Events from the year 1838 in the United Kingdom.
- 10 January — A fire destroys Lloyd's Coffee House and the Royal Exchange in London.
- 20 January — With a daily average of −11.9 °C (10.6 °F), this day sees the coldest daily Central England temperature value on record.
- 4–22 April — The paddle steamer SS Sirius (1837) makes the Transatlantic Crossing to New York from Cork in eighteen days, though not using steam continuously.
- 8–23 April — Isambard Kingdom Brunel's paddle steamer SS Great Western (completed on 31 March) makes the Transatlantic Crossing to New York from Avonmouth in fifteen days, inaugurating a regular steamship service.
- 8 April — The National Gallery first opens to the public in the building purpose-designed for it by William Wilkins in Trafalgar Square, London.
- 9 May — Royal Agricultural Society of England founded.
- 21 May — Chartism: The People's Charter is launched by members of the London Working Men's Association at a mass meeting on Glasgow Green calling for universal suffrage for male voters.
- 31 May — Battle of Bossenden Wood: In Kent, self-declared Messiah John N. Thom, calling himself "Sir William Courtenay", and a band of around 35 agricultural labourers are surrounded by soldiers of the 45th Regiment of Foot sent to arrest them following the earlier murder of a policeman. Thom and ten followers, together with an officer and a constable, are killed in what is sometimes described as the last battle on English soil.
- 4 June — First section of the Great Western Railway, engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, opens from London Paddington station to Maidenhead.
- 18 June — The Newcastle and Carlisle Railway opens, the first line across England.
- 28 June — The coronation of Queen Victoria takes place at Westminster Abbey. Lord Melbourne denies her the traditional medieval banquet due to budget constraints, and critics refer to it as "The Penny Crowning".
- 4 August — The Court Journal prints a rumour that Archibald Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton is going to host a great jousting tournament at his castle in Scotland. A few weeks later he confirms this.
- 6 August — The Polytechnic Institution, Britain's first polytechnic, opens in Regent Street, London.
- September — The Tolpuddle Martyrs return to England.
- 7 September — Grace Darling rescues nine survivors from the wreck of the paddle steamer SS Forfarshire (1834) off the Farne Islands.
- 17 September — Opening of the London and Birmingham Railway throughout, the first trunk line in England.
- 18 September — Anti-Corn Law League founded by Richard Cobden.
- 1 October — First Anglo-Afghan War begins when Lord Auckland, Governor-General of India, issues a manifesto from Simla giving Britain's reasons for intervening in Afghanistan.
- 13 January — John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain (born 1751)
- February — Thomas Creevey, politician (born 1768)
- 4 March — William Fennex, cricketer (born 1763)
- 4 March — James Carmichael Smyth, colonial administrator (born 1779)
- 19 March — Sir Edward Barnes, British Army officer and governor of Ceylon (born 1776)
- 21 March — George Ramsay, 9th Earl of Dalhousie, colonial Governor (born 1770)
- 24 March — Thomas Attwood, composer (born 1765)
- 19 May — Richard Colt Hoare, antiquarian, artist, traveller and archaeologist (born 1758)
- 19 July — Christmas Evans, Welsh Nonconformist minister (born 1766)
- 25 August — William Annesley, 3rd Earl Annesley, noble and Member of Parliament (born 1772)
- 18 September — Robert Smith, 1st Baron Carrington, Member of Parliament (born 1752)
- 7 November — Anne Grant, Scottish poet and author (born 1755)
- 16 November — Robert Cutlar Fergusson, lawyer and politician (born 1768)
- 22 December — John Villiers, 3rd Earl of Clarendon, Member of Parliament (born 1757)
- Undated — John Bonham-Carter, politician and barrister (born 1788)
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