71 Fun Facts about England (2022 Edition)

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COVID-19: The information in this post is updated as much as possible in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Please check the status of flights, activities etc. before you depart, as entry requirements and restrictions are constantly changing at a fast pace.

England’s long and eventful history, steeped in bloodiness and innovation, is a source of immense fascination the world over, to both young and old alike.

Few countries in the world have left such an unforgettable mark on the planet, in terms of groundbreaking inventions, political influence, entertainment, and language, to name just a few examples.

With that said, the incredible feats of achievement and power projection by such a small country was not purely down to the skill and talent of its people alone – far from it. (And I say this as an Englishman myself).

It was a combination of the size of the country and population, the natural environment,  its strategic position within Europe, the order and organisation of its governance, and perhaps most importantly – being an island nation protected by rough seas, and so many other aspects, all of which contributed to how England came to be what it is today.

Did you know the World Wide Web was invented in England? Sir Tim Berners Lee is credited with giving us arguably the most important invention of modern times, the world wide web, in 1989.

So, here’s 71 of the most interesting and fun facts about England, my homeland:

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*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, if you click through to make a purchase, I earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Your support keeps me caffeinated so I can pump out more content.*

71 Fun Facts about England (2022 Edition)

#1: English is a Hybrid Language

 

The English language is an amalgamation of German, Dutch, French, Danish, Latin Greek, and Celtic languages. This is a result of all these cultures playing a significant part in English history, primarily due to invasions from mainland Europe.

 

 

#2: England’s historic origins

 

The country we know as ‘England’ didn’t really emerge until the 10th Century AD. Long before that, the land was occupied by various Celt tribes and was known as ‘Britannia’ during the Roman occupation.

After the Romans left, the Anglo-Saxons (originating from modern day Germany and Denmark), established kingdoms within England, and struggled against numerous Viking invasions. Eventually, Wessex was the last free Saxon kingdom, and not only did it successfully drive the Scandinavians back, but it also absorbed the former Saxon kingdoms into its own borders as a result, and led to a unified England.

 

 

#3: Æthelstan was the first King of England

 

King-Athelstan

The first ever king to rule over what we now call England was King Æthelstan, in the 10th Century AD. Considered one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon kings, Æthelstan was the grandson of Alfred the Great, who had begun the process which led to Wessex claiming all the kingdoms for itself and become England.

 

 

#4: England is a relatively small country

 

England is 74 times smaller than the USA, 59 times smaller than Australia, and 3 times smaller than Japan. Compared to US States, England is about the size of Alabama.

What is England Famous for?

England is famous for numerous things including: Big Ben, red buses, William Shakespeare, fish and chips, rainy weather, black cabs, David Beckham, red telephone boxes, The Beatles, Oasis, Blur, and tea. England has a long and famous history. It is famous for its Royal Family, and Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied royal residence in the world.

#5: Home to one of the oldest man-made structures on Earth

 
stonehenge 2
 

England is home to one of the oldest and most mysterious man-made structures on the planet, Stonehenge. Located near Salisbury in the county of Somerset, south England, the prehistoric landmark is more than 3,000 years old and is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Click here to read 17 Interesting Facts about Stonehenge

 

 

#6: Sparkling wine was invented in England

 

You’d be forgiven for thinking Champagne was invented in France. In fact, the technique used by Dom Perignon already existed in England, which makes the English the inventors of sparkling wine.

 

 

#7: The Monarch is not allowed to enter the House of Commons

 

One of several bizarre ancient rules in English Law states that the reigning monarch cannot set foot in England’s House of Commons. The law first passed in 1642 when King Charles I interrupted English Parliament to forcibly arrest five MPs. Since then, only a representative of the monarch, whom is known to carry a black rod, can enter the House of Commons. The law still stands today; Queen Elizabeth II has never entered the House of Commons, though nobody is quite sure what the punishment would be if she broke that rule.

 

 

#8: Royal Palaces

 
Buckingham_Palace,_London
 

Windsor Palace is the oldest royal residence in the world that is still being used by a monarch. Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace was built in 1702 on the site of a notorious brothel!

 

 

#9: An obsession with Tea

 

Tea is famously the most popular drink among the English. It’s estimated that 165 million cups of tea are drunk in England every day – more than any other nation on the planet (by contrast, tea consumption in the US is 20 times lower).

