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What happened this week in London: April 1-7

Posted at 10:15 am, April 1, 2013 in Fun London

‘The London Book of Day’s is a wonderful new memoir documenting noteworthy daily events in the capital from over the last few hundred years. Author Peter de Loriol has compiled a year’s worth of memorable moments from our great city’s past; some you’ll recognise, others will surprise you. We like it so much that we’ve decided to post our fave weekly highlights from the vaults of time which we think might raise a smile and even ruffle some dusty features! Here’s what happened this week in London…

April 1st, 1841: Kew Gardens today became a public facility. The initial 9 acres would shortly be enlarged to 46. (The Times)

April 2nd, 1914: The Geffrye Museum of Furniture was opened in Kingsland Road in a set of fourteen almshouses and a chapel erected by the Ironmongers Co.in 1715. The nearby Shoreditch area was the centre of furniture manufacture. (The Times)

April 3rd, 1965: The Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, a bleak modernist architectural edifice of 120 units and a tower, was opened today by Ray Gunter, Minister of Labour. Only thirty-five units were taken prior to completion. The whole scheme is presently under review. (The Times)

April 4th, 1581: On this day a great ceremony took place in Deptford Creek, the knighting of Admiral Drake aboard the Golden Hind. Many thousands attended, and a makeshift walkway erected for spectators collapsed halfway through the ceremony, spilling many spectators into the creek to the amusement of the crowd. He was knighted by a French nobleman the Marquis de Marchaumont, the French ambassador, not the Queen. This was to avoid drawing attention to Drake’s achievements and making it seem that she disapproved of his tactics, to appease the Spanish. (Author’s archives)

April 5th, 1973: The Department of Health & Social Security declared London ‘a smallpox infected area’ when three cases of the disease were confirmed. By 9 April health officials confirmed that the epidemic was now under control. The initial outbreak was at a London hospital and one of the sufferers died on 6 April. (The Times)

April 6th, 1580: An earthquake struck London on this day at about 6 pm, just as the Pope was trying to dislodge Elizabeth as Queen. Half a dozen chimney stacks and a pinnacle at Westminster Abbey came down. There was only one reported fatality, Thomas Grey, an apprentice cobbler, killed by falling masonry. This was the largest recorded earthquake in England. (Churchyard letters)

April 7th, 1908: Herbert Henry Asquith of the Liberal party took office as Prime Minister today. He served from 1908-1916 and was the longest continuing serving Prime Minister until 1988. He was forced to travel to Biarritz for the official ‘kissing of the hands’ of the monarch. This was the only time a British Prime Minister has formally taken office on foreign soil. (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

For more info about ‘The London Book of Days’ (£9.99), see thehistorypress.co.uk.

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