FYI March 23, 2020

On This Day

1540 – Waltham Abbey is surrendered to King Henry VIII of England; the last religious community to be closed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St Lawrence is the parish church of the town of Waltham Abbey, Essex, England. It has been a place of worship since the 7th century. The present building dates mainly from the early 12th century and is an example of Norman architecture. To the east of the existing church are traces of an enormous eastward enlargement of the building, begun following the re-foundation of the abbey in 1177. In the Late Middle Ages, Waltham was one of the largest church buildings in England and a major site of pilgrimage; in 1540 it was the last religious community to be closed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It is still an active parish church for the town.

The monastic buildings and those parts of the church east of the crossing were demolished at the Dissolution, and the Norman crossing tower and transepts collapsed in 1553. The present-day church consists of the nave of the Norman abbey church, the 14th-century lady chapel and west wall, and a 16th-century west tower, added after the dissolution.[1]

King Harold Godwinson, who died at the Battle of Hastings, is said to be buried in the present churchyard.



Born On This Day

1842 – Susan Jane Cunningham, American mathematician (d. 1921)
Susan Jane Cunningham (March 23, 1842 – January 24, 1921) was an American mathematician instrumental in the founding and development of Swarthmore College.[1] She was born in Virginia, and studied mathematics and astronomy with Maria Mitchell at Vassar College as a special student during 1866–67.[1] She also studied those subjects during several summers at Harvard University, Princeton University, Newnham College at Cambridge, the Greenwich Observatory in England, and Williams College.[1]

In 1869 she became one of the founders of the mathematics and astronomy departments at Swarthmore, and she headed both those divisions until her retirement in 1906.[2] She was Swarthmore’s first professor of astronomy, and was professor of mathematics at the college beginning in 1871.[1][3] By 1888 she was Mathematics Department Chair, and that year she was given permission to plan and equip the first observatory in Swarthmore, which housed the astronomy department, and in which she lived in until her retirement; it was known as Cunningham Observatory.[1][3] The building still exists on the campus although it is no longer used as an observatory, and is now simply known as the Cunningham Building.[1][3] In 1888 Cunningham was given the first honorary doctorate of science ever given by Swarthmore.[2] In 1891 she became one of the first six women to join the New York Mathematical Society, which later became the American Mathematical Society.[4] The very first was Charlotte Angas Scott, and the other four were Mary E. Byrd of Smith College, Mary Watson Whitney of Vassar, Ellen Hayes of Wellesley, and Amy Rayson, who taught mathematics and physics at a private school in New York City.[4] Cunningham was also a member of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific as early as 1891.[5] She was also a founder member of the British Astronomical Association in 1890, resigned 1908 September.

Cunningham died on January 24, 1921 from heart failure. Her funeral service was held on-campus in the Swarthmore College Meeting House, and was attended by many notable figures such as then-Pennsylvania governor William C. Sproul and Pennsylvania State Commissioner of Health Edward Martin.[6]



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