Today (May 29) in London History – the Restoration

May 29th, 1660 was the Restoration – the day Charles II returned to London. This Today in London History podcast tells the tale.


London calling.

London Walks connecting.

London Walks here with your daily London fix.

Storytime. History time.

May 29th.

What happened in London on May 29th. Glad you asked. Let’s put the May 29th cards on the table. 

It’s May 29th, 1660. Used to be known as Oak Apple Day. In commemoration of the restoration of King Charles II to the British throne. 

It’s May 29th, 1715. George I, that good German, the first of the Hanoverian kings, has come to the throne. There’s a fair bit of opposition. That opposition came to be known as the Jacobite Rebellion. Those people wanted the Stuart line to be continued, wanted exiled James, son of James II to be on the throne. That opposition flared into the open on May 29th 1715. There was rioting on May 28th, George I’s birthday. The next day, the 29th, the anniversary of the restoration of Charles II, that key figure in the Stuart line, there were bonfires in the streets and a portrait of William III was burnt in Smithfield. A mob gathered in Snow Hill and drank loyal toasts to the late James II. They stripped any passers-by who refused to join in. The army – the Life Guards and Horse Grenadiers – were called out. London was a powder keg on that May 29th.

It’s May 29th, 1743. John Wesley opens a chapel off the Charing Cross Road. It serves as the headquarters of the Methodist movement for over half a century.

It’s May 29th, 1871. The day of the first-ever British Bank Holiday.

It’s May 29th, 1886. Putney gets a new bridge. It’s called Putney Bridge. New bridge, new name. The bridge it replaced was known as Fulham Bridge. 

It’s May 29th, 1927. A huge crowd – estimated at 120,000 people – gathers at Croydon Airport to welcome Charles Lindberg, the first man to have flown across the Atlantic. They rush onto the runway to drag Lindbergh from his cockpit. 

It’s May 29th, 1954. As of today it’s possible to walk in Islington where we couldn’t walk before, possible to walk along the 17th century New River. Thanks to the authorities revamping a surface stretch of the canal and opening it, today, as the New River Walk.

It’s May 29th, 1961. Prince Phillip is interviewed on Panorama. It’s another first. The first television interview with a member of the British royal family.

Ok, those are the cards on the table. Let’s lead with trumps. A NEW KING. The Restoration. Charles II entering London on May 29th, 1660.

Let’s hear from somebody who was there. John Evelyn.

“Charles II entered London with a Triumph of above 20,000 horse and foot, brandishing their swords and shouting with inexpressible joy. 

The wayes straw’d with flowers, the bells ringing, the streets hung with tapestry, fountains running with wine. The Mayor, aldermen, all the Companies in their liveries, chains of gold, banners; Lords and nobles, Cloth of silver, gold and velvet everybody clad in, the windows and balconies all set with ladies, trumpets, music and myriads of people flocking the streets and was as far as Rochester, so they were seven hours in passing the Citty, even from 2 in the afternoon ’til nine at night…

The other great diarist of the age, Samuel Pepys, was also there. He’d been on the boat that had brought Charles II to Dover. It had pleased Pepys no end that the king’s brother, the Duke of York, had remembered his name. And that Pepys had been commanded – been entrusted – to look after the king’s dog. And that the dog, “which shit in the boat, which made us laugh and me think that a king and all that belong to him are but just as others are.”

And there you are, that’s the fabled Restoration – that’s today in London history.

As for a Today in London tip – how about this, especially if your visit to London is more than a couple of days. Get yourself an Uber boat pass. It’s a good saving. Their Flex 20 card gets you 20 boat rides for the price of 16. It’s valid for 90 days. Two of you can boat ride through London every day for a week and a half. Experiment. Start the day with a morning ride on the Thames. Go for a work-a-day ride in the afternoon. And then, yes, ride the Thames in the gloaming, maybe listen to Waterloo sunset. 

You’ve been listening to the Today in London History podcast. Emanating from – home of London Walks, London’s signature walking tour company. London’s multi-award-winning walking tour company. London’s only award-winning walking tour company.

The London Walking tour company that, uniquely, fronts its walks with accomplished professionals: barristers, doctors, geologists, archaeologists, historians, criminal defence lawyers, Royal Shakespeare Company, Guide of the Year Award winners… well, you get the idea. As that journalist put it, “if this were a golf tournament, every name on the Leader Board would be a London Walks guide.

And as we put it: Guides who make the new familiar and the familiar new.

And on that agreeable note…come then, let us go forward together on some great London Walks. Good luck and good Londoning. See ya tomorrow.

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