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From Shakespeare to Banksy to The Beatles: 19 of England’s greatest claims to fame to celebrate St George’s Day
William Shakespeare has been voted England’s ultimate claim to fame.
The nation’s bard, the most quoted writer in the history of the English-speaking world, has won The People’s Choice vote in VisitEngland’s Hall of Fame campaign.
Shakespeare, believed to have been born 450 years ago today, won with 50 per cent more votes than any other claim.
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 including Harry Potter and Harry Styles, the miniskirt and the tuxedo, The Beatles and punk music, Earl Grey tea and the Scotch Egg.
Apart from The People’s Choice poll, a panel of experts awarded a bronze, silver and gold across six categories, to celebrate “the best of what England has brought to the world and what makes the country such a diverse and fascinating place to visit and explore.”
A free Hall of Fame exhibition is now running until April 30 at Observation Point on London’s Southbank.
England’s ultimate Hall of Fame consists of:
The People’s Choice
Shakespeare: His plays are brought to life by Stratford-upon-Avon’s 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, whose spirited performances see interaction between actors and the audience. Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Family Houses are also open for the public to visit in Stratford-upon-Avon.
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.
Photo: HMS Warrior, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Courtesy of VisitEngland and VisitPortsmouth
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.
Pastel drawing of Octavia Hill. Courtesy of National Trust Images
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. Enjoy them cut up into dainty fingers at Woburn Abbey, where the tradition of afternoon tea was popularised around 1840.
Afternoon tea, Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire. Reproduced by permission of the Duke of Bedford and the Trustees of the Bedford Estates
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, while 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.
Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol. Courtesy of VisitBritain and Charlie Waite
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 Lawn Tennis Museum.
Gold – The incidental birth of modern rugby during a football game at Rugby School in Warwickshire.
William Webb Ellis statue, Rugby. Courtesy of Rugby Borough Council
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.
For more information, visit www.englandshalloffame.com.
What other claims to fame does England have which you think should have the cut? What local claims, such as inventions, cultural contributions or heritage, do you think should have been considered? Do you agree with Shakespeare being England’s ultimate claim to fame? Add your comments below.
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