So here’s 69 fun facts about the UK. Enjoy!
1. Big Ben does not refer to the clock, but actually the bell.
2. London has been called Londonium, Ludenwic, and Ludenburg in the past.
3. French was the official language for about 300 years
4. The shortest war against England was with Zanzibar in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes.
5. There is nowhere in Britain that is more than 74.5 miles from the sea.
6. The first telephone directory published in England contained 25 names.
7. While the Great Fire of London was largely destructive, the casualty rate was just 8.
8. The first hot chocolate store opened in London.
9. There are over 300 languages spoken in England.
10. The English drink more tea than anyone else in the world.
11. In the Medieval Times, animals can be put on trial for crimes (and be sentenced to death!)
12. “The Star Spangled Banner” (the American national anthem) was created by an Englishman.
13. “Pygg” used to mean “clay” in olden day English. People kept their coins in clay jars that were called “pygg jars,” which have evolved into what we currently call piggy banks.
14. Gargoyles were originally used as drain pipes!
15. Buckingham Palace has its own police station.
16. Chickens outnumber humans in England.
All about the Royal Family
17. Windsor Castle is the largest royal home in the world.
18. The Queen has 30 god children.
19. The Queen owns all the sturgeons, whales and dolphins in the waters within 3 miles from the UK.
20. The Queen sent her first e-mail in 1976.
21. Prince William wanted to become a cop when he was younger.
22. He also has his own postage stamp.
23. It’s considered treason to place a stamp bearing the King or Queen’s image upside-down.
24. Prince William paid $200 to sit in the front row and watch Kate in the fashion show.
25. Kate Middleton is allergic to horses.
26. According to biography.com, when Kate was younger, the boys in her school rated her a 2 out of 10 for looks and personality.
27. Prince William had a poster of Baby Spice on his boarding room wall.
28. Prince Harry got in trouble for dressing as a Nazi to a costume party.
29. When Nelson Mandela met the Spice Girls, he called them his “heroes.”
30. Ginger Spice was originally Sexy Spice, but changed to better suit their younger fans.
31. Francesca Gray wrote J.K. Rowling her first fan letter, but thought she was a man, and began her letter with “Dear Sir…”
32. J.K. Rowling is the first person to make a billion dollars from writing books.
33. James Bond’s code “007” was inspired by the author Ian Fleming’s bus route from Canterbury to London.
34. No portrait was ever painted of William Shakespeare when he was alive.
35. Macbeth is the most produced play ever written. On average, a performance is staged every 4 hours somewhere in the world.
36. In the final episode of Skins Season 2, where Sid is looking for Cassie on the streets of New York, the reactions from people were real and unscripted.
37. Kate Moss is good friends with Daniel Craig.
38. David Beckham has a fear of birds.
39. London is home to 4 World Heritage Sites – The Palace of Westminster, the Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich, and Kew Botanical Gardens.
40. The London Eye is the tallest ferris wheel in Europe.
41. 25% of the people living in London today are born in another country.
42. There are 409 escalators in the London subways.
43. 16% of UK’s restaurants are located in London.
44. The London Bridge is rumoured to be haunted…people have claimed to see a woman in black roaming in the night.
45. Everyone calls it the Tower of London, but the building’s full official name is His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London.
46. London is the first city in the world to have an underground subway system.
47.If London were a country, it would be the 8th largest in Europe.
48. Angel Tube Station has the longest escalator in Western Europe.
The 2012 Olympics
49. London hosting the 2012 Olympics is the first time a city has ever hosted the Olympics three times.
50. The London 2012 Olympics is the first time that every country has at least 1 female athlete.
51. The London Olympic Stadium is the lightest stadium in the world.
52. Survival by Muse is the official song of the games.
53. It’s expected that 4 billion people will watch the opening ceremony (more than half the population of the world!)
54. Sports equipment used in the olympics will be given away to charity.
55. The gold medals used are actually 93% silver and 1.3% gold.
56. William the Conqueror ordered everyone to be in their beds by 8 pm.
57. 80,000 umbrellas are expected to be lost annually in the London tube.
58. There are over 30,000 people with the name John Smith in England.
59. Rudolf Hess was the last prisoner kept in the Tower of London.
60. England has the highest rate of obesity in Europe.
61. England brought the world soccer, rugby and polo.
62. The highest temperature ever recorded in England was 38.5 degrees in Kent in 2003.
63. The first fish and chips restaurant was opened in 1860 by a Jewish immigrant.
64. England is 74 times smaller than the USA.
65. The English invented the world’s earliest railways.
66. The Beatles originally called themselves the Blackjacks, and then the Quarrymen.
67. Other famous musicians/bands include: The Smiths, New order, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, The Cure, Black Sabbath, The Who, The Clash, Radiohead, Coldplay, Muse, Pink Floyd…(the list goes on and on!)
