Your guide to London's culture and transport news and events taking place across the city.

Your guide to London's culture and transport news and events taking place across the city.

List of Historical Anniversaries

I often wonder what significant anniversaries are due at some point in the future as some of them might be of interest as triggers for blog posts or visits somewhere. However, it is often difficult to find out quickly what events have significant anniversaries - hence this section on the website.

By "significant anniversaries", I mean dates that are not, for example, the 73rd anniversary of something, but the 50th, 100th, 200th etc.

It should help to flag up interesting events.

Anniversaries during May 2024

Note: This page lists ALL anniversaries, not just the key dates.
For that more useful list, click here.

AnniversaryDetails
696th Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton - the Kingdom of England recognises the Kingdom of Scotland as an independent state. (1st May 1328)
317th The Act of Union joins the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. (1st May 1707)
265th Josiah Wedgwood founds the Wedgwood pottery company in Great Britain. (1st May 1759)
184th The Penny Black, the first official adhesive postage stamp, is issued in the United Kingdom. (1st May 1840)
173rd Queen Victoria opens the Great Exhibition in London. (1st May 1851)
149th Alexandra Palace reopens after the 1873 fire burnt it down. (1st May 1875)
67th 34 of 35 people aboard are killed when a Vickers Viking airliner crashed in Hampshire England. (1st May 1957)
92nd Protestors and police clash in Hyde Park, London, during a May day protest against Japan's attitude towards China when they try to march on the Japanese Embassy. (1st May 1932)
162nd International Exhibition of Industry and Science opens in South Kensington. (1st May 1862)
51st 1.6 million workers went on strike over government pay restraints. (1st May 1973)
85th The Sutton Hoo treasure is excavated between May to September. (1st May 1939)
507th Evil May Day riots in London against foreigners. (1st May 1517)
46th May Day becomes a bank holiday for the first time. (1st May 1978)
96th the London and North Eastern Railway's Flying Scotsman steam-hauled express train begins to run non-stop over the 393 miles (632 km) of the East Coast Main Line from London King's Cross to Edinburgh. (1st May 1928)
5th Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is sacked, after a leak from a National Security Council meeting, in which plans by Chinese firm Huawei to contribute to the UK's 5G network were discussed. He is replaced by Penny Mordaunt. (1st May 2019)
830th King Richard I of England gives Portsmouth its first Royal Charter. (2nd May 1194)
794th William de Braose is hanged by Prince Llywelyn the Great. (2nd May 1230)
488th Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, is arrested and imprisoned on charges of adultery, incest, treason and witchcraft. (2nd May 1536)
465th John Knox returns from exile to Scotland to become the leader of the beginning Scottish Reformation. (2nd May 1559)
456th Mary, Queen of Scots, escapes from Loch Leven Castle. (2nd May 1568)
413th King James Bible is published for the first time in London, England, by printer Robert Barker. (2nd May 1611)
354th King Charles II of England grants a permanent charter to the Hudson's Bay Company to open up the fur trade in North America. (2nd May 1670)
352nd John Maitland becomes Duke of Lauderdale and Earl of March. (2nd May 1672)
83rd Following the coup d'état against Iraq Crown Prince 'Abd al-Ilah earlier that year, the United Kingdom launches the Anglo-Iraqi War to restore him to power. (2nd May 1941)
72nd The world's first ever jet airliner, the De Havilland Comet 1 makes its maiden flight, from London to Johannesburg. (2nd May 1952)
55th The British ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2 departs on her maiden voyage to New York City. (2nd May 1969)
8th For the first time, Leicester City win the Premier League. (2nd May 2016)
9th Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to a daughter at St Mary's Hospital in London who becomes fourth in line to the throne and Queen Elizabeth II's fifth great-grandchild. She is subsequently named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. (2nd May 2015)
50th The fascist far-right National Front gained more than 10% of the vote in several parts of London in council elections, but failed to net any councillors. (2nd May 1974)
57th Harold Wilson announced that the United Kingdom had decided to apply for EEC membership. (2nd May 1967)
3rd Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tells the BBC that Iran's treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe "amounts to torture", as diplomatic efforts to free the 42-year-old Briton continue. (2nd May 2021)
309th "Edmund Halley's" total solar eclipse (the last one visible in London for almost 900 years). (3rd May 1715)
194th The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway is opened. It is the first steam hauled passenger railway to issue season tickets and include a tunnel. (3rd May 1830)
73rd London's Royal Festival Hall opens with the Festival of Britain (3rd May 1951)
86th Empire Exhibition opens in Glasgow. (3rd May 1938)
907th Merton Priory in Surrey is consecrated. (3rd May 1117)
56th Mr Frederick West (aged 45) becomes Britain's first heart transplant patient. (3rd May 1968)
17th Madeleine McCann, a three-year-old Leicestershire girl, was reported missing in Algarve, Portugal. (3rd May 2007)
609th Religious reformers John Wycliffe and Jan Hus are condemned as heretics at the Council of Constance. (4th May 1415)
553rd Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Tewkesbury: Edward IV defeats a Lancastrian Army and kills Edward, Prince of Wales. (4th May 1471)
349th King Charles II of England orders the construction of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. (4th May 1675)
165th The Cornwall Railway opens across the Royal Albert Bridge linking the counties of Devon and Cornwall in England. (4th May 1859)
120th Charles Stewart Rolls meets Frederick Henry Royce at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, England. (4th May 1904)
