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Roman Shops Richborough

Outline of Roman shops at Richborough - What does this month's anniversary of the legalisation of Sunday trading tells us about the law? 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)

July 27th 2014

In pre literate Britain before the Roman invasion, society's laws were based on custom. No law could be written down. There were no cities or towns, and no central authority which could produce widely applicable laws. There were also no significant individuals, no judges, who were given the responsibility for laying down the law. Today of course we think the situation is very different, and that we have written law which goes beyond the vagaries of custom. This month we have an anniversary which indicates otherwise. Twenty years ago this month Sunday trading was finally legalised. Many shops had been breaking the old law for years. Only three major chains opened branches for the first time ever when the law changed - Marks and Spencer, House of Fraser and Waitrose. Every other large retail organisation was already opening on Sunday, making a nonsense of the law. This is a dramatic illustration of the fact that law tends to follow custom, not the other way round. Since the early days of human civilization much seems to have changed in the law. Historians talk of a written common law as if it were a more stable alternative than early custom based justice. But in our own way we are as much attached to custom in ideas of justice as people in pre Roman Britain.


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

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Historical news for August


The Tate is running an exhibition of the work of Matisse this month. This would be a good exhibition for children. Under 12s have free entry and there are special children's activities involving fun use of colour. On 9th August there is a Family Day at the exhibition involving musicians and artists. Telephone 020 7887 8888 or go to

Smallhythe Place in Kent, former home of actors Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, has its own theatre, which has been refurbished over the winter. Free backstage tours are available on 27 dates between the end of July and the end of October. For more details go to

London grew up around a bridge over the Thames. An exhibition exploring the significance of London's bridges opens at the end of June at the Museum of Docklands. The exhibition uses historical art works and the museum collections to tell the story. The exhibition runs 27th June - 2nd November. Telephone 020 7001 9844.

Items from the Royal Archives are going on display at Windsor Castle this month. Many of the items have never been seen in public before. Items include letters exchanged between Prince Albert and Queen Victoria during their engagement. The exhibition runs 17th May - 25th January 2015. Telephone 020 7766 7304 or go to


Anniversaries for August

1st August 1991: President George H Bush gives a speech in Kiev in which he warns against "suicidal nationalism" amidst a campaign for Ukrainian independence. The following December Ukrainians voted to withdraw from the Soviet Union.

4th August 1914: Britain declares war on Germany as World War One begins.

2nd August 1947: A British South American Airways airliner crashes into Mount Tupangato in the Argentinian Andes. No trace of the airliner is found, and theories for its loss include sabotage, international intrigue and even alien abducton. Fifty years later wreckage is finally recovered as it began to emerge from glacial ice.

12th August 1939: The Wizard of Oz premieres in the United States. The film would open in Britain in November.

28th August 1994: Sunday tradiing is legalised in England and Wales, following twenty six previous attempts. Many shops had been breaking the old law for years. Only three major chains opened branches for the first time ever on this day - Marks and Spencer, House of Fraser and Waitrose.

31st August 1939: George Orwell writes in his diary of the deteriorating situation in Europe: "No definite news. Poland has called up more reserves but this does not yet amount to full mobilization. German occupation of Slovakia continues & 300 000 men said to be now at strategic points on Polish frontier." 

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Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, 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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