“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


Brexit and our shared Digital Cultural Heritage

It seems that the tide is more clearly turning against Brexit. This is not just reflecting changing circumstances or opinions, but acknowledges two of life’s great distinctions that, at last, are impressing themselves on a wider British audience. First, simply wanting something doesn’t make it so and, second, grasping the nuances that evolve in the … Read More

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Engineering social media in a digital commons

Blogging colleague Brad Berens writes in his excellent Weekly Dispatch about the bastardising of the term “social media” by the growing tsunami of effectively anti-social media: doubly egregious as so much of it is not only negative and hurtful in effect but is actually designed to be anti-social. It hitches an ethical ride on the … Read More

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First Folio Redux

This is not the first time we have blogged about Shakespeare’s First Folio and it won’t be the last. With the quatercentenary of the publication of this famous old book just months away (8 November) we are going to see more celebrations around the world of Shakespeare, most markedly in this week’s convention of the … Read More

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Making time for Google Maps

By far the most compelling and visited component of the Cradle of English website, at least until we launched our Crane Court prototype immerzeo, was the home page map itself. The idea was simple enough, and still needs a lot of developing, but the history of the creative heartland of London could scarcely be told … Read More

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Foundations of genius

Pulsing beneath the surface of our research into the life of William Shakespeare and the publication of his First Folio is the “authorship question”. This “question” is pulsing in the same way that people can still be found who, in the face of evidence and the keenest scholarly research persist in maintaining that the US … Read More

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