45th Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. (4th May 1979)
90th Fifty-four-year-old grandmother Mrs G. E. Alington becomes the first woman in Britain to complete a parachute jump, skydiving from 1500 feet over Brooklands Aerodrome. (4th May 1934)
12th Boris Johnson is re-elected as Mayor of London with 51.5% of the vote.Ken Livingston subsequently says it would be his 'last election'. In the London Assembly, Labour becomes the party with the greatest number of seats, with minor losses for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The British National Party loses its only seat. Of 25 seats, the final tally stands at: Labour 12, Conservatives 9, Liberal Democrats 2, Green 2. (4th May 2012)
76th release of Sir Laurence Olivier's film of Shakespeare's Hamlet, which will be the first British film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. (4th May 1948)
6th Matthew Hedges is arrested in the United Arab Emirates on suspicion of spying. (5th May 2018)
809th Rebel barons renounce their allegiance to King John of England - part of a chain of events leading to the signing of the Magna Carta. (5th May 1215)
384th King Charles I of England dissolves the Short Parliament. (5th May 1640)
119th The trial in the Stratton Brothers case begins in London, England; it marks the first time that fingerprint evidence is used to gain a conviction. (5th May 1905)
51st First episode of The Ascent of Man, written and presented by Jacob Bronowski, aired on BBC. (5th May 1973)
57th The British-designed satellite Ariel 3, the first to be developed outside the Soviet Union or United States was launched. (5th May 1967)
2nd The Bank of England raises the interest rate from 0.75 to 1.0%, its highest level since February 2009 and the fourth successive increase. The Bank also warns that inflation could reach 10% later in 2022. (5th May 2022)
488th King Henry VIII orders English language Bibles be placed in every church. (6th May 1536)
365th A faction of the British Army removes Richard Cromwell as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth and reinstalls the Rump Parliament. (6th May 1659)
267th English poet Christopher Smart is admitted into St Luke's Hospital for Lunatics in London, beginning his six-year confinement to mental asylums. (6th May 1757)
184th The Penny Black postage stamp becomes valid for use in the UK. (6th May 1840)
180th The Glaciarium, the world's first mechanically frozen ice rink, opens. (6th May 1844)
114th George V becomes King of the United Kingdom upon the death of his father, Edward VII. (6th May 1910)
70th Roger Bannister becomes the first person to run the mile in under four minutes. (6th May 1954)
64th More than 20 million viewers watch the first televised royal wedding when Princess Margaret marries Anthony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey. (6th May 1960)
58th Myra Hindley and Ian Brady are sentenced to life imprisonment for the Moors Murders. (6th May 1966)
82nd The Radio Doctor (Charles Hill) makes his first BBC radio broadcast giving avuncular health care advice. (6th May 1942)
50th Inauguration of full electric service on British Rail's West Coast Main Line through to Glasgow. (6th May 1974)
85th Dorothy Garrod is elected to the Disney Professorship of Archaeology in the University of Cambridge, the first woman to hold an Oxbridge chair. (6th May 1939)
107th Bomb dropped on London by a fixed-wing aircraft (one death). (6th May 1917)
2nd 2022 United Kingdom local elections: The Conservatives suffer a net loss of 485 seats, which includes the London boroughs of Barnet, Wandsworth, and Westminster, formerly considered Tory strongholds. Labour gain than 108 seats, while the Liberal Democrats gain 240. The Green Party has one of its best ever results, with a net gain of 87 seats. In Scotland, the SNP gains 22 seats, while in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein receives the largest vote share. (6th May 2022)
2nd Convenience store chain McColl's is placed into administration, putting more than 16,000 jobs at risk. (6th May 2022)
2nd Durham Police launch an investigation into whether Keir Starmer broke lockdown rules after he drank beer at an MP's constituency office during a visit to the area (dubbed 'Beergate'). (6th May 2022)
3rd 2021 United Kingdom local elections: Elections for local councils and directly elected mayors are held in England and police and crime commissioners in England and Wales, including many which were originally due to take place in May 2020 but were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (6th May 2021)
3rd 2021 Senedd election: Labour keep hold of the Senedd and match the party's best ever result, with 30 out of 60 seats. (6th May 2021)
3rd The BBC reports that almost all 50 of the UK's biggest employers do not plan to return staff to the office full-time, but will instead favour a new "hybrid" of in-person and remote work. (6th May 2021)
3rd A protest over post-Brexit rights by French fishermen at Saint Helier, Jersey, is brought to an end, following talks to resolve the dispute. Two Royal Navy patrol vessels remain in place around the island. (6th May 2021)
84th The Norway Debate in the House of Commons begins, and leads to the replacement of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain with Winston Churchill three days later. (7th May 1940)
72nd The concept of the integrated circuit, the basis for all modern computers, is first published by Geoffrey W.A. Dummer. (7th May 1952)
8th The Labour MP Sadiq Khan is sworn in as mayor of London, succeeding Boris Johnson and becoming London's first Muslim mayor. (7th May 2016)
185th Robert Peel asks that Queen Victoria dismiss her Ladies of the Bedchamber as a condition for forming a government. Victoria refuses to accept the condition, and Melbourne is persuaded to stay on as Prime Minister. (7th May 1839)
109th British ocean liner RMS Lusitania is sunk by Imperial German Navy U-boat U-20 off the south-west coast of Ireland, killing 1,198 civilians en route from New York to Liverpool. (7th May 1915)
259th HMS Victory is launched at Chatham Dockyard; it is the oldest naval ship still in commission. (7th May 1765)
96th passage of the Representation of the People Act lowers the voting age for women from 30 to 21 giving them equal suffrage with men from 2 July. (7th May 1928)