 

 

#10: Breaking the stereotype

 

While the good ol’ cuppa tea is an essential part of the cultural fabric of the English, actual sales of tea have declined by almost two-thirds between 1974 and 2014. Tea is still more popular than coffee, though the decline of tea is sometimes attributed to the emergence of a coffee culture in the UK.

What does England mean?

The name “England” originates from the Old English name “Englaland”, meaning “land of the Angles”. The Angles were one of the two main tribes that settled in Great Britain during the Early Middle Ages. This tribe came from Denmark, and the other main tribe, the Saxons, arrived from Germany. Most indigenous English people can trace their ancestry back to the Anglo-Saxons.

#11: London: England’s historic capital

 

Did you know: Not only is London more than 2,000 years old, but it has also had many names in the past? It was called Londonium when it was founded by the Romans in 43AD, then Ludenwic in Saxon times, and Ludenburg during the kingdom of Alfred the Great.

 

 

#12: The London Underground

 
london underground

In London, the tube (underground) route from Leicester Square to Covent Garden is the most popular route for tourists, despite the fact its actually quicker to make this journey on foot!

 

 

#13: London’s Big Ben was sabotaged by a flock of birds

 

Yep, the giant clock which is built on Big Ben’s tower was sabotaged by a flock of birds in 1945. These birds landed on the minute hand of the clock as it was pointing to number 9, and their combined weight caused the clock to be turned back by nearly five minutes!

Click here to read 45 Interesting facts about London

 

 

#14: You can never be more than 70 miles from the sea

 

England is indeed an island nation. No matter where you go, the furthest you can be away from the ocean is 70 miles (115 km).

This close-proximity to the high seas is what makes us historically a sea-faring nation, and the incredible legacy of the Royal Navy is why we once had the world’s largest empire.

 

 

#15: French was once the official language

 

Yep, this may come as a surprise to some. Due to the invasion of England in 1066 by William Conqueror, a nobleman from Normandy in France, the official main language of England was in fact, French, for almost 300 years – from 1066 to 1362.

For centuries, English kings such as Richard the Lionheart and Edward Longshanks spoke little English and spent most of their time in France. Henry IV, who took the throne more than 200 years after William the Conqueror, was the first King of England who could actually speak English fluently.

 

 

#16: In England, it’s illegal to get drunk in a pub

 
Red_Lion_Pub,_Twickenham,_London
One of many Red Lion pubs

Incredible as it seems, there’s a law in England that actually prohibits drunkenness in pubs – the one place where you’re theoretically supposed to be drunk. This makes it technically illegal to be drunk virtually anywhere in the country that isn’t private property.

*Bonus Fact: There are 656 pubs called The Red Lion in England!*

#17: The lion is England’s national animal

 

Most people will know that the lion is the national animal of England, popularised by the iconic Three Lions emblem that features on the country’s insignia, on the flags and shields of English armies from centuries ago, and on the England national football team jersey.

 

 

#18: There’s an annual cheese rolling competition

 

Each year in Gloucestershire County, southwest England, an 8-pound Double Gloucester wheel of cheese is rolled down Cooper Hill – and participants race after it. Sounds harmless? Well, have a look at the video below and see for yourself the dangers involved in this crazy tradition that dates back hundreds of years.

The hill is so steep that most people literally fall head over heels as they chase the cheese. There’s no definitive theory as to how the tradition started, but some believe it derives from a pagan ritual that was supposed to encourage a successful harvest. These days, even international visitors take part in this odd but fascinating event.

 

 

#19: England’s Debtors Prisons

 

Debtors’ prisons were very common in England during the 18th and 19th centuries. They were exclusively for people who fell into debt and couldn’t repay the money owed. And it was a lucrative business too. Charles Dickens’ father was one of the many people who spent time in a debtor’s prison, and Dickens would later write about these institutions, immortalising them in his literature.

 

 

#20: Winchester was the first capital of England

 

The ancient city of Winchester was the first capital of England in the 9th Century. Known as Wintanceaster by the Saxons, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Wessex, before King Æthelstan established a unified England.

#21: You can drive to France from England via an underwater tunnel

 

Thanks to being an island nation, England’s isolation from mainland Europe has made the country impossible to invade, having never been successfully invaded since the Norman Conquest of 1066. However, since the 1990s, England has been connected to France and mainland Europe via an underwater tunnel, allowing for travel by cars and train.

