Ward's Book of Days.

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What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1842, died Grace Darling.

Grace Darling was the greatest British heroine of the Nineteenth Century. She became the idol of the people and a national cult figure after an amazing deed of gallantry. This is what took place:

Grace was the daughter of a lighthouse keeper on the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland. In the early hours of September 7th 1838, from the window of her lighthouse home, Grace spotted the ship Forfarshire, wrecked on the nearby Harcar Rocks and nine survivors of the wreck clinging desperately to the rocks. Knowing that the sea was too rough for the lifeboat to be launched, Grace and her father took a coble, a flat-bottomed rowing boat, and rowed to the rocks, bringing the beleaguered seamen to safety.

Grace achieved instant stardom. She was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Humane Society. The grateful surviving mariners presented her with a golden locket containing a hair from each of their heads. She became the subject of numerous magazine and newspaper articles, her heroic rescue was painted by the fashionable artists of the time and her valour was immortalised in verse by the great poet Tennyson. Boat trips were organised round the Farne Islands where tourists fondly hoped to catch a glimpse of the heroine.

Sadly, Grace became a victim of her own reputation. In fear of the multitude, she rarely left the lighthouse, she never married and contracted tuberculosis and died aged 26 in 1842. Her monumental tomb in Bamburgh was designed to be seen by passing ships. Nearby Grace’s tomb is a museum where the original coble and other appurtenances of the rescue are preserved.

Grace Darling's tomb in Bamburgh

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