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29 Interesting Facts About England

Merry Olde England

In England we all speak like the Queen (or a cockney chimney sweep), live in either a castle or a thatched cottage, with no hot water but lots of dogs. Our lives are usually spent in the pub, or a tearoom, where we shelter from the perpetual rain and dense fog. We provide Hollywood with villains but don't bother much with dentists. Outside of London there is countryside, with lots of people on horseback chasing foxes and ladies flitting about in Jane Austen style frocks.

So much for the stereotypes, what are the facts about England?

England's Last Queen

Queen Anne sporting the Order of St George - very English indeed!  Anne was not only the last of the Stuart monarchs, she was the last monarch of England.

Queen Anne sporting the Order of St George - very English indeed! Anne was not only the last of the Stuart monarchs, she was the last monarch of England.

Defender of the Faith

The British monarch carries the title of Fidei defensor, Defender of the Faith. The title was originally granted to the King of England, Henry VIII, by Pope Leo X in 1521. Henry wrote a sterling defence of the sacraments, including of marriage, so good that the Pope was moved to confer a special title on him.

Ironically, Henry, married to Catherine of Aragon at the time, broke with the Church of Rome barely ten years later so that he could get out of his marriage and marry his mistress Anne Boleyn. He kept the title though, as have his successors. It still appears on British coinage as Fid Def or FD.

Facts About the Queen of England

The main fact to remember is this: there is no Queen of England.

Some people argue that Queen Elizabeth I was the last monarch of England (she was succeeded by her cousin James VI of Scotland, so he was monarch of both England and Scotland) whilst others will contend that Queen Anne was the final English monarch since the formal union of England and Scotland into the sovereign state of the Kingdom of Great Britain was enacted during her reign (in 1707).

So, Queen Elizabeth II has a great many titles, but Queen of England isn't one of them. Here are the countries of which she is Queen:

  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Jamaica
  • Barbados
  • the Bahamas
  • Grenada
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • the Soloman Islands
  • Tuvalu
  • Belize
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Papua New Guinea
  • St Lucia

The Queen is also:

  • Duke of Normandy
  • Duke of Lancaster
  • Lord Mann

In addition, Queen Elizabeth has the titles of the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith (see right).

An Unofficial English National Anthem

This is England

  • John Bull is the personification of England.
  • England's motto is "Dieu et Mon Droit" (God and my right).
  • The patron saint of England is St. George.
  • The flag of England is St. George's Cross.
  • England has two recognised languages: English and Cornish.
  • Unlike Scotland and Wales, England does not have it's own national anthem (the UK's national anthem is "God Save the Queen"). "Jerusalem" and "Land of Hope and Glory" are often used as unofficial anthems.

England's First King

The tomb of England's first king, Aethelstan, at Malmesbury Abbey

The tomb of England's first king, Aethelstan, at Malmesbury Abbey

English Monarchy Facts

  • The first King of England was Aethelstan from 924 to 939 AD.
  • Lady Jane Grey had the shortest reign of an English monarch - either 9 or 13 days, depending on your point of view.
  • Only four English monarchs didn't marry: William II, Edward V, Edward VI and Elizabeth I.
  • Henry II had 29 children, of whom only 5 were legitimate.
  • The tallest English monarch was Edward IV whose skeleton measures 6'4 1/2 inches.
  • Henry IV and his wife Mary de Bohun were the youngest reigning parents. He was 15 and she was 12 when their first child was born.
  • Henry VIII was the most married English monarch, famously marrying six times.

England's Largest Lake

England is not the UK (nor GB)!

The United Kingdom shown green, England is the darker green area.

The United Kingdom shown green, England is the darker green area.

England's Geography

England is the largest of the countries that make up the island of Great Britain. To the north of England is Scotland and to the west, Wales. The country has an area of just under 50,350 square miles. As well as the mainland of England there are well over a hundred islands around the coast.

