This Day in History - 16th May
1220Henry III of England laid the foundation stone of a new Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey, thus beginning the new abbey-church which was completed in 1245.
1532Sir Thomas More resigned as Lord Chancellor of England. He opposed the King's separation from the Catholic Church and refused to accept the King as Supreme Head of the Church of England. He was imprisoned in 1534, tried for treason in 1535 where he was convicted on perjured testimony and beheaded.
1568Mary Queen of Scots fled to England. Disguised as an ordinary woman, she crossed the River Solway and landed at Workington, Cumbria, spending her first night at Workington Hall.
1578The birth of Sir Everard Digby, a member of the group of provincial English Catholics who planned, along with Robert Catesby and others, to kill James I in the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
1862 The death of the English politician Edward Gibbon Wakefield. His abduction of and marriage to the 15-year-old heiress Ellen Turner of Pott Shrigley led to 'The Shrigley abduction case - 1826'. The couple were married in Gretna Green before Turner's father was able to notify the authorities and intervene. The marriage was annulled by Parliament and Edward Gibbon Wakefield and his brother William, who had aided him, were convicted at trial and sentenced to three years in prison.
1877The birth of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, the British pathologist who became known for his conclusive evidence in the trial of Dr. Crippen.
1908England's first diesel submarine was launched.
1943The famous ‘Dam Busters’ raid by the 617 Squadron of Lancaster bombers led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson breached the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany using the ‘bouncing’ bombs developed by Dr Barnes Wallis. The Dambuster Pilots practiced their techniques at the Derwent Dam in Derbyshire where there is this memorial to them. Regular practices also took place at Eyebrook Reservoir in Leicestershire. Of the 133 aircrew that took part, 53 men were killed and three became prisoners of war. On the ground, almost 1,300 people were killed in the resulting flooding. Although the impact on industrial production was limited, the raid gave a significant morale boost to the people of Britain.
The Eder was Europe’s largest dam, and massive damage and loss of life were caused by flood water, as well as a serious loss of hydroelectric power for the German industrial area of the Rhine.
1951The first regularly scheduled transatlantic flights began between John F Kennedy International Airport in New York and Heathrow Airport in London.
1956England's Jim Laker took all 10 Australian wickets for 88 in 46 overs at the Oval.
1983London police began wheel clamping illegally parked vehicles.
1990John Gummer (government minister) attempted to reassure the public that British beef was safe despite growing fears over BSE. He enlisted his daughter by having her filmed eating a beef burger for the benefit of the TV cameras.
1991Queen Elizabeth II addressed the U.S. Congress, the first British monarch to do so.