By Tim Lambert
C. 8,500 BC
Following the end of the ice age, the climate grows much warmer. Forests spread across England. Also, the sea level rises, and England is cut off from Europe.
C. 4,500 BC Farming is introduced into England
C. 2,500 BC Stone age farmers build monuments called henges
C. 2,000 BC Bronze is first used in England
C. 650 Iron tools and weapons are introduced by a people called the Celts
C. 150 BC The potter’s wheel is introduced into England
55 BC Julius Caesar leads an expedition to Britain
54 BC Julius Caesar leads a second expedition
43 AD The Romans invade Britain. They land in Kent.
C. 50 A town grows up at London
51 Caractacus, a leader of British resistance to the Romans is captured
61 Boudicca leads an unsuccessful rebellion against the Romans. She burns the towns of Colchester, St Albans, and London
78-85 Agricola is governor of Roman Britain
122-128 Hadrian’s Wall is built in the north of England
At this time a network of forts is built along the eastern coast of England, the Saxon shore. It is called that because fierce Saxons have begun raiding. Roman civilisation has begun to decline.
Admiral Carausius breaks away from the rest of the Roman Empire and makes himself emperor of an independent Britain
367 ‘The Great Barbarian Raid’ takes place. The Irish, Scots and Picts attack Roman Britain.
388 The Roman army abandons Hadrian’s Wall
407 The last Roman soldiers leave Britain
C. 450 Invasions by Angles, Saxons and Jutes begin
477 According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Saxons led by Aella land in Sussex this year
The Celts utterly defeat the Saxons at the battle of ‘Mount Badon’, somewhere in Somerset, halting their advance for decades
The Saxons defeat the Romano-Celts at the battle of Deorham. Afterward, the Saxons capture Bath, Cirencester, and Gloucester. They cut the Celts in Wales off from the Celts in Southwest England.
597 St Augustine arrives in Kent and begins to convert the Saxons. (At this time England is divided into small kingdoms).
601 Augustine becomes the first Archbishop of Canterbury
604 The first Bishop of London is appointed
735 A writer called the Venerable Bede dies
757-796 Offa reigns in Mercia (a kingdom in central England).
793 The Vikings raid England for the first time. They sack the monastery at Lindisfarne in north east England.
865 The Danes invade eastern England
The Saxons defeat the Danes at Ashdown
Alfred the Great becomes king of Wessex (southern England).
878 Alfred crushes the Danes at the battle of Edington.
By the treaty of Wedmore England is split between the Saxons and the Danes. Watling Street forms part of the border. London is left in Danish hands.
886 Alfred recaptures London from the Danes
899 Alfred dies aged 50
The reign of Edward the Elder. In 901 Edward calls himself ‘King of the Angles and Saxons’. In 913 he recaptures Essex from the Danes. Over time the Saxon kings take over all of the Danish territory (the Danelaw) and England becomes a single kingdom.
The battle of Brunanburh. The English defeat an army of Danes, Scots and Irish.
1016-1035 The reign of Canute
1035-1040 The reign of Harold I
1040-1042 The reign of Hardicanute
1042-1066 The reign of Edward the Confessor
Harold becomes king, although William Duke of Normandy also claims the throne. Harald Hardrada, a Norwegian claims it as well. He invades England but his army is crushed at the battle of Stamford Bridge in September.
The Normans win the battle of Hastings in October. William The Conqueror is crowned king in December.
1069-1070The ‘harrying of the North’ takes place. Enraged by rebellion in the north of England Norman soldiers burn houses and crops and kill livestock. The area north of the River Humber is left devastated.
1086 The Domesday Book is compiled. It lists all the manors of England and their value.
1074 William creates the New Forest in Hampshire where he can go hunting.
1087 William the Conqueror dies while at war. William Rufus becomes king.
William Rufus is killed by an arrow while hunting in the New Forest. (It is not clear whether it was an accident or whether he was murdered). Henry I becomes king.