2nd 2022 monkeypox outbreak: Public Health England informs the World Health Organization that a case of monkeypox has been detected in an individual who travelled to Nigeria and returned to the UK, where they were hospitalised and isolated. In the following days and weeks, additional cases begin to be reported, both in the UK and other countries. (7th May 2022)
574th Jack Cade's Rebellion: Kentishmen revolt against King Henry VI. (8th May 1450)
79th World War II: V-E Day, combat ends in Europe. German forces agree in Rheims, France, to an unconditional surrender. (8th May 1945)
79th V-E Day is celebrated throughout the UK. Churchill makes a victory speech and appears on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Street parties take place throughout the country. (8th May 1945)
56th the Kray Twins, 34-year-old Ronnie and Reggie, are among 18 men arrested in dawn raids across London. They stand accused of a series of crimes including murder, fraud, blackmail and assault. Their 41-year-old brother Charlie Kray is one of the other men under arrest. (8th May 1968)
5th A British teenager, Isabelle Holdaway, 17, is reported to be the first patient to receive a genetically modified phage therapy to treat a drug-resistant infection. (8th May 2019)
15th The Daily Telegraph obtains a full copy of MPs' expenses claims and begins publishing them unredacted prior to the official parliamentary publication date of 1 July, reigniting the MPs' expenses controversy. (8th May 2009)
3rd Angela Rayner is removed from her roles as the Labour Party's chair and national campaign coordinator by Keir Starmer, following the local election results. (8th May 2021)
353rd Thomas Blood, disguised as a clergyman, attempts to steal England's Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. (9th May 1671)
298th Five men arrested during a raid on Mother Clap's molly house in London are executed at Tyburn. (9th May 1726)
137th Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show opens in London. (9th May 1887)
120th The steam locomotive City of Truro becomes the first steam engine in Europe to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h). (9th May 1904)
79th World War II: The Channel Islands are liberated by the British after five years of German occupation. (9th May 1945)
5th Broadcaster Danny Baker is fired from BBC Radio 5 Live after tweeting a "royal baby" image of a chimpanzee. (9th May 2019)
19th The Sellafield nuclear plant's Thorp reprocessing facility in Cumbria, is closed down due to the confirmation of a 20 tonne leak of highly radioactive uranium and plutonium fuel through a fractured pipe. (9th May 2005)
17th The Ministry of Justice came into existence in the United Kingdom, reorganised from the Department for Constitutional Affairs and taking over some responsibilities from the Home Office. (9th May 2007)
3rd Prince Michael of Kent is accused of using his royal status to sell access to Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime, following an investigation by Channel 4 News and The Sunday Times. The Prince denies the allegations. (9th May 2021)
733rd Scottish nobles recognize the authority of Edward I of England. (10th May 1291)
256th John Wilkes is imprisoned for writing an article for The North Briton severely criticizing King George III. This action provokes rioting in London. (10th May 1768)
200th The National Gallery in London opens to the public. (10th May 1824)
84th World War II: The first German bombs of the war fall on England at Chilham and Petham, in Kent. (10th May 1940)
84th World War II: Winston Churchill is appointed Prime Minister (10th May 1940)
83rd World War II: The House of Commons in London is damaged by the Luftwaffe in an air raid. (10th May 1941)
83rd World War II: Rudolf Hess parachutes into Scotland to try to negotiate a peace deal between the United Kingdom and Nazi Germany. (10th May 1941)
92nd James Chadwick discovers the neutron. (10th May 1932)
86th An underground explosion at Markham Colliery, near Staveley, Derbyshire, kills 79. (10th May 1938)
156th "Murphy riots" against Irish people in Ashton-under-Lyne. (10th May 1868)
20th Maxine Carr is released from prison with a new identity after serving half of her sentence for perverting the course of justice. (10th May 2004)
2nd 2022 State Opening of Parliament: Charles, Prince of Wales and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge open the third session of the 2019 Parliament on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II with the traditional Queen's Speech, the first time an heir-apparent to the throne has opened Parliament since George IV did so on behalf of his father, George III. (10th May 2022)
212th Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons. (11th May 1812)
204th Launch of HMS Beagle, the ship that took Charles Darwin on his scientific voyage. (11th May 1820)
206th The Old Vic is founded as the Royal Coburg Theatre in South London by James King, Daniel Dunn and John T. Serres. (11th May 1818)
60th Terence Conran opens the first Habitat store on London's Fulham Road. (11th May 1964)
59th The National Trust officially launches its long-term Enterprise Neptune project to acquire or put under covenant a substantial part of the Welsh, English and Northern Irish coastline. (11th May 1965)
14th With a coalition government between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats still being finalised, David Cameron was appointed Prime Minister by the Queen following Brown's resignation. (11th May 2010)
23rd House of Commons (Removal of Clergy Disqualification) Act 2001 removes disqualifications for clergy in standing for election as Members of Parliament and other elected bodies. (11th May 2001)
20th Stockline Plastics factory explosion: four people die in an explosion at a factory in Glasgow. (11th May 2004)
833rd Richard I of England marries Berengaria of Navarre who is crowned Queen consort of England the same day. (12th May 1191)
760th The Battle of Lewes, between King Henry III of England and the rebel Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, begins. (12th May 1264)
335th King William's War: William III of England joins the League of Augsburg starting a war with France. (12th May 1689)