68. Bristol is known as the “Seattle of England” because of its youth culture and fashion.
69. England is thought of as having the world’s worst food.
|2200 B.C.||The building of Stonehenge begins.|
|700||Celtic tribes begin invasion of Britain.|
|55–54||Britain invaded by Romans led by Julius Caesar. He introduces chickens to the British Isles.|
|450||Angles, Saxons, and Jutes begin invasion of Britain.|
|793||Viking raiders destroy the monastery at Lindisfarne.|
|937||Athelstan becomes first king of a united England.|
|9th century||Kenneth McAlpin declares himself ruler of both the Scots and the Picts and unites Scotland north of the Firth of Forth into a single kingdom.|
|1017||Canute becomes first Danish king of England.|
|1050||Edward the Confessor begins building Westminster Abbey.|
|1066||William, Duke of Normandy, defeats King Harold of England at the Battle of Hastings and becomes the first of the Norman kings.|
|1135||Civil war breaks out when King Henry I dies without an heir.|
|1154||Henry II becomes first Plantagenet King of England and ruler of Angevin empire. He introduces system of common law which is still used in England today.|
|1170||Archbishop Thomas Becket is murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four of Henry II’s knights.|
|1215||Rebellious barons force King John to sign the Magna Carta.|
|1249||The first Oxford college, University College, is founded.|
|1295||Edward I summons first representative English parliament.|
|1337||The Hundred Years’ War with France begins when English King Edward III claims throne of France.|
|1349–1351||The Black Death kills one-third of the population of England.|
|1380s||Geoffrey Chaucer begins writing The Canterbury Tales.|
|1453||The French defeat English at the Battle of Castillon, which marks the end of the Hundred Years’ War.|
|1455||The War of the Roses breaks out between the houses of Lancaster and York.|
|1474||William Caxton publishes the first book printed in England, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye.|
|1497||John Cabot becomes the first English explorer to visit the New World.|
|1534||King Henry VIII breaks with the Roman Catholic Church.|
|1558||Elizabeth I becomes queen.|
|1577||Sir Francis Drake embarks on voyage to circumnavigate the globe.|
|1585||Sir Walter Raleigh establishes the first English colony in Roanoke, Virginia.|
|1588||English navy defeats the Spanish Armada.|
|1592||William Shakespeare’s first play, Henry VI, is performed.|
|1603||Elizabeth I dies and is succeeded by James I, first Stuart king and first ruler of a unified British Isles.|
|1605||Guy Fawkes and his group of Catholic sympathizers attempt to carry out the failed bombing of the House of Lords on November 5th.|
|1611||The King James Version of the Bible is published.|
|1620||Pilgrims set sail in the Mayflower for New England.|
|1649||Charles I is executed; period of English Commonwealth begins under Oliver Cromwell.|
|1660||Charles II takes up the throne to begin the Restoration. He orders the body of Oliver Cromwell dug up.|
|1666||Great Fire destroys much of London.|
|1688||The Glorious Revolution ousts James II and brings William of Orange and his wife Mary to the throne.|
|1714||Queen Anne dies; George I becomes first Hanoverian king.|
|1745–1746||“Bonnie Prince Charlie” Stuart is defeated at Culloden in Scotland. This also marks the end of the Scottish clan system.|
|1776||American colonies formally declare independence from England.|
|1782||James Watt invents the steam engine, signaling the start of the Industrial Revolution.|
|1783||American Revolutionary war ends when England formally gives up the colonies in the Treaty of Paris. Last of British troops evacuate New York, ending British rule in America.|
|1788||The English establish a colony in Australia.|
|1801||First British national census is taken.|
|1813||Duke of Wellington defeats the French under Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo.|
|1829||Sir Robert Peel creates the first English police force, known as “bobbies,” in his honor.|
|1833||Slavery is outlawed in the British Empire.|
|1837||Victoria becomes queen, opening what will become the longest royal reign in English history. The British Empire reaches the height of its power.|
|1851||Charles Dickens writes David Copperfield.|
|1863||The London Underground (“the Tube”) is opened.|
|1870||Education Act establishes first state schools; schools are made compulsory for all children to age 11.|
|1884||Telephones are introduced to Britain.|
|1888||First football game between Celtic and Rangers takes place in Glasgow.|
|1909||Lord Robert Baden Powell forms the “British Boy Scouts.”|
|1912||The RMS Titanic sinks.|
|1914–1918||World War I takes place.|
|1919||The right to vote is given to British women over the age of 30.|
|1921||Ireland is divided into the Irish Free State (later the Republic of Ireland) in the south and Ulster in the north.|
|1922||First national radio service begins.|
|1926||Britain’s first-ever strike takes place: a 9-day walkout in support of the coal miners. The workers lose.|
|1928||Vote is given to all men and women over 21.|
|1931||Great Depression hits England.|
|1936||First scheduled television service begins.|
|1939||World War II begins; England declares war on Germany.|
|1948||National Health Service is established.|
|1953||Elizabeth II is crowned in Westminster Abbey.|
|1963||The Beatles become the world’s most popular musical group.|
|1973||England joins the European Economic Community.|
|1979||Margaret Thatcher is elected Britain’s first, and so far only, female prime minister.|
|1981||Prince Charles of Wales marries Lady Diana Spencer in a “fairy tale” wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral.|
|1982||England defeats Argentina in a war over Falkland Islands.|
|1992||Elizabeth II agrees to pay taxes for the first time.|
|1994||The Channel Tunnel (a.k.a. the Chunnel), under the English Channel, is opened, linking England and France.|
|1997||Mad Cow Crisis happens in United Kingdom.|
|2003||Britain joins the U.S. and other countries in the “Coalition of the Willing” to invade Iraq, despite large anti-war protests.|
|2005||The Civil Partnership Act comes into effect, allowing same-sex couples to have legal recognition of their relationships.|
|2011||Prince William marries Catherine Middleton in Westminster Abbey.|
|2012||London becomes the only city to host an Olympic games three different times.|
|2014||Scottish citizens vote “Nay” on the referendum for independence and decide to keep Scotland a part of the United Kingdom.|