94. Secrets

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

‘How now, you secret, black and midnight hags? What is’t you do?’   (Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 4, Scene 1)


Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where we demonstrate how everything has a history and how those histories link together in unexpected ways!


For this episode let us join our two undercover spooks as they embark on a covert cloak-and-dagger operation to reveal to you the unexpected history of secrets.

This mission is strictly off the record, and on a need to know basis only, so lets keep it hush hush as Professor James Daybell and Dr Sam Willis lead us underground from furniture and church organs during World War II to the 4,300 year old walled metropolis Shimao, recently discovered in Shaanxi, northern China and its mysterious jade objects hidden in the walls, from the politics of publishing in 1691 and state letters printed in Cabala, Mysteries of State and Government to Sir Peter Wentworth, MP and prominent Puritan, whose provocative claims regarding royal prerogative and freedom of speech in 1576 landed him in the Tower of London, from 15th century fragments of Chinese pottery found on the shores of Africa and early exploration to the recipes for making ink, setting bones and making cosmetics in A Booke of Secrets published in 1596, and from cloud formations in 1923 to the earliest surviving aerial photograph taken in 1860, and the parched parklands of England in 2018; these unexpected links are top-secret.


Sam and James unravel the mystery and reveal to the world that this unexpected history is actually all about; concealment and survival, information and control, silence and preservation, protection and tension, freedom and fake news, spin and rhetoric, knowledge and technology, religion and chimneys!


If you do fancy having any mysterious or crazy dreams which feature wild animals, we do not in any way endorse nor condone the method advised by Master Alexis of Piedmont in 1563; for the animal lovers amongst you we apologise on his behalf…

More Podcasts


8, 2, 2021 - In this latest episode, the Unexpected duo, James and Sam, climb the rungs of the past to reach .... Read More

Hiding! Homeschooling Elizabeth I and Catholics

6, 5, 2020 - Hiding! Homeschooling Elizabeth I and Catholics This episode is about HIDING, but with some .... Read More


3, 12, 2020 - LOSERS KEEP ON LOSING! In this BONUS episode, the Histories of the Unexpected duo, James and .... Read More

Subscribe to our newsletter

Keep up to date with Histories of the Unexpected