 

 

#22: The English language is the universal language of the world

 

Roughly 1 billion people (one-seventh of the world) speaks English. The language is perhaps England’s greatest export, and is the most universal language in the world, due to the influence of the British Empire, as well as American global influence.

 

 

#23: Shakespeare influenced the English language

 
Shakespeare
 

The world’s most celebrated playwright, William Shakespeare, added approximately three-thousand words to the English language, shaping it to be the modern language we know.

 

 

#24: Origins of the rude two-finger gesture

 

The obscene 2-finger gesture associated with the F-word finds its origins dating back to the Hundred Year’s War. The story goes that English longbowmen were so despised by the French that any captured archers immediately had their index and middle fingers cut off, so they could never fire an arrow again. As a result, English archers would use the two-finger gesture to taunt their enemies in battle, to show that they still had their fingers, and were using them to kill more Frenchmen!

 

 

#25: England’s Bloodiest War

 

The English have a reputation for being a warrior race, having fought in countless wars over many centuries at home and abroad. However, the war that killed the highest proportion of English soldiers was the English Civil War during the 17th Century. This is hardly surprising, given that all casualties on both sides were English, with the war taking place mostly on English soil. More than 85,000 died on the battlefields, and a further 100,000 died of their wounds. This amounted to one-tenth (10%) of all English adult males in the country.

While more English soldiers died in both World Wars, the proportion of those killed was never higher than 10% of the male adult population.

 

 

#26: Home of the original Birmingham

 

Chances are, the only Birmingham American’s are familiar with, is Birmingham, Alabama. However, that city was named after Birmingham, England, which is over a thousand years old.

Moreover, there are over thirty places around the world named Birmingham, and there’s even places on the Moon that hold the name!

Click here to read 38 Curious Facts about Birmingham, England

 

 

#27: The world’s first postage stamp

 
worlds_first_postal_stamp
The wold’s first postal stamp

The postage stamp was invented in Birmingham, England, in 1839. The design featured Queen Victoria.

#28: The world wide web was invented by an English scientist

 

We owe it to an Englishman for the internet that we love and depend on every day. In the early 1990s, scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee changed the world forever when he invented the World Wide Web system, also known as the “www” that appears in your search bar.

 

 

#29: England’s peculiar ancient Laws

 

Believe it or not, but there is a law in England that permits a citizen to kill a Scot entering the city of York if the said person is holding an arrow above his head! This law dates back to the time of King Edward Longshanks era, and for some reason has no been changed since.

 

 

#30: The Queen owns all dolphins in British waters

 

Another strange fact: Queen Elizabeth II has legal ownership over all the dolphins in the UK and in British waters, as well as sturgeons, porpoises, and whales. Known as ‘fishes royal”, any that are caught within three kilometres of the British coast are considered royal property. This statute dates back to 1324 and is still law today.

 

 

#31: England won the FIFA World Cup in 1966

 

English football is widely regarded around the world thanks to its Premier League and numerous top football teams, and although the modern game was exported to the world by the English, the national English side isn’t always on form. However, we still pride ourselves with a World Cup title, when we won 4-2 against West Germany in 1966.

 

 

#32: The English accent

 

Did you know there’s actually no such thing as an ‘English’ accent? The stereotypical ‘posh’ accent widely associated with the English is actually known as Received Pronunciation (RP), or “the Queen’s English”. Indeed, if you come to England, you’ll discover that there’s countless regional accents all over the country, and they all sound very different to each other!

One example is the Brummie accent of the Midlands, and you can find out about this strong accent in my post: A Guide to Brummie Slang and Dialect

Home to some of the greatest scientists that ever lived

England is home to some of the world’s greatest and most important scientists, inventors and innovators, including: Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, and Stephen Hawking, amongst many others.

10 fun facts about England for kids

 
  1. England is the most populated country in the United Kingdom.
  2. The most popular sport in England is football (known as soccer in the US).
  3. Robin Hood was actually a real person, although movie depictions are not entirely accurate.
  4. England is a country within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and shares a land border with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north.
  5. Stephen Hawking, Sir Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin were all English scientists.
  6. London is the capital city of England.
  7. Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh is based are based on real persons.
  8. The population of England in 2020 was around 53 million.
  9. England includes many small islands such as the Isle of Wight and Hayling Island.
  10. David (male) and Susan (female) are the most common given names.

5 fun facts about England food

 

1. Traditional dishes in England include the Full English Breakfast, Shepherd’s Pie, the Sunday Roast, and the most popular: Fish and Chips.

