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Helen Castor is joined by Dr Rachel Hammersley and Robert Gildea to discuss new research on the French Resistance and a collection of letters written from the Siege of Carlisle.

Helen Castor and guests discuss the latest research that's Making History.

This week Dr Rachel Hammersley from the University of Newcastle and Professor Robert Gildea from the University of Oxford discuss the Jacobite siege of Carlisle, the French Resistance, the radical history of Britain's only licensed cave and ghostly goings on in Wiltshire.

Listener Barbara Lambert has unearthed over 100 letters hidden away in her attic which were sent to, or written by, Dr John Waugh during the siege of Carlisle in 1745/1746. The letters detail the predicament of the city's population as it was taken over first by Jacobite and then Hanoverian troops. Fiona Watson meets up with Dr Keiran German from the University of Strathclyde to assess the importance of this new archive.

Robert Gildea has just finished a new book on the French Resistance called Fighters in the Shadows. Helen talks to Robert about his work, which is based on oral testimony, and showcases the myths that have grown up around this iconic struggle.

In South Shield,s Professor Ted Vallance from the University of Roehampton fulfils a long-held dream - a visit to Britain's only licensed cave where, it is said, the radical Thomas Spence first scrawled the phrase 'the Rights of Man' on the fireplace of a home blasted out of the cliffs by a husband and wife, forced out of their home after a dispute with their landlord.

Finally, to the dawning of the Enlightenment and a ghostly tale from Tedworth (now Tidworth) in Wiltshire which, as Professor Ronald Hutton explained to Tom Holland, came just at the time when everyday religious believe was being challenged by the rise of science.

Produced by Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

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28 minutes

Last on

Tue 14 Jul 2015 15:00

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Helen Castor is joined in the studio by Dr Rachel Hammersley from the University of Newcastle and Professor Robert Gildea from the University of Oxford.

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Jacobites In Carlisle

Making History listener Barbara Lambert has unearthed a stash of letters from the eighteenth century in her attic.

The Lamberts are the descendants of an Archdeacon John Waugh who was living in Carlisle during the Jacobite rising of 1745/1746. 

The city was taken by the Scots on their way south and then retaken by Hanoverian forces as the Jacobites retreated north. 

The letters were sent from Waugh as he tried to get information and pass it to the government in London. They provide a fascinating insight into the impact of occupation on a community.

Making History’s Fiona Watson met up with Dr Kieran German from the University of Strathclyde to discuss these events and what Barbara Lambert’s letters tell us.

History of the Siege from Tullie House Museum

Plan of the Siege from The Royal Collection 

John Waugh’s records in the National Archives

Kieran German contributed to Living with Jacobitism, 16901788: The Three Kingdoms and Beyond Pickering & Chatto.


The French Resistance

Professor Robert Gildea wrote Fighters in the Shadows. He uses oral testimony and archival research to deliver a thorough account of what’s become an iconic struggle and dispel many of the myths surrounding it.  

Gildea explains that resistance in France was multi-layered and diverse. Action included everything from simple civil disobedience and strikes to sabotage and killing. It comprised individuals and groups from a range of political and religious backgrounds and it involved people from a wide number of countries and beyond.

Fighters in the Shadows, A New History of the French Resistance will be published in early September.

Guardian: US author Charles Kaiser's new book The Cost of Courage explores the role played by the Boulloche family in the French Resistance

The Tedworth (Tidworth) Drummer

The story goes that a John Mompesson, owner of a house in the town of Tedworth (now called Tidworth, in Wiltshire), had brought a lawsuit against a local drummer, whom he accused of extorting money by false pretences. 

The man’s drum was confiscated but somehow unexplained drumming and other ghostly events started to bedevil the occupants of Mompesson’s house. 

Many regard the story of the drummer as a hoax but, as Professor Ronald Hutton from the University of Bristol told Tom Holland, the story became a point of conflict between Restoration science and superstition. 

Michael Hunter’s New light on the Drummer of Tedworth: conflicting narratives of witchcraft in Restoration England. Historical Research 78 (PDF) 

Professor Ronald Hutton 

Strange Days: Paranormal Stories from the UK


  • Tue 14 Jul 2015 15:00