Before we visit a new country we always do as much research as we possibly can so we can maximize our time there and feel like we know a fair bit about the location before we visit.
What is England famous for? England is most well known for many things but the British Royal Family is perhaps the most prominent of them all. The Royal Family is what immediately comes to anyone’s mind when they think of England. The old members, as well as the newcomers to the Royal Family, are famous all over the world. The Royal Family is linked with an elaborate history dating back hundreds of years. Tourists from all over the world make it a point to visit the Royal heritage sites in England when they visit.
In this blog post, I share a list of all of the items that England is the most famous for and some of the attractions you don’t want to miss.
The Royal Family
The British Royal Family comprises Queen Elizabeth II and her close relatives.
Queen Elizabeth II happens to be the longest-reigning monarch in Britain.
The Royal family supports the Queen to perform her state and national duties. Each year the Royal family carries out more than 2000 official engagements and this is not only in the UK but all over the world.
These engagements include visits to the Armed Forces, garden parties, receptions, national festivities, and state funerals. Members of the Royal family help with the official duties where the Queen cannot be present in person.
They also represent the Queen and the nation in events held in Commonwealth and other countries. This helps to strengthen Britain’s economic and diplomatic relations.
The Royal family also helps to carry out public and charity services.
NOTE: The Queen’s official residence, Buckingham Palace, is one of the most famous Royal attractions in England.
It is open to visitors from the end of July to September. And a popular event that takes place there is the Changing the Guard ceremony.
Some of the other Royal attractions to visit in England are Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court Palace etc.
Fish And Chips
Fish and chips are one of the most sought after food in England. In fact, it originated in England.
It is believed that the dish might have been a culinary fusion from the immigrants of Portugal and Spain.
For those of you who might not have ever had this dish, fish and chips are made by dipping fish fillets in batter and deep-frying them and then they are served hot with potato chips.
This was a staple food in the UK since its first appearance in the 1860s, and it still is. It was so important that during World War II, fish and chips were one of the few items of food that weren’t rationed.
FUN FACT: These days a fish-and-chip shop is called a “chippy” in British slang.
When you think of the words “greasy spoon” you would think it is some sort of special spoon that the English invented. It is not!
In fact, a greasy spoon refers to a small cheap cafe. These are quite popular in England.
If you want to enjoy “full cooked English breakfast”, a greasy spoon is the place to go to. Greasy spoons usually offer this breakfast throughout the day.
A traditional English breakfast would include a variety of fried foods served with either tea, coffee or fruit juices. The foods included in an English breakfast are fried bacon, eggs scrambled or poached, tomatoes fried or grilled, buttered toast or fried bread, sausages, and fried mushrooms.
Quite often baked beans, bubble and squeak (a dish made from potatoes and cabbage), and black pudding (a type of sausage) is also included.
The breakfast items may vary slightly depending on the area. But typically a “full breakfast” means that all of the food items are included.
Greasy spoons are typically located alongside a main road so that it can serve passing motorists. So it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a greasy spoon on your visit to England.
This is an important part of British culture. Traditionally pubs would have served beer and cider.
For those who might not know what a pub is, it’s short for public house.
You can go to a pub to socialize, have a drink, talk, eat and relax. A pub is usually like the hangout point for the locals of that area.
King Richard II of England made a law that all pubs should have signs outdoors so that passing ale tasters could easily spot them and decide on the quality of the ale served there. William Shakespeare’s father John Shakespeare was also an ale inspector.
In rural areas, it is called a country pub or a tavern.
Some pubs have limited themselves to a specific theme, for example like a Goth pub, karaoke pub, sports pub, etc. This attracts niche clientele and therefore this is a great way for people to socialize with similar minds.
Here are a few important things to remember about pubs when you visit them:
- Smoking inside pubs was banned in 2007.
- If you spill someone’s drink by accident, you should offer to buy them another one. This is a wise action and also good manners.
- Another very important thing to remember is that most English pubs don’t have table service. You should go to the bar and order your food and drinks.
There are many pubs in England dating back to the Middle Ages. So one might say that they are historical sites themselves.
Curries That Will Blow Your Mind
The British curries actually originated from India.
The difference between Indian and British curries is that British ones are slightly thicker and sweeter. So basically it’s Indian food cooked to British taste.
Despite that it is very popular and contributes to a large part of the British economy. In fact, National Curry Week is celebrated every October in the UK.
One of the most popular curry dishes is the Chicken Tikka Masala. And it has been referred to as “a true British national dish” since the late 1990s.
In 1747 Hannah Glasse wrote The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, which contained the first ever British curry recipe.
Legends say that the Worcestershire sauce was invented when attempting to make curry in the 19th century.
The first ever Indian curry house in England was the Hindoostanee Coffee House in London, opened by Sake Dean Mahomed in 1810. Unfortunately, due to the lack of business it shut down a year later. A City of Westminster plaque was erected in 2005 to mark its location.
FUN FACT: Today, the oldest surviving Indian restaurant in Britain is the Veeraswamy in Regent Street, London. It was established in 1926.
Funny Food Names
When you order English food, you would either get a good laugh out of the name or be utterly surprised at what dish represents. Here is why…
If you order something called the Welsh rarebit (or rabbit) don’t expect a rabbit stew. It’s just cheese on toast! This name was given to the food in the 18th century as sarcasm that the Welsh were so poor they couldn’t even afford to eat rabbit.
Bubble and squeak? This is not a fizzy drink, it’s just pan fried leftovers from the previous night.
And a favorite English dish, spotted dick. This is actually a pudding made with dried fruit and suet. The appearance of the fruits in the pudding gives the “spotted” part of the name, but the other part, nobody has an idea how that came about.
Here are some other weird English food names; toad in the hole, black pudding (this is definitely not a pudding), jam roly poly, bangers and mash, and stinking bishop etc.
Traditional Sunday Lunch
In England this traditional Sunday lunch started as a meal to eat after church on Sunday. This is an opportunity for family and friends to get together and enjoy a great meal.
The traditional Sunday lunch (also called Sunday roast) consists of roast meat, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, mint sauce, vegetables, gravy and bread.
Originally the meat for this meal was roasted in front of a fire, but nowadays of course people use modern ovens to bake it.
This is so famous that many pubs and restaurants throughout the UK are packed with people waiting for this meal to be served. But a home cooked Sunday lunch is the heart of British food and cooking.
Tea For Every Moment
The English drink tea everyday and sometimes several cups a day.
At the time it was introduced to Britain, in the 17th century, only the wealthy could afford it.
The tradition of drinking tea was introduced to the English Royal Court by the wife of Charles II, Catherine of Braganza. And the aristocracy also adopted the habit.
The Bridge Tearoom in Bradford Upon Avon in Wiltshire England is one of the oldest tea rooms in England. It was built in 1675.
Thomas Twining opened the first teahouse for ladies, The Strand, in 1717.
At that time there weren’t many places that a lady could go to unescorted by a male, so this was a very important place for English ladies.
After that more and more tea shops opened up throughout England so that tea was available to everyone.
The national sport of England is cricket, but football is the most popular sport.
England is considered the home of football for several reasons.
The modern rules of football that we play by today were assigned by the Football Association of England, both established in 1863.
The first national football team was also set up in England.
The FA cup, the world’s first national football competition was started in England in 1871.
The world’s first international football match was played in England in 1872.
Sheffield F.C. the world’s first football club was established in England in 1857.
England has the oldest national football league, the English Football League.
And today, England has the most number of registered football clubs in the world, over 40,000.
Finally, England is one of the only 8 teams that have won the World Cup. That was in 1966.
The elaborate history of England is not an easy one to summarise.
Footprints and stone tools found in Happisburgh, Norfolk have revealed that it dates back to 800,000 years.
The name England comes from the Germanic tribe Angles who settled there during the 5th and 6th centuries. At that time the Saxons tribes had also settled in the South of England.
This period is historically referred to as the Anglo-Saxon period. The Anglo-Saxons didn’t exist as a united country. It was Athelstan who united the different tribes into one country and formed the Kingdom of England in 937.
He was the first king of England. There are still evidence of Anglo-Saxons period in England, like the Anglian Tower in North Yorkshire.
After 1535, the Kingdom of England also included Wales. Then in 1707 it united with the Kingdom of Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Later, the Kingdom of Ireland joined with Great Britain and formed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
However it became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland when the Irish Free State broke away from this union in 1922.
There are so many historic sites to see in England, like Stonehenge, many ancient castles and buildings and even whole towns.
England has many attractive historical sites. And the Universities of England can also be added to that list because some of them are the oldest AND most prestigious schools in the world.
The University of Oxford for one. The exact founding date of Oxford is not known but the oldest records of teaching here dated back to 1096.
Also this was where Harry Potter was filmed.
Next is the University of Cambridge, established in 1209. This was actually formed by a few scholars from Oxford, who had to leave due to disputes with the townspeople.
Then there is the University of Manchester founded in 1824, University College London founded in 1826 and Durham University founded in 1832.
Lush Green Countryside
In the picturesque English countryside, it seems as if time had just stopped.
These beautiful villages with their lush greenery is a sight for sore eyes. The countryside will have many historical sites, monuments, memorials and country pubs etc. One should visit the country to get a good dose of the English heritage and culture.
Even the English themselves love to visit the country during their free time to enjoy some time away from the bustling cities.
Some of the most beautiful villages in England are Snowshill and Upper Swell in Gloucestershire, Muker in North Yorkshire, Ombersley and Broadway in Worcestershire, and Grasmere in Cumbria etc.
These are only a few of them, there are more beautiful villages to be seen in England.
Wimbledon or The Championships, is considered to be the most esteemed tennis tournament in the world.
It has been played in the outdoor grass courts at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London since 1877.
It is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments and is also the only major one still played on grass courts instead of hardcourts.
A strict Wimbledon tradition is that competitors and royal patronage should where all-white.
Also the traditional food for the tournament is strawberries and cream and the traditional drink is Pimm’s.
Robin Hood and his Merrymen is probably one of the most popular English folk tales.
The tales of Robin Hood has been around since the 15th century. It is portrayed during the reign of King Richard the Lionheart. Robin Hood is the green-garbed heroic outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.
NOTE: Today a statue of this famous hero stands outside Nottingham Castle.
It is believed that the Sherwood Forest was home to Robin Hood and his gang, which today it is situated near the village of Edwinstowe in North Nottinghamshire.
The gang supposedly found shelter in the Major Oak there. The Major Oak is believed to be around 800-1000 years old.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. The house he is believed to have been born in and spent his childhood in, still stands today in Henley Street and is open for visitors to see.
He is regarded as the greatest dramatist in the world and the greatest writer in the English language. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth are some of his most famous works.
Shakespear died in 1616 at the age of 52. He was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church.
Shakespeare himself wrote a curse to be included in his epitaph on his gravestone that warns anyone from moving his bones. This was done to warn away relic hunters at that time.
TIP: Visit Shakespeare’s monument, which stands above his grave.
The clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London has five bells.
And the largest of these bells, the Great Bell weighing 13.5 long tons, is what is actually nicknamed Big Ben. However usually both the clock tower and the clock are referred to as the Big Ben.
The tower was designed by Augustus Pugin and the work on the clock tower was completed in 1859.
Big Ben is an important cultural icon of Britain and is a prominent symbol of the United Kingdom.
It was officially named Elizabeth Tower to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012.
Stonehenge is a ring of standing stones and each stone is around 13 feet high, seven feet wide and weighs around 25 tons.
There are no records of who actually built Stonehenge. Although a popular belief is that this was built by the Celtic druids for sacrificial ceremonies.
How Stonehenge was built and why is still unknown. However, another belief is that Stonehenge was built as a burial site.
This prehistoric monument is a famous landmark of England and is located in Wiltshire, England. It is considered as a British cultural icon.
The London Eye is an observation wheel that was opened to the public in the year 2000. And at that time it was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel at a height of 135 feet.
It is located in the South Bank of the River Thames in London.
It was built in sections and assembled lying flat on platforms that were placed over the river. Once completed, it was raised to an upright position.
The London Eye is “cantilevered”. This means that it is supported only on one side.
It has 32 capsules, but they are numbered from 1 to 33 having omitted number 13. And a ride on the London Eye takes around 30 minutes.
This is one of the most paid-for tourist attraction sites in the United Kingdom.