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LGBTQ podcast series with Clare Balding

The 5th Marquess of Anglesey, Henry Cyril Paget, posing on a chair in fancy costume, with winged helmet and adorned in jewels.
Learn more about Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey, in episode five. | © National Trust Images/John Wickens (1864-1936)

In 2017, broadcaster and author Clare Balding presented a podcast series exploring the lost and hidden LGBTQ stories from our places, to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial de-criminalisation of homosexuality. Over six 20-minute episodes, Clare explores how lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people have helped to shape and preserve some of the special places in our care.

Exploring themes important to LGBTQ+ communities

In each episode Clare examines new themes, including women’s relationships, the importance of secluded spaces for LGBTQ+ artists, attitudes to sexuality in the ancient and classical world and connections with the performing arts.

She is joined by EJ Scott, dress historian and curator of the Museum of Transology, as well as writers, historians and curators, as they debate why LGBTQ+ heritage is so important today.

Each episode also features readings from figures in the LGBTQ+ community including Sarah Waters, author of Tipping the Velvet, and actors Miriam Margolyes and Cyril Nri.

Episode 1: Queer histories at the National Trust

Clare Balding sets out to explore the LGBTQ history of National Trust places and meets one of the writers responsible for uncovering these stories. Out on location is the dress historian EJ Scott, who is at Kingston Lacy in Dorset. It was once home to William John Bankes, who built his exceptional collection even when he was in exile to escape prosecution for same-sex acts.

Episode 2: Creative retreats

In this episode, Clare investigates how secluded spaces were essential to many LGBTQ artists and writers, providing people with the space to safely be themselves and unleash their creativity. Meanwhile dress historian EJ Scott visits Bucks Mills Cabin in Devon, once home to the renowned artists and same-sex couple Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards.

I’m delighted to present some of the creative, dramatic and surprising stories that have emerged as part of the National Trust’s ‘Prejudice & Pride’ programme. I admire hugely the work the Trust has done in preserving our cultural and architectural history, and these places mean so much more when we understand the people who lived and loved in them.

A quote by Clare Balding, Podcast host

Episode 3: Traces

Clare sets out to uncover the lives of LGBTQ figures that have been left out of recorded history. Dress historian EJ Scott visits Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent to find out more about its famous LGBTQ residents and the less well-known life of Dawn Langley Simmons, who began life at Sissinghurst as Gordon Langley Hall.

Episode 4: Women's intimacy

LGBTQ women take centre stage in this episode as Clare explores the hidden relationships between women, which were often considered taboo. Dress historian EJ Scott visits Smallhythe Place in Kent, which was home to Edy Craig, daughter of actress Ellen Terry, who shared Smallhythe in a ménage a trois with two other women for over 30 years.

Episode 5: Parties and performances

Queer performance can be a chance to celebrate and cement identities. Clare Balding talks with leading Queer Theorist Matt Cook, and the writer and performer Seiriol Davies. EJ Scott is at Plas Newydd in Wales to explore the extraordinary life of Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey, who was known as ‘The Dancing Marquess’ for his erotic snake-like dancing style.

Episode 6: Queer history in the ancient world

When Emperor Hadrian ruled ancient Rome, there was nothing unusual about same-sex relationships. Clare discusses queer culture in the ancient world with Stuart Frost, Head of Interpretation at the British Museum. EJ Scott is out and proud at Hadrian's Wall to find out how this ancient site is a landmark for the LGBTQ community.

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Hear the stories behind the places and collections in our care with the National Trust Podcast

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