English Heritage have just released a fascinating overview of the historic events they will officially commemorate this year. 2016 is set to be a busy year for history lovers, as the next 12 months are unusually rich in significant anniversaries, ranging from bloody battles to birthdays and sporting achievements.
2016 will certainly be a busy year for Shakespeare scholars and enthusiasts, as April 23rd will mark the 400th anniversary of the bard's death at the age of 54. The life and works of Shakespeare, arguably the world's most renowned playwright, will be commemorated in his home county of Warwickshire with an exciting programme of events in and around his home town of Stratford upon Avon. Warwickshire is positioned in the heart of the UK and has a wealth of leading attractions including Warwick Castle, Shakespeare's Birthplace and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
John Shakespeare's house, believed to be Shakespeare's birthplace, in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Despite being 900 years apart, England's 1966 World Cup win and the Norman Conquest of England are also included in the charity's list of important events. Top of the list for historians is the Battle of Hasting's 950th anniversary. The infamous battle, widely considered to be one of the most defining moments in British history, was fought on the 14th of October 1066 in East Sussex. The towns of Hastings and Battle will be marking the occasion with a programme of cultural events, including a large scale re-enactment. There will also be a year of activity at Norman castles and abbeys across the country, as well as at the battlefield itself.
July 30th will mark the 50th anniversary of one the proudest moments in British sporting history, the day that England beat West Germany to lift the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley. To commemorate the event, a blue plaque will be erected to team captain Bobby Moore outside his childhood home in Barking.
Moore with the World Cup trophy, on the shoulders of Geoff Hurst and Ray Wilson
Speaking of Blue Plaques, 2016 will see the much-loved scheme celebrate its 150th birthday in London. Now managed by English Heritage, the practice of linking people to places with the now iconic blue roundels was first established by William Ewart, Henry Cole and the Society of Arts in 1866. The first plaque was unveiled the following year to commemorate Lord Byron at his birthplace, 24 Holles Street, Cavendish Square.
July will be a month of remembrance and sombre reflection as millions across the world commemorate one of the bloodiest and most tragic battles in human history, The Somme Offensive. The Offensive took place between June and November 1916, but it is the first day of fighting, July 1st, when the official commemorations will begin. July 1st 1916 remains the darkest day in the history of the British army, with over 60,000 casualties.
Scene of British troops advancing
Events and commemorations will be held in London on September 2nd to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. After starting in a small bakery on Pudding Lane, the infamous blaze swept across the city over three days and is believed to have destroyed 13,500 houses, 87 parish churches, 44 Company Halls, the Royal Exchange, the Custom House, St Paul's Cathedral, the Bridewell Palace and other City prisons, the General Letter Office and the three western city gates, Ludgate, Newgate, and Aldersgate. Sir Christopher Wren's flame-topped Monument stands in the City today, to mark this tragic event.
April will see a whole host of fascinating events and touching commemorations taking place all over Ireland to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Between the 24th and 29th of April 1916, thousands of Irish men and women took up arms in a valiant attempt to end British rule and establish an independent Irish Republic. The commemorations will include in a grand parade past the General Post Office in O'Connell Street, Dublin, which will involve thousands of members of the Irish armed forces as well as 4,000 descendants of the armed idealists whose rebellion inspired the Bolsheviks a year later in the Russian revolution.
Sackviille Street, Dublin, shortly after the rising
Another military anniversary featured in English Heritage's list of important anniversaries include the 750th anniversary of the Siege of Kenilworth. This six month siege was the largest in British history and took place between June and December 1266 during the Second Barons' War. This early civil war fought from 1264 to 1267 by the forces of Simon de Montfort against the Royalist forces of Prince Edward (later Edward I of England).
The remaining events included in the list are a selection of rather famous birthdays. August the 30th is the 300th birthday of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown , England's greatest landscape gardener. Born in 1716, Brown is associated with over 260 sites including the iconic grounds at Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth, Highclere Castle and Syon Park.
Lancelot 'Capability' Brown
The other birthdays up for official commemoration include those of beloved children's authors Roald Dahl, whose 100th birthday will be celebrated on September 13th, and Beatrix Potter, whose 150th birthday falls on December 22nd. A more sinister legacy will be remembered on February 18th, the 500th Birthday of Mary Tudor who reigned as Mary I of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death in November 1558. Mary is mainly remembered for her relentless persecution of Protestants and the thousands of executions that earned her the sobriquet "Bloody Mary".
Mary I, Queen of England
Anniversaries provide a meaningful moment to look back on pivotal points in our history while historic births, marriages and deaths provide us with opportunities to remember key events in our own lives. Don't forget to regularly check our blog throughout the year for a series of fascinating articles on how commemorate these important events using our ever expanding collections of British and Irish records and to uncover your family's place in history.