40 Fascinating Facts You Probably Didn’t Know about Britain

40 Fascinating Facts You Probably Didn’t Know about Britain

4 years ago

Our country is a fascinating place full of amazing culture, breath-taking sights and attractions and steeped in a rich history. We’ve brought together just a fraction of the fascinating, obscure and entertaining facts that give an insight into our British culture and history.


  • According to British law, it’s still perfectly legal to kill any Scotsman who enters the city of York if he happens to be carrying a bow and arrow.
  • People from Liverpool are often called ‘Scousers’. The name is short for ‘Lobscouse’, which was a Scandinavian stew eaten by the sailors who visited the port. Local families adopted the dish, and the name stuck.
  • ‘Big Ben’ doesn’t refer to the famous clock at London’s Houses of Parliament, but to the bell inside. The building itself is called the Elizabeth Tower.
  • The one-and-a-half mile journey from Westray to Papa Westray in the Orkney islands is the shortest scheduled flight in the world. The trip takes less than two minutes.
  • Built in 1842, the Hamilton Mausoleum in South Lanarkshire has the longest-lasting echo of any man-made structure in the world – a whole 15 seconds.
  • A cave in Aberystwyth was once home to the Crown jewels. They were moved there during World War II to protect them from German bombs, along with a copy of the Magna Carta and other valuable documents.
  • The thousand-year-old Bowthorpe Oak in Manthorpe, Lincolnshire, is the largest living oak tree in Britain. It measures over 12 metres around the trunk, and 39 people can fit comfortably inside its hollow interior.
  • The shortest war ever fought was between Britain and Zanzibar on August 27, 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes.
  • There is nowhere in Britain that is more than 74.5 miles from the sea.
  • There are over 300 languages spoken in England.

  • large postage stampBuckingham Palace has its own chapel, post office, swimming pool, staff cafeteria, doctor’s surgery and cinema.
  • The Queen owns all the sturgeons, whales and dolphins in the waters within 3 miles from the UK.
  • It’s considered treason to place a stamp bearing the King or Queen’s image upside-down.
  • James Bond’s code “007” was inspired by the author Ian Fleming’s bus route from Canterbury to London.
  • There are 28 world heritage sites in the UK and London is home to 4 World Heritage Sites – The Palace of Westminster, the Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich, and Kew Botanical Gardens.
  • London is the first city in the world to have an underground subway system.
  • If London were a country, it would be the 8th largest in Europe.
  • Windsor Castle, an official residence of the British Monarch, is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It has been inhabited continuously for more than a thousand years. Current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the 39th resident of the castle.
  • British Library in London is the largest library in the world. It has more than 170 million items catalogued.

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe highest point is in Britain is Ben Nevis at 1,343 m and the lowest point is -4m at The Fens.
  • UK remains the only country not required to name itself on its postage stamps because it was the first country to issue national stamps. The first nation-wide stamp (and first adhesive stamp), the Penny Black, was issued in 1840.
  • The first motorist ever to be charged by police for speeding was an Englishman, Walter Arnold, on the 28th January 1896. He was driving at 8 mph in a 2 mph zone. He was pursued and caught by a policeman riding a bicycle.
  • In 1811, nearly a quarter of all the women in Britain were named Mary.
  • Even though being the sovereign of The United Kingdom, Her Majesty the Queen is not allowed to enter the City of London with seeking the permission of its Lord Mayor.
  • Portugal is England’s oldest ally. The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty signed in 1373 is still in force
  • 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 highest temperature ever recorded in England was 38.5°C (101.3°F ) in Brogdale, Kent, on 10 August 2003.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Queen Elizabeth II visits a new maternity ward at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage.The custom of afternoon tea was devised in 1840 by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford, who felt the need for an extra meal between lunch and dinner. She began inviting her friends to join her, and the custom quickly spread around British society and throughout the British Empire. Britain’s first tea room was opened in 1864 by the Aerated Bread Company at London Bridge.
  • The Queen of the UK is the legal owner of one-sixth of the Earth’s land surface.
  • A Beer Wave of 388,000 Gallons (or 1.4m L) flooded London in 1814 after a huge vat ruptured.
  • In the UK, accents change noticeably about every 25 miles (40km).
  • William the Conqueror ordered everyone to be in their beds by 8 pm.
  • Every day UK people drink 165 million cups of tea! Over 20 times more than the average American
  • Great Britain’s coastline stretches for 11,073 miles
  • England’s first telephone directory was published in 1880 and had only 248 names and addresses (there were no telephone numbers as you had to call the operator and ask for someone’s name to get connected).
  • Up until 1752 Britain used the Julian calendar and New Years day was on 25th March.
  • The most eaten ‘convenience’ food in the world was invented by an English aristocrat with a passion for gambling, the Earl of Sandwich. To ensure he didn’t have to stop playing and to keep his hands clean for the cards, the Earl of Sandwich asked for meat to be put between two slices of bread.
  • On Sept. 9, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest-reigning UK monarch ever, surpassing Queen Victoria.