Monday, 15 February 2010

Turning Points In British History


In October last year Eric Collins, a member of the staff at Stockton Library, gave a personal view of events he regards as turning points in British History. The nine points chosen spanned the years between AD 597 and 1948.

AD 597 saw the arrival of St Augustine who was sent by Pope Gregory to bring Christianity to Britain. Encouraged by King Ethelbert and especially by Queen Bertha, Augustine established a priory at Canterbury. Canterbury has remained the home of the Church of England ever since.

The Battle of Hastings in 1066 was the last time that a foreign force has succeeded in invading Britain. William the Conqueror’s success unified the monarchy for the first time. Prior to that time the Witan had selected Anglo-Saxon monarchs. On the death of Edward the Confessor in 1066, the Witan had chosen Harold Godwinson to be king. Harald Haraarda of Norway invaded and reached York but was defeated by Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Three days later William landed in the south.

Described by some as the birth certificate of freedom, the Barons forced King John to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215. A few years ago a copy of the Magna Carta sold for £10m in New York.

The dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 followed Henry VIII’s spat with the Pope over his request for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Henry was aided and abetted by the arch-schemer, Cromwell – Thomas, not Oliver.

1611 saw the introduction of the Authorised Version of the Bible by James I. The earliest Bibles had been in Greek, the Vulgate Bible in Latin. Despite the more modern versions of the Bible in use today, many still prefer James’ Authorised Version.

The Battle of Trafalgar (1805) and the Battle of Waterloo (1815) ensured that Napoleon did not invade Britain or conquer the whole of Europe. Nelson and the Duke of Wellington remain British heroes to this day.

1927 saw the foundation of the BBC with Lord Reith at the helm. The BBC is still held in high regard all round the world although you might wonder at some of its TV.

Churchill paid his special tribute to the ‘Few’ who won the Battle of Britain in the skies in 1940 when Britain stood alone against the Germans.

Eric Collins’ final turning point was the establishment in 1948 of the National Health Service following the Beveridge Report. Nye Bevan had the job of setting up the NHS but along with Harold Wilson resigned in 1951 when charges for teeth and spectacles were introduced.

I had tried to prejudge the Turning Points of this Books and Banter Presentation. My score? Just 3.

How would you have done?