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This Day in History - 8th November


November 8th is 'The Feast of the Four Crowned Ones', still marked by some English freemasons. It commemorates four masons martyred by Emperor Diocletian for refusing to sculpt a pagan god.

1602 The Bodleian Library at Oxford University was opened to the public. It is second in size to the British Library.

1605 Robert Catesby, the ringleader of the Gunpowder Plotters, was killed by gunshot, along with other conspirators at Holbeche House, on the border of Staffordshire. He was buried close by but the bodies of Catesby and fellow conspirator Percy were exhumed and decapitated and Catesby's head was placed on the side of the Parliament House.

1656 The birth of Edmond Halley, English astronomer and mathematician best known for the comet named after him and for his work predicting its orbit. He also produced the first meteorological chart.

1674 The death of John Milton, blind English poet of Paradise Lost.

1745 Charles Edward Stuart invaded England with an army of 5000 that would later participate in the Battle of Culloden (16th April 1746).

1802 The birth of Sir Benjamin Hall, commissioner of works at the time of Big Ben’s installation in the tower at the Houses of Parliament. The famous 13 ton bell is named after him.

1866 Herbert Austin, later Baron Austin, English motor car manufacturer, was born.

1920 Rupert Bear made his first appearance in the Daily Express. Rupert Bear Annuals have been produced since 1936 and are still in production today. The Rupert Annual is still one of the top three Annual titles sold worldwide.

1957 A report into a fire at Windscale nuclear power plant in Cumbria blamed the accident on human error, poor management and faulty instruments. The fire caused an unspecified amount of radioactive iodine vapour - iodine 131 - to escape into the atmosphere.

1957 Britain conducted its first successful hydrogen bomb test, over Kiritimati in the Pacific.

1958 Melody Maker published the first British album charts.

1965 The bill abolishing the death penalty became law.

1967 BBC Radio Leicester (the first of the new breed of BBC Local Radio stations) began broadcasting at 12.45 p.m. from a transmitter located on Gorse Hill above the city centre.

1974 Covent Garden ceased to be the location of London’s famous flower and vegetable market as it moved across the Thames, leaving the old warehouses and Floral Hall.

1990 The Republic of Ireland elected its first woman president, Mary Robinson. The mother-of-three had been a member of the Irish Senate for more than 20 years.

2003 The Countess of Wessex (wife of Prince Edward) gave birth to her first child - Lady Louise Windsor, a month early at Frimley Park hospital in Surrey. The baby weighed just 4lbs 9oz (2 kg).