17 March 1040

Harold Harefoot, King of England, died at Oxford. He was buried in Westminster Abbey but his body was later dug up on the orders of Harthacanute, his successor, and thrown into a nearby bog.


17 March 1497

A cave on Lough Derg, Donegal, believed by some to be St Patrick's entrance to Purgatory, is sealed on the orders of Pope Alexander VI.

17 March 1921

Marie Stopes opened Britain 's first family planning clinic, the Mothers' Clinic, in Holloway, north London. In 1925 the clinic moved to Whitfield Street in central London, where it remains to this day.

17 March 1942

Colonel William Carver, Conservative MP for Howdenshire, asked the home secretary in parliament whether in view of the shortage of paper in the country the throwing of confetti at weddings should be prohibited.

17 March 1948

Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg sign the Treaty of Brussels, the first move towards European co-operation after the Second World War. It paves the way for the Western European Union and Nato.

17 March 1959

As China crushes opposition to its rule in Tibet, the Dalai Lama flees the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, accompanied by about 20 supporters. Fifteen days later, after a 300-mile trek through the Himalayas, he will arrive safely in India.


17 March 1973

The new London Bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. The pre-stressed concrete box girder bridge had been designed by architect Lord Holford and engineers Mott, Hay and Anderson. Construction had begun in 1967.

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