- 1 Introduction
- 2 Land
- 3 People
- 4 Economy
- 5 Government and society
- 5.1 Local government
- 5.2 HISTORIC COUNTIES
- 5.3 GEOGRAPHIC COUNTIES
- 5.4 ADMINISTRATIVE COUNTIES AND DISTRICTS
- 5.5 UNITARY AUTHORITIES
- 5.6 METROPOLITAN COUNTIES AND DISTRICTS
- 5.7 GREATER LONDON
- 5.8 PARISHES AND TOWNS
- 5.9 Justice
- 5.10 Political process
- 5.11 Health and welfare
- 5.12 Housing
- 5.13 Education
- 6 Cultural life
- 7 History
- 8 Additional Reading
England, predominant constituent unit of the United Kingdom, occupying more than half of the island of Great Britain.
Outside the British Isles, England is often erroneously considered synonymous with the island of Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and even with the entire United Kingdom. Despite the political, economic, and cultural legacy that has secured the perpetuation of its name, England no longer officially exists as a governmental or political unit—unlike Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which all have varying degrees of self-government in domestic affairs. It is rare for institutions to operate for England alone. Notable exceptions are the Church of England (Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, including Northern Ireland, have separate branches of the Anglican Communion) and sports associations for cricket, rugby, and football (soccer). In many ways England has seemingly been absorbed within the larger mass of Great Britain since the Act of Union of 1707.
Laced by great rivers and small streams, England is a fertile land, and the generosity of its soil has supported a thriving agricultural economy for millennia. In the early 19th century, England became the epicentre of a worldwide Industrial Revolution and soon the world’s most industrialized country. Drawing resources from every settled continent, cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool converted raw materials into manufactured goods for a global market, while London, the country’s capital, emerged as one of the world’s preeminent cities and the hub of a political, economic, and cultural network that extended far beyond England’s shores. Today the metropolitan area of London encompasses much of southeastern England and continues to serve as the financial centre of Europe and to be a centre of innovation—particularly in popular culture.
One of the fundamental English characteristics is diversity within a small compass. No place in England is more than 75 miles (120 km) from the sea, and even the farthest points in the country are no more than a day’s journey by road or rail from London. Formed of the union of small Celtic and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms during the early medieval period, England has long comprised several distinct regions, each different in dialect, economy, religion, and disposition; indeed, even today many English people identify themselves by the regions or shires from which they come—e.g., Yorkshire, the West Country, the Midlands—and retain strong ties to those regions even if they live elsewhere. Yet commonalities are more important than these differences, many of which began to disappear in the era after World War II, especially with the transformation of England from a rural into a highly urbanized society. The country’s island location has been of critical importance to the development of the English character, which fosters the seemingly contradictory qualities of candour and reserve along with conformity and eccentricity and which values social harmony and, as is true of many island countries, the good manners that ensure orderly relations in a densely populated landscape.
With the loss of Britain’s vast overseas empire in the mid 20th century, England suffered an identity crisis, and much energy has been devoted to discussions of “Englishness”—that is, not only of just what it means to be English in a country that now has large immigrant populations from many former colonies and that is much more cosmopolitan than insular but also of what it means to be English as opposed to British. While English culture draws on the cultures of the world, it is quite unlike any other, if difficult to identify and define. Of it, English novelist George Orwell, the “revolutionary patriot” who chronicled politics and society in the 1930s and ’40s, remarked in The Lion and the Unicorn (1941):
There is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization.…It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes. It has a flavour of its own. Moreover it is continuous, it stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature.
For many, Orwell captured as well as anyone the essence of what Shakespeare called “this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”
England is bounded on the north by Scotland; on the west by the Irish Sea, Wales, and the Atlantic Ocean; on the south by the English Channel; and on the east by the North Sea.
England’s topography is low in elevation but, except in the east, rarely flat. Much of it consists of rolling hillsides, with the highest elevations found in the north, northwest, and southwest. This landscape is based on complex underlying structures that form intricate patterns on England’s geologic map. The oldest sedimentary rocks and some igneous rocks (in isolated hills of granite) are in Cornwall and Devon on the southwestern peninsula, ancient volcanic rocks underlie parts of the Cumbrian Mountains, and the most recent alluvial soils cover the Fens of Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, and Norfolk. Between these regions lie bands of sandstones and limestones of different geologic periods, many of them relicts of primeval times when large parts of central and southern England were submerged below warm seas. Geologic forces lifted and folded some of these rocks to form the spine of northern England—the Pennines, which rise to 2,930 feet (893 metres) at Cross Fell. The Cumbrian Mountains, which include the famous Lake District, reach 3,210 feet (978 metres) at Scafell Pike, the highest point in England. Slate covers most of the northern portion of the mountains, and thick beds of lava are found in the southern part. Other sedimentary layers have yielded chains of hills ranging from 965 feet (294 metres) in the North Downs to 1,083 feet (330 metres) in the Cotswolds.
The hills known as the Chilterns, the North York Moors, and the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Wolds were rounded into characteristic plateaus with west-facing escarpments during three successive glacial periods of the Pleistocene Epoch (about 2,600,000 to 11,700 years ago). When the last ice sheet melted, the sea level rose, submerging the land bridge that had connected Great Britain with the European mainland. Deep deposits of sand, gravel, and glacial mud left by the retreating glaciers further altered the landscape. Erosion by rain, river, and tides and subsidence in parts of eastern England subsequently shaped the hills and the coastline. Plateaus of limestone, gritstone, and carboniferous strata are associated with major coalfields, some existing as outcrops on the surface.
The geologic complexity of England is strikingly illustrated in the cliff structure of its shoreline. Along the southern coast from the ancient granite cliffs of Land’s End in the extreme southwest is a succession of sandstones of different colours and limestones of different ages, culminating in the white chalk from the Isle of Wight to Dover. A varied panorama of cliffs, bays, and river estuaries distinguishes the English coastline, which, with its many indentations, is some 2,000 miles (3,200 km) long.