2. Some of England’s other popular but rather weird sounding dishes include: Spotted Dick, Bangers and Mash, and Toad in the Hole.

3. Curry (particularly Chicken Tikka Masala), is the country’s favourite dish.

tikka-masala

4. Though technically not English, ‘curry’ was invented in the UK, such as the Tikka Masala, Korma, and the Balti. They were invented by Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants in Birmingham, during the 1970s.

5. As a nation, we are 76% self-sufficient in producing home-grown food.

Source: CS Catering Equipment

16 weird, crazy, and lesser-known facts

 
  1. Buckingham Palace has its own police station.
  2. The regional accent variation in England is so strong that people living just one mile from each other might sound slightly different.
  3. The current tallest Englishman is Neil Fingleton, who is 7’7” tall!
  4. If you reach the age of 100, you can no longer get a telegram from the Queen, but a birthday card instead.
  5. England is the only country in the world that doesn’t have its name on its stamps.
  6. England is the first region of the world to allow ‘triple’parenting’, which is the creation of babies from the DNA of three people rather than two.
  7. England’s political alliance with Portugal is the oldest in the world, established in 1386.
  8. England is 74 times smaller than the United States of America, but has about 150% more people than California alone!
  9. Putting a postage stamp with the Queen’s image onto your envelope upside-down is considered an act of treason!
  10. The American national anthem was created by an Englishman.
  11. There are more chickens in England than there are people.
  12. The first successful motorised vacuum cleaner was invented in England.
  13. During the Industrial Revolution, Manchester was known as ‘Warehouse City’, and Birmingham was known as the ‘Workshop of the World’.
  14. Beer has been brewed in England for hundreds of years.
  15. Despite the Imperial system being more widely used in England, it is claimed that the earliest version of a metric system was invented by an Englishman.
  16. Queen Elizabeth II has been on the internet longer than you have – she sent her first email way back in 1976!

8 creepy facts about England

 

1. The last ‘witches’ hanged in England were in 1662, when three women were accused of sending the devil to their neighbours’ homes, i the form of a tabby cat.

2. No less than 6 ravens are kept at the Tower of London at all times for superstitious reasons. The flock of resident ravens even includes a ‘spare’, and each raven has a clipped wing to make sure they don’t fly too far from the tower.

3. York is reported to be the most haunted city in the world in relation to population, with over 500 hauntings, including one of the famous Highwayman, Dick Turpin, who was hanged in York in 1739. Allegedly he did not have an easy end – dying of slow strangulation, jerking and kicking on the rope’s end for a fun 15 minutes before finally expiring.

4. The term, ‘to go west’ actually means ‘to hang at the gallows’, and doesn’t originate with the wagon-trains heading west in the USA, but rather it comes from England. Marble Arch station stands on the site of the main gallows in England, Tyburn Tree, which is directly west of the Old Bailey (the top Criminal Court in England).

Marble_Arch,_London
Marble Arch, at the site of where Tyburn Tree used to be.

5. Between 1348 and 1665, there were no less than 16 outbreaks of the plague in London alone, with the worst one striking the city during 1348-49, wiping out one-third of London’s inhabitants.

6. Due to the sheer number of fatalities during the plague, mass graves has to be set up around London. One of the most notorious plague pits lies below Aldgate underground station, where more than 1,000 bodies are buried.

7. Speaking of underground stations, there is a ghost station called British Museum that sits between  Tottenham Court Road and Holborn. It’s been unused since 1932.

8. The former rectory in Boley, Essex, was one of the most haunted houses in the UK. It burnt down in 1939, but many people have claimed the ghosts moved to a nearby church where many strange things have occurred.

Boley Rectory
Inside Boley Rectory before it was burned down.

So there you have it – 71 of the most weird, peculiar, and fun facts about England.

I hope you find this post an interesting read, and that it inspires you to visit my homeland some day!

