Britain's worst year

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A new study says that 1812 was the worst year ever for Britain.

We had been at war with France for nearly 20 years which pushed taxes to record levels, while a series of disastrous harvests meant the cost of living had never been so high.

Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was shot dead in the House of Commons and America declared war on us in a dispute over trade with France.

King George III was mad and his unpopular son George, later to be George IV, ruled as regent.

Historian Derek Wilson, who chose the year, told the BBC History Magazine: "So many things went wrong in 1812 that affected conditions for people.

"There is confidence in society in 1812 when seen through the pages of Jane Austen - the historian's job is to put the record straight."

But 1812 wasn't bad for everybody. It inspired Tchaikovsky to write his 1812 Overture to commemorate Russian victory over France.

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