The Pennines, the Cotswolds, and the moors and chalk downs of southern England serve as watersheds for most of England’s rivers. The Eden, Ribble, and Mersey rise in the Pennines, flow westward, and have a short course to the Atlantic Ocean. The Tyne, Tees, Swale, Aire, Don, and Trent rise in the Pennines, flow eastward, and have a long course to the North Sea. The Welland, Nen, and Great Ouse rise in the northeastern edge of the Cotswolds and empty into the Wash estuary, which forms part of the North Sea. The Welland river valley forms part of the rich agricultural land of Lincolnshire. The Thames, the longest river in England, also rises in the Cotswolds and drains a large part of southeastern England. From the moors and chalk downs of southern England rise the Tamar, Exe, Stour, Avon, Test, Arun, and Ouse. All flow into the English Channel and in some instances help to form a pleasing landscape along the coast. England’s largest lake is Windermere, with an area of 6 square miles (16 square km), located in the county of Cumbria.
In journeys of only a few miles it is possible to pass through a succession of different soil structures—such as from chalk down to alluvial river valley, from limestone to sandstone and acid heath, and from clay to sand—each type of soil bearing its own class of vegetation. The Cumbrian Mountains and most of the southwestern peninsula have acid brown soils. The eastern section of the Pennines has soils ranging from brown earths to podzols. Leached brown soils predominate in much of southern England. Acid soils and podzols occur in the southeast. Regional characteristics, however, are important. Black soil covers the Fens in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk; clay soil predominates in the hills of the Weald (in East Sussex and West Sussex); and the chalk downs, especially the North Downs of Kent, are covered by a variety of stiff, brown clay, with sharp angular flints. Fine-grained deposits of alluvium occur in the floodplains, and fine marine silt occurs around the Wash estuary.
Weather in England is as variable as the topography. As in other temperate maritime zones, the averages are moderate, ranging in the Thames river valley from about 35 °F (2 °C) in January to 72 °F (22 °C) in July; but the extremes in England range from below 0 °F (−18 °C) to above 90 °F (32 °C). The Roman historian Tacitus recorded that the climate was “objectionable, with frequent rains and mists, but no extreme cold.” Yet snow covers the higher elevations of England about 50 days per year. England is known as a wet country, and this is certainly true in the northwest and southwest. However, the northeastern and central regions receive less than 30 inches (750 mm) of rainfall annually and frequently suffer from drought. In parts of the southeast the annual rainfall averages only 20 inches (500 mm). Charles II thought that the English climate was the best in the world—“a man can enjoy outdoor exercise in all but five days of the year.” But no one would dispute that it is unpredictable: hence Dr. Samuel Johnson’s observation that “when two Englishmen meet their first talk is of the weather.” This changeability of the weather, not only season by season but day by day and even hour by hour, has had a profound effect on English art and literature. Not for nothing has the bumbershoot been the stereotypical walking stick of the English gentleman.
Plant and animal life
England shares with the rest of Britain a diminished spectrum of vegetation and living creatures, partly because the island was separated from the mainland of Europe soon after much of it had been swept bare by the last glacial period and partly because the land has been so industriously worked by humans. For example, a drastic depletion of mature broad-leaved forests, especially oak, was a result of the overuse of timber in the iron and shipbuilding industries. Today only a small part of the English countryside is woodland. Broad-leaved (oak, beech, ash, birch, and elm) and conifer (pine, fir, spruce, and larch) trees dominate the landscapes of Kent, Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex, Suffolk, and Hampshire. Important forests include Ashdown in East Sussex, Epping and Hatfield in Essex, Dean in Gloucestershire, Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, Grizedale in Cumbria, and Redesdale, Kielder, and Wark in Northumberland. A substantial amount of England’s forestland is privately owned. Vegetation patterns have been further modified through overgrazing, forest clearance, reclamation and drainage of marshlands, and the introduction of exotic plant species. Though there are fewer species of plants than in the European mainland, they nevertheless span a wide range and include some rarities. Certain Mediterranean species exist in the sheltered and almost subtropical valleys of the southwest, while tundra-like vegetation is found in parts of the moorland of the northeast. England has a profusion of summer wildflowers in its fields, lanes, and hedgerows, though in some areas these have been severely reduced by the use of herbicides on farms and roadside verges. Cultivated gardens, which contain many species of trees, shrubs, and flowering plants from around the world, account for much of the varied vegetation of the country.
Mammal species such as the bear, wolf, and beaver were exterminated in historic times, but others such as the fallow deer, rabbit, and rat have been introduced. More recently birds of prey have suffered at the hands of farmers protecting their stock and their game birds. Protective measures have been implemented, including a law restricting the collecting of birds’ eggs, and some of the less common birds have been reestablishing themselves. The bird life is unusually varied, mainly because England lies along the route of bird migrations. Some birds have found town gardens, where they are often fed, to be a favourable environment, and in London about 100 different species are recorded annually. London also is a habitat conducive to foxes, which in small numbers have colonized woods and heaths within a short distance of the city centre. There are few kinds of reptiles and amphibians—about half a dozen species of each—but they are nearly all plentiful where conditions suit them. Freshwater fish are numerous; the char and allied species of the lakes of Cumbria probably represent an ancient group, related to the trout, that migrated to the sea before the tectonic changes that formed these lakes cut off their outlet. The marine fishes are abundant in species and in absolute numbers. The great diversity of shorelines produces habitats for numerous types of invertebrate animals.
The English language is polyglot, drawn from a variety of sources, and its vocabulary has been augmented by importations from throughout the world. The English language does not identify the English, for it is the main language of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, many Commonwealth countries, and the United States. The primary source of the language, however, is the main ethnic stem of the English: the Anglo-Saxons, who invaded and colonized England in the 5th and 6th centuries. Their language provides the most commonly used words in the modern English vocabulary.
