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Tom Holland takes the chair for Radio 4's popular history programme, which today considers the rise and fall of Britain's empire.

Tom Holland is joined by Professor Richard Drayton from Kings' College London and Dr Sean Lang from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, to discuss a new project celebrating the 90th anniversary of the British Empire Exhibition of 1924. Dr Katy Layton Jones has been working with local archivists and she opens the book on this forgotten event which attracted millions. But what is its historical significance? Was it a celebration of the British Empire or more of a marketing opportunity in the face of domestic opposition?

Historian and polar guide Dr Huw Lewis-Jones joins the programme from Truro to explain how the ship's cabin where Sir Ernest Shackleton died in South Georgia ended up in Norway. He and a group of historians and enthusiasts are planning to move it to Shackleton's birthplace in Ireland.

Finally, a student blog from the University of St Andrews leads Helen Castor to Corfe Castle in Dorset to examine the case against England's most notorious Queen Consort, Aelfryth. Did she murder a king so that her son would take the throne back in the 10th century? Dr Ryan Lavelle from the University of Winchester is on hand to explain that all isn't what it seems.

You can contact the programme by emailing - or write to Making History, BBC Radio 4, PO Box 3096. Brighton BN1 1PL

Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Tue 15 Jul 2014 15:00

This week's Making History

Tom Holland’s guests are Professor Richard Drayton, Rhodes Professor of Imperial History at Kings College London and Dr Sean Lang Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

The Lion Roars - British Empire Exhibition 1924

Dr Katy Layton Jones reports on work she’s been doing with Brent Council in north west London on an international expo held at Wembley over two seasons in 1924 and 1925. 

Useful Links

The Lion Roars: The world in Wembley 
The Lion Roars: background on the exhibition
Sierra Leone at the British Empire Museum
When Nigeria came to WembleyDr Katy Layton Jones  

Shackleton’s Cabin

Polar historian and guide Dr Huw Lewis Jones explains how the cabin from a ship called Quest in which polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton died off South Georgia in 1922, has ended up as a farm shed in Norway and how attempts are now being made to transport it to Shackleton’s birthplace in County Kildare, Ireland.

Useful Links

The Irish Times  
Dr Huw Lewis-Jones  
The Shackleton Museum

Aelfthryth - England’s most notorious Queen?

Inspired by a student blog, Helen Castor travels to Corfe Castle in Dorset where a king of England was killed by his stepmother… or was he? Dr Ryan Lavelle at the University of Winchester helps us to sort fact from fiction.

Useful links

The University of St Andrews History Society 
Dr Ryan Lavelle 

Useful reading:
Aethelred II: King of the English, 978-1016 (Stroud: Tempus, 2002; revised edition, 2008) Ryan Lavelle.


  • Tue 15 Jul 2014 15:00