On This Day - 29th December
1170 Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas à Becket, was murdered in his own cathedral by four knights, believing they were acting on direct orders from King Henry II. The disgraced knights and their families did a number of penances, one of which was to build a Chantry chapel in the centre of Watchet and the building of St Decuman’s Church (see picture), which Richard Brito and Reginald FitzUrse then gave to Wells Cathedral. Their families went on to give land to atone for their relations’ evil deed.
1675 Parliament ordered the closing of all coffee houses on the basis that they were centres of malicious gossip about the Government.
1766 Charles Macintosh, Scottish chemist and inventor of waterproof clothing (i.e. the Macintosh or simply Mac), was born, in Glasgow. For his various chemical discoveries he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1823.
1809 The birth, in Liverpool, of William (Ewart) Gladstone, four times British Prime Minister. His first election in 1868 allowed him to carry out major reforms. He was elected once more in 1880 and then again in 1866. When his Home Rule Bill was defeated, he resigned, but became Prime Minister, for a fourth term, in 1892. He resigned again two years later, this time when his Home Rule Bill was rejected by the Lords. He died of cancer on 19th May 1898 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
1812 Patrick Bronte married Maria Branwell at St. Oswald's Church (see picture) in Guiseley, West Yorkshire. A copy of their marriage certificate (see picture) is to the left of the altar rail in the church. Their four children Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne were born at this house (see picture) in Thornton, West Yorkshire.
1860 HMS Warrior, Britain's first seagoing iron-clad warship, was launched. She froze to the slipway when she was launched during London's coldest winter for 50 years and six tugs were required to haul her into the river. In later years Warrior was saved from being scrapped by the efforts of the Maritime Trust. The restoration took 8 years. Today, the ship is used as a venue for special events, and can be privately hired as a wedding venue.
1895 The beginning of the Jameson Raid into the Transvaal in South Africa. It was intended to trigger an uprising by the primarily British expatriate workers (known as Uitlanders) but no uprising took place, yet it was an inciting factor in the 2nd Boer War.
1918 The Sunday Express was published for the first time.
1928 The birth, in Oldham, of actor Bernard Cribbins, OBE. He has a career spanning over half a century and came to prominence in films in the 1960s. He was also a regular performer on Jackanory on BBC TV between 1966 and 1991. He was Wilfred Mott, companion of the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who and he currently stars as Jack in the series Old Jack's Boat, set in Staithes (see picture) and broadcast on the CBeebies TV channel
1938 The birth, in Bingley, of Harvey Smith, controversial English showjumper. He competed in two Summer Olympics. His best Olympic finish was fourth, in the individual show jumping event at Munich in 1972.
1940 London suffered its most devastating air raid when Germans firebombed the city. Hundreds of fires caused by the exploding bombs engulfed areas of London, but fire fighters showed a valiant indifference to the bombs falling around them and saved much of the city from destruction. The next day, a newspaper photo of St. Paul's Cathedral standing undamaged amid the smoke and flames seemed to symbolize the capital's unconquerable spirit during the Battle of Britain.
1975 New legislation introducing a woman's right to equal pay and status in the workplace, and in society, came into force in the UK.
1986 Lord Stockton, the former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, died aged 92.
1997 British journalist Dawn Alford, of the Daily Mirror, who claimed a Cabinet Minister's son had sold her drugs, was arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis, hoisted (as the saying goes) by her own petard!
2012 Tony Greig, the 66 year old former England Test cricket captain turned commentator died after suffering a heart attack in Sydney. Greig scored 3,599 runs at an average of 40.43, took 141 Test wickets and was named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 1975.
2012 Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour de France and an Olympic gold, was knighted in the New Year Honours list. Paralympic cyclist Sarah Storey, born in Disley (see picture) became a dame after taking four gold medals. The most decorated sailor in Olympic history, Ben Ainslie, was also knighted. In all, 78 awards were linked to the 2012 Olympics or Paralympics.
2013 A painting bought for £400 and featured on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow was revealed to be a Van Dyck portrait worth about £400,000. Father Jamie, who runs a retreat house in Whaley Bridge, on the edge of the Peak District, said that he was planning to sell the piece by the 17th Century Flemish artist to buy new church bells.
2014 Christopher Hooson (33) who stole an Android tablet from a Whitley Bay charity shop, only to try and donate it to them eight days later as it did not work, was recognized by staff from his CCTV images. He was ordered to pay £85 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.