In the millennia following the last glacial period, the British Isles were peopled by migrant tribes from the continent of Europe and, later, by traders from the Mediterranean area. During the Roman occupation England was inhabited by Celtic-speaking Brythons (or Britons), but the Brythons yielded to the invading Teutonic Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (from present northwestern Germany) except in the mountainous areas of western and northern Great Britain. The Anglo-Saxons preserved and absorbed little of the Roman-British culture they found in the 5th century. There are few traces of Celtic or Roman Latin in the early English of the Anglo-Saxons, though some words survive in place-names, such as the Latin castra, for “camp,” providing the suffix -cester, and combe and tor, Celtic words for “valley” and “hill.” Old Norse, the language of the Danes and Norsemen, left more extensive traces, partly because it had closer affinities to Anglo-Saxon and because the Danish occupation of large tracts of eastern and northern England was for a time deeply rooted, as some place-names show.
The history of England before the Norman Conquest is poorly documented, but what stands out is the tenacity of the Anglo-Saxons in surviving a succession of invasions. They united most of what is now England from the 9th to the mid-11th century, only to be overthrown by the Normans in 1066. For two centuries Norman French became the language of the court and the ruling nobility; yet English prevailed and by 1362 had reestablished itself as an official language. Church Latin, as well as a residue of Norman French, was incorporated into the language during this period. It was subsequently enriched by the Latin and Greek of the educated scholars of the Renaissance. The seafarers, explorers, and empire builders of modern history have imported foreign words, most copiously from Europe but also from Asia. These words have been so completely absorbed into the language that they pass unselfconsciously as English. The English, it might be said, are great Anglicizers.
The English have also absorbed and Anglicized non-English peoples, from Scandinavian pillagers and Norman conquerors to Latin church leaders. Among royalty, a Welsh dynasty of monarchs, the Tudors, was succeeded by the Scottish Stuarts, to be followed by the Dutch William of Orange and the German Hanoverians. English became the main language for the Scots, Welsh, and Irish. England provided a haven for refugees from the time of the Huguenots in the 17th century to the totalitarian persecutions of the 20th century. Many Jews have settled in England. Since World War II there has been large-scale immigration from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, posing seemingly more difficult problems of assimilation, and restrictive immigration regulations have been imposed that are out of step with the open-door policy that had been an English tradition for many generations.
Although the Church of England is formally established as the official church, with the monarch at its head, England is a highly secularized country. The Church of England has some 13,000 parishes and a similar number of clergy, but it solemnizes fewer than one-third of marriages and baptizes only one in four babies. The Nonconformist (non-Anglican Protestant) churches have nominally fewer members, but there is probably greater dedication among them, as with the Roman Catholic church. There is virtually complete religious tolerance in England and no longer any overt prejudice against Catholics. The decline in churchgoing has been thought to be an indicator of decline in religious belief, but opinion polls substantiate the view that belief in God and the central tenets of Christianity survives the flagging fortunes of the churches. Some churches—most notably those associated with the Evangelical movement—have small but growing memberships. There are also large communities of Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and Hindus.
The modern landscape of England has been so significantly changed by humans that there is virtually no genuine wilderness left. Only the remotest moorland and mountaintops have been untouched. Even the bleak Pennine moors of the north are crisscrossed by dry stone walls, and their vegetation is modified by the cropping of mountain sheep. The marks of centuries of exploitation and use dominate the contemporary landscape. The oldest traces are the antiquarian survivals, such as the Bronze Age forts studding the chalk downs of the southwest, and the corrugations left by the strip farming of medieval open fields.
More significant is the structure of towns and villages, which was established in Roman-British and Anglo-Saxon times and has persisted as the basic pattern. The English live in scattered high-density groupings, whether in villages or towns or, in modern times, cities. Although the latter sprawled into conurbations during the 19th and early 20th centuries without careful planning, the government has since limited the encroachment of urban development, and England retains extensive tracts of farming countryside between its towns, its smaller villages often engulfed in the vegetation of trees, copses, hedgerows, and fields: in a phrase of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, “the sweet especial rural scene,” which is so prominent in English literature and English art.
The visual impact of a mostly green and pleasant land can be seriously misleading. England is primarily an industrial country, built up during the Industrial Revolution by exploitation of the coalfields and cheap labour, especially in the cotton-textile areas of Lancashire, the woolen-textile areas of Yorkshire, and the coal-mining, metalworking, and engineering centres of the Midlands and the North East. England has large tracts of derelict areas, scarred by the spoil heaps of the coal mines, quarries and clay pits, abandoned industrial plants, and rundown slums.
One of the earliest initiatives to maintain the heritage of the past was the establishment in 1895 of the National Trust, a private organization dedicated to the preservation of historic places and natural beauty in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. (There is a separate National Trust for Scotland.) In 1957 the Civic Trust was established to promote interest in and action on issues of the urban environment. Hundreds of local societies dedicated to the protection of the urban environment have been set up, and many other voluntary organizations as well as government agencies are working to protect and improve the English landscape. Greenbelts have been mapped out for London and other conurbations. The quality of town life has been improved by smoke control and checks on river pollution, so effectively that the recorded sunshine in London and other major urban centres has greatly increased and the “pea soup” fogs that once characterized London have become memories of the past. Fish have returned to rivers—such as the Thames, Tyne, and Tees—from which they had been driven by industrial pollution.
Although England is a small and homogeneous country bound together by law, administration, and a comprehensive transport system, distinctive regional differences have arisen from the country’s geography and history. It was natural for different groups of the population to establish themselves in recognizable physical areas. In the north, for example, the east and west are separated by the Pennines, and the estuaries of the Humber, Thames, and Severn rivers form natural barriers. The eight traditional geographic regions—the South West, the South East (Greater London often was separated out as its own region), the West Midlands, the East Midlands, East Anglia, the North West, Yorkshire, and the North East—often were referred to as the standard regions of England, though they never served administrative functions. In the 1990s the government redrew and renamed some regions and established government development agencies for each.