98th UK General Strike 1926: A nine-day general strike by trade unions ends. (12th May 1926)
87th George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon are crowned King and Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (12th May 1937)
7th Computers across the United Kingdom are hit by a large-scale ransomware cyber-attack, causing major disruption. (12th May 2017)
235th William Wilberforce makes his first major speech in the House of Commons on the abolition of the slave trade. (12th May 1789)
79th German forces in the Channel Islands, the only occupied part of the British Isles, surrender. (12th May 1945)
19th Malcolm Glazer gains control of Manchester United after securing a 70% share, ending more than thirty years of ownership by the Edwards family. (12th May 2005)
2nd Partygate: Police issue another 50 fixed penalty notices for breaches of COVID-19 rules in Downing Street and other government buildings. (12th May 2022)
509th Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk are officially married at Greenwich. (13th May 1515)
456th Battle of Langside: the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, are defeated by a confederacy of Scottish Protestants under James Stewart, Earl of Moray, her half-brother. (13th May 1568)
237th Captain Arthur Phillip leaves Portsmouth, England, with eleven ships full of convicts (the "First Fleet") to establish a penal colony in Australia. (13th May 1787)
163rd American Civil War: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom issues a "proclamation of neutrality" which recognizes the breakaway states as having belligerent rights. (13th May 1861)
112th The Royal Flying Corps (now the Royal Air Force) is established in the United Kingdom. (13th May 1912)
84th Winston Churchill makes his "blood, toil, tears, and sweat" speech to the House of Commons. (13th May 1940)
185th First Rebecca Riots targeted against Welsh turnpikes, at Efailwen in Carmarthenshire. (13th May 1839)
76th National Assistance Act supersedes the old Poor Law system. (13th May 1948)
5th The Jeremy Kyle Show is suspended indefinitely following the death of a participant, shortly after appearing on an unbroadcast programme. The show is axed by ITV two days later. (13th May 2019)
760th Battle of Lewes: Henry III of England is captured and forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, making Simon de Montfort the de facto ruler of England. (14th May 1264)
277th War of the Austrian Succession: A British fleet under Admiral George Anson defeats the French at the First Battle of Cape Finisterre. (14th May 1747)
228th Edward Jenner administers the first smallpox vaccination. (14th May 1796)
135th The children's charity National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is launched in London. (14th May 1889)
116th Wood Lane extension on London Underground's Central Line opens. (14th May 1908)
805th William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke -- the "greatest knight who ever lived" dies. (14th May 1219)
67th End of petrol rationing following the Suez Crisis. (14th May 1957)
14th Stephen Timms, Labour MP and former treasury minister, was wounded in a stabbing in his East Ham constituency in Newham, London. (14th May 2010)
76th the murder of June Anne Devaney, a three-year-old girl in Blackburn leads to the fingerprinting of more than 40,000 men in the city in an attempt to find the murderer. (14th May 1948)
76th the British Mandate of Palestine is officially terminated as the state of Israel comes into being. (14th May 1948)
20th Piers Morgan is dismissed as editor of the Daily Mirror after the newspaper published fake pictures of Iraqi prisoner abuse. (14th May 2004)
2nd Eurovision Song Contest 2022: The UK entry performed by Sam Ryder finishes in second place with 466 points, and wins the jury vote. (14th May 2022)
488th Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, stands trial in London on charges of treason, adultery and incest. She is condemned to death by a specially-selected jury. (15th May 1536)
457th Mary, Queen of Scots, marries James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, her third husband. (15th May 1567)
306th James Puckle, a London lawyer, patents the world's first machine gun. (15th May 1718)
224th George III of the United Kingdom survives an assassination attempt by James Hadfield, who is later acquitted by reason of insanity. (15th May 1800)
166th Opening of the present Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. (15th May 1858)
88th Amy Johnson arrives back in England after a record-breaking return flight to Cape Town (15th May 1936)
51st Prime Minister Edward Heath described large payments made by Lonrho to Duncan Sandys through the tax haven of the Cayman Islands at a time when the government is trying to implement a counter-inflation policy as the "unacceptable face of capitalism" (15th May 1973)
23rd Medication prices fall as a result of a court ruling which puts an end to the drug industry's price-fixing policies. (15th May 2001)
3rd The final Debenhams store is closed, after more than 240 years in business. The company continues to trade online. (15th May 2021)
3rd COVID-19 in the UK: The number of people having received their second dose of a vaccine exceeds 20 million. (15th May 2021)
492nd Sir Thomas More resigns as Lord Chancellor of England. (16th May 1532)
456th Mary, Queen of Scots, flees to England. (16th May 1568)
261st James Boswell is introduced to Samuel Johnson at Thomas Davies's bookshop in London. (16th May 1763)
81st Operation Chastise (the 'Dambuster Raid') takes place: No. 617 Squadron RAF use bouncing bombs to breach German dams in the Ruhr Valley. (16th May 1943)
9th The Church of Scotland votes to allow the ordination of gay ministers in civil partnerships. (16th May 2015)
56th Ronan Point tower block at Newham in east London collapses after a gas explosion, killing four occupants. (16th May 1968)
96th opening of Royal Tweed Bridge, Berwick-upon-Tweed, constructed from reinforced concrete to the design of L. G. Mouchel & Partners. (16th May 1928)
2nd Blackpool player Jake Daniels becomes the first male football player to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990. (16th May 2022)
