Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 28 May, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 on North Manchester FM for A Helping of History. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to present the show I had planned about Babes in the Wood (or is it?) last week… but you can hear all about it this week instead!

I seem to be continually drawn to the Langley family at the moment. Not only did I devote an entire show to Langley in April, but two weeks ago the show was about Drinkwater Park, which once fell under the domain of the Langleys of Agecroft. But… this week’s show wasn’t inspired by either of those topics. In fact, it’s all about a little story I spotted while looking in to the history of Alkrington.

In his book Dark Irwell, Cyril Bracegirdle claims that the pantomime Babes in the Wood was inspired by a real-life event that took place in the fourteenth century. The story begins with an inheritance dispute between the Radcliffe, Prestwich, Langley and Holland families over lands at Alkrington and Prestwich. It’s a complicated story, involving illegitimate sons, a daughter retreating to a convent, suspicious marriages, and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. But by 1374 (so the story goes), the lands were being held in trust for the young Roger de Langley, who was still a minor. Step forward the dastardly Robert de Holland, intent on getting the lands for himself, who kidnapped Young Langley and his sister and whisked them away to the forest.

Did John of Gaunt really rescue Young Langley and his sister from the forest? Was this story really the inspiration for Babes in the Wood? What evidence is there for the villainous plotting of Robert de Holland? Find out on this week’s show!

As well as discussing this fourteenth-century legend, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers on the show.

Catch A Helping of History on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:


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