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Answer 53. Difficult question. King Henry VI died of ‘pure displeasure and melancholy’ according to the victorious Yorkists, but his body told a different story when it was exhumed in 1910.

Henry VI murder‘The bones of the head were unfortunately much broken’. The hair was ‘brown in colour, save in one place where it was much darker and apparently matted with blood’. Stabbed? Bludgeoned to death? We will never know.

Henry VI founded two of England’s great educational institutions: Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge. Every year, on the anniversary of his death, the Provosts of Eton and King’s meet at the Wakefield Tower for the ceremony of the lilies and roses, when flowers are laid at the supposed site of the King’s murder.


IMG_4784 Athenaeum

Founded in 1824 as a club for intellectuals, the Athenaeum has numbered Sir Walter Scott, Lord Macaulay, John Stuart Mill, Michael Faraday, Anthony Trollope, Benjamin Disraeli and Charles Darwin among its past members.

One evening in December 1863, two old enemies bumped into each other at the foot of the stairs. Both were famous novelists, giants of Victorian literature. They hadn’t been on speaking terms for years, following a critical spat in the newspapers.

One of the novelists was terminally ill, indeed only had days to live. The other was hanging up his hat when he spotted his old enemy looking haggard at the bottom of the stairs. ‘Have you been ill?’ he asked solicitously. According to him, they then patched up their differences on the spot.

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 54. Name these two giants of Victorian literature who patched up their quarrel at the Athenaeum.

Happy Valley: the story of the English in Kenya Cover









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