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Making History
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Begins Tuesday 19 April 2005, 3.00-3.30 p.m
Sue Cook and the team answer listeners' historical queries and celebrate the way in which we all 'make' history.
Series 11
Programme 12
5 July 2005

Listen to this programme in full

The resuscitation of Anne Green

Listener John Pimlott asked the programme to confirm the story of a 17th-century maidservant who was revived after being hanged for the alleged murder of her child. Making History turned to Dr Elizabeth Hurren of Oxford Brookes University. She told the programme that Anne Green was probably wrongly accused of murder; that her child was the result of an affair with her master's grandson and was stillborn. Anne panicked and hid the body. After the body was discovered she was convicted of murder and hanged in Oxford in December 1650.

In those days, anatomists were allowed two bodies from executions a year for dissection. This is why William Petty (later Sir William Petty) was at the hanging and it was he who took Anne Green's body away. Only when he and his colleagues (including Thomas Willis, whose work on the brain became very influential in later years) were preparing to work on the body did they realise that Anne was still alive, although clearly in trauma. Using hot liquids, massage and (bizarrely) the tickling of the throat with a feather, they managed to revive Anne and she survived to lead a normal life until she died aged 31.

Useful links

History of resuscitation

Dr Elizabeth Hurren's webpage

BBC History - Sir William Petty

The Restless Leg Syndrome webpage has information on the work of Thomas Willis

The Cappers' Guild

Who were the people behind the Cappers' Chapel in the old Coventry cathedral?

Making History went to Coventry and discovered that the Coventry Cappers were an influential guild in the city in the early 1500s. Their trade was in woollen caps, but this began to die out with the introduction of felt.

Making History consulted Dr Heather Swanson, who works at the University of Birmingham and the Open University, about the influence of the guild system on life in the towns of the late Middle Ages. Heather is the author of Medieval British Towns (Palgrave, formerly Macmillan Press, 1999)

Useful links

The History City of Coventry

Medieval English Towns

Further reading
Andrew Butcher and Peter Brown, The Age of Saturn (Blackwell, 1991)
Christopher Dyer, Everyday Life in Medieval England (Hambledon and London, 1994)
John Maddicott and David Palliser, editors, The Medieval State (Hambledon and London, 2000)
D.M. Palliser, Peter Clark and Martin Daunton, editors, The Cambridge Urban History of Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2001)

Hector Protector

What are the origins of this nursery rhyme?

Making History's Ivan Howlett explained how it is now thought that the rhyme refers to Richard, Duke of York (1411-1460), claimant to the English throne and Lord Protector of England during the troubled reign of Henry VI.

Nursery Rhymes - Lyrics and Origins

Local history hero

Gwyn Griffiths of Pontypridd has researched the history of the Breton onion sellers who started coming to the UK to escape the poverty of Brittany in 1828 and were a common sight right up until the 1970s.

Gathering the Jewels, the website for Welsh cultural history, has pictures of Breton onion sellers:
Tying strings of onions
Selling onions at Cardiff

Further reading
Onion Men (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst) ISBN 0-86381-783-1. 
Le Monde des Johnnies (Editions le Telegramme, Brest) ISBN 2-914552-82-3.

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Making History

Vanessa Collingridge
Vanessa CollingridgeVanessa has presented science and current affairs programmes for BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Discovery and has presented for BBC Radio 4 & Five Live and a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday, Scotsman and Sunday Herald. 

Contact Making History

Send your comments and questions for future programmes to:
Making History
BBC Radio 4
PO Box 3096 Brighton

Or email the programme

Or telephone the Audience Line 08700 100 400

Making History is a Pier Production for BBC Radio 4 and is produced by Nick Patrick.

See Also

Elsewhere on

BBC History

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Melvyn Bragg explores the history of ideas.
Listen again online or download the latest programme as an mp3 file.

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