Despite having the largest landmass of Great Britain, England does not boast the highest mountains. It does, however, possess the oldest range of hills, the Pennines, which are known as the backbone of England. Besides the upland moorlands of Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Exmoor and Dartmoor, England has plenty of rolling green countryside as well as craggy cliffs on the west coast and sloping beaches on the south coast.

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England's largest city is London, with a population of more than 8 million people. Birmingham and Manchester are the next largest urban areas with populations of over 2 million. There are also very small cities such as Truro, which has a population of less than 20,000.

There are nine official national parks in England, although the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads have a status equivalent to a national park. England's national parks make up 8% of the country's land area. They are protected due to their natural beauty.

England's Highest Peak and Deepest Lake

Scafell Pike in the background, Wastwater in the foreground, within the Lake District National Park.

Scafell Pike in the background, Wastwater in the foreground, within the Lake District National Park.

England Geography Facts

  • Highest Mountain: Scafell Pike, Lake District 3,209 feet
  • Longest River: River Thames 215 miles
  • Largest Lake: Windermere 5.69 sq. miles
  • Deepest Lake: Wastwater 249 feet
  • Largest Island: Isle of Wight 147 sq. miles
  • The Bristol Channel has the second highest rise and fall of tide in the world

English History Facts

  • London became England's capital in the 12th Century. Before that time it was Winchester.
  • England's longest war, the Hundred Years War, was actually a series of wars with France stretching from 1337 to 1453.
  • The English were great castle builders. The book Castellarium Anglicanum lists more than 1,500.
  • The Black Death in the 14th Century wiped out up to 50% of the population.
  • Although England had a fleet even before the Norman Conquest, it was Henry VIII who created the "Navy Royal".

England's Beginnings

England takes it name from the Angles, a Germanic group of settlers. This tribe arrived in England during the 5th century, along with the Saxons and Jutes. These tribes called themselves "Englisc" or "Engle".

Gradually, the invaders gained ascendancy over the indigenous Britons, driving them into the far west of the island. For centuries England ("Englaland") was not a united country but divided into a number of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. These kingdoms came under attack from Danish invaders (the Vikings) in the 9th century and only the Kingdom of Wessex remained. Alfred the Great was able to turn the tide for the English and drive out the Danes. England became a single kingdom under King Aethelstan in 927 AD.

England's Flag and Favourite Sport

London:  Wembley - the crowd form an England flag before a football match

London: Wembley - the crowd form an England flag before a football match

English Sport Facts

  • England's oldest football club is Sheffield FC, founded in 1859.
  • The Ashes have been fought over by England and Australia's cricket teams since 1882.
  • Modern boxing evolved from prize-fighting in England (often hosted in pubs).
  • England last won the World Cup in 1966.
  • The All England Club has hosted The Championships at Wimbledon since 1877.

Guy Fawkes Night

English Sport and Culture

England has given the world rugby, football (soccer), cricket and tennis. Football is definitely England's national sport, inspiring almost feverish devotion amongst many, though sadly the national team rarely win any major championships. Similarly, tennis at Wimbledon is a firm favourite on the English calendar, despite the lack of a home win for decades.

The English still celebrate various traditional customs. One of the largest of these is the celebration of Guy Fawkes night, an evening of bonfires and fireworks to commemorate the foiling of a plot to blow up Parliament. Smaller regional events include cheese-rolling, hurling, Furry dances, Morris dancing, maypole dancing and swan-upping. Whilst some of these customs are peculiar to their own region (the Furry dance and hurling are, as far as I know, Cornish traditions), others like Morris dancing, are carried on throughout England.

Pubs and inns have played an important part in English society for centuries and they still do. England seems to have as many pubs as churches. A great many pubs have survived for centuries and continue to thrive. Find out more about old pubs in London and historical Bristol pubs as well as a selection of odd pub names.

Take a Quiz!