THE SOUTH WEST
The South West contains the last Celtic stronghold in England, Cornwall, where a Celtic language was spoken until the 18th century. There is even a small nationalist movement, Mebyon Kernow (Sons of Cornwall), seeking to revive the old language. Although it has no political significance, the movement reflects the disenchantment of a declining area, with the exhaustion of mineral deposits toward the end of the 19th century. Cornwall and the neighbouring county of Devon share a splendid coastline, and Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks are in this part of the region. Farther east are the city of Bristol and the counties of Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Wiltshire. The last is famous for the prehistoric stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury and for associated remains dubbed “woodhenges.” Development in the manufacturing sector in the 1970s and ’80s and the growth of service activities and tourism in the 1990s contributed to the region’s significant population increase.
THE SOUTH EAST
The South East, centred on London, has a population and wealth to match many nation-states. This is the dominant area of England and the most rapidly growing one, although planning controls such as greenbelts have restricted the urban sprawl of London since the mid-20th century. While fully one-third of the South East is still devoted to farming or horticulture, the region as a whole also has an extensive range of manufacturing industry. With improvements in the transportation systems, however, nuclear and space research facilities, retailing, advertising, high-technology industries, and some services have moved to areas outside London, including Surrey, Buckinghamshire, and Hertfordshire.
With its theatres, concert halls, museums, and art galleries, London is the cultural capital of the country. It is the administrative headquarters of not only government but also many of Britain’s industrial, financial, and commercial undertakings. Moreover, it is the focus of the national transport system, acting as a hub for the United Kingdom’s international and domestic air traffic and its mainline railway network. At Tilbury, 26 miles (42 km) downstream from London proper, the Port of London Authority oversees the largest and commercially most important port facilities in Britain. Whether the people of the South East feel a regional identity is questionable. Sussex and Bedfordshire or Oxfordshire, Hampshire, and Kent have nothing much in common apart from being within the magnetic pull of London. Loyalties are more specifically to towns, such as St. Albans or Brighton, and within London there is a sense of belonging more to localities—such as Chelsea or Hampstead, which acquire something of the character of urban villages—than to the metropolis as a whole.
THE WEST MIDLANDS
Regional characteristics are stronger outside the South East. The West Midlands region, comprising the historic counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, and Warwickshire, has given its name to the metropolitan county of West Midlands, which includes the cities of Birmingham and Coventry and the Black Country (an urban area whose name reflects the coating of grime and soot afflicting the buildings of the region). With a history dating to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, the West Midland towns gained a reputation for being ugly but prosperous. However, the decline of heavy industry during the late 20th century took its toll on employment and prosperity in the region. Not exclusively an industrial area, the West Midlands includes Shakespeare country around Stratford-upon-Avon, the fruit orchards of the Vale of Evesham, and the hill country on the Welsh border.
THE EAST MIDLANDS
The East Midlands are less coherent as a region, taking in the manufacturing centres of Northampton, Leicester, Nottingham, and Derby. In broad swathes between the industrial centres lies much of England’s best farmland. Several canals in the region, including the Grand Junction and the Trent and Mersey, were used for commerce primarily from the late 18th to the early 20th century. They are now being revived, mainly for recreational use.
East Anglia retains an air of remoteness that belongs to its history. With the North Sea on its northern and eastern flanks, it was at one time almost cut off by fenland to the west (now drained) and forests (cleared long ago) to the south. In medieval times it was one of the richest wool regions and, in some parts, was depopulated to make way for sheep. It is now the centre of some of the most mechanized farming in England. Compared with other regions, East Anglia has a low population density; with rapid industrialization in cities such as Norwich and Bacton, however, this pattern is changing. Cambridge is home to one of the world’s foremost universities; Newmarket, in Suffolk, is a world-famous centre for horse racing.
THE NORTH WEST
Regions become more distinctive the farther they are from London. The North West, chronically wet and murky, comprises the geographic counties of Cumbria, Lancashire, and Cheshire and the metropolitan counties of Greater Manchester and Merseyside (including Liverpool). This region’s declining cotton-textile industry is rapidly being replaced by diversified manufacturing. The North West expresses itself in an accent of its own, with a tradition of variety-hall humour (from the classic work of George Formby and Gracie Fields to the more recent efforts of Alexie Sayle); it has also earned global renown for giving birth to British rock music, with the Beatles and other groups in Liverpool, and for football (soccer), notably with the Liverpool FC and Manchester United football clubs. However, these advantages could not hide Liverpool’s economic decline in the late 20th century. Much of the city’s prosperity was built on its port, which served transatlantic and imperial trade, but, as trade switched increasingly to Europe, Liverpool found itself on the wrong side of the country and increasingly lost business to ports in the south and east. Overall, the North West is still breaking into the new territories of modern industry, its old cotton towns symbolically overshadowed by the grim gritrock Pennine escarpments that have been stripped of their trees by two centuries of industrial smoke. Nonetheless, Manchester remains an important financial and commercial centre. Several canals traverse the region, including the Manchester Ship Canal and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The Lake District in the Cumbrian Mountains, the Solway coast, the northern Pennines, Hadrian’s Wall, and part of Yorkshire Dales National Park contribute to the scenic landscape of Cumbria.
On the east side of the Pennines watershed, the metropolitan county of West Yorkshire, including the cities of Leeds and Bradford, has a character similar to that of the industrial North West. Its prosperity formerly was based on coal and textile manufacture, and, though manufacturing remains important, West Yorkshire has diversified its economy. Indeed, Leeds has become England’s most important financial centre outside London. This region also shows a rugged independence of character expressed in a tough style of humour. Farther south, steel is concentrated at Sheffield, world-famous for its cutlery and silver plate (known as Sheffield plate). Sheffield is the cultural and service centre of the industrial metropolitan county of South Yorkshire. The region also has extensive areas of farming in North Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire, a deep-sea fishing industry operating from Hull, and tourist country along a fine coast in the east (North York Moors National Park) and in the beautiful valleys of the west (Yorkshire Dales National Park).