 

Further Reading: UK Travel

 

England Wiki Facts:

 

General Information

More information, statistics and general facts about England and the United Kingdom, updated as of 2022:

  • Land area: 129 720 km² (50,085 sq miles)
  • Capital city: London
  • Sovereign State: United Kingdom (largest country within the UK)
  • Nationality: English and British
  • Government: part of a Constitutional Monarchy
  • Monarch: Elizabeth II
  • Population: 56,286,961 people
  • Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP, £)
  • Official Language: English
  • Main Religions: Church of England, Catholic, Methodist, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu.
  • National Holiday: St. George’s Day (Patron Saint of England), 23rd April
  • Highest point: Scafell Pike, 978 metres above sea level
  • Largest Lake: Lake Windermere, 14.7 km² (5.7 sq miles)
  • Highest Waterfall: Cauldron Snout, 60m (200 feet) high
  • National Anthem: “God Save the Queen”, “Land of Hope and Glory”
  • National Dish: Chicken Tikka Masala
  • National Flower: Tudor Rose
  • Member of NATO: Yes (via the United Kingdom)
  • Member of the EU: No (left the EU on 1st January 2021)
  • Official Website: www.gov.uk
  • Time zone: UTC+0
  • Driving side: left
  • Country Number/Prefix: +44
  • Country Code: ENG, GBR

Commonly Asked Questions

Here’s 10 of the most interesting facts about England

  1. England’s capital, London, is over 2000 years old and was known by several names including Londonium, Ludenwic, and Ludenburg.
  2. English is the universal language of the world – though not the most widely spoken, it is the default language of commerce, trade, and many other global bodies.
  3. The English drink more tea than any other nation.
  4. England is home to one of the oldest and most mysterious man-made structures on the planet, Stonehenge.
  5. French was once the official language of England, many centuries ago.
  6. Winchester was the first capital of England.
  7. England gave the world the modern justice system.
  8. There’s an annual cheese-rolling competition in Gloucester, England.
  9. Windsor Castle is the oldest royal residence still in use in the world.
  10. Ground-breaking English inventions include the postage stamp, electricity, the jet engine, and the world wide web, to name a few.

England is famous for numerous things including: Big Ben, red buses, William Shakespeare, fish and chips, rainy weather, black cabs, David Beckham, red telephone boxes, The Beatles, Oasis, Blur, and tea. England has a long and famous history. It is famous for its Royal Family, and Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied royal residence in the world.

Here are some fun and lesser-known facts about the UK:

  1. All horses in the U.K. must possess a passport.
  2. There are more Indian restaurants in London than in New Delhi, India.
  3. Royal Weddings are a national holiday in the UK. Everyone gets a day off work, the day after the ceremony.
  4. Smith, Jones, and Williams are the most common names in the U.K, with the latter two being of Welsh origin.
  5. There are more English speakers in the US, India, Pakistan, Nigeria and the Philippines, than there are in the United Kingdom.

England is the largest country in the United Kingdom (which includes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), and over 80% of the UK population lives in England. The citizens of England consume twice the amount of baked beans than Americans. England has the second-largest economy in Europe.

Here’s 5 lesser-known facts about England:

  1. There are more chickens in England than there are people.
  2. England is 74 times smaller than the United States of America, but has about 150% more people than California alone!
  3. The first successful motorised vacuum cleaner was invented in England.
  4. Buckingham Palace has its own police station
  5. Queen Elizabeth II has been on the internet longer than you have – she sent her first email way back in 1976!

The name “England” originates from the Old English name “Englaland”, meaning “land of the Angles”. The Angles were one of the two main tribes that settled in Great Britain during the Early Middle Ages. This tribe came from Denmark, and the other main tribe, the Saxons, arrived from Germany. Most indigenous English people can trace their ancestry back to the Anglo-Saxons.

England is 21 miles (35km) from France and the two countries have been connected via an underwater tunnel since the 1990s, allowing for travel by cars and trains.

Book Your Trip to England: Budget Tips & Tricks

 

Flights:

As always, I source the cheapest flights on the web from Skyscanner and Kiwi.com. They are considered the top flight search engines for the best deals.

Accommodation:

I use Booking to find fantastic cheap stays with free cancellation options. 

Travel Insurance:

Travel insurance will protect you from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.

Tours:

I book all my fave activities and guided tours on Get Your Guide & Viator – they do superb deals whilst offering excellent customer support.

Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.

Thank you for reading 71 Fun Facts about England (2022 Edition)

 

Do you know any other interesting facts about England? What’s your favourite? Let me know in the comments!


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Billy

Billy

Lover of epic adventures, budget travel, and fine coffee. When not travelling, Billy teaches dance, and creates performances on commissioned projects.

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Hey there! I’m Billy, the guy behind BRB | Gone Somewhere Epic. I’ve been travelling around the world for six years, having an absolute blast going on epic adventures, without breaking the bank. Click here to read more about the art of budget travel.

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