With her outstretched wings proudly welcoming people to the North East, the Angel of the North, Sir Anthony Gormley’s masterpiece, is one of the region’s most iconic landmarks and is the largest sculpture in the UK. As one of the most viewed pieces of art in the world, it’s thought the Angel of the North is seen by more than one person every second which is 90,000 every day or 33 million every year.
His name is Bond, James Bond. He’s the suave British intelligence agent that first charmed his way onto the big screen over 50 years ago, securing his position as the UK’s best-loved spy. Not many fictional characters have managed to withstand the passage of time quite as well as the heroic 007.
The epitome of cool, few many men can pull off a tuxedo so effortlessly and even fewer can consume an alcoholic drink every 10 minutes, 53 seconds and continue to look so stylish!
Cricket the Great British pastime! As early as the middle of the 18th century, cricket was being played at every level of society in the UK, from village greens to wealthy estates but the game lacked a coherent set of rules. It wasn’t until 1835 that the newly established Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) gave cricket its first formal laws, which still stand today and it’s these complex rules and the unique character of the sport that continues to capture the heart of the nation.
The red Double Decker Bus is an iconic symbol of London for people all over the world. This globally recognised method of transport first appeared on the streets of the capital in its earliest form in the 1820s when coach-builder George Shillibeer began operating his horse drawn "Omnibus" service. For the first time the fare-paying public could travel the route between Paddington and the City with four services provided daily in each direction. Former Prime Minister William Gladstone once professed, "...the best way to see London is from the top of a bus".
A traditional English breakfast, often fondly referred to as a ‘fry up’, typically includes bacon, sausages and eggs although the ingredients often vary by region.
The tradition of an English breakfast dates back to the Victorian era when two meals a day was the norm – breakfast and dinner. It has stood the test of time and, although it isn’t considered the healthiest of breakfast options these days, we still love to indulge and the cherished English breakfast is as likely to be found in some of the country’s most impressive hotels as it is in roadside cafes.
For those tummies still rumbling there’s a British solution, Fish and Chips are a tempting, tasty national institution.
What could be more British than piping hot fish and chips, served in newspaper?
For many Brits, fish and chips conjure up an array of memories, from seaside holidays, a pay-day treat or a late-night supper. Few of us can resist the mouth watering combination and even Churchill was a fan, once describing fish and chips as “the good companions”. The origins of fish and chips in the UK is widely debated but we’re not going to let that stop us! It’s thought that as a nation, we consume around 382 million portions of fish and chips every year.
Put simply, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is the local clock time at The Royal Observatory, Greenwich which overlooks the River Thames in London. For the more technical amongst us, it is the time measured on the Earth's zero degree line of longitude, or meridian line, which runs from the North Pole to the South Pole, passing directly through Greenwich. The UK observes GMT only during winter months. When Daylight Saving Time begins, we switch to British Summer Time (BST). GMT is the time zone observed on the International Space Station as it is roughly halfway between Houston and Moscow - the location of the two ISS main control centers.
The Houses of Parliament, made up of the House of Commons and House of Lords, have been a feature of the River Thames skyline for nearly 300 years in their current form. The oldest royal palace in London, the Houses of Parliament is one of most recognised buildings in the world. As well as the home of the UK Parliament, it is also a royal palace and former residence of royalty. It has been in continuous use since the first half of the 11th century. The original Houses of Parliament was decimated by a fire in 1834 and took 30 years to recreate. During World War II, the Houses of Parliament were hit 14 times (12 times on a single night), and it took until 1950 for all of the damage to be repaired.
Ice cream has long been one of the nation’s favourite treats. Legend has it that British royalty offered a palace chef an eye-watering sum of money just to keep his ice cream recipe a secret from the rest of England. At a great feast King Charles II’s table was said to be the only one at a banquet to be served the rare and exotic luxury, a dish refused to those sitting at the less noble tables.
As a firm British favourite, there's nothing quite like visiting an iconic ice cream van at the seaside, indulging our sweet tooth while exploring the best of the country’s coasts.
We don’t need an excuse in Great Britain to get out the bunting and hold a good ole fashioned street party and a Royal Jubilee provides exactly that. Giving us occasion to celebrate the life and reign of our monarch, celebrations are often marked by communities joining together to share food, drink and embark on a range of fun activities.
Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria are the only two reigning British monarchs to have celebrated their Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the throne). Both with extensive national celebrations.
The British Isles are steeped in tales of myths and legends. The origins of some can be traced back through history, while others are sharply disputed. England is bound with folklore in all forms - from the traditional tales of Robin Hood to the contemporary urban legends.
The famous legend of King Arthur, a fifth-century warrior who supposedly led the fight against Saxon invaders, continues to fascinate today. Known as ‘the king that was and the king that shall be’, the tales of King Arthur and the Round Table Fellowship of Knights are recognised all over the world.
Nothing captures the imagination quite like traditional British folklore and top of Scotland’s mythical beasts is the Loch Ness Monster. Named after the loch she reputedly inhabits, reports of the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie to her friends, date back as far as 565 AD when it was reported that an extraordinary sea creature had attempted to swallow a farmer.
Hugh Gray was perhaps the first to catch the monster on film, taking his famous photo on November 12, 1933. Sceptics claim this picture is actually of the Labrador he was walking that day, while others speculate it was an otter in the water.
What’s more British than being preoccupied by the weather? It’s a hot topic and it seems we’re never quite satisfied! Different parts of the UK experience slightly different regional climates but during a downpour anywhere in the UK a Macintosh coat can certainly come in handy.
