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Making History
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Listen to the latest editionTuesday 3.00-3.30 p.m
Vanessa Collingridge and the team answer listener’s historical queries and celebrate the way in which we all ‘make’ history.
Programme 11
10 June 2008
Vanessa Collingridge and the team discuss listeners' historical queries and celebrate the many ways in which we all 'make' history.

Listen to this programme in full

An English Wife in Berlin

Making History listener Monica Yunnie believes that there is a family link to a Princess Evelyn Blucher who was born in Brighton in 1876 and was the daughter of Frederick Stapleton Bretherton.

In 1907 she married Prince (then Count) Blucher, an Anglophile whose father had quarrelled with the Austrian-Prussian government and lived on the island of Herm which he leased from Britain. At the outbreak of war in 1914, Evelyn and her husband were forced to leave London and head for Germany where they lived out the war in the Esplanade Hotel.

During these years, Evelyn kept a diary which was published by E P Dutton in 1920 and called An English Wife in Berlin. This, now little-known book reveals much about the life of the aristocracy during the war and sheds some light on the breakdown of society in Germany in 1918.

Making History consulted Dr Matthew Stibbe at Sheffield Hallam University who has written a book about the lives of German women married to British men who were interned in Germany at this time. Matthew expressed the view that, whilst Evelyn’s war was very different to the women he studied; it does provide an important and interesting insight into a class of people who were almost, at times, above the conflict.

Princess Evelyn Blucher died in Worthing in 1960.

Useful links

Read An English Wife in Berlinat the Internet Archive  

review of the book was published in the New York Times soon after its publication in 1920

Further Reading

British Civilian Internees in Germany: The Ruhleben Camp 1914 – 18 By Dr Matthew Stibbe.
Published by Manchester University Press 2008
ISBN 978-0-7190-7085-3
The Great Thames Disaster

Making History listener Carole Trowbridge contacted the programme to find out a pleasure boat disaster on the Thames on 3rd September 1878 in which around 600 people died.

Her great, great grandfather was the Captain of a paddle steamer the Princess Alice which was returning to central London after taking day trippers down the river to places such as Gravesend. She had almost completed her journey when at 7.40pm the steam collier Bywell Castle collided with her and cut her in two. She sank in minutes.

The tragedy led to changes in navigation laws on Britain’s inland waterways, forcing boats to pass each other ‘port to port’.

Making History consulted the maritime historian Hannah Cunliffe and Frances Ward of the Greenwich Heritage Centre.

Useful Links

The Princess Alice tragedy - BBC h2g2

Disaster on the Thames- Port Cities, London 

The Princess Alice disaster - Account by W T Vincent 

Greenwich Heritage Centre

Hannah Cunliffe

Who were the Jutes?

The period between the end of the Roman occupation in Britain and the Norman Conquest is often dominated in general text books by the Angles and the Saxons. But what of the Europeans who invaded Kent and the Isle of Wight in the 5th century – the Jutes?

Making History consulted Professor Barbara Yorke at the University of Winchester who explained that the idea of 'the Jutes' may well be more of a British construct than an identifiable European community – i.e. a 'Jutish' identity may well have developed once these people had arrived in south east England. Bede provides our first evidence:

'Those who came over were of three of the more powerful peoples of Germany: the Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes. From the Jutes are descended the men of Kent, the Victuarri (that is to say the people who inhabit the Isle of Wight) and that people who are today called the Jutes and are located in the kingdom of the West Saxons, opposite the Isle of Wight. From the Saxons (that is to say from that area which is now called Old Saxony) came the East Saxons, the South Saxons and the West Saxons. Next, from the Angles (that is to say from the country which is called Angulus and which is said to have remained deserted from that time to the present, between the lands of the Jutes and those of the Saxons) are descended the East Angles, the Middle Angles, the Mercians, all the race of the Northumbrians (that is to say of those peoples who live to the north of the river Humber), and the other Anglian peoples.'
Historia Ecclesiastica, completed in 731 AD.

Professor Yorke argues that the Jutes were, almost literally, squeezed out by the expanding Saxon kingdom of Wessex and some academics (notably Robin Bush) have even suggested that they were victims of early 'ethnic cleansing'.

Useful links

Evidence of the Jutes- BBC Legacies

Were the Saxons guilty of 'ethnic clensing'- Channel 4's Time Team

Making History wants to visit you!

Later this summer and early autumn we want to record three of four edition of Making History on location.

We’re looking for three or four surprising stories from different historical periods in one particular part of Britain.

If you have a suggestion, please do get in touch.
    Contact  Making History
    Use this link to email Vanessa Collingridge and the team: email Making History

    Write to: Making History
    BBC Radio 4
    PO Box 3096
    BN1 1TU

    Telephone: 08700 100 400

    Making History is produced by Nick Patrick and is a Pier Production.
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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
    BN1 1PL

    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.

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