The White Ship sinks in the English Channel. William, the heir to the English throne (Henry’s only legitimate son) drowns.
Henry I dies. Henry’s daughter Matilda claims the throne but so does his nephew Stephen. The two fight a long civil war.
1138 The English defeat the Scots at the battle of the Standard
1154 The civil war ends. Henry II becomes king.
Thomas Becket is killed in Canterbury Cathedral. He is later canonized (made a saint) and pilgrims flock to his tomb.
c. 1180 Rich people in England have glass windows for the first time since the Roman era
1189 Henry II dies. Richard I known as the Lionheart becomes king.
Richard I dies when he is hit by a crossbow bolt while fighting in France. John becomes king.
1207 King John founds Liverpool
1215 King John seals Magna Carta
1216 John dies. Henry III becomes king.
1221 Dominican friars (known as black friars) arrive in England
1264 Battle of Lewes. Simon De Montfort and rebel barons defeat the king.
1265 Battle of Evesham. De Montfort is defeated and killed.
1272 Henry III dies. Edward I becomes king.
King Edward expels all Jews from England
Queen Eleanor dies
1295 King Edward calls the Model Parliament
Glass windows and chimneys are becoming common among people who are well off but below the nobility such as rich merchants.
1307 Edward I dies. Edward II becomes king.
1314 The battle of Bannockburn is fought. The Scots utterly defeat the English. The battle guarantees Scotland will remain independent of England.
1315-1316 Famine stalks England
1324-1384 Life of John Wycliffe the religious reformer
1327 Edward II abdicates. Edward III becomes king.
1337 The Hundred Years War between England and France begins
The English win the naval battle of Sluys against the French
1346 The battle of Crecy. The English completely defeat the French army.
The Black Death comes to England. Perhaps a third of the population died over the next year.
1356 The battle of Poitiers is fought. The English totally defeat the French.
1377 Richard II becomes king
The Peasants Revolt takes place. Peasants in Essex and Kent rise up and march on London. The king manages to persuade them to disperse by making promises, none of which he intends to keep.
1382 Winchester College is founded by William of Wickham
1388 The Scots defeat the English at the battle of Otterburn
1399 Henry IV becomes king
1413 Henry V becomes king
1415 The battle of Agincourt. Again the English win a decisive victory.
1453 The Hundred Years War with France ends. England loses all its territory in France except for Calais.
1455-1485 England suffers a series of civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses
1461 The battle of Towton is fought
1471 The battle of Tewkesbury is fought
1476 Caxton introduces the printing press into England
1483-1485 Reign of Richard III
1485 Henry VII wins the battle of Bosworth. Richard III is killed and Henry becomes the first Tudor king.
1497 John Cabot sails to North America
Henry VII dies. Henry VIII becomes king.
Henry VIII marries Catherine of Aragon
1511 The warship Mary Rose is launched
1513 The English win the battle of Flodden against the Scots
1533 Henry divorces Catherine of Aragon. He marries Anne Boleyn.
1534 Henry VIII makes himself head of the Church of England
The Pilgrimage of Grace takes place. (An uprising in the North of England).
Anne Boleyn is beheaded
Henry marries Jane Seymour
1536-1540 Henry VIII closes the monasteries
1537 Jane Seymour dies
1540 Henry marries Anne of Cleves but quickly divorces her
Henry marries Kathryn Howard
The battle of Solway Moss. The English defeat the Scots.
Kathryn Howard is beheaded.
1543 Henry marries Catherine Parr
1545 The Mary Rose sinks
Henry VIII dies. Edward VI becomes king
The Duke of Somerset is made Lord Protector
The first Book of Common Prayer is introduced.
The Duke of Northumberland becomes Lord Protector
1552 The Duke of Somerset is executed
1553 Edward VI dies. Mary becomes queen
1554 Lady Jane Grey is beheaded
Queen Mary persecutes Protestants. Nearly 300 people are burned to death for heresy.