Invented by Charles Macintosh in the mid-19th century, the Macintosh, or Mac, was a revolution. For years, creating a material that was truly waterproof was a pipe dream, however thanks to the Glaswegian chemist the Macintosh is now an item that we take for granted… at least until we forget it on a rainy day!
Opening its doors in 1948, the NHS is one of the oldest and most iconic nationalised health service providers in the world. The NHS has a number of firsts, from the UK’s first heart and liver transplants in the 1960s to the world’s first test tube baby born on 25th July 1978. Britain has been at the forefront of healthcare throughout its existence.
Now, 70 years on, the NHS is something the British population is particularly proud of and you’ll struggle to find a Briton who doesn’t hold the NHS dear to their heart.
A symbol of strength and endurance, the mighty oak has established itself as the national tree for England and Wales, as well as the emblem for County Londonderry in Northern Ireland. The British people are somewhat smitten with the oak, from fine Scotch Whisky barrels to traditional carpentry and protected forests, the oak is arguably the best known and loved of the British native trees.
The Royal Oak is one of the most common pub names in Britain and eight warships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Royal Oak.
First introduced in 1852 the iconic British post box was produced 12 years after the introduction of the Penny Black postage stamp. It was not until 1874 that the bright red colour was decided upon to replace the original 1859 green that had been introduced to standardise the boxes. Green had been chosen to avoid being too intrusive to the landscape however, it was so inconspicuous that Britons tended to walk right into them, prompting a change to red to make them a little more obvious!
After the 2012 London Olympics, postboxes in the home towns of gold medal winning athletes were painted gold.
Established as a social norm in the early 19th Century, Britain is believed to have gained its reputation for queueing during major historical events, including the industrial revolution. As more and more people gathered together in urban areas, the need for order became apparent.
Queuing is part of everyday life in Britain. Whether shopping, waiting for a bus or heading to your local chip shop you can expect to join an orderly queue!
Officially named as the UK’s favourite bird, the beloved Robin with its iconic red breast can be found in British hedgerows, gardens, parks and woodlands. The Robin is a familiar sight throughout the year although it is often associated with Winter. Despite their cute appearance, they are fiercely territorial.
With a length of 14cm, wingspan of 20-22cm and a weight of just 14-21g, Robins living on a diet of worms, fruits, seeds, insects and other invertebrates. Often in search of extra Winter snacks to fight off the chill, they may come knocking on your window in search of a more appetising breakfast.
Stonehenge is an ancient monument in Wiltshire, England, consisting of a ring of standing stones. Each stone is around 13 feet high, 7 feet wide and weighs around 25 tonnes. Shrouded in mystery, the historical site is often considered to be the world’s most famous prehistoric monument. The iconic Stonehenge we see today was completed in 2,500 BC, although there is much debate about the meaning of the site and why the stone circle was created.
Added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986, Stonehenge continues to be one of Britain’s biggest tourist attractions.
Tea is typically British, for many people around the world it is impossible to imagine us without the nation’s favourite drink in hand! No matter the occasion, day of the week or temperature outside, we always manage to find time for a hot cuppa. Originally a costly product imported from India, tea drinking was adopted by the nobles and not long after, the upper class. Once demand was heightened, more and more tea was imported and the price was lowered, enabling the lower classes to indulge in the popular brew.
Today, tea remains the nation’s favourite drink and it seems there isn't a British problem that can't be solved over a cup of tea!
The Union Flag, often called the Union Jack, is arguably one of the most recognisable ﬂags in the world. Although the present design ﬁrst appeared in 1606, its roots go back to the Middle Ages, making it one of the world’s most historic ﬂags.
The Union Flag symbolises unity and combines aspects of older ﬂags representing England, Scotland and Ireland - Wales was already united with England. Over 100 ﬂags have featured the Union Flag as part of their design including Commonwealth nations, such as Australia and New Zealand and British overseas territories such as Bermuda and the Cook Islands.
From picturesque chocolate-box hamlets to quaint coastal communities with breathtaking views of the sea, Britain is home to some of the prettiest villages in the world. From the Scottish Highlands and the Welsh valleys to Northern Ireland’s dramatic coast and the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, village life remains quintessentially British.
Synonymous with fairs and fêtes, quaint pubs and village green sports teams, British villages are often small, sometimes eccentric but warm and friendly, each with a unique charm and a firm sense of community.
Surrounded by mystery, ‘X marks the spot’ has taken on many meanings and been intertwined with popular culture, mythology and adventure for centuries although the exact origins are unclear. It‘s thought the first recorded use of ‘X marks the spot’ was in 1813, although the origins go much further back than this.
From pirates and treasure hunters to famous explorers, the saying goes that ‘X marks the spot’ where the bounty is held. It’s the point to head to on an expedition, the location of long-lost treasure and often the meeting point in countless tales of discovery.
Yeomen Warders, guardians of the Tower of London, have long been symbols of London and Britain with a rich history of punishment, detention and intrigue, their origins stretch back as far as the reign of Edward IV (1461-83).
Fondly nicknamed 'Beefeaters', it is thought the term derived from their position in the Royal Bodyguard, which granted them permission to eat as much beef as they wanted from the king's table.
A zebra crossing is a type of pedestrian crossing commonly found throughout the UK. Although the origin of the crossing’s name is often disputed, it is usually attributed to James Callaghan, the then parliamentary security to the minister of transport, who visited the British Transport Research Laboratory in 1948 while they were working on a safe pedestrian crossings. Callaghan is thought to have remarked that the black and white striped design resembled a zebra and the name stuck.
In the UK, lollipop men or women are a familiar feature as they assist on zebra crossings near schools. Their nickname refers to the warning sign they hold up as they stop traffic which resembles a giant lollipop.