Stuff the British Stole

Throughout its reign, the British Empire stole a lot of stuff. Today those objects are housed in genteel institutions across the UK and the world. They usually come with polite plaques. This week, 99pi is featuring an episode from the podcast Stuff the British Stole hosted by Marc Fennell.

Photo via the Victoria and Albert Museum

Every day, hundreds of daily visitors to London’s Victoria and Albert quietly stream past a man being brutally murdered by a tiger. The mechanical creature was created for one of the most controversial rulers in history — Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore. His wooden toy is attacking a member of the East India Company, Tipu’s sworn enemies. Crank the toy, and the man’s arms flail in agony.

To understand how Tipu’s Tiger ended up in the Victoria and Albert Museum, you have to traverse the tale of two stolen princes, two global superpowers, two very different revolutions … and at least one blood-curdling scream.

Stuff the British Stole is a podcast from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.



Stuff the British Stole is hosted by Marc Fennell.

Voices included: Alice Procter, art historian; Maya Jasanoff, historian, Harvard University; Shashi Tharoor, author and Indian MP; Zareer Masani, author, historian, Oxford University; Bhaktiar Ali Shah, a descendant of Tipu Sultan, lawyer, Calcutta High Court.

Additional production by Emmett FitzGerald.

  1. Louisa

    I just binged the whole series, it’s really well done. I hope I’m not spoiling anything but in case anyone is wondering, yes, it’s the same dog as mentioned in the “12 heads” episode. It’s got a bit of a deeper look into the history of that same palace.

  2. Very interesting podcast! Thanks for introducing it! I was wondering from the strart if he’s going to do an episode on “the marbles” and was pleased to hear he’s on it. (I’m Greek as you might guess)

  3. Jay Hulbert

    As a side note, at the Battle of Mallavelly that led to the fall of Seringapatam and the demise of Tipu Sultan a key attack was led by a Lt. Col. Arthur Wellesley’s regiment, the 33rd Foot. Wellesley later earned some small renown as the Duke of Wellington for beating that guy Napoleon.

    1. madeleine richard

      LoL! I remember that battle from reading the Sharpe novels! Now I place the historical context, thank you!

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