‘Histories of the Unexpected’ wows everyone!

Making learning about history into a fun experience is clearly the mission of Dr Sam Willis and Professor James Daybell who presented ‘Histories of the Unexpected’ to Upper School girls in the China Auditorium last week.

The show aims to demonstrate how everything has a history, even the most unexpected of subjects, and how those subjects all link together in unexpected ways.

Lower Sixth girl, Nina reports on the talk,

“The ‘Histories of the Unexpected’ show is an adaptation from the podcast and book, and connected many different subjects including the Titanic, Victorian perfumes, electrical experiments on the human face, Charles I, Mary Queen of Scots and many more different topics.

The show was unlike others we have previously had at Downe, because it involved many different props and constant audience interaction. We learnt how clocks link to the Titanic in John Chapman's case, and how perfumes had been found in the iron-hulled steamship, Mary Celestia, which was used during the American Civil War to get around the naval blockade imposed by then US President, Abraham Lincoln. My favourite part was learning about Mary Queen of Scots’ gloves, which had been preserved from the day of her execution and is particularly fascinating because usually these would have been burnt to prevent her followers from turning them into relics.

As promised, Dr Willis and Professor Daybell really did present a new way of thinking about the past and revealed the everyday world around us as we had never seen it before.”

The talk forms part of a series of lectures taking place in the Murray Centre this term on the theme of ‘Our World Revealed’ which has included a talk from Dr Amy Dickman on her work conserving lions in Tanzania and a lecture from paleoanthropologist and stand-up comic, Dr Ella Al-Shamahi on how to be a 21st Century Female Explorer.

Posted: 30th Jan 2019

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