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Historian Ruth Goodman Presents New Podcast The Curious History of Your Home

Historian Ruth Goodman Presents New Podcast The Curious History of Your Home

Press Release ·

The Curious History of Your Home takes you on a journey to discover how the ordinary items that surround you, all have their own remarkable story.

In each episode presenter Ruth Goodman delves into the intriguing tales behind commonplace items, revealing their extraordinary origins.

From the sleek and compact vacuum cleaner, once powered by horses and operated by four to six people, to the ancient Greek practice of tooth brushing with ground-up bones and oyster shells, each episode promises a captivating exploration of our domestic surroundings.

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Launching with a fascinating exploration into Wallpaper, Ruth Goodman uncovers a wealth of captivating facts about this deceptively simple home decor item.

Did you know that the origins of paper trace back to Ancient China, credited to the inventive mind of Cai Lun, who drew inspiration from observing a wasp craft its nest? The concept of wallpaper, traversing the ancient Silk Road, gradually eclipsed tapestry hangings in popularity. Notably, historical figures such as Oliver Cromwell attempted to suppress its production, deeming it frivolous.

Venturing further into the Victorian era, designer William Morris left an indelible mark by creating stunning wallpapers. However, these exquisite designs concealed a perilous secret—vibrant green pigments infused with arsenic. Shockingly, these wallpapers became, quite literally, to-die-for, as physicians of the time attributed a spate of mysterious deaths to the arsenic content.

Talking on the series Ruth says: “Our homes are full of history, but not just in the dusty photo album in your cupboard. We are surrounded by household items that we often take for granted, but each of them has its own remarkable tales of discovery and invention. Everything from forks, wallpaper, curtains, to household pets, each has a story that’s just waiting to be told. And that’s exactly what I do in this new podcast series!”

Full episode line up including fun facts discusses are as follows:

  • Episode 1: Wallpaper - Oliver Cromwell considered wallpaper frivolous, so he banned its manufacture.
  • Episode 2: The Fridge - Ruth discovers how the ancient Persians had an eco-friendly way of storing ice… in the desert!
  • Episode 3: Baths - In medieval London, bathhouses known as stews doubled as brothels. Eventually Henry VIII shut them down to halt the spread of a deadly new disease – syphilis.
  • Episode 4: Lights - Prehistoric cave paintings were done by lamplight. Animal fat was burned in a stone receptacle to provide light to paint by, without producing too much smoke that would damage the paintings
  • Episode 5: Washing Up - An early dishwasher inventor, William Howard Livens, was also the inventor of projectile weapons during WWI
  • Episode 6: Forks - Ruth tells the stranger than fiction tale of how during the Industrial Revolution, a steelmaker found a new way to make forks which was so successful, a rival steelmaker snuck into his workshop disguised as a beggar, and stole away with his trade secrets.
  • Episode 7: Coffee - In 1600, the pope was asked to weigh in on whether coffee really was the invention of Satan – and he declared it safe to drink!
  • Episode 8: Gardening - Did you know that ancient Egyptians believed gardens could help guide them in the afterlife, and often took miniature gardens with them to their tombs?
  • Episode 9: Cats - In this episode Ruth discovers that in Medieval England, the most common name for cats was Gilbert.
  • Episode 10: Chairs - The first mass-produced chair went into production in Vienna in 1859. You might recognise this bistro style chair, because it’s still in production today.

Speaking on the making of the series, Pascal Hughes, Noiser CEO says: “We are all about history at Noiser, we usually explore significant events and people from the past, but this podcast is all about uncovering the epic in the ordinary. Ruth has a special talent for bringing these stories to life, it’s a dream pairing.”

The podcast will also be available on BBC Sounds the same day as general release.


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