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The English Pearl Harbour

Tom Holland examines England's Pearl Harbour 350 years on, Helen Castor hears Domesday unravelled, and Iszi Lawrence presents a history of the UK's political constituencies.

Tom Holland returns with the history magazine that showcases the latest research and demonstrates the relevance of the past in the present day.

The Dutch Are Coming!
350 years on from a daring Dutch mission up the Thames estuary, in which the flagship of the English fleet was taken and Sheerness captured, we ask whether this was the pinnacle of power for the Netherlands navy and how the international ambitions of both countries in the 17th century may also have helped shaped their response to globalisation today.

Domesday Uncovered.
Helen Castor is deep in the archives at Exeter Cathedral to find out how new research is unravelling some of the mysteries of one of the most famous documents in English and Welsh history, the Domesday Survey of 1086. Remarkably, this priceless historic gem was discovered by historian Stephen Baxter in a dreadful condition a few years ago. Now, splendidly restored, its able to shed some light on how William's great survey was actually achieved and why he did it.

The History of Political Constituencies.
As voters across the United Kingdom prepare to go to the polls, Iszi Lawrence asks Dr Paul Seaward and the team at the History of Parliament to explain the history of our political constituencies, how and why they have changed, and some of the shenanigans that went on in them throughout our electoral past.

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

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Tue 6 Jun 2017 15:30

The Chichester Bath House

In Chichester, the District Council’s Archaeologist, James Kenny, has recently completed a dig at the city’s Priory Park. Just by the boundary of the cricket ground they found a Roman bath house which, for the first time, sheds light on a very affluent neighbourhood in the Roman Town. James told Tom that he thinks it might be third or fourth century and puts its excellent condition down to its location as the park is one of the least developed places in Chichester.


Private Roman bath house is found under city park


‘Truly exceptional’ Roman bath house uncovered in Priory Park


Luxury bath house from Roman Chichester unearthed by archaeologists


Bath House Owned By Wealthy Roman Elite Discovered Under Chichester Park

Exon Domesday

Exon Domesday

Professor Stephen Baxter at St Peter’s College in Oxford is probably our leading historian of Domesday, the great audit of William’s new Anglo-Norman kingdom in 1086. A few years back he was doing some filming in Exeter Cathedral Library and Archives with the original copy of something called Exon Domesday, the only surviving books from the regional surveys carried out in the spring of 1086 and which provided the data for the final record. Stephen was alarmed at the condition of Exon Domesday and together with the Cathedral and other partners put together to restore the document and digitise it for posterity. During this phase, handwriting experts such as Professor Julia Crick at King’s College in London have, for the first time, been able to identify the numbers of scribes involved in compiling the book and how it was structured. The project promises to deliver new insight into the motivation of William to undertake such an epic survey when his new kingdom was under threat from European enemies.


Exon Domesday


Professor Julia Crick - King’s College London


Professor Stephen Baxter - St Peter’s College Oxford


Exeter Cathedral Library & Archives

The Raid on the Medway

350 years ago, Dutch naval vessels sailed up the Thames Estuary and into the River Medway in an audacious smash and grab raid in which English ships were destroyed, damaged or captured. The raid’s been described as the English Pearl Harbour and it came when the English and Dutch were trying to negotiate a peace during the Second Anglo Dutch War. The Dutch and the English were at loggerheads over trade and navigation rights and the Medway Raid was possibly the turning point in the fortunes of both nations.


Dutch citizen and resident of Kent Marja Kingma who works at the British Library takes us to the scene of the action and Tom talks to Dutch naval historian Dr Gijs Rommelse.


Battle Of Medway 2017

Dutch Attack on the Medway, June 1667

The History Behind the Raid of Chatham in 1667

Election History

In election week, Making History’s Iszi Lawrence joins Dr Paul Seaward and his team at the History of Parliament Trust to find out more about the history of our constituencies and how voting was carried out in years gone by.


The History of Parliament

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