On 19 March 1649, to the surprise of probably nobody, an Act of Parliament abolished the House of Lords, declaring that ‘the Commons of England [find] by too long experience that the House of Lords is useless and dangerous to the people of England.’ The abolition of the House of Lords came on the heels of the execution of Charles I on 30 January; presumably … Continue reading Off With You, Now!
In a rather sad moment for the thespians and theatre lovers of London, the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane burned to the ground on February 24, 1809, leaving its owner, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, completely destitute. The theatre that burned in 1809 was the third to stand on that ground (incidentally, the first one burned down too, during the Great Fire of London in 1666). Sheridan, a … Continue reading Burning Down the House
In Edinburgh’s Old Town, at the corner of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row, is a statue of Greyfriars Bobby, a loyal little Skye terrier that died on the 14 January 1872 after loyally keeping his late owner company for 14 years. Legend has it Bobby belonged to John Gray, a night watchman with the Edinburgh City Police. He was a devoted pet, and Gray … Continue reading Greyfriars Bobby
Have you ever enjoyed a trip to a stately home, the Peak or Lake districts, or perhaps John Lennon’s birthplace? If so, join me in wishing the National Trust a happy birthday: it was founded on 12 January 1894 by Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter, and the Very Rev. Hardwicke Canon Rawnsley. Since its creation, the National Trust has preserved some of the nation’s loveliest … Continue reading National Trust
This Week’s Question: Charles Piazzi Smyth, Astronomer Royal for Scotland from 1846 to 1888, was also known for studying what middle eastern monument? Last Week’s Question: On 20 December 1606 three ships set sail for the new world to establish Jamestown. What was the settlement’s original name? Answer: Jamestown was originally named James Fort after King James I of England. The bit of land chosen by … Continue reading Trivia Thursday: It’s So Tall!
Happy St Andrew’s Day! Today Scotland raises a dram (and rolls out the fireworks) to the country’s patron saint. Andrew’s been the patron saint of Scotland since about the middle of the 10th century. According to legend, his relics were brought to the Pictish king, Oengus mac Fergusa, in the 8th century. Around 100 years later, Oengus II led an army of Picts and Scots … Continue reading St Andrew’s Day
What do you do with your free time? Knit, bake, play Angry Birds, found societies of learning and intellectualism? Oh, you don’t do that last thing? That’s because you’re not a member of the Gresham College group which, in November 1660, formed The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge. Today, the organisation is better known as the Royal Society, and it’s possibly the … Continue reading The Royal Society
On 11 November 1918, World War I–the horrific conflict everyone hoped would end all wars–ended with the signing of the Armistice in France. Ever since, the millions dead in that conflict and the ones that came before and after have been lovingly remembered on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For weeks leading up to the day, poppy brooches start appearing on lapels–cheap paper … Continue reading Remembrance Sunday
This Week’s Question: What do Rome and Edinburgh have in common? Last Week’s Question: The first complete English-language Bible was printed on this day in 1535. What was it called? Answer: It was called the Coverdale Bible in honour of the man who compiled and published it, Myles Coverdale. Before 1535, English language versions of either the Old or the New Testament were available, but … Continue reading Trivia Thursday: Twin Cities
On 10 September 1547, the English and Scottish armies met near Musselburgh, outside Edinburgh for their last pitched battle: the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. It’s viewed as the first modern battle in the British Isles, being fought between a medieval and a Renaissance army, and was a crushing defeat for Scotland, where it became known as Black Saturday. Pinkie Cleugh came at the end of … Continue reading The Battle of Pinkie Cleugh