History at Home
Abstract landscape showing a castle keep and shadows projected onto ground in front of it

Speaking with Shadows Podcast

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.

A late 17th-century engraving of Margaret Cavendish
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Episode 1: Bolsover Castle’s Philosopher Duchess

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
The Red House within the walls of Framlingham Castle
The workhouse at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk

Episode 2: The Workhouse at Framlingham Castle

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
A portrait of James Chappell, painted by Glory Samjolly as part of English Heritage’s 2021 ‘Painting our Past’ project
A portrait of James Chappell, painted by Glory Samjolly as part of English Heritage’s 2021 ‘Painting our Past’ project

Episode 3: James Chappell, the Heroic Servant of Kirby Hall

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
Chiswick House in the 1920s, when the asylum was housed there
Chiswick House in the 1920s, when the asylum was housed there
© Historic England Archive

Episode 4: The Patients of Chiswick House Asylum

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
A trainee tackles the rope crossing over the river Cam
A trainee tackles the rope crossing over the river Cam at Audley End
© Polish Underground Movement (1939–1945) Study Trust, London

Episode 5: The Polish Special Forces Soldiers of Audley End

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

Series one

Speaking with Shadows presenter Josie Long at Bolsover Castle, where she traces the life and writings of Margaret Cavendish

Subscribe to the series

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:
    

Apple.jpg   Spotify.jpg

Google.jpg   Stitcher.jpg

Explore more

  • English Heritage Histories

    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.

  • Women in history

    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.

  • The English Heritage Weekly Podcast

    Step into England’s story with our weekly podcast. Join presenter Charles Rowe as we bring the history of our sites to life with news, views and expert interviews.

ENJOY A FULL YEAR OF ADVENTURE

Become an English Heritage member and take full advantage of free entry to over 400 sites plus free or discounted access to our exciting events programme throughout the year.

Join now from £4.42 per month
'step into englands story