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Thursday, 16 July 2015


Under Emperor Claudius, ancient Roman citizens enjoyed 159 public holidays a year. The day-long breaks didn't apply to slaves.

In medieval times, the Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays for the peasants. During periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year.

In the United Kingdom, the word vacation once specifically referred to the long summer break taken by the law courts and then later the term was applied to universities.

The first recorded person to take a camping holiday was English essayist Thomas de Quincy, 19th-century author of Confessions Of An Opium Eater. He took a home-made tent around Wales in 1802.

The very first package tour was organised by an English Baptist minister named Thomas Cook who on July 5, 1841, for a return fare of 1 shilling, took a party of 570 people from Leicester to a temperance rally 11 miles away at Loughborough. His subsequently organised other package tours as part of his fight against the demon drink.

Thomas Cook By Unknown - Commons

Thomas Cook's first for-profit holiday excursion in 1845 took 350 people on a four day rail trip from Leicester to Liverpool. First-class tickets cost 15 shillings (75p) and second-class, 10 shillings (50p).

Britain's first holiday camp was Dodd's socialist Holiday Camp at Caister-on-Sea in Norfolk, which opened in 1906. Alcohol was strictly banned and any holiday maker caught talking after 11pm was thrown out. Accommodation was under canvas and anyone failing to keep his or her tent tidy was liable to a 6d fine for each offense.

Seeing the Reichenbach Falls during a holiday with his wife in Switzerland, Arthur Conan Doyle decided this was the exit he wanted for the Sherlock Holmes character with whom he was bored.

King Edward VII, was holidaying in Biarritz, when Asquith succeeded Campbell-Bannerman as Prime Minister on April 5, 1908. His majesty refused to return to London, citing health grounds and Asquith was forced to travel to Biarritz for the official "kissing of hands" of the monarch.

Thomas Edison didn't often take holidays, but every so often he would take off to his winter house at Fort Myers, Florida. Next door was his friend and ex employee Henry Ford.

Franklin Roosevelt had a holiday cottage at the top of the Pine Mountain, Warm Springs, Georgia. The little white house with its farm in Warm Springs is now owned by the State of Georgia.

The Bank Holiday Act was passed in Britain in 1948 which opened up the possibility of longer distance holidays. All  workers were entitled to one weeks pay leave. Before this act people made do with short Bank Holiday breaks or day trips to the sea and countryside. 

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