- England is 74 times smaller than the USA, 59 times smaller than Australia and 3 times smaller than Japan. England is however 2.5 times more populous than Australia, and 1.5 times more populous than California. With 2.5 times less inhabitants than Japan, its density of population is slightly higher than the country of the rising sun.
- The highest temperature ever recorded in England was 38.5°C (101.3°F ) in Brogdale, Kent, on 10 August 2003.
- English people consume more tea per capita than anybody else in the world (2.5 times more than the Japanese and 22 times more than the Americans or the French).
- The Slimbridge Wildlife & Wetlands Trust is the world’s largest and most diversified wildfowl centre. It has the largest collection of swans, geese, and ducks on Earth, and is the only place where all six species o
- Mother Shipton’s Cave near Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, is England’s oldest recorded tourist attraction. Its owner, Charles Slingsby, fenced off the site in 1630 and started charging visitors to gape at this so-called petrifying well. The mineral-rich water from this uncanny spring has the ability to give objects a stone-like appearance after a prolonged exposure.
- English people have the highest obesity rate in the European Union (22.3% of men and 23% of women). They also have the highest percentage of overweight women (33.6%) and the 6th highest for men (43.9%).
Culture & Language
- French was the official language of England for about 300 years, from 1066 till 1362.
- Public schools in England are in fact very exclusive and expensive (£13,500/year in average) private schools. Ordinary schools (which are free), are called state schools.
- The English class system is not determined by money, but by one’s background (family, education, manners, way of speaking…). Many nouveau-riches, like pop-stars or football players, insist on their still belonging to the lower or middle class.
- Oxford University once had rules that specifically forbade students from bringing bows and arrows to class.
- An official report of the European Union surveying universities in all member states ranked the University of London as the top performer in terms of publications and in terms of citations, and the University of Cambridge as top performers in terms of impact.
- Fish ‘n chips is not much traditional an English dish than Chicken Tikka Massala. The first fish & chips restaurant was only opened in 1860 by a Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin.
- British police do not carry guns except in emergencies.
- The world’s largest second-hand book market can be found at Hay-on-Wye, a small village at the border of England and Wales. The village is also famous for proclaiming itself independent from the UK in 1977.
- One of England’s quaintest traditional event is the cheese rolling competition in Brockworth, Gloucestershire. Every year in May people chase Double Gloucester cheese down the steep Cooper’s Hill. The tradition is said to have originated with fertility rites in Roman times. Other cheese rolling events exist in England, for example at the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire.
- Coveting the title of England’s oldest surviving festival alongside the cheese rolling of Gloucestershire, are the Horn Dances of Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire. Based on ancient Anglo-Saxon traditions, the present festival go back at least to the 11th century, but might be much older.
- The Rothschild art collection at Waddesdon Manor is one of the world’s most important, rivalling with that of the Louvres Museum and New York Metropolitan Museum.
History & Monuments
- Silburry Hill, in the English county of Wiltshire, is the largest man-made earthen mound in Europe. It was built about 4750 years ago.
- The stone circle at Avebury is the largest in the world. It was built between 5300 and 4600 years ago and covers 11 ha (28 acres). The outer circle is surrounded by a bank and ditch long of 1.5 km (1 mile).
- The so-called British Imperial system of measurement (English units in the USA) has its roots in Roman units. The Romans also counted in feet, which they divided in 12 inches (unciae in Latin, from which the English word is derived). 5 feet made a pace, and 1000 paces (mille passus) became a mile in English. The Roman gallon was the congius (worth 0.92 U.S. gallons). The word pint comes from Latin picta (“painted”), via the Old French pinte, and corresponded to a painted mark on a vessel indicating this measure. Other units like the pound only evolved in the Middle Ages.
- Colchester in Essex is the oldest recorded town in Britain, as well as the first Roman town and Roman capital of Britain. Colchester Castle has the largest keep ever built in Europe, having a land area 50% bigger than the Tower of London.
- The Fossdyke, connecting the River Trent at Torksey to Lincoln, is the oldest canal in Britain. It was built by the Romans around 120 CE and is still navigable today.
Middle Ages & Renaissance
- York was the first English city to become settled permanently by the Danish Vikings (in 867) and the last to remain under Viking rule (until 954). It served as capital of the Danelaw under the name of Jorvik.
- Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest royal residence in the world still in use. It was originally constructed in 1070 and rebuilt in stone in 1170.
- Berkeley Castle is the oldest English castle still inhabited by the family who built it. The founder of the Berkeley family was Robert Fitzharding (c. 1095–1170). He started building the present castle from 1153.
- Winchester was the first capital of England, from 827 to 1066. Winchester Cathedral, completed in 1070, has the longest nave of any medieval cathedral in Europe.
- York Minster is Britain’s largest medieval cathedral, has the largest Gothic nave in the country, and the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world.