6th The UK government announces that fixed odds betting terminals will be reduced to £2 under new rules, but bookmakers warns that the cut could lead to thousands of outlets closing. (17th May 2018)
503rd Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, is executed for treason. (17th May 1521)
488th George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford and four other men are executed for treason. (17th May 1536)
434th Anne of Denmark is crowned Queen of Scotland. (17th May 1590)
109th The last British Liberal Party government (led by Herbert Henry Asquith) falls. (17th May 1915)
50th The Loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force carried out the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in the Republic of Ireland. (17th May 1974)
59th An underground explosion at Cambrian Colliery in Clydach Vale kills 31. (17th May 1965)
89th The last purely Liberal government ends when Prime Minister Herbert Asquith decides to form an all-party coalition, precipitated by reports in the press of deficiencies in the supply of shells for the army. (17th May 1935)
14th After a month of disruption, flight restrictions were lifted at all British airports after the volcanic ash over the nation's airspace moved away. (17th May 2010)
5th The Ministry of Justice announces plans to introduce "Helen's Law", which would require a person convicted of murder without the presence of a body to reveal the location of their victim's remains before being considered for parole. (17th May 2019)
19th George Galloway, Respect Party MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, appears before the United States Senate to defend himself against charges that he profited from Saddam Hussein's regime, launching a tirade against the Senators who had accused him and attacking the war in Iraq. (17th May 2005)
2nd Unemployment falls to its lowest level since 1974, with more job vacancies (1.3 million) than unemployed people in the UK for the first time since records began. (17th May 2022)
2nd Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announces a plan to unilaterally abandon parts of the Northern Ireland protocol. (17th May 2022)
2nd An unnamed Conservative MP is arrested for rape and sexual assault charges spanning seven years between 2002 and 2009. (17th May 2022)
2nd The Queen visits Paddington Station to attend the official event to mark the completion of London Underground's Elizabeth line. (17th May 2022)
3rd Stage three of the government's conditional lockdown easing goes ahead, enabling larger numbers of people to gather together, including at indoor venues. (17th May 2021)
872nd Henry II of England marries Eleanor of Aquitaine. (18th May 1152)
431st Playwright Thomas Kyd's accusations of heresy lead to an arrest warrant for Christopher Marlowe. (18th May 1593)
268th The Seven Years' War begins when Great Britain declares war on France. (18th May 1756)
212th John Bellingham is found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging for the assassination of British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval. (18th May 1812)
181st The Disruption in Edinburgh of the Free Church of Scotland from the Church of Scotland. (18th May 1843)
12th The Olympic flame arrives in Cornwall on board a flight from Athens, ready for the torch relay ahead of the 2012 Summer Olympics. (18th May 2012)
2nd Inflation hits 9%, up from 7% the previous month and the highest level since 1982. The figure is the highest of any G7 nation. (18th May 2022)
525th Catherine of Aragon is married by proxy to Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales. Catherine is 13 and Arthur is 12. (19th May 1499)
488th Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII of England, is beheaded for adultery, treason, and incest. (19th May 1536)
456th Queen Elizabeth I of England orders the arrest of Mary, Queen of Scots. (19th May 1568)
375th An Act of Parliament declaring England a Commonwealth is passed by the Long Parliament. England would be a republic for the next eleven years. (19th May 1649)
179th Captain Sir John Franklin and his ill-fated Arctic expedition depart from Greenhithe, England. (19th May 1845)
127th Oscar Wilde is released from Reading Gaol. (19th May 1897)
20th Fathers 4 Justice stage a protest in the House of Commons at Prime Minister's Question Time by throwing purple powder at Tony Blair. (19th May 2004)
15th The Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, announces his resignation from the office after coming under criticism for his handling of the ongoing expenses row. (19th May 2009)
2nd Downing Street confirms Prime Minister Johnson will not receive any further fines after police conclude their investigation into the Partygate affair. (19th May 2022)
1339th The Battle of Dunnichen or Nechtansmere is fought between a Pictish army under King Bridei III and the invading Northumbrians under King Ecgfrith, who are decisively defeated. (20th May 0685)
807th The Second Battle of Lincoln is fought near Lincoln, England, resulting in the defeat of Prince Louis of France by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke. (20th May 1217)
527th John Cabot sets sail from Bristol, England, on his ship Matthew looking for a route to the west (other documents give a May 2 date). (20th May 1497)
415th Shakespeare's sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe. (20th May 1609)
184th York Minster is badly damaged by fire (20th May 1840)
111th The first Chelsea Flower Show held in London. (20th May 1913)
13th Queen Elizabeth II made a state visit to the Republic of Ireland, the first by a reigning monarch of the United Kingdom to Dublin since 1911. (20th May 2011)
157th Laying of the foundation stone of the Royal Albert Hall by Queen Victoria. (20th May 1867)
3rd The BBC publishes Lord Dyson's independent investigation into the circumstances around the 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales. The inquiry finds Martin Bashir guilty of deceit and breaching editorial conduct to obtain the interview. (20th May 2021)
470th A royal Charter is granted to Derby School in Derby, England. (21st May 1554)
130th The Manchester Ship Canal in England is officially opened by Queen Victoria, who knights its designer Sir Edward Leader Williams. (21st May 1894)
