OU on the BBC: History Detectives - Some silk and a uniform

Updated Tuesday 4th September 2007

A souvenir of Napoleon Bonaparte's funeral and a military uniform bought on the internet come under investigation as the History Detectives check out some silk and a uniform.

Napoleon Bonaparte Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: photos.com

The cases

Neil Oliver investigates a letter, attached to which is a piece of cloth and a piece of lead. The letter, signed William Trousdale and dated October 4th 1821, states “This lead and silk is part of Bonaparte’s coffin, which died at St Helena in 1821. It was presented to me by the Colour Sergeant of the 66th Regiment which did duty over his corpse." Neil travels to St Helena and Scarborough in search of the soldier who apparently liberated these pieces from the dead Emperor's coffin.

Scott Allsop teaches history at King's College in Guildford. He uses historical artefacts to help his pupils think about history. One of his favourite pieces is a uniform he bought through an internet site for £15. But he doesn’t know who it came from or what its impressive array of medals represents. Jeevan Deol tracks down the life of a man who fought in both world wars, and was honoured by King George VI.

Along the way the History Detectives investigate a tragic accident on the River Thames in the 19th century.

 

The clues

(some resources that the History Detectives used in the programme)

Napoleon's Coffin

Documents

The 66th Berkshire Regiment: A brief history of its services at home and abroad, from 1758 to 1881
J Percy Groves, Imprint: Reading, Berks: Joseph J Beecroft, 1887
Provides details of the paylist of Colour Sergeants.

Regiment Digest of Service
Details the movements of the regiments.

Both of these are available from The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum

The Princess Alice cane

Document

The Great Thames Disaster
Galvin Thurston, Allen & Unwin (1965).

Organisations

National Maritime Museum
For a brief history of the Princess Alice Disaster of Sept 3rd, 1878.

Thames Police Museum
also gives the story of the disaster.

Greenwich Heritage Centre has a newspaper archive from London Illustrated News, complete coverage of the case, interviews with people, guest list of casualties and a model of the boat.

National Archives references:
MT 9/160 Princess Alice and Byewell Castle Inquiry
T 1/15974 Princess Alice Inquiry: expenses incurred by clerk of Greenwich police court, Mr Balguy magistrate and Essex justices of peace.
T1/16369 HOME OFFICE: Princess Alice Inquest: payment of coroners expenses in relation to wreckage on Kent coast.

Museum of Docklands has a collection of artefacts made from the Princess Alice boat.

The Internet Uniform

Links

The Rifle Brigade and examples of uniforms

Documents

Title: Supplement to the London Gazette. 7 June 1951. (OBE Appointments)
Lists every honour and award in the UK  – Thomas Macdonald Baker’s CBE is cited here.

Organisations

The East Surrey Regimental Museum houses bound copies of regimental letters.

Hawkes of Saville Row
Tel: 0207 434 2001
Makers of the uniform.

South African Medal with 3 bars and Military Uniforms

Imperial War Museum for examples of Military Uniforms

The Rifle Brigade and examples of uniforms

BBC’s History Trails

National Army Museum
houses a collection of uniforms, badges and medals from mid-17th century to the present day.

First broadcast: Friday 21 Sep 2007 on BBC TWO

History Detectives in more depth:

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Play Your Part Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: 2014 People's History Museum article icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Play Your Part

Public engagement at the People's History Museum, Manchester.

Article
OU on the BBC: History Detectives - Gloves and a chest Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: History Detectives - Gloves and a chest

Silk gloves packed into a walnut and a fine old travelling chest. The History Detectives unpack the fascinating stories behind each of them.

Article
OU on the BBC: World In A Box - Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: British Museum article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Article
Paul O'Grady's Working Britain: Order your free copy of 'A journal of working class life' Creative commons image Icon The Open University under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Paul O'Grady's Working Britain: Order your free copy of 'A journal of working class life'

Order a free booklet exploring different aspects of working class life in Britain through the years.

Article
OU on the BBC: Personal Passions - Steam Trains: John Wilks Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Personal Passions - Steam Trains: John Wilks

John Wilks talks about his passion for steam trains

Article
Media Revolution: Secrets of publishing Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team video icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Media Revolution: Secrets of publishing

Libby Potter speaks to Larry Finlay, Managing Director of Transworld, about the secrets of publishing

Video
5 mins
OU on the BBC: Science Shack - Can you walk on water? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Science Shack - Can you walk on water?

Adam Hart-Davis and the team investigate whether it's possible to walk on water, as part of the BBC/OU's Science Shack series.

Article
OU on the BBC: Child of Our Time 2013: Growing Up Creative commons image Icon lightruth under CC-BY-NC under Creative-Commons license article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Child of Our Time 2013: Growing Up

The first episode of 2013 follows several of the children preparing to become teenagers and sees how parents and grandparents cope.

Article
Truth Will Out - Global warming is caused by human activity Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Truth Will Out - Global warming is caused by human activity

Truth Will Out spoke to a number of experts in the field of climate change to get their view of global climate change. These articles were originally published in July 2001

Article