My fellow hubber Daisy Mariposa has a quiz to test your knowledge of England's geography - check it out!

These Are Just a Few Facts About England ...

There are, of course, thousands of others! I haven't included anything about our wonderful literature (sorry Messrs Chaucer, Shakespeare et al) or our much derided food (we do actually eat something other than roast beef, fish and chips and pork pies). There hasn't been room to list any facts about our legal system or make much mention of the Church of England.

So, I hope you have enjoyed a few lesser known facts about England and aren't too disappointed if your favourite fact has been missed off my list!

© 2012 Judi Brown


Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 20, 2014:

Hi DragonBringer - well, there is still a Queen in England, it's just a matter of her title :)

Jade Griffin from Ohio on March 19, 2014:

Wow, there is no queeen of England. I learned something new today.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 21, 2013:

Hi Annabel - personally, I always find it ironic that our motto is in French!

Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's appreciated.

Emma from London, UK on July 21, 2013:

A really interesting article, I never knew that England had a motto.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on June 14, 2013:

Thank you newjerusalem!

victor from India on June 14, 2013:

Quite interesting and well organised article.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on December 09, 2012:

Hi jackb3 - glad you liked this hub ! If you've been in Wales, maybe you might like the "Interesting Facts about Wales" hub too.

Thanks very much for commenting, I appreciate it.

John Patrick Baumann from St. Louis on December 08, 2012:

Found this hub brilliant! I just finished a year in wales, spending a lo of time cruising around England . I love this history and tradition!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on October 01, 2012:

Hi jmartin1344 - didn't mean to make you homesick! I managed to live in the US for two years, then come back to the UK - parents stayed in the States though!

Many thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

jmartin1344 from Royal Oak, Michigan on September 30, 2012:

Loved this Hub. Made me homesick over here in the US! Really interesting fact about the last Queen of England also! Had no idea.

Fantastic read

Judi Brown (author) from UK on September 15, 2012:

Hi robie2 - glad you enjoyed this hub, it was fun to write! I am, of course, wearing my Jane Austen frock and sipping tea as I type :D

Thanks very much for your comments, great to hear from you.

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on September 15, 2012:

How did I miss this delightful hub. You hooked me with the English stereotypes at the beginning( love those Jane Austin frocks) and kept me reading till the end. What a wonderful romp through fascinating factoids this was. Thanks so much and a big thumbs up.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on August 15, 2012:

Hi Rebecca - third time I've tried to reply, PC keeps crashing! Thanks very much - yes, Jane Grey is often called the Nine Days Queen, but the terms of Edward VI's will, on which her claim was based, made her monarch on his death - ie 6 July. Her relatives had to wait until 10 July for an official proclamation (her claim being rightly disputed). So, you can argue 13 or 9 - I've gone with 13! The whole "reign" is of course disputed anyway ...

Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, much appreciated.

Rebecca on August 15, 2012:

Great Hub! I didn't know that Cornish was also recognised as an official language of England - good to know! There was one mistake I noticed though (I hope you don't mind me pointing out!) Lady Jane Grey is known as 'the Nine Days' Queen', and was Queen for 9 days, not 13 ;)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 08, 2012:

Hi Peter - thanks very much, it's great to hear that you enjoyed this hub. As you note, you can't please all of the people, all of the time - I am happy to have pleased a few people, on occasion!

Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, much appreciated!

Peter Geekie from Sittingbourne on July 08, 2012:

Thank you Judi Bee

A well researched and competently written article reminding me of several things I had forgotten.

(A small personal comment - I was disappointed to see teacherjo52 try to score points - I'm pleased none of my children were in his class. In my many years of visiting Canada I have come across people such as him but most are very proud of Her Majesty the Queen)(Excluding two french Canadian cops who used entrapment on the TransCanada highway to give me a speeding ticket)

Kind regards Peter

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 07, 2012:

Hi AliciaC - great to hear that you enjoyed reading about England and thanks so much for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 07, 2012:

This is a very enjoyable and well written hub, Judi. Thanks for sharing all the interesting facts!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 07, 2012:

Hi David - your wish is my command! Map added, you're absolutely right about this, it's something that does confuse some people. Glad you enjoyed reading this.

