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English Heritage set to celebrate Shakespeare, Somme and World Cup anniversaries

Published 29/12/2015

The Battle of Hastings is among a string of anniversaries to be commemorated next year by English Heritage
The Battle of Hastings is among a string of anniversaries to be commemorated next year by English Heritage

The Battle of Hastings, the death of William Shakespeare and the Somme Offensive are among a string of anniversaries to be commemorated next year by English Heritage.

England's victory in the 1966 Football World Cup has also been included in the charity's list of next year's most important anniversaries.

Top of the list is the Battle of Hastings, which took place on 14 October 1066 and heralded the Norman Conquest of England.

Next year will mark 950 years since King Harold fell to William the Conqueror - a result that defined the country's political, social and physical landscape for centuries to come.

English Heritage, which looks after more than 400 of England's most significant historic sites - including the Battle of Hastings battlefield, Stonehenge, and Hadrian's Wall - will mark the anniversary with a year of activity at Norman castles and abbeys across the country, including at the battlefield itself in East Sussex.

There, a new exhibition opening in the summer will tell the story of the battle. For the first time, visitors will be able to stand on the roof of Battle Abbey's Great Gatehouse - founded by William on the spot where Harold died - to view the site of the most important battle in English history.

On 23 April 1616, 550 years after the Battle of Hastings, William Shakespeare, England's greatest playwright, died at the age of 52.

The 400th anniversary of his death will be marked in sites with links to the playwright, from his birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon to the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London.

Remembering one of the bloodiest battles in human history will be the latest key point in marking the centenary of the First World War.

The Somme Offensive took place between June and November 1916, with the first day, July 1, the worst day in the history of the British army, with over 60,000 casualties.

Plans have been announced for a number of commemorative events at home and in France, including a memorial service on the anniversary of the first day of the battle.

In the capital, the London Blue Plaques Scheme will celebrate its 150th birthday. Now looked after by English Heritage, the scheme with its much-loved blue roundels has been linking people to places since 1866. Next year will see a blue plaque erected to footballer Bobby Moore, one of the stars of England's World Cup victory.

Kate Mavor, English Heritage's Chief Executive, said: "Birthdays or weddings are often opportunities to remember key events in our own personal lives. The same is true of historic anniversaries, they provide a meaningful moment to look back on pivotal points in English history.

"Next year is a particularly rich one for anniversaries - from the Battle of Hastings to William Shakespeare, these events and people from the past left a profound mark on our history and on our lives today."

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