February 24th 1582 The Julian calendar – created in 46 BCE – was no longer to be used as Pope Gregory XIII – just 3 years before he passed on – announced that the Roman Catholic Church across the whole world would now use the (his) new Gregorian calendar. This meant that ten days had to be removed so as to bring the Spring equinox back to March 21st. Many people around the world would feel that those ten days had been stolen from their life.
February 25th 1956 Early this morning Nikita Khrushchev emerged as the dominant leader of the USSR when he delivered what became known as the “Secret Speech” to a closed session of the Soviet Congress. The speech lasted some four hours as he demolished Stalin’s reputation. Later, in his memoirs, he recalls that the congress “listened to me in silence”. Khrushchev told the delegates that Stalin had showed in a whole series of cases of intolerance, brutality, and abuse of power, not only against actual enemies, but also against individuals who had not committed any crimes against the party or the Soviet Government. While the speech did not change much in Soviet society it had many wide-ranging effects across the world.
February 26th 1903. James Joyce, writing to his father in Paris, confirmed that he had received his telegraphed order on Tuesday afternoon and dined. As it was the evening of the carnival he had allowed himself some luxuries – a cigar, some confetti to throw and a supper. He had also bought a stove, a saucepan and many other necessities. He was now trying to do his own cooking and now hoped that he would not now fall asleep dreaming of rice-pudding!
February 27th 1939. It was on this day that the Borley Rectory in Essex – built on the site of a medieval monastery – burned down. So what? As a Ghost Walk guide in Peterborough I’m interested because the Rectory was claimed by many to be the most haunted house in England. Local stories told of a nun falling in love with a monk from the close-by monastery and both being sentenced to death. It is said that the monk was sent to the gallows whilst the nun was sealed alive in the walls of the nunnery; ever since she had haunted the Rectory. In addition to the wandering nun there were reports of mysterious footsteps, doorbells ringing of their own accord together with unspecified poltergeist activity. According to locals and ‘experts’ the destruction of the house has not deterred unknown forces still lingering in the area.
February 28th 1784 This was the day the English evangelist John Wesley issued the Deed of Declaration which provided the rules and regulations of Methodism.
March 1st 1711 saw the first publication of The Spectator newspaper. Published as a daily ‘paper’ or ‘number’ it lasted just 555 issues! It re-appeared under different management in 1714 publishing three time each week. That programme last for some six months.
March 2nd 1870 Writing in his diary for this day the Rev’d Robert Francis Kilvert records that he received by post ‘two old songs , imperfect but very curious and of some merit.’ He thought that the one about our Saviour had ‘true ballad swing’. The other appears to have made no impression on him.