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. From castles on the south coast to Hadrian’s Wall in the far north, join presenter Josie Long as she travels across the country to seek out six stories from the hidden corners of England’s history.
Subscribe to the series
Episode 1 of Speaking with Shadows invites you into the 1930s world of Gwen Lally, Britain’s first female pageant master. Figures stepping out of the shadows in the other episodes include revolutionary soldiers from the Caribbean, a medieval Jewish community in York, and imprisoned conscientious objectors from the First World War.
You can listen to all the episodes below, and subscribe on your favourite podcast platform including:
Take our short survey
We hope you’re enjoying Speaking with Shadows. We’d love to know what you think! If you can spare a few moments please complete our very short survey about the podcast. Your views will help us plan our next series, and as a thank you we’ll enter you into a draw to win a £50 M&S voucher. Please view our terms and conditions for the competition before entering.Take the survey
Episode 1: A 1930s Pioneer
Our first trip is to Battle Abbey where we 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.
Listen to the episode here and follow the link below to read more about Lally, the Battle Abbey pageant, and how women in the early 20th century explored the boundaries of gender.Discover more about the episode
Episode 2: The Caribbean Prisoners of Portchester Castle
In episode two we visit Portchester Castle to hear about the black prisoners of war, captured during the Napoleonic wars and brought all the way from the Caribbean to be imprisoned at the castle.
Listen to the episode here and follow the link below to read more about the lives of the black prisoners and how they came to be at Portchester.Discover more about the episode
Episode 3: The Medieval Massacre of the Jews of York
In our third episode we visit Clifford's Tower in York, the site of a terrible tragedy in 1190 where the entire Jewish population of the city was persecuted to their deaths. We explore this story to try to understand how and why such a shocking event could take place, and hear how the local Jewish community reflect on it today.
Listen to the episode here and follow the link below to read more about the massacre of the Jews of York.Discover more about the episode
Episode 4: Voices from the Walls – Richmond Castle’s Conscientious Objectors
At Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire Josie discovers the stories behind some of the thousands of graffiti inscribed on the walls of a Victorian cell block. Many were left by conscientious objectors imprisoned here during the First World War – men from all walks of life united by their belief that war was wrong.
Listen here and follow the link below to read more about the conscientious objectors and the graffiti they left behind.More about this episode
Episode 5: From Queen to Captive – Witchcraft, Women and Power
Episode 5 takes us to Pevensey Castle in Sussex to learn about Joan of Navarre, the medieval Queen of England who was accused of witchcraft and imprisoned at the castle by her own stepson.
Listen to the episode here and follow the link below to read more about Joan’s imprisonment, the origins of witchcraft beliefs and how they have been used to persecute women over the centuries.More about this episode
Episode 6: Far From Home – The People of Hadrian’s Wall
In our final episode 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.
Listen to the episode here and follow the link below to read more about the Dacians – the people from modern-day Romania who settled at Birdoswald – and how their identities and beliefs changed over time. We also look at the discoveries made by archaeologists at the site, including the mysterious burial urns that continue to fascinate the experts.More about this episode
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 who made 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.