On this day in British History: January 8th

Stained glass, including Alfred the Great, from Wells Cathedral

Stained glass, including Alfred the Great, from Wells Cathedral

871 Alfred the Great (born in Oxfordshire) led a West Saxon army to repel an invasion by the Vikings.

1746 Bonnie Prince Charlie occupied Stirling. Such early successes would prove short-lived for the pretender to the throne. His army seized control of the town but failed to take the castle and subsequently retreated northwards.

1800 London opened its first soup kitchens for the poor.

1815 Britain lost the last battle it ever fought against the US in the War of 1812 when General Sir Edward Pakenham and his men were defeated at New Orleans.

1871 Birth of James Craig, the first prime minister of Northern Ireland and the first Viscount Craigavon.

1921 David Lloyd George became the first Prime Minister to reside in Chequers, a country mansion in Buckinghamshire which had been given by Lord Lee of Fareham as a gift to the nation.

1940 World War II: Britain introduced food rationing. Restaurants were initially exempt from rationing, but this was resented, as the rich could supplement their food allowance by eating out frequently and extravagantly, so new rules were introduced.

1941 Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement, died, aged 83 in Kenya and was buried at Nyeri. His gravestone bears a circle with a dot in the centre ‘☉’, which is the trail sign for ‘Going home’, or ‘I have gone home’. When his wife Olave died in 1977, her ashes were sent to Kenya and interred beside her husband. Kenya has declared Baden-Powell’s grave a national monument.

1942 The birth of Stephen Hawking, possibly the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Albert Einstein. He wrote A Brief History of Time, which stayed on the British Sunday Times bestseller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.

Blimey! is your daily dose of British news and features for anglophiles everywhere. This article was carefully written by Tim Holt, a British actor and author based in North Carolina. He misses England very much indeed, but also loves America too. Forever torn between two magnificent slices of sod.