Incorporated by Royal Charter
Patron: Her Majesty The Queen
Battle of Waterloo (200) – 18 June 1815
The 18 June 2015 will mark 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo; one of the most
famous battles in English history. On a battlefield in Belgium, a coalition of nations led by
the Duke of Wellington defeated the French forces led by Napoleon Bonaparte, in what the
Duke would later call “a damned close-run thing.”
English Heritage will mark the bicentenary with a series at exhibitions across key locations
associated with the victor of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington. Apsley House in London,
given to him by the grateful national, will showcase the honours given to the Duke, while
nearby Wellington Arch will host an exhibition on the battle itself. Walmer Castle in Kent,
where the Duke spent his final days, will re-present rooms to present a more personal view
of the Duke and his legacy.
Magna Carta (800) – 15 June 1215
Next June will mark 800 years since King John put his seal to the Magna Carta, or ‘great
charter’. Although many of its articles have since been repealed, and the agreement had
little impact at the time, Magna Carta is today seen as one of the cornerstones of British
democracy and law.
First signed at Runnymede in Surrey, copies of Magna Carta are today held at the British
Library, Salisbury Cathedral and Lincoln Cathedral. The impact of the Barons’ War that
arose out of this period can be seen at castles such as Dover Castle and Berkhamsted
Dunkirk evacuation (75) – 27 May to 4 June 1940
One of the most famous British triumphs of the Second World War emerged out of
crushing defeat – the ‘miracle of Dunkirk’, which saw thousands of allied soldiers
evacuated from the beaches of France. The evacuation, which took place 75 years ago,
entered folklore for the actions of the ‘little ships’ that rescued soldiers and helped prevent
a catastrophic defeat.
Codenamed Operation Dynamo, the entire evacuation was coordinated in the Secret
Wartime Tunnels beneath Dover Castle. Visitors today can explore these very same
tunnels, including both the rooms where operations were directed from, and a dramatic
audio-visual presentation of the evacuations.
Battle of Agincourt (600) – 25 October 1415
Agincourt has entered English folklore as one of our most famous victories, helped in no
small part by William Shakespeare’s portrayal of King Henry V. The battle itself was a
dramatic affair, as a small army of tired archers and men-at-arms triumphed over much of
French nobility on a muddy battlefield.
Although the battlefield itself it in France, the invasion was planned in England, in a
campaign that allegedly began with an insulting gift of tennis balls from the French to the
king at Kenilworth Castle. The invasion force gathered at Portchester Castle in Hampshire,
where English Heritage will mark the anniversary in 2015.
First World War (100) – 1915
Following the optimism of the early days of war in 1914, when many expected to be home
by Christmas, 1915 saw troops settling in for a long slog of trench warfare and new
horrors. Key events taking place 100 hundred years ago this year include the first recorded
use of chlorine gas, the failed Gallipoli invasion, and the start of Zeppelin attacks on
There are a host of places across the country to trace the impact of the First World War on
the home front. English Heritage sites include Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, a centre of
the coastal defence, and Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, the first country house to be
transformed into a war hospital.
VE Day (70) – 8 May 1945
This year will be 70 years since the conclusion of the Second World War, an occasion
marked with both relief and celebrations, resulting in widespread street parties across
Britain on VE Day (8 May 1945).
Second World War history across Britain is widespread, with numerous places associated
with the six years of warfare against Nazi Germany. Around London, there are several war
memorials that mark the actions of those who fought, and lost their lives, in the conflict.
1940s era re-enactments also take place at English Heritage sites across the country,
including Dover Castle and Wrest Park.
Death of Sir Winston Churchill (50) – 24 January 1965
This January will be 50 years since the death of one of the towering figures of the last
century; Sir Winston Churchill. The former Prime Minister’s death in his London home was
followed by a state funeral and thousands paying their respects along the route of his
cortege to his burial site in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
Visitors can today follow in the footsteps of Churchill at many places across the UK
associated with him, and with the history of the Second World War, including his
birthplace, home and his wartime cabinet rooms.
First English Parliament (750) – 20 January 1265
Magna Carta is not the only democratic act that can be celebrated in 2015. 750 years ago,
Simon de Montford, in the midst of civil war against King Henry III, called together an
elected body of representatives from across England to meet at what is often consider to
be the first meeting of ‘the commons’. Knights had been summoned for such a meeting
before, but this was the first time boroughs had also been represented – making this
possibly the first true ‘English Parliament’.
The conflict between Simon de Montford and Henry III became known as the Second
Barons’ War, following on from the rivalries that led to Magna Carta 50 years earlier.
Battles took place at Lewes and Evesham, while the siege of Kenilworth Castle that
followed is famous as the longest in English history.
Siege of Carlisle (700) – summer 1315
The success of Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn opened up Northern
England to Scottish raids, and one of the most famous of these took place 700 years ago.
Having marched into Cumbria, the Scottish forces laid siege to Carlisle, in a bitter fight that
saw ladders and siege towers used in a failed attempt to conquer the castle.
Carlisle Castle is believed to be the most besieged castle in England, a legacy of its
proximity to the Scottish border. English Heritage will mark the anniversary this year with
series of activities at the site, including a dramatic re-enactment of the siege itself.
Viking invasion of England by Cnut (1000) – 1015
Perhaps most famous for attempting to hold back the sea, to demonstrate that he could
not control the elements , King Cnut was also one of the most successful kings of Anglo-
Saxon England. He ushered in an age of prosperity after years of warfare between Saxons
and Vikings. His victorious campaign to become king began in summer 1015, when he
landed in Wessex with an invasion force.
The history of Viking settlement can be seen across the country, notably in the North of
England. The ‘Age of Vikings’ is often taken to have begun in 793, when a Viking raid on
Lindisfarne in Northumberland caused consternation across Western Europe.
The Royal Society of St. George
10 Church Hill
Essex IG10 1LA
Office Opening Times
10.30 am - 3.30 pm
Monday to Thursday
© Royal Society of St. George