Our LGBTQ podcast series presented by Clare Balding

Clare Balding recording the LGBTQ podcasts

In 2017 broadcaster and author Clare Balding presented a new six-part 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 the houses, collections, gardens and landscapes in our care. 

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.

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" 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."
- Clare Balding
The Saloon at Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Episode one: 21 July 2017 - Queer histories at the National Trust 

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

Artists' Cabin at Bucks Mills, North Devon

Episode two: 28 July 2017 - Creative retreats 

In the second episode Clare Balding 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. Clare will be finding out more with Clare Barlow, Assistant Curator at Tate Britain who has curated the exhibition 'Queer British Art'. Meanwhile dress historian E-J Scott visits Bucks Mills Cabin in Devon, once home to the renowned artists and same-sex couple Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards.

The White Garden in summer at Sissinghurst Castle

Episode three: 4 August 2017 - Traces 

In this episode, Clare Balding sets out to uncover the lives of LGBTQ figures that have been left out of recorded history. Joined by Cultural Historian Gus Casely-Hayford they investigate the traces of these hidden lives and explore how they change our understanding of the past. Dress historian E-J 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, offspring of the chauffeur, who began life at Sissinghurst as Gordon Langley Hall.

Oil painting on canvas, Victoria (Vita) Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson (1892-1962) by Philip Alexius de László de Lombos

Episode four: 11 August 2017 - Women's intimacy 

This episode, LGBTQ women take centre stage as we explore some fascinating ‘herstory’ at National Trust places. Clare Balding talks with Amy Tooth-Murphy, an expert on the history of sexuality, about these hidden relationships which were often considered taboo. Dress historian E-J Scott visits Smallhythe Place in Kent, which was home to Edy Craig, daughter of actress Ellen Terry, and herself an accomplished actor, who shared Smallhythe in a ménage a trois with two other women for over 30 years.

Hugh Cecil Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey

Episode five: 18 August - 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. E-J 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.

Figure of Winter from dining room mosaic at Chedworth Roman Villa

Episode six: 25 August 2017 - Queer history in the ancient world 

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