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Top 10 strange history stories

From lethal Tudor toys to John Quincy Adams’s pet alligator, we round up some of the more unusual stories to feature on History Extra

Published: April 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm

1) Historical sex objects to feature in classrooms

An 18th-century chastity belt and phallic Roman amulets are to be used to enrich sex education for secondary school pupils…


2) ‘Earliest portrait of guinea pig’ revealed in unseen painting

The first ever painting of a guinea pig may have been uncovered by the National Portrait Gallery, it was announced last August…

3) Toys and games that killed in Tudor England

Steven Gunn and Tomasz Gromelski studied 9,000 coroner’s inquest reports from the 16th century. Here they reveal what perils faced Tudor children at play…


4) 10 famous people in history and their bizarre pets

Greg Jenner reveals some of the more unusual creatures kept by John Quincy Adams, Anne Boleyn and others…

5) Medieval lingerie

Beatrix Nutz examines medieval pants and ‘bags’ for breasts, in this fascinating feature peeking inside the 15th and 16th-century underwear drawer….


6) Jack the Ripper murders to be played out via Twitter

The 1888 Jack the Ripper murders were played out on Twitter last year. Tweeting from the perspective of characters in Whitechapel at the time of the murders, and using hash tagged names of people involved in the hunt for the killer, The History Press retraced events as they unfolded…

7) Top five hauntings in history

Tales of ghosts and ghouls have, for centuries, captured the imagination. On All Hallows' Eve last year, Professor Owen Davies from the University of Hertfordshire – a historian who specialises in witchcraft, magic and ghosts from the ancient world to the modern era – shared his top five hauntings in history…


8) The story behind Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home

Suzannah Lipscomb examines the Victorian obsession with the home as a safe haven of domesticity, and explains how, in many cases, Victorian homes were anything but...

9) Beware what you buy: the goods German citizens were forbidden to consume

For centuries many German citizens were forbidden to consume a variety of desirable goods, including “very wide trousers”. Sheilagh Ogilvie, Markus Küpker and Janine Maegraith explain…


10) Revealed: how the Georgians taught us to diet 300 years ago

Each January many of us vow to ditch the sugar, take out a gym membership, and follow religiously the latest weight loss guides. But while you might assume dieting to be a modern phenomenon, new research suggests it originates in an earlier century…


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