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Answer 108. Henry VIII’s champion, Sir Robert Dymock, issued the traditional coronation challenge to anyone who dared to question the King’s right to the throne.

All the great and the good of the land (and quite a few not so good) gathered in Westminster Hall for the coronation feast. A fanfare of trumpets sounded as soon as they were all seated.

WestHall2The Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Shrewsbury rode in on horseback to herald the feast – ‘sumptuous, fine and delicate meats in plentiful abundance.’

After the second course was over, Sir Robert came in on his horse and threw down a gauntlet, daring anybody to challenge Henry VIII’s right to be King. No one picked it up. Henry reigned unchallenged and Dymock received a gold cup for his pains.


Evicted from his previous office for causing a small electrical explosion, an amateur inventor moved to Soho in 1924 and rented two rooms on the second floor of this house in Frith Street to continue his experiments.

Baird checkThe man was an electrical engineer by training. He was trying to find a way of ‘seeing by wireless’ that would surely change the world if he could only make it work.

His plan was to transmit a picture of a ventriloquist’s dummy to a screen in the other room. He had no luck until 1925, when he replaced the filament he was using with a much faster neon lamp:

‘At that time I was working very intensively in a small attic laboratory in the Soho district of London. Things were very black; my cash resources were almost exhausted and as, day by day, success seemed as far away as ever, I began to wonder if general opinion was not after all correct, and that television was in truth a myth.

‘But one day – it was, in fact, the first Friday in October – the dummy’s head suddenly showed up on the screen not as a mere smudge of black and white, but as a real image with details and graduations of light and shade. I had got it! I could scarcely believe my eyes and felt myself shaking with excitement.

‘I ran down the little flight of stairs to Mr Cross’ office and seized by the arm his office boy, William Taynton, hauled him upstairs, and put him in front of the transmitter. I then went to the receiver, only to find the screen a blank. William did not like lights and whirring noises and had withdrawn out of range. I gave him 2s 6d and pushed his head into position.

‘This time he came through and on the screen I saw the flickering but clearly recognisable image of William’s face – the first face to be seen on television – and he had to be bribed with 2s 6d for the privilege of the distinction!’

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 109. Name the amateur inventor. 

Point Lenana









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