Past Matters Christmas special – interview with Jennifer Saint

In one of three Christmas 2021 special episodes of my history podcast Past Matters, I talk to author Jennifer Saint about an ancient Minoan object that helped inspire her debut novel Ariadne, which retells the famous Ancient Greek myths of Theseus and the Minotaur and Phaedra and Hippolytus from female perspectives. 

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The prisons – Colchester Castle

Season 2 of Past Matters ends on a gruesome note with Ben Paites, Collections and Learning Curator at Colchester & Ipswich Museums, discussing the history of the prisons at Colchester Castle. Not for the squeamish this episode covers prison conditions, witch burnings and the over zealous pursuit of justice.


Two swords – Ipswich Museum

For this episode, I revisit a museum featured in season 1 – Ipswich Museum. This time, Tim Rousham from the visitor services team at the museum discusses two pattern-welded swords from the 9th century AD. Tune in to this episode to learn more about designing beautiful and effective swords and how their shape changed over time and why.


‘Schooner approaching the harbour’ – Compton Verney

Compton Verney in Warwickshire has one of the finest collections of folk art in the UK. In this episode Director Julie Finch tells me why ‘Schooner approaching the harbour’ by Alfred Wallis, which is painted on a tea tray, is a piece of folk art that particularly resonates with her during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic lockdown.


Two smocks – The MERL

When you’re asked to imagine an iconic item of clothing the humble smock probably doesn’t come to mind. However, in this episode, Dr Ollie Douglas, Curator at The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), convinces me as to the importance of the smock to English identity.


A patera – The Roman Baths, Bath

In this episode, Zofia Matyjaszkiewicz, who is the Collections Assistant at the Roman Baths in Bath, tells me why a patera – a shallow libation bowl – is her underrated object at this world-famous site.