A new podcast series from the National Trust unravels Europe’s influence on our nation through the ages revealing the continental roots that lie buried in locations from Neolithic Avebury ring to modernist Hampstead.
Over ten weeks starting on 24 October, award-winning historian and broadcaster, Bettany Hughes, will explore National Trust sites and uncover their cosmopolitan histories, revealing their links to the wider world in ten 20 minute programmes.The series, part of the Trust’s Europe and Us season, travels through time from prehistory to the 20th century.
In the first episode Bettany visits the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Avebury in Wiltshire. This prehistoric landscape is home to some of the oldest monuments looked after by the conservation charity, including the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle.
Within the episode Bettany concludes: “It is really striking to think that thousands of years before the Romans came, Britain was hosting visitors from abroad in the embrace of splendid, engineering marvels like this. It’s all part of the rich story with many different chapters that makes us, us.”
The final podcast concludes the series at 2 Willow Road in Hampstead, where Bettany explores the house built by Hungarian architect Ernö Goldfinger. The house and its design became a manifesto of his Modernist ideals.
Bettany Hughes said of the series: “I’ve been visiting National Trust properties for over forty years, so it has been an absolute delight to explore behind the scenes at ten remarkable sites to investigate their cosmopolitan connections. This summer I’ve held in my hands brand new evidence of Roman home-improvements, heard tales of escape from Nazi Germany and traced the roots of our market economy to the cemetery of a mediaeval monastery. Curators on site have given me unique access to fascinating evidence that illuminates over 5000 years of the human experience.”
The ‘Europe & Us’ season at the Trust has included ’99 Objects’ – an exploration of the European connections within the Trust’s collections (nationaltrustcollections.org.uk) – the opening of three London Embassies for Heritage Open Days, and Mount Stewart Conversations, a major festival on international relations at Viscount Castlereagh’s family home in Northern Ireland.
The podcast launch is in line with the organisation’s drive for mobile-optimised content which aims to reach broad audiences with relevant content in the format they choose.
Last year, the Trust relaunched its website to enable people to view it on mobile devices which already drive more than half of the organisation’s online traffic.
Jackie Jordan, Director of Brand and Marketing for the National Trust, said: “The audience for podcasts and audio content is growing rapidly, which offers us an exciting channel for sharing stories of people and places at the National Trust.
“Audio is an evocative and immersive form of content, an ideal way to go behind the scenes at our places to discover more about the history, and how the Trust looks after these places for ever, for everyone.”
Alongside the release of ‘Bettany Hughes’s Ten Places, Europe & Us’, the National Trust is launching a three-part series set within its historic gardens in which presenter and Trust head gardener, Alan Power, will meet the gardeners and volunteers who help to look after them.
The series begins on Alan’s home turf, Stourhead in Wiltshire, travels to Croome in Worcestershire and concludes at Sissinghurst in Kent.
Listeners can subscribe to the weekly podcasts, which will see the National Trust become one of the first heritage organisations to release its own podcasts, via iTunes and all other major podcast platforms.
Episodes in ‘Bettany Hughes’s Ten Places, Europe & Us’:
- Avebury Ring – Our early visitors
2. Chedworth Roman Villa – Roman Britain
3. Sutton Hoo – The Saxons and their trading world
4. Fountains Abbey – The Cistercians’ influence and their cultural legacy
5. Kingston Lacy – The Grand Tour as cultural salvage
6. Waddesdon – The house as a stage set to court France
7. Sandham Memorial Chapel – Europe’s forgotten war
8. Orford Ness – Man vs. Nature
9. Upton House – Kinder transport
10. 2 Willow Rd – The Bauhaus comes to Britain