This Day in History - 31st May
1256 Selby Abbey became a 'mitred abbey' one of the most defining honours that could be granted and an honour which it shared in the north with St Mary's Abbey, York. It remained so until the time of the 'dissolution'.
1578English explorer Martin Frobisher sailed from Harwich to Frobisher Bay in Canada. Over time he brought home 1500 tons of 'gold ore'. After years of smelting, it was realized that the presumed gold was merely worthless iron pyrite (fool's gold) that was later used to pave streets in London, leading to the myth that the streets of London were paved with gold.
1678The Godiva Procession, a commemoration of the legendary ride by Lady Godiva (born 990 AD) was instituted On This Day, as part of Coventry fair and was celebrated up to the 1960s.
1838The last battle on English soil took place at the Battle of Bosenden Wood between armed soldiers and 40 agricultural peasants. They were led by flamboyant Cornish wine merchant (Sir William de Courtenay) and were protesting against the poverty of their lives.
1859The clock in the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament was started, with the bell (Big Ben) sounding for the first time on 11th July 1859.
1889A painting of a small dog listening to a phonograph was shown to the general manager of 'The Gramophone Company' in London by the painter, Francis Barraud. It was of his dog, Nipper. The phonograph was painted out and a gramophone substituted. It soon became the famous trademark for the company 'His Master's Voice'.
1902The Peace of Vereeniging ended the Boer War, in which British casualties numbered 5,774 killed (and 16,000 deaths from disease) against 4,000 Boers killed in action.
1910Lord Baden-Powell's sister Agnes formed the Girl Guides.
1916World War 1: The Battle of Jutland in which the Royal Navy lost one battleship, one cruiser and five destroyers. The Germans lost one battleship, one cruiser and one destroyer. At the end of the day, 2,545 men had been killed..
1939Terry Waite, religious adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury was born. In January 1987 he was held prisoner in Lebanon after being kidnapped on a visit to negotiate the release of hostages.
1956Len Hutton, England cricketer, was knighted.
1985The Football Association, supported by Margaret Thatcher, banned English clubs from playing in Europe following the Heysel stadium tragedy.
2014 The death of Mary Soames, the youngest of the five children of Sir Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine.