have become Britain’s first black pub landlord, and the surprisingly humane asylum in south-west London.
You can listen to all the episodes below, and subscribe on your favourite podcast platform including:
Delve into our history pages to discover more about our sites, how they have changed over time, and who made them what they are today.
Read about the remarkable lives of some of the women who have left their mark on society and shaped our way of life – from Anglo-Saxon times to the 20th century.
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