107th The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is established through Royal Charter to mark, record and maintain the graves and places of commemoration of Commonwealth of Nations military forces. (21st May 1917)
58th The Ulster Volunteer Force declares war on the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland. (21st May 1966)
9th Cashless payments now exceed the use of notes and coins, with cash volumes expected to fall by 30% over the next ten years, according to the Payments Council. (21st May 2015)
87th Nearly 4000 Basque child refugees of the spanish Civil War arrive at Southampton. (21st May 1937)
66th United Kingdom Postmaster General Ernest Marples announces that from December, Subscriber Trunk Dialling will be introduced in the Bristol area. (21st May 1958)
5th Jamie Oliver's restaurant group collapses into administration, putting 1,300 jobs at risk. (21st May 2019)
17th A fire damaged the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. (21st May 2007)
15th After a long campaign by Gurkha veterans who served in the British Armed Forces before 1997, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announces that all Gurkha veterans who have served four years or more in the British Army before 1997 will be allowed to settle in Britain. (21st May 2009)
2nd Five people are injured after parts of spectator stands collapse during a rehearsal for the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in central London. (21st May 2022)
6th British retailer Marks & Spencer confirms the closure of 100 stores as part of their reorganisation of the company by 2022. (22nd May 2018)
647th Pope Gregory XI issues five papal bulls to denounce the doctrines of English theologian John Wycliffe. (22nd May 1377)
569th Wars of the Roses: at the First Battle of St Albans, Richard, Duke of York, defeats and captures King Henry VI of England. (22nd May 1455)
217th Most of the English town of Chudleigh is destroyed by fire (22nd May 1807)
208th A mob in Littleport, Cambridgeshire, England, riots over high unemployment and rising grain costs; the rioting spreads to Ely the next day. (22nd May 1816)
184th The transporting of British convicts to the New South Wales colony is abolished. (22nd May 1840)
127th The Blackwall Tunnel under the River Thames is officially opened (22nd May 1897)
121st Launch of the White Star Liner, SS Ionic. (22nd May 1903)
109th Three trains collide in the Quintinshill rail crash near Gretna Green, Scotland, killing 227 people and injuring 246; the accident is found to be the result of non-standard operating practices during a shift change at a busy junction. (22nd May 1915)
226th The Irish Rebellion of 1798 led by the United Irishmen against British rule begins. (22nd May 1798)
123rd Seventy-eight miners die in the Caerphilly pit disaster in South Wales. (22nd May 1901)
262nd Royal family first takes up residence at Buckingham House. (22nd May 1762)
7th Manchester Arena is attacked by a suicide bomber following a music concert by American singer Ariana Grande, resulting in multiple casualties. It is the most deadly attack in the UK since the 7 July 2005 London bombings and the first in the North of England since the IRA bombing of Manchester in June 1996. (22nd May 2017)
9th An earthquake of magnitude 4.2 is felt across East Kent. (22nd May 2015)
11th In Woolwich, Fusilier Lee Rigby is killed in the street. Two men carrying knives and a meat cleaver are subsequently shot and apprehended by police. The government treats the killing as a terrorist incident. (22nd May 2013)
109th Quintinshill rail disaster near Gretna Green in Scotland: collision and fire kill 226, mostly troops, the largest number of fatalities in a rail accident in the UK. (22nd May 1915)
12th The Royal Navy's first female warship commander, Commander Sarah West, takes up her post on HMS Portland at Rosyth. (22nd May 2012)
13th The Royal Navy ended its training role in Iraq, concluding the British military Operation Telic there. (22nd May 2011)
56th the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland permits the ordination of women as ministers. (22nd May 1968)
16th Construction work began on the Olympic Stadium being built for the 2012 games. (22nd May 2008)
15th Whitelee Wind Farm, the largest onshore wind farm in Europe, officially opens in Scotland. (22nd May 2009)
3rd The total number of COVID vaccines administered in England exceeds 50 million. (22nd May 2021)
3rd The UK scores zero points in the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest with James Newman's entry 'Embers', marking the first time the contest has seen an entry that did not score any points since the new voting system was introduced in 2016. (22nd May 2021)
491st The marriage of King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon is declared null and void. (23rd May 1533)
323rd After being convicted of piracy and of murdering William Moore, Captain William Kidd is hanged in London. (23rd May 1701)
10th A major fire damages Glasgow School of Art, one of Scotland's most iconic buildings, for the first time. (23rd May 2014)
2nd Former Wakefield Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan is sentenced to 18 months in jail for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy. (23rd May 2022)
2nd Photos published by ITV News show Boris Johnson holding up a glass at a leaving do on 13 November 2020, when COVID-19 regulations meant such gatherings were only allowed if reasonably necessary for work purposes. The Met Police's decision-making process during the inquiry into events at No 10 and Whitehall is questioned by lawyers, while MPs suggest the photos prove Johnson lied at the dispatch box. (23rd May 2022)
6th The Chequered Skipper butterfly, which became extinct in the wild in 1976 in England, is reintroduced within Rockingham Forest. (24th May 2018)
537th The ten-year-old Lambert Simnel is crowned in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland with the name of Edward VI in a bid to threaten King Henry VII's reign. (24th May 1487)
335th The English Parliament passes the Act of Toleration protecting Protestants. Roman Catholics are intentionally excluded. (24th May 1689)
51st Earl Jellicoe resigns as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords. (24th May 1973)
