Milestone anniversaries of note in 2020

This year marks a host of milestone anniversaries across the country.

So, here’s a chance for armchair travellers to do some background reading about some of 2020’s major anniversaries – and perhaps plan a trip for when it’s safe to travel again.

‘Go green’ in Hampshire with the world’s first ecologist

Discover more about the fascinating life, times and pioneering work of a Hampshire ‘parson-naturalist’, who is today regarded as the world’s first ecologist. Many may not have heard the name the Rev. Gilbert White before, but this naturalist and gardener revolutionised the way people observed nature and inspired naturalists from Charles Darwin to David Attenborough. 2020 marks the 300th anniversary of his birth (18th July 1720), and Gilbert White’s House & Gardens in Selborne – an attractive village in east Hampshire – remains one of the focal points in the life and work of the man who helped to shape the modern scientific approach to natural history. His work culminated in his book The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, which was ground-breaking because it was a study of living birds and animals in their natural habitats. The house is home to the original manuscript, which has never been out of print since being published in 1789 and often quoted as being the fourth most published book in the English language. and

England’s first chief spymaster turns 500, as James Bond hits 25

He may have none of the glamour of Raleigh or Drake, but for Queen Elizabeth I, one man was by her side for 40 years. 2020 marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of William Cecil, Elizabeth’s most trusted minister (13th Sept 1520). As the court’s most powerful man he helped shape British history. Lincolnshire-born Cecil was her chief intelligence gatherer, but became involved in everything from diplomacy and exploration to education and gardening. Cecil’s Lincolnshire home, Burghley, in Stamford, is a stunning permanent reminder of his power and influence – as well as his lasting tribute to his beloved Queen – while St Martin’s Church in Stamford is where Cecil was laid to rest in 1598 following a funeral in Westminster Abbey. Cecil established a huge espionage network, in effect England’s first secret service. This year also marks a more modern secret agent – the 25th James Bond movie.

The 200th anniversary of the Lady with the Lamp

Two centuries after her birth, the lasting legacy of ‘Lady of the Lamp’, Florence Nightingale, is being marked globally in 2020. Well known as a nurse, she was also a female icon in her own lifetime, a healthcare pioneer, statistician and leader, and the 200th anniversary of her birth is 12 May 2020. Discover more about Florence in Derbyshire, where she spent her early years, and many summers, at the family’s home, Lea Hurst. She was deeply attached to Lea Hurst, writing that “it breaks my heart to leave…” and ‘The Florence Nightingale Suite’ will once again be offering accommodation to overnight guests later in the year. Unable to receive guests at the moment, they are accepting bookings for later in the year ( Florence is also featured elsewhere in Derby city centre. From Derbyshire, the young Florence moved to Hampshire after her father bought a house in East Wellow near Romsey and while Florence lived most of her post Crimean life in London, she often returned to visit Hampshire. After her death on 13 August 1910 she was buried in the family vault alongside her parents at the picturesque parish church of St Margaret’s Church at East Wellow. A new stained glass window, the ‘Calling Window’, has been unveiled at nearby Romsey Abbey, reflecting a time when the 17-year-old Florence said God called her to his service.

Explorer who named Australia returns to Lincolnshire after 200 years

New trails are being planned as part of commemorations to mark the remains of a Lincolnshire explorer who gave Australia its name returning home, more than 200 years after his death. The remains of Capt Matthew Flinders, born in Donington, near Spalding, were discovered during High Speed 2 construction in Euston, London. As the first person to circumnavigate the continent and who popularised its name, Flinders (1744 to 1814) is a national hero in Australia, where more than 100 geographical features are named after him. His remains are due to be reinterred inside Donington’s village church later in 2020 ( New, 10-miles and 30-miles cycle routes will also be unveiled, featuring some of the historic links between Lincolnshire and Australia as well as Flinders, and fellow Lincolnshire-born and bred explorer Joseph Banks (with 2020 also marking the 200th anniversary of Banks’ death. (

Charles Dickens 150th anniversary

Hampshire’s Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum will be marking the 150th anniversary of the death of the author, in 2020. Regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era, Dickens was born in the small terraced house in Portsmouth, on 7 February 1812. Discover more about his birthplace at and for more details of Dickens’ connections with Portsmouth, see Hampshire, of course, is no stranger to literary giants, and was in the spotlight in 2017 for the 200th anniversary of one of the county’s best-loved daughters, Jane Austen. Portsmouth, along with neighbouring Southsea, also have links to Arthur Conan Doyle – and the ‘birth’ of Sherlock Holmes – as well as Rudyard Kipling and HG Wells.

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    Gilbert Walk

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    William Cecil Burghley Portrait

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    Burghley House

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    Lea Hurst Derbyshire

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    Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum