Heritage and Culture
England comes from the Old English word Englaland which refers to ‘land of the Angles’. Angles were the Germanic tribes that made England their home in the Early Middle Ages. The Age of Discovery in the 15th century had an impact on the culture of the world but most importantly on England. The legal system was developed in England which was later adopted by many counties – in fact the parliamentary system is still very popular all over the world. Later in the 18th century during the industrial revolution, England became one of the first industrialised nations in the world – England’s royal family helped in strengthening the pillars of experimental science.
England is a land with a very rich cultural heritage. The English have a lot of ties from the past – from its traditions to its architecture to food, philosophy and arts. The most ancient monuments are from the prehistoric times, architectures like Devil’s Arrows, Stonehenge and Rudston Monolith. When Romans came around, they gave England a bit of their culture – Roman Baths in Bath, Somerset is quintessential Roman legacy preserved still. In the medieval period, Tower of London, Durham Castle and Warwick Castle were erected to help law lords protect themselves and uphold authority, killing two birds with one stone. Then there was Plantagenet era in which York Minster and Westminster Abbey were developed. These were followed by English Baroque and Georgian architecture. In the Victorian Era, romanticism flourished and The Crystal Palace came into being around that time. There is a government body that manages all these historic sites in England – English Heritage. It is sponsored by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Literature is another aspect of England that needs no introduction – from Shakespeare to Jane Austen to J.K. Rowling, admirable authors have taken birth on this great land. John Keats, P.B. Shelley, William Wordsworth are notable figures that played a role in bringing romanticism to life. Some more authors are Lewis Carroll, Ruyard Kipling, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte and H.G. Wells. Even now, English novelists are popular in the world – Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a franchise; Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton are a few renowned ones.
The folk music is ages old. Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Roses are Red, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star are just some of the nursery rhymes – the list continues. Other than that, Beatles, Elton John, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin gave some of the greatest music man has ever known. Then there is also opera house in England, theatres and music festivals living and breathing the art of England. Adding to the culture, folklore is awfully famous too. There would hardly be English who haven’t heard of pixies, goblins, trolls, bogeyman and giants. Robin Hood is one of the most famous fictional characters in the world – his stories loved by children and adults alike.
If it’s still isn’t clear, there is a lot to discover in England. London, of course, is where the journey starts – London Eye, Big Ben, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, British Library, National Gallery are just some of the must visit places. Other than that, go to Bath to see the Roman Baths; The Lake District will have something you have never seen – pure, serene, picturesque beauty; Edinburgh is known for the Edinburgh castle, the museums and even hosts the largest celebrations of New Year in the world. The Eden Project in Cornwall is one of the most remarkable projects in England so if you get a chance to see it for yourself, don’t miss it. Oh and a voyage in a boat in Thames is something you ought to try.
Don’t forget to make stops at the Isles of Scilly, Wales, Oxford, Liverpool, Manchester, York, Chester, Windsor Stonehenge and Cambridge. All these have so, so much to offer. Well, if you get a chance, check them all out.
English food has always been known for its quality – the simplistic approach and use of high quality produce has earned it reputation of being superlative. There was a decline in the quality during the industrial revolution but recently it has been revived. Most favourite English meals include fish and chips, Sunday roast, English breakfast of bacon, eggs and sausages, fried bread, grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, baked beans and black pudding. There are also meat pies like cottage pie, pork pie and steak and kidney pie which are all delicacies of the country. The sweet dishes include Eccles cake, sticky toffee pudding, custard and apple pie.
Gordon Ramsay, Fifteen, Mildred’s in London, Alma de Cuba, Pan American Club in Liverpool, Akbar’s in Leeds, Cap’n Jaspers in Plymouth, Magpie Café in Whitby, Yang Sing in Manchester are all best places to eat. Obviously, there are hundred more eateries and restaurants; these are just a few to get you started.
London springs to everyone’s mind as soon as anyone says shopping but it is not confined to just the capital. Although there is oxford street, Borough, Brick Lane, Carnaby Street and Camden in London, there are many other cities sprawling with malls and markets that, if shoppers are to be believed, are less expensive than London markets. Go to Liverpool or Manchester and you’ll find malls and record stores too. Manchester has the biggest mall in UK with more than 280 shops and still has space has accommodations. In Southport, Lord Street is shoppers’ paradise. Birmingham has been stumbling behind but recently even it has refurnished the whole shopping thing – the indoor market is rather impressive and inexpensive. In York, Shambles has everything you could ask for – designer wear to independent shops and high street and County Arcade which has been restored is a Victorian era arcade with an air of it sown. If you’re in Oxford and books is your thing, maybe you should try the Blackwell which even gives you tours.
England has codified a lot of sports – cricket, tennis, squash, badminton, billiards, darts, snooker, rugby, association football, table tennis, fox hunting, netball and hockey to name a few. The national football team won FIFA against Germany in 1996; home venue of the team is Wembley Stadium. Club Football originated in England, even FIFA recognize it. There are football clubs in England that play for various championships – FA Cup, Football League, and Premiere League. England also has a cricket team; it has hosted 4 World Cups and a Twenty20 while there are also national level competitions. The Rugby team won 2003 World Cup and England will now host Rugby World Cup in 2015.
London is now preparing for the Summer Olympics that will be held in 2012. Already, in and around London stadiums have been renovated and new venues prepared for the same.
England At A Glance
Airport: Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Cambridge, Southampton, Manchester, Exeter International
Prime Places/Towns: Winchester, London, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Bradford, Coventry, Leicester