The day of a thousand years
Alfred and the Victorian mania for commemoration
in ‘England’s darling’
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This chapter sketches out the acceleration of public interest in King Alfred from his birth in 1801, to the Wantage celebration organised almost single-handedly by Martin Farquhar Tupper in 1849 and Alfred Millenary committee's week-long extravaganza in 1901. Early on in the planning of the Millenary, it had been agreed that it would be desirable to open a museum of early English history in Winchester, as part of the Alfred commemoration. In the wake of the Winchester Millenary, many writers enlisted Alfred to their cause, capitalising on the sense of a seminal anniversary. Alfred's ninth-century kingdom of Wessex incorporated the Victorian counties of Somerset, Wiltshire, Berkshire and Devon. Alfred Bowker's achievement is all the more remarkable when it is considered that Winchester was not particularly prominent on the Alfredian tourist trail.

‘England’s darling’

The Victorian cult of Alfred the Great


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