1558 Queen Mary dies. Elizabeth I becomes queen.
C. 1560 to C. 1640
‘The Great Rebuilding’ takes place in England. Stone and brick replace most wooden houses. Chimneys and glass windows become common.
1564 William Shakespeare is born. So is Christopher Marlowe
1570 The Pope excommunicates Queen Elizabeth
1576 The first theatre opens in London
1577-1580 Francis Drake sails around the world
1583 The Throckmorton Plot, a Catholic plot to murder Queen Elizabeth is foiled
1586 The Babington Plot, another Catholic plot to murder the Queen is foiled
1587 Mary Queen of Scots is beheaded
1588 The Spanish Armada is defeated
1592 An Englishman named John Davis discovers the Falklands
1596 Francis Drake dies
1600 The East India Company is founded
1601 The Poor Law is passed. People are made to pay a rate to support the poor.
1603 In March Queen Elizabeth dies. James I becomes king.
1605 The gunpowder plot, a Catholic conspiracy to blow up parliament, is discovered.
1607 Jamestown, the first successful British colony in North America, is founded
1608 John Milton is born
1611 The King James Bible is published
1625 James I dies. Charles I becomes king
William Harvey publishes his discovery of the circulation of the blood
The Petition of Right is presented to the king by parliament
George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham is assassinated in Portsmouth
1629-1640 The Eleven Years Tyranny. Charles I rules without parliament.
1632 The great architect Christopher Wren is born
1633 William Laud becomes Archbishop of Canterbury
1641 MP’s draw up a list of grievances called the Grand Remonstrance.
The English Civil War between king and parliament begins. They fight the indecisive battle of Edgehill.
1643 Isaac Newton is born
1644 Parliament wins the battle of Marston Moor
Parliament wins the battle of Naseby
William Laud is executed
1646 Charles I surrenders to the Scots and the first civil war comes to an end
Charles I starts another civil war. The Scots intervene on his behalf. However the battle of Preston ends hopes of restoring Charles I to power.
Pride’s Purge. Thomas Pride removes some Presbyterian MPs from parliament.
1649 King Charles I is beheaded
A Scottish army invades England in an attempt to put Charles II on the throne. The Scots are defeated at Worcester and Charles flees abroad.
Thomas Hobbes publishes his work Leviathan
1652 Architect Inigo Jones dies
1652-1654 The first Anglo-Dutch war is fought
1653 Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England
1655-1657 Rule of the Major-Generals in England
1658 Oliver Cromwell dies. His son Richard takes over.
1659 Richard Cromwell resigns. His fall from power is so swift he becomes known as ‘Tumbledown Dick’.
1660 Charles II becomes king
1661 Robert Boyle publishes his great work The Sceptical Chemist
The Royal Society (a scientific organisation) is given its charter by Charles II
Charles II marries a Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza
The Act of Uniformity is passed
The first turnpike road is opened. (Turnpike roads were owned by turnpike trusts that maintained them. You had to pay to use them).
1665 Plague kills many people in London. This is the last outbreak of bubonic plague in England.
1665-1667 The second Anglo-Dutch war is fought
1666 The Great Fire of London. Much of the city is destroyed but it is soon rebuilt.
1667 John Milton publishes Paradise Lost
1670 Hudsons Bay Company is formed
1672-1674 The third Anglo-Dutch war is fought
The Test Act is passed. Catholics and Protestant dissenters (who do not belong to the Church of England) are prevented from holding public office.
1670 The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is founded
1679 The Act of Habeas Corpus. Imprisonment without trial is outlawed.
Charles II dies. James II (a Roman Catholic) becomes king.
The Duke of Monmouth (Charles II’s illegitimate son) leads an unsuccessful rebellion in Southwest England.
1686 ‘Hanging’ Judge Jeffreys sentences many of the rebels to death.