Thanks for commenting and for the useful suggestion!

David Hunt from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on July 07, 2012:

What a great hub, Judi. I think most Americans confuse England with Britain (without realizing this cheeses off the Scots and the Welsh-- as well as the English), so this is very interesting. May I suggest adding a map highlighting England in Britain for those of us sometimes geographically challenged? Voted up and interesting.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 07, 2012:

Hi tillsontitan - I am blown away by your kind comments, thanks so much!

Henry II is one of my favourite bad boys of English history - not only did he have a prodigious number of illegitimate children and cause the murder of Thomas a Becket, but one of his mistresses was his own son's fiancée! No wonder his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, did her best to turn their sons against him (Richard the Lionheart and King John are their best known sons)!

Once again, thanks for your comments, they've made my day :-D

Mary Craig from New York on July 07, 2012:

This is another one of those darn hubs that needs a WoW button! I know you say you just wrote "some quirky facts and things that have people confused" but this was really a great hub and those quirky facts were so interesting and educational. For example, isn't it amazing Henry VIII only had 5 legitimate children!

Either you did your research or you were one of the best history students ever! Thaks for sharing your knowledge with us.

Voted up, awesome and interesting.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 07, 2012:

Hi snowdrops - Lake Windermere is beautiful - I managed to fall in when I visited as a child, a fact that my father loves to remind me about!

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate them!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 07, 2012:

Hi Lesley - thanks for the wonderful compliments, I am very grateful. Delighted that I was able to bring you some new facts (some were new to me too).

Thanks very much for commenting and sharing, I appreciate it.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 07, 2012:

Hi oceansider - great to hear that you enjoyed this article and thanks very much for taking the time to comment - I appreciate it!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 07, 2012:

Hi teacherjoe52 - thanks for dropping by again! I am surprised that people refer to "the colonies" - it's not a phrase I've ever heard used in conversation, only in text books, perhaps people use it in a weak attempt at humour?

Glad you enjoyed visiting Wales, it's a lovely country too.

snowdrops from The Second Star to the Right on July 07, 2012:

this is very lovely. i love the lake, so beautiful.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on July 07, 2012:

Thank you Judi for this fantastic hub, I have learned much about my own country!

Well researched and interesting to read, you've done a wonderful job here, thank you, voted up and shared.

oceansider on July 06, 2012:

Thank you for the great article about England! I really enjoyed reading it an learning some new information.

teacherjoe52 on July 06, 2012:

Hi Judi.

I did not intend to cast you as a villain.

Your article is very good.

You might be surprised at how many English come to Canada and refer to us as "the colonies". Many expect to see us living in log cabins like colonial times.

The fact she is not our queen I have debated successfully many times, but we won't get into that.

I liked visiting the castles in Wales.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 06, 2012:

Hi Chrissie - I really admire the simplicity of the idea of the crowd making flags like that, it's so effective.

Thanks for your comments, great to hear from you!

chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on July 06, 2012:

Great hub, I learned something by reading it. I loved the sport pic:)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 06, 2012:

Hi Ross - we have something in common! Lots of hubs that nobody reads :D I used to live near Bath and know it very well, it's one of my favourite cities. Glad you enjoyed reading this hub and thanks very much for commenting - I appreciate it!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 06, 2012:

Hi GoodLady - history was my absolute favourite subject at school, mainly British, but love Roman history too. Glad you enjoyed this.

Thanks very much for your comments, much appreciated!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 06, 2012:

Hi Mhatter99 - thanks very much, glad you found this hub interesting and thank you for taking the time to comment!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 06, 2012:

Hi teacherjoe52 - sorry you have taken such offence at my hub. When I wrote about the stereotypical English villain, I didn't imagine anyone would cast me in the role!

