Episode 40. Bonus Minisode – Boxes

Friday, June 30th, 2017

“Life is like a box of chocolates … you never know what you’re gonna get”    (Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, 1994)

Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where you will discover the history of things you never knew had a history; like the history of dreams, or the history of Zebras.

For this episode let us join Professor James Daybell and Dr Sam Willis as they blow the dust from the caskets, unwrap the parcels, and lift the lid on this special unexpected history minisode of the box.

So take a seat right here in the royal box as our two historical adventurers unpack the facts on this unexpected trip to the forgotten rooms, neglected corners, and dust strewn attics of Powderham Castle in Devon. From the archival boxes of recorded family records to the collection of miniature eighteenth century prayer books packed inside cartridge boxes, from sixteenth century deeds to a shell used for baptisms, and from Victorian school boy trunks full of the memories of home to Victorian love letters, and from a lock of hair reputed to belong to Gertrude Courtney, the Marchioness of Exeter during the reign of Henry VIII and godmother to Elizabeth I to cousin Betty’s memory box and a floating dairy thermometer, this daring duo will have you thinking outside the box!

James and Sam delve inside this box of tricks to reveal that this unexpected history is actually all about: piety and faith, improvisation and repurpose, presentation and memorialisation, family and legacy, possessions and keepsakes, responsibility, respect and duty.

Listen out as James explains the true magic of family accounting books, although Sam’s not so keen! And remember to take care when lifting any historical lid … you never know what you might find…

“Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out”  (William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair Vol II, ch. 27, (1847-48))

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