THE NORTH EAST
The North East extends to the Scottish border, taking in the geographic counties of Northumberland and Durham. It also includes the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear and the Teesside metropolitan area (centred on Middlesbrough) and is therefore unusually diverse. Teesside was heavily industrialized (iron and steel and shipbuilding) during the 19th century, but it has more recently become an important tourist destination along the North Sea at the edge of North York Moors National Park. Teesside also has one of the largest petrochemical complexes in Europe, and oil from the Ekofisk field in the North Sea is piped ashore there. Coal mining was formerly the biggest industry in the county of Durham, but the last mine closed by the end of the 20th century, and the emphasis is now on engineering, the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, and service industries. The local flavour of life can be found in the dialect known as Geordie and in the folk songs of Tyne and Wear and the former coal-mining villages. The city of Newcastle upon Tyne is an important industrial and commercial centre. The region also contains some of the most desolate land in England, in the Cheviot Hills along the Scottish border.
England comprises more than four-fifths of the total population of the United Kingdom. Although during the 1970s and ’80s the overall birth rate remained constant, the number of births per thousand women between the ages of 20 and 24 fell by two-fifths, the drop reflecting a trend among women to delay both marriage and childbirth. The overall death rate remained constant, but the mortality rate among young children and young adults decreased. Over the last half of the 20th century the number of people aged 65 and older almost doubled. During that same period the populations of the larger metropolitan areas, especially Greater London and Merseyside, decreased somewhat as people moved to distant outlying suburbs and rural areas. The standard regions of East Anglia, the East Midlands, the South West, and the South East (excluding Greater London) gained population, while the other standard regions all lost population. However, in the late 1990s the population of London started to climb once more, especially in the former port areas (the Docklands), where economic regeneration led to the creation of new jobs and homes.
The economy of England was mainly agricultural until the 18th century, but the Industrial Revolution caused it to evolve gradually into a highly urbanized and industrial region during the 18th and 19th centuries. Heavy industries (iron and steel, textiles, and shipbuilding) proliferated in the northeastern counties because of the proximity of coal and iron ore deposits. During the 1930s the Great Depression and foreign competition contributed to a decrease in the production of manufactured goods and an increase in unemployment in the industrial north. The unemployed from these northern counties moved south to London and the surrounding counties. The southeast became urbanized and industrialized, with automotive, chemical, electrical, and machine tool manufactures as the leading industries. An increase in population and urban growth during the 20th century caused a significant drop in the acreage of farms in England, but the geographic counties of Cornwall, Devon, Kent, Lincolnshire, Somerset, and North Yorkshire have remained largely agricultural.
Another period of industrial decline during the late 20th century brought the virtual collapse of coal mining and dramatic job losses in iron and steel production, shipbuilding, and textile manufacturing. The decline of these industries particularly hurt the economies of the north and Midlands, while the south remained relatively prosperous. By the beginning of the 21st century, England’s economy was firmly dominated by the service sector, notably banking and other financial services, retail, distribution, media and entertainment, education, health care, hotels, and restaurants.
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing The physical environment and natural resources of England are more favourable to agricultural development than those of other parts of the United Kingdom. A greater proportion of the land consists of lowlands with good soils where the climate is conducive to grass or crop growing. The majority of English farms are small, most holdings being less than 250 acres (100 hectares). Nonetheless, they are highly mechanized.
Wheat, the chief grain crop, is grown in the drier, sunnier counties of eastern and southern England. Barley is grown mainly for livestock feed and for malting and other industrial markets. Corn, rye, oats, and rapeseed (the source of canola oil) are also grown. Principal potato-growing areas are the fenlands of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Lincolnshire; the clay soils of Lincolnshire and East Riding of Yorkshire; and the peats of North Yorkshire. Sugar beet production depends heavily on government subsidy because of competition from imported cane sugar. Legumes and grasses such as alfalfa and clover are grown for feeding livestock.
The production of vegetables, fruits, and flowers, known in England as market gardening, is often done in greenhouses and is found within easy trucking distance of large towns, the proximity of a market being of more consequence than climatic considerations. The fertile (clay and limestone) soil of Kent has always been conducive to fruit growing; there cultivation was first established on a commercial scale in the 16th century. Kent is a major supplier of fruits and vegetables (apples, pears, black currants, cauliflowers, and cabbages). Worcestershire is noted for its plums, and Somerset and Devon specialize in cider apples.
The agriculture of England, though to a lesser extent than in Wales and Scotland, is primarily concerned with livestock husbandry and, in particular, with milk production. Dairying is important in every county, though the main concentrations are in western England. The English have a strong tradition of cattle breeding, which benefited greatly from improved practices after World War II. Higher-yielding dairy breeds, including the Frisian and Ayrshire, have become more numerous than the once-dominant Shorthorn.
Domestic production supplies most of the country’s beef needs. Special beef breeds, for which Britain is famous, are raised throughout the country, but long-established specialist areas retain their importance. Cattle are often moved from one region to another for raising, storing, and final fattening. The beef industry suffered costly setbacks in the late 1990s because of concerns over an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”).
The foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001 had a dire effect on the livestock industry, forcing the slaughter of several million animals—mostly sheep but also cattle, pigs, and other animals—and causing severe losses for agriculture. Although cases occurred in all parts of the country, the outbreak was particularly disastrous for Cumbria, where more than two-fifths of the cases occurred.
Hill sheep are bred in the Pennines, the Lake District, and the southwestern peninsula, areas where sheep are occasionally the main source of a farmer’s income but frequently of subsidiary importance to cattle. The production of lambs for meat rather than wool is the main concern of English sheep farmers. Grass-fed breeds, yielding lean meat, are much more important than the large breeds, raised on arable land, that were characteristic of the 19th century.
While specialist pig farms are rare, they do exist, supplying the large sausage and bacon companies. Poultry are kept in small numbers on most farms, but specialist poultry farms, notably in Lancashire and in the southeastern counties serving the London market, have increased.
