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This Day in History - 24th August


1200 King John of England, signed of the first Magna Carta, married Isabella of Angouleme in Bordeaux Cathedral.

1482 The town and castle of Berwick upon Tweed were captured from Scotland by an English army. The border town has remained English ever since.

1662 The second statute of the Act of Uniformity required England to accept the Book of Common Prayer in religious service. Upwards of 2000 clergy refused to comply with the act, and were forced to resign.

1680 The death of Colonel Blood, an Irish adventurer who stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671. He had been captured after the theft, but insisted on seeing King Charles II, who pardoned him.

1682 Englishman William Penn, an early champion of democracy and religious freedom, received the area that is now the state of Delaware, and added it to his colony of Pennsylvania.

1759 William Wilberforce, English philanthropist, was born. He campaigned for many important causes, most notably the abolition of slavery in Britain and its colonies.

1787 The birth of James Weddell, Belgium born British explorer. He explored the edge of the Antarctic, reaching the most southern point at that time, three degrees below Cook’s furthest journey. The Weddell sea, originally named after King George IV was renamed in Weddell's honour in 1900.

1814 British forces captured Washington DC and set the White House on fire.

1847 Charlotte Brontë, alias Currer Bell sent her manuscript for Jane Eyre to her London publishers, Smith, Elder & Company.

1875 Matthew Webb (Captain Webb) started his attempt from Dover England to become the first person to swim the English Channel. He reached Calais, France at 10.40 am the following morning, having been in the water for 22 hours. 

1903 Graham Sutherland, designer and artist of the tapestry in Coventry Cathedral, was born.

1967 Two penguins from Chessington Zoo were taken on a day trip to a local ice-rink to cool off during sweltering London temperatures.

1975 The first ever nude performance in a British opera took place at Glyndebourne.

1981 American Mark Chapman was given a 20 year sentence for shooting John Lennon, the former member of the British group, The Beatles - in New York. Chapman has applied for parole every two years since 2000. All the applications have been rejected.

1985 Five year old John Shorthouse was shot dead in Birmingham after armed officers stormed into his house looking for his father.

1998 Britain, the United States and the Netherlands agreed to put two Libyans on trial for planting the bomb which blew up a Pan Am airliner over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all those on board and several on the ground.

2014 The death, aged 90, of Richard Attenborough, who championed the British film business for more than 60 years as an actor, director and prolific movie-maker. He won two Academy Awards for directing and producing Gandhi in 1983.