“Let us take a walk down Fleet Street . . .”

- Dr Samuel Johnson

Within one square mile and over 500 years, the printing presses of Fleet Street transformed the English language.


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MN004 - How was COP26 for you?

Our last Mitre Nights was recorded just before the Glasgow Climate Change conference. Joining moderator Tam McDonald to reflect here on the achievements (or not) of COP26 are Cradle of English Innovations Advisor Dr John Collins and Ben Lewis, co-founder of MyFarm with our guest from our last Mitre Nights, Alex Jenn. Ben’s chief concern was the extent to which food issues weren’t satisfactorily addressed in Glasgow; while John wonders if the context within which we are addressing Climate Change needs re-defining.

Monday, 24 November 2021

MN003 - Innovating to Save the Planet

Mitre Nights is relaunching with the unifying theme of Innovation in Fleet Street, inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In this edition, moderator Tam McDonald welcomes innovation specialist Jeremy Basset of branding agency co:cubed, and entrepreneur Alex Jenn, co-founder of a prize-winning business idea for MyFarm. Our question: how can the business and legal sectors of central London help deliver a Sustainable New World?

Monday, 22 November 2021

MN002 - Did Dr Johnson ask: “Why here?”

Mitre Nights moderator Tam McDonald is joined by Celine Luppo McDaid, curator of Dr Johnson’s House Museum in Fleet Street, London; and by Cradle of English Head of Research John Bailey. Sitting in the parlour of Dr Johnson’s House, they range over the many and fascinating influences that made this area a magnet for creative energies, centuries before the newspaper industry took hold here...

Wednesday, 1 May 2020

DD006 - The Gunpowder Plot

Host Tam McDonald is joined by Andrew McGuinness, producer of “The Gunpowder Plot”, anticipating an explosive premier at London’s Tower of London in May 2022. Following the stand-out success of the same producer’s War of the Worlds Virtual Reality Extravaganza, the new show promises visitors an engaging immersion in one of English history’s most infamous and intriguing plots. For more on the delights in store, including booking information, go to https://gunpowderimmersive.com/.

Monday, 21 March 2022

DD005 - Fleet Street has a Sun Dial

Heritage expert and Sun Dial maven Piers Nicholson joins Tam McDonald to tell the story of how one big blank wall in Fleet Street, accustomed over decades to carry advertising, now boasts the UK’s biggest vertical Sun Dial. It’s a journey for entrepreneurs, history buffs, and determined people everywhere, with stops along the way to consider the life of one of Fleet Street’s gutsiest printers, and to look ahead to Piers’ next project.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

DD004 - Immersion in The Mayflower Project

Following the success of Professor Bob Stone and his team in launching his Virtual Mayflower Project in Plymouth, Tam McDonald caught up with him on his richly deserved Cornish holiday. Fresh himself from the launch on Cradle of English of an augmented reality walk up Crane Court, Tam was keen to hear from one of the most respected elder statesmen of the VR/AR industry on a key question: what is the future of immersive technologies in bringing history to life?

Monday, 22 November 2021

DD003 - London history and Fleet Street pubs

Our second offering in the Devil Dialogues podcast series is with journalist and pub enthusiast Ann Laffeaty, who has created a blogging site that reviews and rejoices in London pubs that combine cosy charm and historical interest. Ann joins host Tam McDonald to review some of the more famous taverns to have graced the courts and alleys of the old City of London and Fleet Street.

Monday, 10 May 2021

DD002 - Can AI write a play?

Friday, 19 March 2021

Our launch Dialogue is with Creative AI Advisor to the Cradle of English and Professor Emeritus at London’s University College Arthur I Miller. Author of several books on machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, Arthur has a global reputation as a thinker working at the intersection of Creativity and Technology. He joins host Tam McDonald to question whether AI could write a play, and discusses the progress of GPT-3 in enabling us to answer that question with a yes.

DD001 - Devil Dialogues

Named for one of the most famous disappeared taverns of old Fleet Street, the Devil Dialogues feature a series of interviews with special guests of the Cradle of English. The topics are wide-ranging, beginning with the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the craft of writing plays and ranging over topics to do with English language and history, London tourism, Virtual Reality, press censorship, and so on. Whether the Devil Dialogues touch the heights of learning and wit for which the original Tavern was famous, we will leave to our listeners to judge.

Friday, 19 March 2021


Welcome to the Cradle’s library of short-form videos. You give us a minute, maybe a little more, and we present a thumbnail sketch of a key character, or location, or theme that has helped craft the history and sustain the legacy of London’s Fleet Street.

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Welcome to Fleet Street


Metaverse on MetaMars

When Winston Churchill was speaking, in 1939, about Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”, he was at least talking about a real place. His purpose was to acknowledge the reality of the country as being equally menacing and inscrutable and, eight decades later, those adjectives have lost none of their … Read More

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How do we define the “language of lawlessness”?

After three dozen blogposts, we have some measure of the moral ambivalence with which the global spread of the English language has been greeted. If it weren’t for the piratical energies of the early naval “explorers” and the subsequent depredations of a ravenously expanding Empire, the summary of an earlier posting (October 2020) might have … Read More

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Fleet Street defined the Public Realm

It didn’t take Covid to get city-dwellers thinking about what attracted them to their city centres, and concluding that maybe home wasn’t so bad after all. The history of the last century, along with advances in communication technology over that same period, have made it ever easier for the world to be brought to the … Read More

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Christopher Hitchens, one decade on

Some lives reflect the mission of The Long Now Foundation, a creative thinking foundry that encourages imagination at the timescale of civilisation of the next and last 10,000 years. Individuals so rooted can make a huge impression in the here and now, but reflection enables a longer view of what shaped their past, animates their … Read More

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Squaring up to Climate Change

Glasgow’s Climate Change event – the 26th “Conference of the Parties” that convened earlier this month to advance humanity’s response to the crisis facing our environment – has come and gone. Arising from the occasion, before and after, the consensus reaction boiled down to two key convictions: before, that it would fall significantly short of … Read More

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