Many forests in England are managed by the Forest Commission, which, besides promoting timber production, also emphasizes wildlife preservation. During the 18th and 19th centuries timber was heavily used by the iron-and-steel and shipbuilding industries. Presently demand for timber continues in construction and furniture industries, but, with the government’s afforestation program in effect, new coniferous forests are beginning to dot the landscape.
Freshwater fish, including bream, carp, perch, pike, and roach, are available in the rivers of eastern England. Cod, haddock, whiting, herring, plaice, halibut, turbot, and sole are caught in the North and Irish seas. Several ports, including Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Grimsby, Bridlington, and Fleetwood, have freezing and processing plants nearby. Oyster farms are located along the creeks and estuaries in Essex, and rainbow trout farming has become popular. Salmon fishing is prohibited in waters more than 6 miles (10 km) from the coasts of England.
Resources and power
For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, coal was England’s richest natural resource, meeting most of the nation’s requirement for energy. However, international competition, rising domestic costs, the growth of cheaper domestic alternatives (such as natural gas), and mounting environmental concerns combined to cripple the coal industry in the 1980s and ’90s. Coal production is now only one-fifth of its mid-20th-century level. New technologies and the discovery of huge reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the North Sea have further transformed the pattern of energy production. Natural gas supplies the largest proportion of England’s energy needs, followed by oil, coal, and nuclear power.
Sand, gravel, and crushed rock are widely available and provide raw materials for the construction industry. Clay and salt are found in northwestern England, and kaolin (china clay) is available in Cornwall.
About one-fifth of England’s workers are employed in manufacturing. Major industries located in the northern counties include food processing, brewing, and the manufacture of chemicals, textiles, computers, automobiles, aircraft, clothing, glass, and paper and paper products. Leading industries in southeastern England are pharmaceuticals, computers, microelectronics, aircraft parts, and automobiles.
Financial services are central to England’s economy, especially in London and the South East. A major world centre for finance, banking, and insurance, London—especially the City of London—hosts such centuries-old bodies as the Bank of England (1694), Lloyd’s (1688), and the London Stock Exchange (1773), as well as more recent arrivals. Although London dominates the sector, financial services are also important in other cities, such as Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester.
Service activities account for more than two-thirds of employment in England, largely because of the primacy of London and the importance of the financial services sector. As the national capital and a prominent cultural mecca, London also provides a vast number of jobs in government and education, as well as at its many cultural institutions. The cities of Cambridge, Ipswich, and Norwich are important service and high-technology centres, as is the “M4 corridor”—a series of towns, such as Reading and Swindon, near the M4 motorway between London and South Wales. Retailing is strong throughout the country, from ubiquitous local supermarkets to the exclusive boutiques of Mayfair in London’s West End.
Tourism also plays a significant role in England’s economy. The country’s attractions appeal to a wide variety of interests, ranging from its rich architecture, archaeology, arts, and culture to its horticulture and scenic landscape. A large number of England’s domestic vacationers opt for seaside spots such as Blackpool, Bournemouth, and Great Yarmouth. The southwestern counties, with their extensive coastline and national parks, also attract a large number of tourists. However, the seasonal and low-paid nature of many service and tourist-related jobs has kept the average income lower in the southwest than in most other parts of England. Millions of British and international tourists annually visit London attractions such as the British Museum, the National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London; still others travel beyond the capital to take in Canterbury Cathedral and York Minster.
England is well served by roads, railways, ports, and airports. During the 1980s and ’90s Britain’s trade with Europe increased sharply, and the ports in southern and southeastern England now handle significantly higher traffic than the ports of Liverpool and Manchester. Leading ports for container traffic are Felixstowe, Tilbury, Thamesport (Medway), Liverpool, and Southampton. Dover, Grimsby, and Harwich chiefly handle roll-on traffic. Major airports in and around London are Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted, which together serve more than 40 million passengers annually. Airports at Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Luton also handle significant amounts of traffic. The feasibility of a tunnel under the English Channel between England and France was first explored in the late 19th century. After lengthy debate and numerous delays, the Channel Tunnel rail link opened in 1994 between Folkestone in Kent and the French town of Sangatte near Calais.
Highways radiate from London in all directions, and the increase in traffic is visible in the congested highways. London, other large cities, and towns are linked by an efficient network of trains. Several high-speed freight trains serve the major industrial centres. London’s Underground train system, the “Tube,” covers some 250 route miles (400 km). Inland waterways were developed during the 17th and 18th centuries, mainly to carry bulky raw materials such as coal, iron ore, and limestone between the industrial centres of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Kingston upon Hull, Birmingham, and London. By the end of the 18th century, a “cross” system of canals connected the Thames, Humber, Mersey, and Severn estuaries. Most canals are now in disuse.
For further discussion of the economy of England, see the economy sections of the article United Kingdom.
Government and society
England itself does not have a formal government or constitution, and a specifically English role in contemporary government and politics is hard to identify in any formal sense, for these operate on a nationwide British basis. Historically, the English may be credited with the evolution of Parliament, which, in its medieval form, was related to the Anglo-Saxon practice of regular gatherings of notables. The English may also be credited with the glory of the Revolution of 1688, which affirmed the rule of law, parliamentary control of taxation and of the army, freedom of speech, and religious toleration. Freedom of speech and opinion with proper opportunities for reasonable debate form part of the English tradition, but the development of party and parliamentary government in its modern forms took place after the Act of Union of 1707, when, in politics, the history of England became the history of Britain. Unlike Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, each of which has its own assembly or parliament, regional government does not exist in England.
England has a distinct system of local government, which has evolved over the centuries. The shires, or historic counties, that developed during Anglo-Saxon times persisted as geographic, cultural, and administrative units for about a thousand years. In 1888 the Local Government Act regularized the administrative functions of the counties and redrew some of the boundaries of the historic counties to create new administrative counties, including the county of London, formed from parts of the historic counties of Middlesex, Surrey, and Kent.
