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Michael Wood’s Story Of England

Airs Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Historian Michael Wood atop Lewes Castle.

Visit the village of Kibworth, Leicestershire, with historian Michael Wood as he tells the 2,000-year-old story of this one settlement throughout English history. Kibworth, located in the heart of England, lived through the Black Death, the English Civil War, the Industrial Revolution and World War II. Intertwining the local and national narratives in this four-part series, Wood presents a moving and informative picture of one local community through time.

Michael Wood at the Battle of Hastings re-enactment day.
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Above: Michael Wood at the Battle of Hastings re-enactment day.

Michael Wood at front with Kibworth Dig group.
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Above: Michael Wood at front with Kibworth Dig group.

Michael Wood and Carenza Lewis look at the Kibworth Dig results
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Above: Michael Wood and Carenza Lewis look at the Kibworth Dig results

Michael Wood at the Battle of Naseby re-enactment day.
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Above: Michael Wood at the Battle of Naseby re-enactment day.

Michael Wood, Pat Grundy and Neil and Jane Beasley researching Neil's ancestor who was deported to Australia in 1798.
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Above: Michael Wood, Pat Grundy and Neil and Jane Beasley researching Neil's ancestor who was deported to Australia in 1798.

"Romans To Normans" airs Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 8 p.m. - Join historian Michael Wood to recover — with the help of the local people and the use of archaeology, landscape, language and DNA — the lost history of the first thousand years of Kibworth, featuring a Roman villa, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, and evidence of life after the Norman Conquest.

Learn how the oppressive Norman occupation affected the villagers, from the gallows to the alehouse, and see the medieval open fields in action in the only place where they survive.

"Peasants' Revolt And The Black Death" airs Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 9 p.m. - This episode charts events in the village leading to the people’s involvement in the Civil War of Simon de Montfort and follow the story of Kibworth as it reaches the catastrophic 14th century.

The village goes through the worst famine in European history, and then, as revealed in the astonishing village archive in Merton College Oxford, two-thirds of the people die in the Black Death.

Helped by today’s residents — field walking and reading the historical texts — and by the local schoolchildren digging archaeological test pits, Michael Wood follows stories of individual lives through these times, out of which the English idea of community and the English character begin to emerge.

"The Seeds Of Reform" airs Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 8 p.m. - The story of Kibworth moves on to dramatic battles of conscience in the time of the Hundred Years’ War. Discover amazing finds in the school archive that help trace peasant education back to the 14th century, when the people themselves set up the first school for their children.

Some villagers join in a rebellion against King Henry V, while others rise to become middle-class merchants in the textile town of Coventry. Kibworth experiences the dramatic events of Henry VIII’s Protestant Reformation and the battles of the English Civil War.

"The Birth Of Modern England" airs Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 8 p.m. - In this episode, track Kibworth’s 17th-century dissenters, travel on the Grand Union Canal and learn about an 18th-century feminist writer from Kibworth who was a pioneer of children’s books. The story of a young highwayman transported to Australia comes alive as his descendants visit Kibworth to uncover their roots.

The Industrial Revolution reaches the village with framework knitting factories. Helped by today’s residents, Michael Wood uncovers the secret history of a Victorian village, visits World War I battlefields and recalls life in World War II when the village was bombed. Lastly, see Kibworth as it is today — a growing, multicultural village.

Video

Series Preview: Michael Wood's Story Of England

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Above: Visit the village of Kibworth, Leicestershire, with historian Michael Wood as he tells the 2,000-year-old story of this one settlement throughout English history in this four-part series.