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Bettany Hughes: Ten places, Europe and Us podcast

A replica of the Anglo-Saxon helmet of war at Sutton Hoo
In episode 3, Bettany travels to Sutton Hoo | © National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Join historian Bettany Hughes as she goes beyond the delights of tea and topiary to explore ten inspiring National Trust sites. Bettany travels around some of the most splendid sites in England, guided by our experts, to investigate their deep-rooted connections to Europe and the wider world.

In this ten-part podcast series, award-winning historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes unravels Europe’s influence on our national heritage.

Listeners travel with Bettany through time, from prehistory to the 20th century, and around each location, guided by our experts, to learn about the deep-rooted continental connections of ten inspiring National Trust sites in 20 minute programmes.

I’ve been visiting National Trust properties for over 40 years, so it has been an absolute delight to explore behind the scenes at 10 remarkable sites to investigate their cosmopolitan connections.

A quote by Bettany Hughes, Historian and broadcaster

Episode 1: Avebury

Bettany visits the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Avebury in Wiltshire. Here the largest prehistoric stone circle in the world stands at the centre of one of the greatest concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in Western Europe and holds vital clues to story of us, and our relationship to the wider world.

Episode 2: Chedworth Roman Villa

Bettany takes a tour of the Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire with archaeologist Martin Papworth, who reveals what the latest excavations tell us about the people who lived here.

Episode 3: Sutton Hoo

In this episode, join Bettany as she visits Sutton Hoo in Suffolk to piece together the profile of the mystery king who was buried in the world famous Anglo-Saxon ship burial. A strong contender was King Raedwald, who was important enough to warrant such a VIP burial.

Episode 4: Fountains Abbey

Now a romantic ruin, Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire was a thriving industrial hub for the Cistercian order of monks in the 12th century. Bettany meets archaeologist Mark Newman to bring the Abbey to life once more and to explore the impact of the Cistercians on Britain’s economy.

Visitors on the lawn outside the house at Kingston Lacy, Dorset.
Bettany visits Kingston Lacy in episode five | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Episode 5: Kingston Lacy

At Kingston Lacy in Dorset, Bettany meets House Steward Bernie King to learn about William John Bankes who, during the 19th century, turned Kingston Lacy into the treasure trove you’ll find today. This extraordinary house is a testament to Bankes’ obsession for exploring and collecting in Europe and beyond.

Episode 6: Waddesdon

Join Bettany at Waddesdon, an extraordinary French-style chateau in Buckinghamshire built as a fairy-tale castle by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. Bettany meets Pippa Shirley, Head of Collections and Gardens, to discuss the contradictions at the heart of the house, which showcases the best of 18th century French decorative art.

Episode 7: Sandham Memorial Chapel

The Sandham Memorial Chapel in Hampshire is Stanley’s Spencer’s monument to the forgotten dead of the First World War. The murals draw on Spencer’s experiences as a medical orderly and on active service. Bettany meets Operations Manager Alison Paton to take a closer look at the paintings.

Episode 8: Upton House

Upton House in Warwickshire was one of four houses owned by Walter Samuel, the 2nd Lord Bearsted, who was one of the richest men in Britain before the Second World War. House manager Michelle Leake shows Bettany around Lord Bearsted’s notable art collection and uncovers more about the quiet philanthropist who lived by his own motto and put ‘deeds before words’.

Episode 9: Orford Ness

Bettany explores Orford Ness, a ten-mile long shingle spit off the coast of Suffolk, with site manager Grant Lohoar and wildlife expert Stewart Warrington. Access to Orford Ness was denied to the public during much of the 20th century, due to the top-secret nature of the work being undertaken here for the military.

Episode 10: 2 Willow Road

Bettany takes a tour of 2 Willow Road in Hampstead with National Trust volunteer John Escolme. The house was built by Hungarian architect Ernö Goldfinger, both as family home and manifesto of his Modernist ideals.

Recording the Wild Isles podcast 'Beginner's guide to camping' on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour

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