23 Fascinating Facts for St George's Day

We're not usually the type to boast. England is where the show simply goes on, come rain or shine. Just think of all those bodies dancing in the mud at Glastonbury or the theatregoers in their transparent rain ponchos gasping at the last scenes of an outdoor performance of Othello.

We're not usually the type to boast. England is where the show simply goes on, come rain or shine. Just think of all those bodies dancing in the mud at Glastonbury or the theatregoers in their transparent rain ponchos gasping at the last scenes of an outdoor performance of Othello. We're a spritely bunch in the rain and nothing short of rapturous when the sun's out, even if it's only 13°C.

We take those lemons and juice them until they disintegrate. We don't make lemonade, we make Pimms. Ok, maybe that last sentence was a bit boastful but seeing as St George's Day is just around the corner, we think it's only fair to make a bit of a hoo-hah about this green and pleasant land.

Join us as we celebrate some of the most fascinating facts about England, without showing off too much of course; that would just be crude...

1. Cornwall's epic coastline

Cornwall has the longest coastline of any English county, measuring around 422 miles. The best way to experience it is by exploring the South West Coastal Path which follows pretty much the entire coastline of Cornwall and also takes in Devon, Dorset and Somerset over 630 miles.

c. VisitEngland

2. The Peak District's plagued village

Eyam in the Peak District became infected by the Great Plague of 1665 after the village tailor received material from London containing plague-ridden fleas. To stop the disease spreading, the village cut itself off from the outside world.


3. Essex's island escapes

Essex has 35 islands, that's more islands than any other English county. It's most famous is probably Mersea which is home to a vineyard and some of the best seafood in the country.


4. Lincolnshire's egg-hurling antics

Lincolnshire is home to The World Egg Throwing Competition; it takes place each June in Swaton, Lincolnshire. Contestants have to construct a gravity-powered egg-hurling device to launch an egg to another team member.

Egg Throwing Championships, Lincolnshire

5. Chubb's present to the nation

In 1915, lock millionaire Cecil Chubb bought Stonehenge as a gift for his wife. She wasn't too pleased, so in 1918 he gave it to the nation.


6. NewcastleGateshead's famous angel

With a 175-foot wingspan, it's hard to miss The Angel of the North. In fact this giant steel sculpture near the A1 in Gateshead is one of the most viewed pieces of art in the world; seen by more than one person every second, 90,000 every day or 33 million every year.


7. The world's fastest car

The fastest car in the world, the ThrustSCC, is on display in Coventry. The supersonic car currently holds the World Land Speed Record which was set in 1997 by accomplishing a speed of 763 mph. See this jet-propelled beauty and many other incredible vehicles at Coventry's Transport Museum.


8. The origins of afternoon tea

The tradition of afternoon tea was popularised by Duchess Anna Maria at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire in the 1840s who entertained her friends in the Blue Drawing Room at Woburn Abbey. Today, you can indulge in a quintessential afternoon tea in the Duchess' Tea Room or at the Woburn Hotel.


9. The return of Scarborough Fair

Scarborough Fair is back after an 18 year hiatus, and while Simon & Garfunkel won't be making an appearance, a host of other big names will, including Richard Ashcroft, Everything Everything and Lianne La Havas.

Scarborough Fair

10. The only place with an '!' in its name

Westward Ho! in North Devon, is the UK's only place name with its own built-in exclamation mark. Its name derives from the Victorian novel of the same name by Charles Kingsley. Along with being famous for its exclamation mark, the coastal village is also a great spot for beginners surfing and kitesurfing.

11. The real Hogwarts

Durham Castle was given to Durham University in 1832. Today, over 100 students still live there and eat their meals in the castle's Great Hall. During summer, when the students are away, Durham Castle serves as a hotel.


12. The UK's most popular theatre

The Birmingham Hippodrome is the busiest and most popular theatre in the UK, with over 520,000 visitors taking their seats at performances every year. Find out why...


13. The decadent life of George IV

The Prince Regent once hosted a 127-dish banquet at Brighton's Royal Pavilion in honour of the visiting Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia in 1817. The pièce de résistance was a 4ft-high Turkish mosque constructed out of marzipan. Hear more about the Prince Regent's outrageous exploits on an audio tour of the palace.

Brighton Pavillion, The Music Room

14. The biggest antiques fair in Europe

The biggest antique fair in Europe is held near Newark in Nottinghamshire every other month. Spread across an 84 acre site, the fair can host up to 2,500 stands and attract thousands of dealers and buyers from around the globe. See when the next one is on...

Newark International Antique & Collectors Fair

15. The only lake in Cumbria

Bassenthwaite is the only official lake in the Lake District National Park, all of the others are 'meres' or 'waters'.


16. Isle of Wight's rocking history

In 1970, an estimated 600,000 people partied the weekend away at the Isle of Wight Festival, with Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Joni Mitchell and The Who providing the soundtrack. Quite a crowd considering the population of the island back then was less than 100,000. See who's playing this year...

17. Bristol's swashbuckling history

The infamous pirate Captain Blackbeard once had a hideaway cave under St. Mary Redcliffe church. His original birthplace and childhood home still stands on Bristol's harbourside. Find out more about Bristol's swashbuckling past on a pirate walk or follow the Treasure Island Trail.


18. Staffordshire's ancient bling

The largest ever haul of Anglo-Saxon gold in Britain, valued at over £3 million, was discovered beneath a farmer's field in Staffordshire. See it soon in a museum near you when the Staffordshire Hoard goes on tour...

Staffordshire Anglo-Saxon Treasure

19. The oldest racecourse in England

Chester Racecourse, also known as the Roodee, is the oldest racecourse still in use in England, with the first race taking place in 1539. Before this it was the site of the extremely violent Goteddsday football match, until it was banned in 1533. Make sure you look the part when the racing season begins on 4 May.

20. England's answer to a tropical paradise

England is home to 17 World Heritage Sites, 10 National Parks and 33 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including the Isles of Scilly - an archipelago of over 100 islands and islets. England's answer to a tropical paradise, why not book a sea safari from St Mary's to spot grey seals and puffins, and if you're lucky, basking sharks and dolphins too.

c.Visit Isles of Scilly

21. The heart of a Tudor prince

The heart of Prince Arthur, elder brother to Henry VIII, is buried at St Laurence's Church in Ludlow, Shropshire. It's contained in a silver casket beneath the chancel. It is thought that he died from TB in Ludlow on route to Wales with his wife, Katherine of Aragon. The rest of him is buried at Worcester Cathedral.

22. The home of Earl Grey tea

Earl Grey tea originates from Northumberland. The tea was blended especially for Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, using bergamot to offset the taste of lime in the water from Howick's well. Try a cup for yourself at Howick Hall.

23. Karl Marx's Mancunian haunt

Chetham's Library in Manchester is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels often studied together in the alcove of the Reading Room.


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