Isaac Newton publishes his great work Principia Mathematica. He lays the foundations of modern physics.
The ‘Glorious, Bloodless Revolution’. James II flees abroad and William and Mary become the new monarchs.
1689 The Bill of Rights is passed
Queen Mary dies of smallpox aged 32
The Bank of England is founded
1698 Thomas Savery invents the first steam engine
The Act of Settlement is passed. It states that Catholics or anyone married to a Catholic cannot succeed to the throne.
Jethro Tull invents the seed drill.
1702 William dies. Anne becomes queen.
1703 John Wesley is born
The Duke of Marlborough defeats the French at the Battle of Blenheim
The British capture Gibraltar
1706 The Duke of Marlborough defeats the French army at Ramillies
1707 The Act of Union joins England and Scotland
1708 The Duke of Marlborough defeats the army of Louis XIV at Oudenarde
Abraham Darby uses coke instead of charcoal to smelt iron
The Duke of Marlborough wins the battle of Malplaquet against the French
1711 St Pauls Cathedral is finished
1712 Newcomen makes steam engines for pumping water out of mines
1714 Queen Anne dies. George I becomes king.
1715 The first Jacobite uprising takes place in Scotland. The Highlanders rise but the uprising ends in an indecisive battle near Stirling.
1719 Daniel Defoe publishes Robinson Crusoe
The South Sea Bubble (stocks in the South Sea Company suddenly fall in price and many people lose huge sums of money.)
Robert Walpole becomes the king’s main minister. People call him the Prime Minister. (Originally it was a term of abuse).
1723 The great architect Christopher Wren dies
George I dies. George II becomes king.
Isaac Newton dies
1733 John Kay invents the flying shuttle
1735 The British Prime Minister moves into 10 Downing Street
1739 The highwayman Dick Turpin is hanged
1742 Prime Minister Robert Walpole resigns
1745 The second Jacobite uprising takes place in Scotland. The Jacobites invade England and reach as far as Derby but then turn back.
1746 The Jacobites are crushed at the battle of Culloden
1756 The Seven Years War against France begins
1759 General Wolfe captures Quebec but is killed. His victory ensures Canada will be a British colony not a French one.
1761 The Bridgwater canal opens
1763 The Seven Years War ends
1769 James Watt patents an improved steam engine
1771 Richard Arkwright introduces a loom powered by a water mill
1773 The British Stock Exchange is founded
1775 Jane Austen is born
The world’s first iron bridge is built in Shropshire
Samuel Crompton invents the spinning mule
The Industrial Revolution begins to transform Britain
Lord George Gordon leads anti-Catholic riots in London
1783 Britain signs a treaty recognizing the independence of the American colonies
Henry Cort invents the ‘puddling’ process. A new way of making wrought iron. As a result iron production booms.
Edmund Cartwright invents the power loom (one worked by a steam engine). Cotton production grows very rapidly.
1787 The first convicts leave Britain from Portsmouth for Australia
1788 Lord Byron is born
1792 Gaslight is invented
1796 Jenner invents vaccination against smallpox
1799 Income tax is introduced to pay for the war against France
The first census is held
Another Act of Union joins Ireland to England and Scotland
1805 The battle of Trafalgar is fought. Britain wins a great naval victory.
1806 The great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel is born
1807 The slave trade is abolished
1811 Prince George becomes Prince Regent as his father is insane
The British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is shot by John Bellingham
Charles Dickens is born
1813 The Duke of Wellington defeats the French army at the battle of Vitoria in Spain
The battle of Waterloo is fought. Napoleon is defeated.
Humphrey Davy invents the miners safety lamp, which saves many lives
1817 Jane Austen dies
The Peterloo Massacre. Cavalry charge unarmed people holding a meeting on St Peter’s Fields at Manchester. Eleven people are killed.