Further local government reforms during the 1960s and ’70s brought new changes to the boundaries of the administrative counties, many of which lost area to the seven new metropolitan counties, including Greater London. Each of these counties comprised several lower-level districts or boroughs. In 1986 Greater London and the metropolitan counties lost their administrative powers, which passed to their constituent boroughs. During the 1990s another round of local government reorganization brought a further reduction in the area of the administrative counties. Parts of many former administrative counties gained administrative autonomy as unitary authorities—a new kind of administrative unit. Many, but not all, of the new unitary authorities are urban areas. Thus, the combined effect of 20th-century local government reforms was to separate most of England’s major urban areas from the traditional county structure. However, for ceremonial and statistical purposes, the government created a new entity during the 1990s—the ceremonial, or geographic, county. Each geographic county either is coterminous with a metropolitan county or encompasses one or more unitary authorities, often together with the administrative county with which they are historically associated. Greater London regained some of its administrative powers in 2000.
Local governments have few legislative powers and must act within the framework of laws passed by Parliament. They do have the power to enact regulations and to levy property taxes within limits set by the central government. In addition, they are responsible for a range of community services, including environmental matters, education, highways and traffic, social services, firefighting, sanitation, planning, housing, parks and recreation, and elections.
England’s internal subdivisions and administrative units include distinct historic, geographic, and administrative counties; districts; unitary authorities; metropolitan counties and boroughs; and other specialized entities.
Every part of England lies within one of 39 historic counties, which lack any current administrative function. Some current administrative counties carry the names of historic counties, although their boundaries no longer correspond exactly. Despite their loss of administrative function, historic counties continue to serve as a focus for local identity, and cultural institutions such as sporting associations are often organized by historic county.
For ceremonial purposes, every part of England belongs to one of 47 geographic, or ceremonial, counties, which are distinct from the historic counties. The monarch appoints a lord lieutenant and a high sheriff to represent each geographic county. Because every part of England falls within one of these counties, they serve as statistical and geographic units. Some geographic counties are coterminous with metropolitan counties (including Greater London). For every administrative county, there is a geographic county of the same name that includes the entire administrative county; however, some geographic counties are not associated with administrative counties. Geographic counties may also include one or more unitary authorities.
ADMINISTRATIVE COUNTIES AND DISTRICTS
There are currently 27 administrative counties in England, and many of them carry the same names as historic counties. However, unlike the latter, administrative counties do not cover the entirety of English territory; moreover, their government structure is considered two-tiered, as they are subdivided into lower-level units known as districts, boroughs, or cities. Government at the county level is responsible for large-scale urban planning, highways and traffic, firefighting, refuse disposal, education, libraries, social services, and consumer protection. The second-tier units (districts, including those designated as boroughs or cities) are responsible for local planning, public health, environmental matters, refuse collection, recreation, and voter registration.
England currently contains 56 administrative units called unitary authorities, so named because, unlike administrative counties, they are not subdivided into districts, boroughs, or cities but instead constitute a single tier of local government. Unitary authorities are responsible for all the administrative functions of both administrative counties and districts within counties. Some cities in England are designated as unitary authorities.
METROPOLITAN COUNTIES AND DISTRICTS
There are 36 metropolitan districts, which are subdivisions of the six metropolitan counties in England, not including Greater London. Each metropolitan county is divided into several metropolitan districts, which are like unitary authorities in that they handle all local government administrative functions. The metropolitan counties formerly had administrative functions similar to the administrative counties, but those functions passed in 1986 to their constituent metropolitan boroughs. The metropolitan counties now survive only as geographic and statistical units, and they also serve as ceremonial counties.
Greater London is a unique administrative unit. Like other metropolitan counties, it lost most of its administrative functions in 1986 to its constituent boroughs. However, because of Greater London’s special status as national capital, the central government of the United Kingdom assumed direct responsibility for other functions usually performed by local governments. In 2000 the metropolitan area regained some of its administrative powers. The new Greater London Authority, comprising a directly elected mayor and a 25-member assembly, assumed some of the responsibilities in London previously handled by the central government—notably transport, planning, police, and other emergency services.
Greater London consists of 32 boroughs and the City of London, which is a 1-square-mile (2.6-square-km) area at the core of London whose boundaries have changed little since the Middle Ages. It is now the site of London’s financial district. The City is one of the constituent parts of Greater London, but it has rights and privileges that are distinct from the 32 boroughs, including its own lord mayor, who is not to be confused with the mayor of Greater London. The boroughs and the City of London retain separate responsibility for local government functions other than large-scale planning, transport, and emergency services.
PARISHES AND TOWNS
Parish and town councils form the lowest tier of local government in England. Parishes are civil subdivisions, usually centred on a village or small town, that are distinct from church bodies. They have the power to assess “precepts” (surcharges) on local rates (property taxes), and they possess a range of other rights and duties, including participation in regional planning and maintenance of commons and recreational facilities.
The English have given the world, notably North America and much of the Commonwealth, the system of English law that has acquired a status and universality to match Roman law. English law has its origins in Anglo-Saxon times, and two of its hallmarks are its preference for customary law (the common law) rather than statute law and its system of application by locally appointed part-time magistrates, by locally chosen juries, and by the traveling judges going from one county town (seat) to another on circuit. The Anglo-Saxon system was retained under the Normans but formalized; for example, beginning in the 13th century, case law was recorded to provide uniform precedents. In modern times there has been a greater reliance on the statute law contained in the thousands of acts of Parliament, but there are more than 300,000 recorded cases to turn to for precedent. Other aspects of English law are the fundamental assumption that an accused person is deemed innocent until proved guilty and the independence of the judiciary from intervention by crown or government in the judicial process.
The legal system is divided into civil and criminal courts. The House of Lords was the ultimate court of appeal for both civil and criminal cases brought through the High Court or the Court of Appeal until 2009, when that function was taken over by the newly established Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. In 1971 the Crown Court replaced the individual courts (quarter sessions and assizes), and it is now a single court that may sit anywhere in England, deal with any trial on indictment, and hear appeals and proceedings either on a sentence or on civil matters. At the base of the criminal court system, the magistrates’ courts hear all but a tiny proportion of criminal cases.
