Michael Wood's Story of England premiered Tuesday, July 3, 2012.

About the Program

In this groundbreaking series Michael Wood tells the story of one place – the village of Kibworth, Leicestershire – throughout the whole of English history. Located in the very heart of England, Kibworth has lived through the Black Death, the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution and was even bombed in World War II.

With the help of the local people and using archaeology, landscape, language and DNA, Michael Wood uncovers the lost history of this village from the Roman era to the present day. He visits a Roman villa and sees graphic evidence of life on the eve of the Norman Conquest. Michael discovers that Kibworth goes through the worst famine in European history during the 14th century, and then two thirds of the people die in the Black Death. Michael discovers how the Industrial Revolution changed the village and its people forever. Then, Michael uncovers the secret history of a Victorian village more colourful than even Dickens could have imagined.

From World War I battlefields to the bombing of the village in 1940, the series finally moves into the brave new world of ‘homes for heroes’. Intertwining the local and national narratives, this is a moving and informative picture of one local community through time.


About the Episodes

Romans to Normans (Premiered Tuesday, July 3, 2012)
body_michael-woods-story-of-england_1.jpg 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 (Premiered Tuesday, July 3, 2012)
body_michael-woods-story-of-england_2.jpg 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 historical texts — and by the local school children 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 (Premiered Tuesday, July 10, 2012)
body_michael-woods-story-of-england_3.jpg 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 (Premiered Tuesday, July 17, 2012)
body_michael-woods-story-of-england_4.jpg 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.


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