Sir Stanford Raffles founds Singapore
1820 George III dies. George IV becomes king.
1821 John Constable paints The Haywain
1824 The poet Lord Byron dies
1825 The world’s first public passenger railway opens (The Stockton and Darlington railway).
The Catholic Emancipation Act gives Catholics civil rights
Sir Robert Peel forms the first modern police force (hence their nicknames ‘bobbies’ or ‘peelers’)
1830 George IV dies. William IV becomes king.
The Great Reform Act is passed. Seats in parliament are distributed more fairly and more men are given the vote.
The writer Lewis Carroll is born
1833 Slavery is abolished throughout the British Empire
Bull baiting is banned in Britain. This ‘sport’ consisted of chaining a bull to a post and using trained dogs to attack it.
1837 William IV dies. Victoria becomes queen.
The penny black stamp is introduced
The writer Thomas Hardy is born
Queen Victoria marries Albert
1842 A new law bans women and children from working underground in mines
Charles Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol.
The first Christmas card goes on sale
A new law bans women and children from working more than 10 hours a day in textile factories
Charlotte Bronte publishes Jane Eyre
Alexander Graham Bell is born
1848 There are cholera epidemics in British towns. The Public Health Act is passed.
1851 The Great Exhibition is held in London
1853-1856 The Crimean War is fought
1856 Henry Bessemer invents a way of converting pig iron to steel
1857-58 The Indian Mutiny takes place
1859 Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species. It outlines his theory of evolution.
1861 Prince Albert dies
1863 The first (steam driven) underground train in London runs
Joseph Lister invents antiseptic surgery
The Salvation Army is formed (it does not get its name till 1878)
Lewis Carroll publishes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
1867 The second Reform Act increases the number of men allowed to vote
First Trades Union Congress
The last public execution is carried out in Britain
1869 Richard Blackmore publishes Lorna Doone
The Education Act to provide state education for all is passed
Charles Dickens dies
1871 The Bank Holiday Act is passed. (For most working class people bank holidays are their only paid holidays).
The secret ballot is introduced.
The second Public Health Act is passed.
1874 The writer G K Chesterton is born
The third Public Health Act is passed. Conditions in towns and cities are slowly getting better. In the 1870s and 1880s networks of sewers are dug and water pipes are laid. Gas light becomes common even in the poorest homes.
1878 The Salvation Army is named
1881 Alexander Fleming is born
1884 The 3rd reform act gives more men the vote
1888 Girls who make matchboxes successfully strike
Gas workers successfully strike
London dockworkers successfully strike. For the first time, unskilled workers are forming successful trade unions.
1890 The first electric underground trains run in London
1898 The writer Lewis Carroll dies
1899-1902 The Boer War is fought in South Africa
1901 Queen Victoria dies. Her son becomes Edward VII.
1904 Britain signs the Entente Cordiale (friendly understanding) with France
1906 The first dreadnought, a new and powerful battleship is launched
1908 Kenneth Grahame published The Wind In The Willows
1909 The first old-age pensions are paid
1910 Edward VII dies. George V becomes king.
The National Insurance Act is passed. Some workers are allowed unemployment benefit and sickness benefit is created.
The Parliament Act greatly reduces the power of the House of Lords
1914 In August the First World War begins
The Battle of the Somme is fought. Tanks are used in battle for the first time.
Conscription is introduced in Britain
The battle of Jutland is fought between British and German ships. It ends without a clear victor.
1917 The Battle of Passchendaele is fought
The First World War ends on 11 November
All men over 21 are allowed to vote. Women over 30 are allowed to vote if they meet a property qualification.
The school leaving age is raised to 14
1922 The BBC is founded
Workers hold a General Strike but they are defeated
A. A. Milne publishes Winnie The Pooh
1928 Universal suffrage is introduced. (Everyone over the age of 21 is allowed to vote).
Frank Whittle invents the jet engine
Following the Wall Street Crash, the depression bites, and unemployment rises sharply
1932 Unemployment in Britain reaches 22.8%
1933 Unemployment starts to fall. Britain starts to recover from the depression.
In January unemployment in Britain is 13.9%. It continues to slowly fall.
