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Answer 132. Sir Walter Ralegh is buried here (see Question 38). His severed head was given to his wife after his execution. She had it embalmed and kept it in a red leather bag for the rest of her life.


Among the other famous people buried at St Margaret’s is William Caxton (Question 51), the man who brought printing to England.

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Burlington House, on Piccadilly, used to be the London home of the Duke of Devonshire. On 1 July 1814, following the defeat of France and the exile of Napoleon to Elba, a lavish ball was held here in honour of the newly ennobled Duke of Wellington.

Burlingtonext

More than one thousand seven hundred guests were invited, all the grandest people in the land. Lord Byron was there, dressed as a monk. So was a former girlfriend of his. She had disguised herself as a boy in the hope of winning the bisexual peer back.

The dandy Beau Brummell was there, and the hooker Harriette Wilson, her identity concealed behind a mask. Supper was served at 1.30 a.m. and the dancing continued until seven next morning, followed by breakfast at eight.

Lord Byron, however, did not enjoy the party much. His troublesome ex-girlfriend refused to leave him alone, as he later reported:

‘I was obliged to talk to her, for she passed before where another person and myself were discussing points of Platonism so frequently and remarkably as to make us anticipate  a scene. As she was masked and dominoed, and it was daylight, there could be little harm… Not all I could say could prevent her from displaying her green pantaloons every now and then.’

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 133. Name Lord Byron’s ex-lover, wafting around Burlington House in green pantaloons.

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TRAFALGAR

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