48th The London to Washington, D.C. Concorde service begins. (24th May 1976)
52nd The final stretch of the M6 motorway opens between junctions 6 (Spaghetti Junction) and 7 north of Birmingham, with the fully operational motorway stretching more than 200 miles from Rugby to Carlisle, more than a decade after the first sections were opened. (24th May 1972)
162nd New Westminster Bridge, designed by Thomas Page, is opened. (24th May 1862)
57th The Royal Navy Leander-class frigate HMS Andromeda was launched at Portsmouth Dockyard, the last ship to be built there. (24th May 1967)
97th Britain severs diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union because of revelations of espionage and underground agitation. (24th May 1927)
5th Prime Minister Theresa May announces her resignation as Conservative Party leader, effective 7 June. (24th May 2019)
22nd Falkirk Wheel boat lift opens in Scotland, also marking the reopening of the Union Canal for leisure traffic. (24th May 2002)
17th Jenny Bailey became the first transgender mayor in the United Kingdom. (24th May 2007)
2nd The Elizabeth Line opens in London. (24th May 2022)
2nd Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers vote overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, paving the way for the first national rail strike since 1994. (24th May 2022)
365th Richard Cromwell resigns as Lord Protector of England following the restoration of the Long Parliament, beginning a second brief period of the republican government called the Commonwealth of England. (25th May 1659)
146th Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera H.M.S. Pinafore opens at the Opera Comique in London. (25th May 1878)
129th Oscar Wilde is convicted of "committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons" and sentenced to serve two years in prison. (25th May 1895)
110th The United Kingdom's House of Commons passes the Home Rule Act for devolution in Ireland. (25th May 1914)
62nd The new Coventry Cathedral is consecrated. (25th May 1962)
212th Felling mine disaster: Mine explosion at Felling colliery near Jarrow - 96 dead. (25th May 1812)
57th Shadow cabinet Tory MP Enoch Powell described Britain as the "sick man of Europe" in his latest verbal attack on the Labour government. (25th May 1967)
107th First daylight bombing raid on the UK by fixed-wing aircraft: 95 killed in Folkestone area. (25th May 1917)
46th Liberal Party leader David Steel announces that the Lib-Lab pact will be dissolved at the end of the current Parliamentary session by mutual consent, leaving Britain with a minority Labour government. (25th May 1978)
2nd The full version of the Gray Report is published. In the 37-page document, Sue Gray concludes that senior Downing Street officials, both political and non-political, "bear responsibility" for the culture of partying during COVID lockdowns. (25th May 2022)
127th Dracula, a novel by Irish author Bram Stoker is published. (26th May 1897)
118th Vauxhall Bridge is opened in London. (26th May 1906)
262nd Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne resigns and is succeeded as Prime Minister by John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute; a large number of Newcastle's 'Old Corps Whig' followers are dismissed from public office in the following months in what is known as the "Massacre of the Pelhamite Innocents". (26th May 1762)
156th last public hanging in Britain - Fenian bomber Michael Barrett outside Newgate Prison in London for his part in the Clerkenwell explosion of 1867. (26th May 1868)
5th The first black female Oxbridge master, Sonia Alleyne, is appointed to lead Jesus College, Cambridge, from October. (26th May 2019)
2nd Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces a £15 billion package of measures to address soaring energy costs, partly offset by a 25% windfall tax on oil and gas firms' profits. He tells the Commons that every UK household will get an energy bill discount of £400 in October, while the poorest households will also get a payment of £650 to ease living costs. (26th May 2022)
871st Malcolm IV becomes King of Scotland. (27th May 1153)
226th The Battle of Oulart Hill takes place in Wexford, Ireland. (27th May 1798)
175th The Great Hall of Euston station in London is opened. (27th May 1849)
49th The Dibble's Bridge coach crash near Grassington, North Yorkshire, England kills 32 - the highest ever death toll in a road accident in the United Kingdom. (27th May 1975)
87th King George VI passes letters patent denying the style of Royal Highness to the wife and descendants of the Duke of Windsor. (27th May 1937)
161st Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum at Crowthorne receives its first patients. (27th May 1863)
60th Pirate radio station Radio Sutch begins broadcasting from Shivering Sands Army Fort in the Thames Estuary. (27th May 1964)
49th Dibbles Bridge coach crash: a tour coach ran away following brake failure and falls off a bridge near Hebden, North Yorkshire, en route to Grassington, killing the driver and 31 women pensioners on board. (27th May 1975)
69th Anthony Eden wins the general election for the Conservative Party with a majority of 31 seats, an improvement on the 17-seat majority gained by his predecessor Sir Winston Churchill four years ago. (27th May 1955)
47th Prime Minister James Callaghan opened the M5 motorway, which is now complete with the opening of the final stretch around Exeter, 15 years after the first stretch of the motorway was opened. (27th May 1977)
14th Netto announced the sale of all its UK stores to Asda in a £778 million deal. (27th May 2010)
2nd The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that coronavirus infections have declined to around a million, from a peak of 4.9 million in early April, and are continuing to fall. (27th May 2022)
2nd A new version of the Ministerial Code is published, removing the need for a minister to resign over breaches of its rules. (27th May 2022)
3rd A self-driving bus begins trials in Cambridge, the first service of its kind, running autonomously for 24 hours a day. (27th May 2021)
521st James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor are married according to a Papal Bull by Pope Alexander VI. A Treaty of Everlasting Peace between Scotland and England signed on that occasion results in a peace that lasts ten years. (28th May 1503)
