What’s England's biggest claim to fame?

by Katie Rowe

Category: History & heritage
February 7 2014

The list of famous claims hailing from England is endless. From Harry Potter to Bond, the mini skirt to the tuxedo, The Beatles to punk music and the Magna Carta to the World Wide Web. But what do you think deserves a spot in our Hall of Fame?

Surely John Lennon should be in there. And what about Alan Turing, Winston Churchill, Emily Brontë, Barbara Hepworth, Cheddar cheese, Rugby, the earliest human footprints in Europe and even St Patrick. We could go on...

Tell us all about your favourite claim – all the better if it’s from your local area – using our brand new England’s Hall of Fame app and you could win a weekend break. Here’s a few off the top of my head...

Afternoon tea was invented at Woburn Abbey

Where would England be without tea, or Duchess Anna Maria for that matter? The English tradition of afternoon tea is thought to have been started around 1840 by the Duchess, wife of the 7th Duke of Bedford, who entertained her friends in the Blue Drawing Room at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire. Today, you can experience afternoon tea at Woburn at the Duchess’ Tea Room or at the Estate’s hotel, The Inn at Woburn.

Nottingham – home to Paul Smith’s first shop

This year sees the 40th anniversary of Paul Smith’s Original Store in Nottingham. The world-famous English designer started his career aged just 15 as an errand boy in a clothing warehouse. His first ever shop opened in 1974 on Byard Lane and is still open today. Stop by for jeans, shoes and accessories and then head to nearby Grade II-listed Willoughby House to admire his latest catwalk designs.

Jack the Ripper – the world’s most infamous serial killer

The most infamous serial killer in the world still fascinates to this very day and the fact he was never caught has led to a myriad of conspiracy theories. But forget the theories – there’s only one way to discover the eerie facts behind the legend and that’s on a guided walk in East London, now one of the capital’s hippest areas where restaurants, bars and boutiques line narrow Victorian streets.

The birthplace of the graphite pencil     

The northern county of Cumbria is recognised as the birthplace of the humble and ubiquitous pencil. The first pencils were made in the area following the unearthing of local solid graphite deposits in the 1500s. Visitors to the Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick can learn all about the pencil’s origins in North West England and role throughout the ages, and see the world’s largest colouring pencil.

Sheffield FC – the world’s oldest football club

England is the home of football. It was in Sheffield, back in 1857, that the rules of the game were first drawn up by pioneers Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest. Since 1860, the longest derby on the planet has been played out in the city between Sheffield FC and rivals Hallam FC. You can visit the birthplace of ‘the beautiful game’ at Sheffield FC – the first football team in the world.

The hunt to find England’s biggest and boldest claims and uncover some quirky and brilliant facts about our homeland starts tomorrow. Don’t miss your chance to stake your claim.

Katie Rowe

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