Archive for the 'England' Category

In Part 2 of the Historical Oddities series, we uncover two strange pieces of history. In the 1970’s when the crew of the Six Million Dollar Man was shooting an episode inside a funhouse in Long Beach, California, they accidentally stumbled upon something unexpected…the dead, mummified body of the outlaw Elmer McCurdy. Elmer had been shot dead by a Sherriff’s posse the better part of a century before, so what was his corpse doing hanging from the rafters of a funhouse? Today we examine his incredible true story.

Next, we go across the pond and back again to find out how just what the London Bridge is doing in the Arizona desert. Built after the London Bridge of nursery rhyme fame was demolished and before the bridge that now stands over the Thames, this 19th century granite London Bridge was headed for the junkyard until the city of London auctioned it off to an eccentric American millionaire. Tune in to hear how this iconic English landmark became the world's most expensive souvenir. 

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History is weird sometimes. In this first episode of a two-part series, we discuss historical oddities, and highlight some of the most curious events and people history has to offer. Today we begin with Frank Hayes, an unstoppable jockey, and Sweet Kiss, a bay mare no one was betting on. She and her jockey would make history with one race—but not because of their victory. Then we skip across the pond to find the unsinkable Violet Jessop, a woman who survived three of the 20th century’s most harrowing shipwrecks. South Africa is our last stop where we find Jack the Baboon who was better at his job working for the Cape Town Port Elizabeth Railway service than most of us are today. Plug in and get weird!

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Bundle up, grab some nog, and get ready for a 117-year-old ghost story. We don’t tend to think of ghost stories when we think of the glitz and glamour of the holidays, but the tradition of gathering around the fire to tell dark tales and call upon the lore of ages long since passed goes back generations. Today, we discuss this tradition and hear M.R. James’s tale “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” first published in 1904.

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It’s a stone with many names--the Stone of Destiny, the Stone of Scone, the Coronation Stone, Lia Fáil-- and there are numerous legends and myths about its origins. For centuries it was used in the coronations of Scottish kings, that is, until it was taken to England by Edward 1st in 1296. From then on it was used in the coronations of English and subsequent British monarchs, symbolizing their rule over Scotland and its incorporation into the United Kingdom. For 700 years after it was taken by the English king, it remained in Westminster Abby under the Coronation Chair, until Christmas day, 1950, when four students from the University of Glasgow--Kay Matheson, Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, and Alan Stuart--decided it was time for Scotland to take it back. This is the true story of one of the most famous and unlikely heists in history. The most remarkable part of this incredible true story isn't that these four students planned on breaking into Westminster Abby to steal back a symbol of Scottish nationalism…it's that they were going to get away with it.

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The finale of our miniseries comes to a close as we cover several real historical instances of people actually being buried along with a few who had some uncomfortable close calls. We hear about the incredible case of Mathew Wall and find out why on October 2nd for the last 450 years or so, the town of Braughing in Hertfordshire has celebrated “Old Man’s Day.” We learn about the curious cases of Nicephorous Glycas from Lesbos and Anne Green from Oxfordshire who nearly made it to their own funerals and/or dissections. We learn about Alice Blunden and why you should always check twice, maybe even three times, before you bury someone. After that we hear about the unfortunate case of Anna Hockwalt in 19th century Dayton, Ohio, before making a pit stop in France to visit Angelo Hays and find out just what a toilet was doing in a coffin in the 1970’s.

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The finale is here! Come find out just how one of the most inspiring stories of human endurance ended. We head back to Antarctica and watch the crew of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition make history as Shackleton attempts one last desperate attempt at a rescue mission. This episode has all the answers you've been waiting for. 

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In 1914 the 28 member crew of the Endurance left to trek across the continent of Antarctica on foot. It is now the beginning of 1916. Their ship has been crushed, they've been stranded on the ice with no way out, and they've taken to the boats in a last ditch effort to escape the ice melting beneath them. In Part 4 we hear what happens next as they head for the yet unexplored Elephant Island, and Shackleton with a sets out on an 820 mile open boat journey on the roughest sea passage in the world to either find rescue, or doom them all to an icy grave. 

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In Part 3 of Shackleton's Lost Voyage, we join the stranded crew of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914, who have been stranded on the ice now for well over a year. Their ship has been crushed, starvation and madness have begun to set in, and they've been trapped by the ice and sea with no way out. In this episode, we watch as they make a desperate escape attempt while the ice splits beneath them, before heading out towards the unknown on the open sea. 

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In this two story episode we travel to Guanajuato, Mexico, and discover a cache of mummies that were literally evicted from their graves. Then we head to Beni Hassan, Egypt, where a farmer digging a well in 1888 accidentally stumbled upon one of the largest hoards of cat mummies ever found, and, possibly, an ancient, illegal crime ring of cat killers (seriously). We also meet Bastet, the ancient Egyptian goddess that started it all. 

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In Part 2 of Shackleton's Lost Voyage, the crew of the Endurance find themselves frozen fast in the Antarctic pack ice in 1915. In this episode, we examine the psychology behind what happens to the human mind during the long Polar Night as we join the crew on the next leg of their journey. Disaster, heartbreak, and uncanny resilience unfold in this second chapter before the finale of Part 3. 

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Poet, adventurer, bard of the Yukon, and British cowboy (that's a thing) Robert W. Service (1874-1958) is showcased in this week's history byte, followed by a retelling of his spookiest of poems, The Cremation of Sam McGee

This is the first of THREE EXTRA episodes premiering this month just for your Halloween season enjoyment, so pumpkin up that coffee, put in those ear buds, dust off that Necronomicon, and go nuts. 

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In 1914 the crew of the Endurance left to trek across the continent of Antarctica on foot. Led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, they believed their journey would bring them adventure, scientific discovery, and fame. What actually unfolded would become one of the greatest stories of human endurance the world has ever seen. Crushed by ice, lost, and wandering at the bottom of the world, they would harrow the most severe environment on Earth as they gave everything to make it home again. Come hear the story of the Trans Antarctic Expedition and the polar explorers that colored in the last pieces of the world's map. 

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