On this day – July 9


1191: Richard I (the Lionheart) married Berengaria, reputed to be extremely ugly. Although Queen, she never set foot on English soil.

1540: Henry VIII divorced his fourth wife Anne of Cleves, nicknamed The Flanders Mare, after six months of marriage. She at least managed to keep her head.

1819: Elias Howe, inventor of the domestic sewing machine, was born in Massachusetts. He sold the British rights of his machine to a Cheapside corset-maker.

1872: The first doughnut cutter was patented in America by John Blondel. A sea captain, he is said to have invented the hole so he could slip the doughnut over the handle of the ship’s wheel and enjoy his snack while steering.

1877: Wimbledon staged its first lawn tennis championship, at its original site in Worple Road.

1938: Gas masks were issued to Britain’s civilian population in anticipation of the war with Germany. Some 35 million went into the shops.

1951: As the McCarthy witchhunts gathered pace in the USA, crime novelist Dashiell Hammett was jailed for contempt when he refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

1954: Australia’s Peter Thomson, at 24, became the youngest winner of the British Open Golf Championship.

1955: Bill Haley And His Comets went to No 1 in the US pop charts with Rock Around The Clock.

1984: A bolt of lightning set fire to York Minster. The 700-year-old building suffered serious damage to the south transept but the famous Rose Window

ON THIS DAY LAST YEAR: The first fully electric Mini car was unveiled at the car-maker’s Oxford factory.

BIRTHDAYS: David Hockney, artist, 83; Dean Koontz, novelist, 75; OJ Simpson, former actor and American football player, 73; Jimmy Smits, actor, 65; Marc Almond, singer, 63; Tom Hanks, actor, 64; Kelly McGillis, actress, 63; Jim Kerr, singer (Simple Minds), 61; Courtney Love, singer/actress, 56; Jack White, musician (The White Stripes), 45.

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