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3 Oct 2014
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This Sceptred Isle

The Bedchamber Crisis and Afghanistan
In 1839 Melbourne resigned over a constitutional issue involving the refusal of the Jamaican assembly to do as it was bid by the Government in London.

The young Queen now asked Peel to be Prime Minister. He demanded that she sack some of her Ladies of the Bedchamber who were wives of Whig ministers. The Queen refused. Peel turned down the Premiership and Melbourne was returned to office.

Government was concerned with the poor and the Chartists at home but abroad two wars were being fought in Afghanistan and in China.

The First Afghan War was contested between Russia and British India over the British installation of a puppet ruler in the capital of Afghanistan. The British army was forced into a humiliating surrender and almost 20,000 retreating soldiers died.

The Opium War was fought over the opium trade in China. The High Commissioner of Canton objected to the adverse effect opium addiction had on his countrymen. He confiscated all opium stored in Cantonese warehouses. The British said the Chinese had no right to seize the opium. The Chinese refused to make reparations, fired on British warships and forbade trade with Britain. The British bombarded Canton and seized Hong Kong. The Treaty of Nanking in 1842 ended the war. The Chinese paid reparations, ceded Hong Kong and opened five ports to British trade.

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens

  • Novelist
  • Labelled bottles at Warren's blacking factory at Hungerford Market when he was 12
  • David Copperfield (1849-1850) is partly autobiographical and reflects the hard times of his family especially when his father was imprisoned for debt
  • After his father's release, Dickens had some schooling and worked as a solicitor's office boy
  • His father got a job on a newspaper and Dickens decided that too was the work for him
  • With self-taught short-hand he became a reporter in the House of Commons for the Morning Chronicle
  • In 1833, he started writing Sketches by Boz (his young brother's nickname) and in 1836 these were collected and published
  • In spring 1836 he published the first of the Pickwick Papers and almost at once, Dickens was established as a popular author
  • His last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, was unfinished
  • As well as writing, Dickens became famous for his readings

did you know?
Queen Victoria was the first monarch to have Buckingham Palace as her main residence.


Any pauper who shall neglect to obey such of the regulations herein contained as are applicable to and binding on him:

  • Or who shall make any noise when silence is order to be kept
  • Or shall use obscene of profane language
  • Or shall by word or deed insult or revile any person
  • Or shall threaten to strike or to assault any person
  • Or shall not duly cleanse his person
  • Or shall refuse or neglect to work, after having been required to do so
  • Or shall pretend sickness
  • Or shall play at cards or other games of chance
  • Or shall enter or attempt to enter, without permission, the ward or yard appropriated to any class of paupers, other than that to which he belongs
  • Or shall misbehave in going to, at, or returning from public worship out of the workhouse, or at prayers in the workhouse
  • Or shall return after the appointed time of absence, when allowed to quit the workhouse temporarily
  • Or shall wilfully disobey and lawful order of any officer of the workhouse
Shall be deemed DISORDERLY

It shall be lawful for the master of the workhouse, with or without direction of the Board of Guardians, to punish any disorderly pauper by substituting, during a time nor greater than forty-eight hours, for his or her dinner, as prescribed by the dietary, a meal consisting of eight ounces of bread, or one pound of cooked potatoes .....

Select historical period

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1834Melbourne becomes Prime Minister
Robert Peel becomes Prime Minister
Tamworth Manifesto is announced
Houses of Parliament are burned down
1835 Melbourne becomes Prime Minister
1837 William IV dies
Victoria becomes Queen
1838 The People's Charter is issued
1839 The Opium War breaks out
1840 Victoria marries Prince Albert
1841 Peel becomes Prime Minister
1842 The Opium War ends
1845 The Irish famine starts
1846The corn laws are repealed
Russell becomes Prime Minister
1848Public Health Act
1851 The Great Exhibition
Louis Napoleon seizes power in France
1854The Crimean War breaks out
Florence Nightingale arrives at Scutari

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