SHAKESPEARE is England’s ultimate claim to fame.
The Bard won The People’s Choice in England’s Hall of Fame with 50 per cent more votes than any other claim in the Visit England poll to mark St George’s Day (April 23). Trailing in Shakespeare’s wake were Downton Abbey, Banksy, and Glastonbury among others.
The search to establish England’s Hall of Fame began in February when the tourist board asked the public to submit their suggestions. The Hall of Fame app received almost 1,000 submissions from Harry Potter to Harry Styles, the mini skirt to the tuxedo, Earl Grey tea to the Scotch Egg.
A panel of experts awarded bronze, silver and gold across six categories – from history and heritage to sport, to celebrate the best of what England has brought to the world and what attracts millions of visitors each year to these shores.
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 Stratford’s Royal Shakespeare Company and at Shakespeare’s Birthplace and family houses. You can soak up the atmosphere at the open-air Shakespeare’s Globe in London, whose spirited performances see interaction between actors and the audience.
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.
Gold – Portsmouth 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.
Silver – Robin 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
Bronze – The 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.
Inventions & Discoveries
Bronze – England as the birthplace of the steam locomotive, whose steam train attractions can be found chugging merrily around the country. A working replica of the world’s first operational steam locomotive can be seen in action at Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge, Shropshire.
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 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 Lawn Tennis Museum.
Gold –The incidental birth of modern rugby during a football game at Rugby School in Warwickshire.
Culture & Entertainment
Bronze – Glastonbury, 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.