The Royal Society of St. George

The Premier Patriotic Society of England

Established 1894

Incorporated by Royal Charter

Patron: Her Majesty The Queen

English Heritage’s Top 10 Anniversaries For 2015

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 Although many of its articles have since been repealed, and the agreement had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.

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