Sunday 25th - 12.00
Extraordinary, thrilling, immersive... at times almost Tolstoyan in its emotional intelligence and literary power' Simon Schama. It was a time of climate change and colonialism, puritans and populism, witch hunts and war. A greater proportion of the British population died in the civil wars of the seventeenth century than in the world wars of the twentieth. Jessie Childs recovers the shock of this conflict by plunging us into one of its most extraordinary episodes: the siege of Basing House. To the parliamentarians, the royalist stronghold was the devil's seat. Its defenders called it Loyalty House. We follow artists, apothecaries, merchants and their families from the revolutionary streets of London to the Marquess of Winchester's mist-shrouded mansion. Over two years, they are battered, bombarded, starved and gassed. From within they face smallpox, spies and mutiny. Their resistance becomes legendary, but in October 1645, Oliver Cromwell rolls in the heavy guns and they prepare for a last stand. Drawing on unpublished manuscripts and the voices of dozens of men, women and children caught in the crossfire, Childs weaves a thrilling tale of war and peace, terror and faith, savagery and civilisation.
Jessie Childs is the award-winning author of God's Traitors (PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History) and Henry VIII's Last Victim (Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography). She has written and reviewed for many papers, including the Sunday Times, Guardian and London Review of Books, and is an editorial adviser of History Today. Her TV contributions include the BAFTA-nominated Elizabeth I's Secret Agents (BBC 2 & PBS) and two BBC series on Charles I.