I am well aware that QEII is not the ruler of Canada etc - I think that is well known. However, she still has the title "Queen of Canada" etc, as confirmed by one of your own government's website:

My decision not to include the Magna Carta wasn't an omission (I'd be unlikely to forget it as a law graduate and history bore!), it was deliberate - as well as the English legal system I didn't include the education system,the Church of England, music, literature etc. There simply isn't room to include everything so I chose to mention some quirky facts and things that have people confused.

Anyway, I'm off to slurp a cup of tea whilst oppressing some peasants now, thanks for taking the time to comment!

Ross Anziano from West Deptford, NJ on July 05, 2012:

I just visited London and Bath in March, but my focus was primarily on British pop culture(I turned all my papers for the class into hubs that nobody reads). This hub offers a nice intro to England as a whole. I especially liked the way you got those stereotypes right out of the way...

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on July 05, 2012:

As usual a very interesting beautifully written piece.

I really didn't work hard at school, don't remember much of my British history, shamed to say, so when I read about it I am thrilled. It's a wonderful country with such fantastic history and you make it come alive. Thanks!

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on July 05, 2012:

congratulation! these really were all interesting facts.

teacherjoe52 on July 05, 2012:

Sorry but Canada New Zealand and Australia ceased to be ruled by your queen with the New Westminister act.

As well we have the British North America Act.

Please do not insult us by consisering us one of your colonies.

You forgot to mention the Mgna Carter which is the most important document in the western hemisphere or Gods Law which is still the Law in most countries in the western hemisphere.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 05, 2012:

Hi chef-de-jour - thanks for the luvvly compliment too! Yes, I'm afraid the weather will be rubbish until Wimbledon finishes, then hopefully a week of summer before the autumn rains set in - all very character building, I'm sure :D

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 05, 2012:

Hi Christy - relieved that you find them interesting (I know that what interests me often fails to interest other people!).

Thanks for taking the time to comment, always appreciated!

Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on July 05, 2012:

Thanks Judi Bee. What a nicely presented hub and full of solid English to boot. Luvvly. The history of this island never ceases to amaze: the pageantry, the military, the establishment, the whole shebangadoodly just turns me inside out.

And now we have Wimbledon in full swing, the greatest grass court event ever, guaranteed to bring buckets of warm rain with it!

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on July 05, 2012:

These certainly are interesting facts! My dad's family is from England these are great details to know. Thanks Judi!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 05, 2012:

Hi Heather - the photo looks good doesn't it (and thanks for pinning it). Glad that you found this an interesting read, thanks so much for taking the time to read it!

Heather Jacobs on July 05, 2012:

I love the photo from the football game with England Flag! I just had to pin it. Very interesting that there is no Queen of England, I guess I knew it in a way, but just never thought about it. Vote up!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 05, 2012:

Hi Jools - thanks very much! Glad you enjoyed it, I did feel like it could have gone on more though!

Lovely to hear from you again, hope all is well with you :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 05, 2012:

Hi Glimmer Twin Fan - the nice thing about any football competition is that there is no serious expectation that we will win, so it's not really that much of a disappointment :)

Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 05, 2012:

Hi James - apparently it's her title when she is in the Channel Islands! She is Lord Mann in the Isle of Man - nice to have lots of titles to go with her different hats!

Thanks for your comments, always great to hear from you!

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on July 05, 2012:

One word Judi - EPIC!

Claudia Porter on July 05, 2012:

This was really really interesting! I enjoyed it. Sorry England didn't win the Euro Cup though.

James Kenny from Birmingham, England on July 05, 2012:

Wow, great hub Judi. I genuinely didn't know that the Duke of Normandy title still existed. It's amazing to think that the title has been handed down through the generations for almost a thousand years since William the Conqueror. Voted up and shared.

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