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Westminster was long a place of sanctuary where people could flee the law. Does that remain true today? See below...


Welcome to InfoBritain, for historical visiting information in the UK. InfoBritain tells you what happened and where it happened. We have articles and visits relating to all historical periods from prehistoric Britain to recent times, and to the lives of major British authors, artists, musicians, scientists, politicians, military and royal figures. You can use our site search, or our various menus to find suggested visits relating to times or people. Alternatively go to the regions menu, find a place to visit in a particular area, and then link back to the history relating to it. We also have a full accommodation booking service for all parts of the mainland UK. We specialise in historic accommodation, but we also have comprehensive lists of hotels of all types and price ranges. See the regional menus on the right. Enjoy!

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A Personal Note (Archive)

February 16, 2015

Recently there has been a political spat over tax avoidance, with Labour leader Ed Miliband making allegations about the tax affairs of various Conservative party donors. One of these donors, Lord Fink, referred to the fact that anything said in the House of Commons could not be legally challenged. This is an echo of Westminster's long history as a place of sanctuary from the law. Sanctuary was granted to people within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. Anyone within these precincts took on a portion of the holiness of the place, with the result that forcible removal was sacrilege. Over the centuries many have taken refuge here, including Queen Elizabeth Wydeville, and her sons Edward and Richard, better known as the Princes in the Tower. Chaucer might also have fled to Westminster after upsetting Henry IV. When Ed Miliband used Prime Minister's Questions to make his comments, he was demonstrating that Westminster remains as a symbolic place of sanctuary to this day.

Best wishes


The InfoBritain view of history (with thanks to The Simpsons)


Historical news for February

Dippy the Diplodocus, who has greeted visitors in the Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum since the 1970s is to be replaced by the skeleton of a Blue Whale in the act of diving. The complexities of creating the new display mean it will not be ready until 2017.

Nymans Garden near Haywards Heath in West Sussex is transforming its garden with a new light installation by French artist Lola Muance. There is free opening to view the exhibition on Friday evenings. The exhibition runs until 27th February.

The Tate St Ives is currently staging an exhibition on the development of international photography from the 1920s - 1960s. The exhibition runs until 10th May 2015. For more details go to:



Anniversaries for February

5th February 1924: The Royal Observatory Greenwich, begins broadcasting an audio time signal, the Greenwich Time Signal, better known as "the pips". BBC radio stations continue to broadcast the pips today, though now they are generated from an atomic clock in the basement of Broadcasting House.

9th February 1964: The Beatles make their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in America, beginning a period of unusual influence for British music in the American charts.

11th February 1826: University College London is founded as England's first secular university.

12th February 1689: The Convention Parliament declares that the flight of monarch James II the previous year constitutes abdication.

13th February 1970: The British rock band Black Sabbath release their Black Sabbath album, often credited as founding the musical genre known as Heavy Metal.

16th February 1943: A Norwegian commando team trained by the British Special Operations Executive, carry out an attack at Vemork Hydroelectric plant. This denies the German nuclear energy project access to heavy water. This operation was later evaluated by SOE as the most successful sabotage operation of World War II.

26th February 1917: The Original Dixie Land Jazz Band release the first jazz single, Livery Stable Blues.

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Almost all photography on InfoBritain is by InfoBritain or by named contributors. All educational use is permitted, but copyright is reserved for commercial uses. Occasionally we have used copyright free stock images which are available for any use. A note will identify these images.

Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Derick Fusco, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.

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