The List

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ENGLISH HEROES: The Duke of Wellington (Irish); Winston Churchill (American mother); the Duke of Edinburgh (German and Danish descent); Leslie Howard (Hungarian descent); George Sanders (Russian born); John Barnes (Jamaican born); Sid James (South African born); Prue Leith (ditto); Sue MacGregor (ditto); James Bond, the ultimate Englishman, survived being a Scot (Sean Connery) and is now an Irishman, Pierce Brosnan.

TODAY is the feast day of St Peter of Mount Athos in Macedonia. Thought to have lived in the 8th century, he was on a ship from Rome to Asia when a vision of Our Lady told him to live as a hermit on Mount Athos. There he was assailed by devils who mocked him, shot at him with arrows and pelted him with stones. He repelled them with the power of prayer. They then took the form of snakes, a former servant and finally an angel, but all failed to persuade him to return to the world. He lived in isolation for 50 years until he was discovered by a huntsman who Peter sent away, asking him to return in a year, by which time the saint was dead.

12 June, 1458: Magdalen College Oxford founded.

1819: Charles Kingsley was born in Hampshire. He became chaplain to Queen Victoria, professor of history at Cambridge and a great moral authority but is chiefly remembered for a children's story, The Water Babies. Inspired by his concern for chimney-boys, it tells the story of Tom the water-sprite and contains the characters Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby and Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid. Kingsley's early reputation was made as a leading 'muscular Christian' (although he hated the phrase), campaigning on the plight of the poor. Besides polemics, historical novels, religious tracts and children's books, he also wrote popular ballads, of which the best remembered is 'The Sands of Dee'. He died in 1875.

1908: Rotherhithe Tunnel under the Thames opened.

1921: The last Sunday that post was delivered.

BIRTHDAYS: George Bush, former US president, 70; Pat Jennings, former goalkeeper, 49; Reg Presley of the Troggs, 51.

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