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Shakespeare voted England’s biggest claim to fame

by Katie Rowe

April 22 2014

Shakespeare, the most quoted writer in the history of the English-speaking world, has been voted England’s ultimate claim to fame. The nation’s bard has won The People’s Choice in England’s Hall of Fame with 50% more votes than any other claim. 

The Elizabethan playwright sits alongside 18 other claims to fame, including Downton Abbey, Banksy, and Glastonbury Festival in an open-air exhibition that celebrates St George’s Day. The exhibition opens today at Observation Point on London’s Southbank.

England’s Hall of Fame started in February when we asked everyone to submit their suggestions. Almost 1,000 submissions later, a panel of experts have awarded a bronze, silver and gold across six categories, to celebrate the very best of England.

Here’s England’s ultimate Hall of Fame in full:

The People’s Choice

Shakespeare. The most quoted writer in the history of the English-speaking world and truly, the nation’s bard. His plays are brought to life by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres, or you can soak up the atmosphere at the open-air Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

History & Heritage

Bronze – The four surviving original copies of Magna Carta, sealed in 1215 at Runnymede, Surrey, and regarded by historians as the foundation of constitutional liberty in the English-speaking world.

Silver – The smooth lawns and sweeping vistas of England’s landscaping master, Capability Brown, as seen at Northumberland's Kirkharle Lake and Courtyard.

GoldPortsmouth Historic Dockyard, the world's oldest industrial complex and a crucial part of England’s naval heritage. 

The Great, the Good and the Notorious

Bronze – World-renowned, elusive graffiti artist Banksy, whose original murals can be spotted on a guided tour of Bristol’s street art.

SilverRobin Hood, England's lovable outlaw, whose world-famous legend is rooted in Sherwood Forest on the outskirts of Nottingham.

Gold – Founder of the National Trust, Octavia Hill, whose birthplace museum in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, is dedicated to her life and social reforms.

Food & Drink

BronzeThe Bakewell Pudding, first made at a local inn in Derbyshire during the 19th century… and whose recipe was something of a happy accident.

Silver – England's oldest working gin distillery in Plymouth, whose guided tours provide a glimpse into the centuries-old process of gin making.

Gold – The sandwich, an essential part of afternoon tea, which was named in honour of its ingenious inventor, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Enjoy them cut up into dainty fingers at Woburn Abbey, where the tradition of afternoon tea was popularised around 1840.

Inventions & Discoveries

Bronze – England is the birthplace of the steam locomotive. A working replica of the world’s first operational steam locomotive can be seen in action at Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge, Shropshire, whilst Birmingham’s Thinktank Science Museum is worth visiting for its exciting demonstrations of the steam engine's power.

Silver – Sir Isaac Newton’s family home at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, where the English physicist and mathematician first discovered his theory of gravity.

Gold – Isambard Kingdom Brunel's engineering masterpieces in Bristol, including the magnificent Clifton Suspension Bridge and SS Great Britain passenger steamship.

Sport & Leisure

Bronze – The annual BNY Mellon Boat Race (known also as the Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race), established in 1829 and one of the world’s oldest sporting events.

Silver – The home of tennis, from Hampton Court Palace in Richmond-upon-Thames, where the sport is thought to have been invented, to Wimbledon.

Gold – The incidental birth of modern rugby during a football game at Rugby School in Warwickshire.

Culture & Entertainment

BronzeGlastonbury, the granddaddy of all festivals on Worthy Farm in Somerset.

Silver –Hampshire’s elegant Highclere Castle, the real-life location of ITV’s hugely successful Downton Abbey.

Gold – The Beatles, whose mop-top haircuts and irresistibly catchy tunes set fans’ hearts on fire in 1960s Liverpool.

Katie Rowe

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