George V dies. Edward VIII becomes king but soon abdicates. George VI becomes king.
Television begins in Britain
The Jarrow March is held. (A protest against unemployment).
The Second World War begins
All workers are given one week of annual paid holiday
About 10% of households in Britain now own a car
Winston Churchill becomes prime minister
The British army is evacuated from Dunkirk
The Battle of Britain is fought
The Germans begin bombing British cities
The Dieppe Raid is a failure
The British army crushes the Germans and Italians at El Alamein in Egypt
The Beveridge Report is published. It proposes a new welfare state
In May German forces in North Africa surrender
In July the allies invade Sicily
The allies invade France
The Germans fire V I flying bombs at London in June and V II missiles from September onwards
The Butler Education Act is passed. It reforms schools.
The Second World War ends
George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm is published
Labour win the general election
1948 The National Health Service is founded. The school leaving age is raised to 15.
1949 George Orwell’s novel 1984 is published
1950 George Orwell dies
The Festival of Britain is held
Conservatives win a general election
1952 George VI dies. Elizabeth becomes queen.
Coronation of Elizabeth II
TV becomes increasingly common. (Many people buy a TV. to watch the coronation). By the end of 1953, approximately 25% of households in Britain have a TV.
1954 Food rationing ends
ITV begins broadcasting
The Conservatives win a second general election
During the Suez crisis in Egypt, Britain sends troops but is soon forced to withdraw. The event proves that Britain is no longer a great power.
The first nuclear power station opens at Calder Hall
The Conservatives win a 3rd election victory
Cars are becoming increasingly common. A survey shows 32% of households own one.
1960 Britain is becoming increasingly affluent. A survey shows 44% of households own a washing machine.
Doctor Who is broadcast for the first time
Dr Beeching axes minor railways
The Labour Party wins a general election. Harold Wilson becomes prime minister.
A survey shows 90% of households in Britain own a TV. It is now the main form of entertainment in Britain.
A third TV channel, BBC 2 begins broadcasting
The last executions in Britain are carried out
1965 Capital punishment is abolished for an experimental period of 5 years
1966 Labour wins a second general election
1967 Colour TV begins
1969 Capital punishment is abolished permanently
Conservatives under Edward Heath win the general election
The minimum age for voting is lowered from 21 to 18
1971 Britain switches to decimal currency
Britain joins the EEC (forerunner of the EU)
Unemployment stands at 3%The school leaving age is raised to 16
Unemployment passes one million. It is over 5% for the first time since 1945.
Prime Minister Harold Wilson resigns
In June and July a heat wave creates a very hot summer and water shortages
1978 The first test tube baby is born
1979 The Conservatives win a general election. Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first woman prime minister.
1980 Britain enters a recession. Unemployment rises sharply and reaches 2 million.
The Falklands War is fought against Argentina
The Mary Rose is raised from the seabed
Channel 4 begins broadcasting
1983 The Conservatives win a second general election with a large majority
1986 Unemployment in Britain reaches a peak. The official figure reaches 14.1%
1987 Corporal punishment ends in state schools
Margaret Thatcher falls from power. She is replaced by John Major.
Britain enters a recession. Unemployment starts to rise rapidly.
The Conservatives win a 4th general election
1993 Britain starts to recover from the recession. Unemployment starts to fall.
The Channel Tunnel opens
The National Lottery begins
1997 Labour wins the general election
2001 The population of England reaches 62 million.
2007 Jacqui Smith becomes the first female Home Secretary
2009 A recession afflicts Britain
2010 After a general election Conservatives and Liberals form a coalition government.
2012 The Olympic Games are held in London
2015 The conservatives win a general election
2020 Britain leaves the EU