491st The Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer declares the marriage of King Henry VIII of England to Anne Boleyn valid. (28th May 1533)
436th The Spanish Armada, with 130 ships and 30,000 men, sets sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel. (It will take until May 30 for all ships to leave port). (28th May 1588)
88th Alan Turing submits On Computable Numbers for publication. (28th May 1936)
73rd British radio comedy programme The Goon Show was broadcast on BBC for the first time. (28th May 1951)
63rd Peter Benenson's article The Forgotten Prisoners is published in several internationally read newspapers. This will later be thought of as the founding of the human rights organization Amnesty International. (28th May 1961)
50th Northern Ireland's power-sharing Sunningdale Agreement collapses following a general strike by loyalists. (28th May 1974)
52nd Edward, Duke of Windsor, dies of cancer in France at the age of 77, 35 years after his abdication as king. (28th May 1972)
90th Opening of first Glyndebourne Festival Opera season. (28th May 1934)
79th William Joyce, known as "Lord Haw-Haw" is captured. He is later charged with high treason in London for his English-language wartime broadcasts on German radio. He is hanged in January 1946. (28th May 1945)
159th The Mimosa sets sail, carrying Welsh emigrants to Patagonia. (28th May 1865)
87th Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister after Baldwin's retirement. (28th May 1937)
17th The Foreign Office submitted a formal request to the Russian Government for the extradition of ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi to face charges over the murder of his former colleague Alexander Litvinenko in London. (28th May 2007)
364th Charles II is restored to the throne of Great Britain. (29th May 1660)
226th United Irishmen Rebellion: Between 300 and 500 United Irishmen are massacred by the British Army in County Kildare, Ireland. (29th May 1798)
70th Diane Leather becomes the first woman to break the five-minute mile, at the Alexander Sports Ground in Birmingham. (29th May 1954)
57th The first Spring Bank Holiday occurred on a fixed date of the last Monday in May, replacing the former Whitsun holiday in England and Wales. (29th May 1967)
21st Andrew Gilligan broadcasts a report on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme stating that the government claimed in its dossier, that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within forty-five minutes knowing the claim to be dubious. A political storm ensues. Gilligan's source is David Kelly, a weapons expert. (29th May 2003)
17th The Longbridge car factory in Birmingham re-opened, two years after the bankruptcy of MG Rover. The re-opened factory was a scaled down operation which would initially just produce the MG TF sports car, though there were plans by the Chinese owners Nanjing Automobile to build other cars there in the future. (29th May 2007)
6th The first 3D printed human corneas are created at Newcastle University. (30th May 2018)
593rd Hundred Years' War: in Rouen, France, 19-year-old Joan of Arc is burned at the stake by an English-dominated tribunal. (30th May 1431)
488th King Henry VIII of England marries Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting to his first two wives. (30th May 1536)
382nd From this date all honours granted by Charles I are retrospectively annulled by Parliament. (30th May 1642)
182nd John Francis attempts to murder Queen Victoria as she drives down Constitution Hill, London with Prince Albert. (30th May 1842)
165th Westminster's Big Ben rang for the first time in London. (30th May 1859)
110th The new and then largest Cunard ocean liner RMS Aquitania, 45,647 tons, sets sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City. (30th May 1914)
82nd World War II: 1000 British bombers launch a 90-minute attack on Cologne, Germany. (30th May 1942)
52nd The Angry Brigade goes on trial over a series of 25 bombings throughout the UK. (30th May 1972)
110th RMS Aquitania makes her maiden voyage. (30th May 1914)
210th Britain takes control of Malta, Tobago, Saint Lucia, and Mauritius from France. (30th May 1814)
5th The UK's first 5G mobile network becomes operational, initially covering parts of six cities: Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester. (30th May 2019)
17th A fire at a Magnox nuclear power station in Oldbury, South Gloucestershire, forced its indefinite closure. British Nuclear Group announced that the fire had not damaged the reactor and was in a "non-nuclear" area. (30th May 2007)
2nd A 3.8 magnitude earthquake is recorded in Shropshire, with its epicentre at Wem in the north of the county. (30th May 2022)
446th Martin Frobisher sails from Harwich, England to Frobisher Bay, Canada, eventually to mine fool's gold, used to pave streets in London. (31st May 1578)
355th Citing poor eyesight, Samuel Pepys records the last event in his diary. (31st May 1669)
346th The Godiva procession through Coventry begins. (31st May 1678)
113th The hull of the ocean liner RMS Titanic is launched. (31st May 1911)
186th Battle of Bossenden Wood: In Kent, self-declared Messiah John N. Thom and a band of around 35 agricultural labourers are surrounded by soldiers of the 45th Regiment of Foot sent to arrest them following the earlier murder of a policeman. Thom and ten followers, together with an officer and a constable, are killed in what is sometimes described as the last battle on English soil. (31st May 1838)
135th The Naval Defence Act passed and dictates that the fleet strength of the Royal Navy must be equal to that of at least any two other countries (31st May 1889)
49th Jim'll Fix It, presented by Jimmy Savile, first shown on BBC1 television. (31st May 1975)
89th The driving test becomes compulsory. (31st May 1935)
109th Zeppelins raid London for the first time. (31st May 1915)
2nd Rwanda asylum plan: The Home Office confirms 14 June as the date on which the first flight carrying migrants who have crossed the English Channel will leave for Rwanda. (31st May 2022)
2nd Bradford is named the 2025 UK City of Culture. (31st May 2022)

 

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