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This Day in History - 20th January


1265 England's first Parliament met at Westminster Hall in London, convened by the Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort.

1356 Edward Balliol abdicated as King of Scotland in favour of Edward III and in exchange for an English pension. He spent the rest of his life living in obscurity and died in 1367, at Wheatley, Doncaster.


1568 The death of Miles Coverdale, aged 80, translator and publisher of the first complete Bible to be printed in English (1535).


1649 Charles I went on trial for treason and other 'high crimes'. He was beheaded ten days later. It was reported at his execution that he wore two shirts to prevent the cold weather causing any noticeable shivers that the assembled crowd could have mistaken for fear or weakness.


1783 Great Britain signed a peace treaty with France and Spain, officially ending hostilities in the American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War of Independence).


1850 The opening of the Penny Savings Bank, to encourage thrift amongst the poor.


1882 A draper’s shop called Coxon & Company, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, became the first shop in the world to be lit by incandescent electric light. It used Swan lamps.


1900 The death of Richard Doddridge Blackmore (known as R. D. Blackmore).


1936 George V died and was succeeded by Edward VIII who abdicated 325 days later because of his insistence on marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson.


1958 Members of the British and New Zealand teams attempting the first surface crossing of the Antarctic, met up at the South Pole.


1961 Arthur M. Ramsay became the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury.


1986 Mrs. Pauline Williams of Luton won her three year fight to prosecute the man who injected her drug addict son with a fatal painkiller. She was the first person to bring a private prosecution for manslaughter to a Crown Court trial.


1986 France and Britain finally decided to undertake the Channel Tunnel project, promising that trains would run under the Channel by 1993. When it eventually opened, on 6th May 1994, it left Eurotunnel with debts of £925m a year later.


1987 The Archbishop of Canterbury's special envoy to Lebanon, Terry Waite, was kidnapped in Beirut whilst attempting to win freedom for Western hostages.


1991 The death of Alfred Wainwright, whose books for walkers did much to popularise the Lake District. 


1997 Majesty's Royal Yacht Britannia began her final voyage, to Hong Kong, before being decommissioned. She is now based in Edinburgh, as a visitor attraction.


1997 Three sisters, Phoebe, Faith and Alice Julian were among 17 girls who were the first to be admitted to the choir of York Minster, ending a 400 year old tradition of men only.


2007 A three-man team of Britons, using only skis and kites, completed a 1,093-mile trek to reach the 'southern pole of inaccessibility' for the first time since 1958 and for the first time ever without mechanical assistance.


2014 Dr. Michael Ramscar and a team of scientists suggested that the brains of older people only appear to slow down because they have so much information to compute, much like a full-up hard drive. “The brains of older people do not get weak. On the contrary, they simply know more.”


2015 A six-day-old baby became Britain's youngest organ donor when her kidneys were transplanted into a patient with renal failure, and liver cells were transfused into a second recipient.