Chalke Talk

The podcast from the Chalke Valley History Festival
Released every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings


Chalke Talks for THEME: Social History


  • 01. NO TURNING BACK: LIFE, LOSS AND HOPE IN WARTIME SYRIA
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    Award-winning journalist Rania Abouzeid presents reportage of unprecedented scope. From the first rumblings of dissent in 2011, she shows the unravelling of a nation: peaceful protests collapsing into violence, families shattered, and religious conviction sharpened by rage to a radical point. She reveals how Syrians found new ways to resist as the cruelty of the […]

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  • 02. THE KING’S WITCH: JAMES I AND THE GUNPOWDER PLOT
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    In this talk, inspired by her debut novel partially set at nearby Longford Castle, Festival favourite Tracy Borman takes us into the turbulent world of the early Stuart court, where King James I waged a war on witches and Catholics alike. It was not long before a dark campaign to destroy both King and Parliament […]

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  • 09. ISTANBUL: A TALE OF THREE CITIES
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    Award-winning historian, author and broadcaster Bettany Hughes gives a captivating portrait of the momentous life of Istanbul based on meticulous research gathered over a decade and brand new archaeological evidence. A ground-breaking history of this world-class city from its very beginnings in Neolithic times through 8,000 years of human habitation to the present.

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  • 17. BRITAIN BEGINS
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    12,000 years ago, as the ice sheets retreated, bands of hunter- gatherers spread slowly northwards from mainland Europe, re- colonizing the islands we know as Britain and Ireland. Who were our early ancestors and how directly can we trace our modern population back to them? Sir Barry Cunliffe, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at Oxford, explains […]

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  • 32. LIVING IN THE IRON AGE
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    In this talk, specially designed for younger pupils, Chris Culpin develops and widens their knowledge of the Iron Age. Using examples of their extraordinary metalwork and impressive hill-forts, the talk shows how different archaeological techniques continue to broaden our understanding of life in Iron Age Britain.

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  • 37. TUDOR DYEING: FROM SHEEP TO CLOTH
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    From the process of dyeing to the weave, mother and daughter team Lindsey and George Ratcliffe demonstrate how Tudors would have prepared wool from fleece and turned it into a range of clothing.

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  • 38. THE SHEPHERD’S LIFE
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    James Rebanks’s personal memoir and history of life as a Lakeland shepherd was a surprise best-seller, inspired by reading W.H. Hudson’s iconic account of a Wiltshire shepherd as a young man. In this talk he explains the timeless nature of this special form of farming which, in the Lakeland fells, remains largely unchanged over the […]

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  • CRAEFT: HOW TRADITIONAL CRAFTS ARE ABOUT MORE THAN JUST MAKING
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    In a period of meaningless mass manufacturing, handcrafted products command a premium. But there was a time when craft meant something very different; the Old English word cræft possessed an almost indefinable sense of knowledge, wisdom, and power. Historian and broadcaster Alex Langlands investigates the mysterious lost meaning, resurrecting the ancient craftspeople who fused exquisite […]

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  • SAS: ROGUE HEROES
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    The history of the SAS is an exhilarating tale of fearlessness and heroism, recklessness and tragedy. Ben Macintyre, best-selling author of Agent Zigzag, tells the story of David Stirling, the eccentric young officer who was given permission by Churchill to recruit the most ruthless soldiers he could find, thereby founding the most mysterious military organisation […]

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  • THE WOMAN WHO SAVED THE CHILDREN: EGLANTYNE JEBB
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    Eglantyne Jebb not only helped save millions of lives, she also permanently changed the way the world treats children through the foundation of Save the Children. Clare Mulley brings to life this brilliant, charismatic, and passionate woman, whose work took her between drawing rooms and war zones, defying convention and breaking the law, until she […]

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  • CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN THE VICTORIAN COUNTRYSIDE
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    In this talk for junior pupils at the Chalke Valley History Festival for Schools, Jamie Byrom tells of ‘Sarah’s Sad Story’. Using the local records in Devon from the Victorian era, he follows her from early childhood to her first job as a servant aged ten (although claiming to be thirteen) to her incarceration in […]

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