Extraordinary Stories of Britain

Extraordinary Stories of Britain

Extraordinary Stories of Britain is a history podcast packed with fun and informative tales from our island’s long and storied past. Visiting little-known corners of British history, shedding new light on familiar faces, uncovering unusual - and sometimes bizarre - facts along the way, this is the podcast for anglophiles, history buffs, and anyone interested in finding out more about the UK. From killer queens to grime and punishment, from medieval medicine to celebrity cats, from secret sewers to pickled philosophers, we leave no historic stone unturned. Follow our blog at: www.storiesofbritain.com

Episodes

May 27, 2024 49 mins

St Mary’s Bethlem was England’s first psychiatric hospital.  This podcast tells the story of the hospital, from its medieval origins to its home in a grand 17th century palace.  We follow the lives of its famous inmates: the woman who tried to kill King George III, the first documented case of paranoid schizophrenia and a brilliant Victorian artist who murdered his father.  

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In 1665 plague devastated England.  The remote Derbyshire village of Eyam was spared the horror - until a tailor bought a roll of cloth from London.   To stop the pestilence spreading, the local vicar closed down Eyam -  and the villagers were locked in.  Hear the dramatic story of the plague village in this podcast.

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Our history of London pubs pubcast visits the oldest tavern in London, including a pub haunted by phantasmal spirits.  Hear about Parliamentary boozers, the smallest bar in the world, the Pilgrim Fathers Mayflower pub,  and Gandalf’s riverside alehouse.

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What is the oldest pub name in Britain? And the most popular pub name in the country? Where is our oldest pub?   What are the boozy origins of the nursery rhyme “Pop Goes the Weasel”? What caused the London beer flood?  And where is Britain’s most haunted pub? Find out in our latest History of Beer podcast

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December 19, 2023 36 mins

The story of Beer.  From Britain’s first brewer,  to ancient  ales made with psychedelic plants.     From rules on Viking drinking horns to the English king who drank himself to death.   From the rise of female brewers,   to a drunk Queen Elizabeth I.  From the legend of the ale-conner, to pubs forced to change names.  

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The story of sewage:  from the Romans taxing urine,  to York's Bog on the Bridge; from Henry VIII's Groom of the Stool, to pure finders selling dog faeces.  Hear about the life of a Gong Farmer,  and how a lav affair with toilets lead to the Great Stink, which brought London's mighty Thames to a standstill.  

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September 22, 2023 21 mins
This special history podcast brings to life the stories of beloved pets and their owners during the dark days of WW2.   From a cat who lost his tail, to a pussy who warned its family about an impending air raid.  From a heroic church cat, to felines in the trenches.   All brought together using personal stories, newsreel, dramatised events and music. 
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August 9, 2023 45 mins

We investigate the history of cats:  from mummified felines in the British Museum to George the Lion who lived in the Tower of London;  from the world’s favourite pantomime cat, to the pussy who helped write an English dictionary. Hear about only cat to win the prestigious wartime Dickin Medal, and political cats  - from Churchill's mouser to the famous Downing Street Larry.  

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June 9, 2023 35 mins

In 1666, a stray ember turned London into a blazing inferno.  Our podcast brings to life the Great Fire of London:  dramatising the lives of the people caught up in the worst disaster the capital has ever witnessed.

 

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400 years ago,  in 1623,  Shakespeare’s plays were brought together in one book:  The First Folio  -  the most important work in English literature.   This podcast tells the story of the Bard’s life in London: how the writer left the tiny village of Stratford-Upon-Avon in search of success in the capital,  how he became an actor, writer and theatre owner; how his company dismantled an entire theatre building and moved it across the...

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For a thousand years, British kings and queens have been crowned at Westminster Abbey.  This podcast tells the story of the coronation:   from babbling bishops to falling dukes,  spurned queens to monarch murders,  stolen stones to dazzling diamonds and belly-busting banquets to mighty majesty.   

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Thee hundred years ago, Jack Sheppard was the most famous man in the country.    Britain’s first celebrity was not a royal,  an actor,  or aristocrat -  but a petty thief.    This podcast tells the story of how an East End chancer became so famous, that a third of London’s population took to the streets to see if he could cheat the noose. 

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February 1, 2023 32 mins

For 700 years Newgate Jail was the darkest, dirtiest and most miserable dungeon in London.  We uncover some of its terrible and terrifying prison stories:  from cannibals to the fearsome ghost of a black dog;    from a boy chimney sweep sent to hang at Tyburn, to a world-famous novelist imprisoned for his ideas.   Hear about London’s Georgian Mafia boss,  and the man who inspired Dickens’ Fagin.  Songs, stories and strange tales in...

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December 18, 2022 34 mins

 

For our December episode, we are at Stonehenge for the winter solstice.   We investigate the mystery of  Stonehenge’s little-known  neighbouring sister  Woodhenge -  was it once home to the largest “city” in the world?  We hear about the strange legend of the Cuckoo stone.   

 We find out how – 4,500 years ago -  the first stones at the henge were dragged 180 miles from Wales.    We tell the story of how the first metalworker in ...

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This podcast tells the story of witchcraft.   From the ancient witches of Wales to the medieval sorceress known as the Witch of Eye.   From the brutal torture of the pilliwinks, to the British king who wrote a book on witches.  From the gruesome story of the Pendle Witches, to a “witch” imprisoned during WW2 by the British government.

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October 30, 2022 22 mins

Our Halloween special tells the story of the Pendle witches  - the most famous witch trials in British history.    This chilling court case saw dozens of Lancashire women imprisoned for witchcraft, with accusations of stolen babies,  teeth taken from corpse skulls,  talking dogs and crippling curses.

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We dig up some stories of death and dying.  How much did it cost to get to heaven in medieval times?    What is a corpse road?  And a sin eater?   Hear about the "outcast dead" and find out why Victorian Londoners were literally dancing on a giant graveyard.  What was the necropolis railway?  Who were funeral mutes?  Which graveyard hosts a tomb time machine  And which internationally famous cemetery was invaded by vampire hunters ...

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The first in our walks podcasts features the River Lea in East London.    Marc  Z and Mr Londoner walk the lower section of the Lea to uncover the origins of India Pale Ale;  a tale of stranded Vikings;   how four Eton schoolboys ran an East End sporting empire;   the terrifying story of the St Paul’s bomb exploded on Hackney Marshes;   and the day when Lionel Messi played at the marshes.   Hear about WW2 bunkers on the Olympic Par...

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Six true crime stories featuring notorious women criminals.   From a celebrity pickpocket who performed on the London stage, to an aristocrat turned highwaywoman.  From a cross-dressing pirate to the first documented girl gang,   and the last woman to be hanged in Britain.  Hear about these bad girls in this podcast.

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Eight stories of women who fought for liberty,  justice and human rights.     From a 17th  century campaigner left to rot in prison for running an underground press,  to the women of Peterloo murdered by a Manchester militia army,  from a rural vicar’s wife who became the mother of India,  to the first person to raise the anarchist flag.

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