All citizens at least 18 years of age are eligible to vote in elections, and elections in England are contested at three levels: local, national, and supranational. Local councillors are elected for four-year terms. All British citizens residing in England are eligible to vote in local elections, as are residents from other countries of the European Union (EU). England elects four-fifths (more than 500) of the members of the House of Commons, the legislature of the United Kingdom. Each member represents a single geographic constituency. Elections to the House of Commons are held at least once every five years, and voting is restricted to British citizens. Voters also select members of the European Parliament once every five years through a system of proportional representation; non-British EU citizens residing in England are eligible to participate in such elections.
The Conservative and Labour parties have tended to dominate the political process, leading most analysts to describe the country as having the archetypal two-party system. However, since the 1970s, minor parties have played a more important role in English elections, especially at the local level, and in the early 21st century the Liberal Democrats, the principal minor party, began making big electoral gains, as did the Euroskeptic United Kingdom Independence Party. There is a definite north-south split in party loyalties. The Labour Party is strong in northern England and in urban areas throughout the country; the Conservatives have dominated politics in much of the south (excluding London); and the Liberal Democrats are particularly competitive in southwestern England, replacing Labour as the main opposition to the Conservative Party in many local and national elections.
Health and welfare
Improvements in health care are reflected by the increase in longevity for people in England. Life expectancy increased since 1960 from 68 years to about 75 for males and from 74 years to nearly 80 for females by the early 21st century. Coronary heart disease and cancer are the major causes of death among men aged 50 and older and also among women aged 40 and older. Although certain infectious diseases such as poliomyelitis and tuberculosis have virtually disappeared, the incidence of whooping cough and acute meningococcal meningitis has increased among children in England.
The National Health Service, an organ of the central government, provides comprehensive medical services for every resident of England. Doctors, dentists, opticians, and pharmacists work within the service as independent contractors. Social services are provided through local-authority social service departments. The services are directed toward children and young people, low-income families, the unemployed, the disabled, the mentally ill, and the elderly. Several religious organizations provide help and advice as well. The National Insurance Scheme insures individuals against loss of income because of unemployment, maternity, and long-term illnesses. It provides retirement pensions, widows’ and maternity benefits, child and guardian allowances, and benefits for job-related injuries or death.
Because of the influx of immigrants from Commonwealth countries and from rural areas in England, London and other cities throughout the country have sometimes experienced severe housing shortages. Historically, a significant proportion of people lived in public housing built by local governments. During the 1980s and ’90s home ownership throughout the United Kingdom (and particularly in England) increased significantly, as the government passed legislation encouraging public housing tenants to purchase their units. Whereas in the 1950s about 30 percent of homes were owner-occupied, by the end of the 20th century the figure had risen to about 70 percent of houses in England. Although home ownership increased substantially in all regions, it was lowest in London (about three-fifths) and highest in the South East (about three-quarters). Still, about one-fifth of all tenants live in public housing. During the 1990s the government allocated significant resources to modernize public housing and reduce crime in housing estates. Homelessness has been a particular problem, especially in London.
In England the Department for Education is responsible for all levels of education. Universities, however, are self-governing and depend on the central government only for financial grants. Education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16. About one-third of primary and secondary schools in England are administered by Anglican or Roman Catholic voluntary organizations. More than four-fifths of the secondary-school population (children aged 11 through 18) within the government’s school system attend state-funded comprehensive schools, in which admission is not based on aptitude alone; the remainder attend grammar schools (founded on the principle of teaching grammar [meaning Latin] to boys), secondary modern schools (few of which remain), or one of the growing number of specialist schools (such as City Technology Colleges). Tertiary colleges offer a full range of vocational and academic courses to students aged 16 and older. A new type of state-funded school, the academy, was introduced under Prime Minister Tony Blair and expanded under the government led by David Cameron. Academies, which typically have taken the place of underperforming schools, receive their funding directly from the central government and are not subject to the direction and policies of the local authority. Free schools operate with the same autonomy but are new start-up schools rather than replacement schools. Independent schools also provide both primary and secondary education but charge tuition. In large cities a large number of independent schools are run by ethnic and religious communities.
The so-called public schools, which are actually private, are often categorized as independent schools. They came to be known as “public schools” in the mid 19th century, when they widened their intake from purely local scholars and provided residential “boarding” places for pupils from farther afield. Although their fees were beyond the reach of all but the richest families, these schools were in principle open to the public, and the term has survived into the modern era. Most public schools continue to be residential, are privately financed, and provide education to children aged 11 through 19. Important public schools for boys include Eton (the oldest; established 1440–41), Harrow, Winchester, and Westminster; notable public schools for girls include Cheltenham, Roedean, and Wycombe Abbey.
At the completion of secondary education, students (in both privately and publicly funded schools) receive the General Certificate of Secondary Education if they achieve the required grades in examinations and course-work assessments.
More than half of England’s young adults receive some form of postsecondary education through colleges and universities. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge date from the 12th and 13th centuries, and both have university presses that are among the oldest printing and publishing houses in the world. There are scores of universities in England, some of which are referred to as “red brick” universities. These were founded in the late 19th or early 20th century in the industrial cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Bristol and were constructed of red brick, as contrasted with the stone construction of the buildings of Oxford and Cambridge. During the 1990s the number of universities doubled, with locally run polytechnics being redesignated as full universities. A continuing education program of the Open University (1969), in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, offers course work through correspondence and the electronic media.
England’s contribution to both British and world culture is too vast for anything but a cursory survey here. Historically, England was a very homogeneous country and developed coherent traditions, but, especially as the British Empire expanded and the country absorbed peoples from throughout the globe, English culture has been accented with diverse contributions from Afro-Caribbeans, Asians, Muslims, and other immigrant groups. Other parts of the United Kingdom have experienced the same social and cultural diversification, with the result that England is not always distinguishable from Wales and Scotland or even Northern Ireland. The former insularity of English life has been replaced by a cosmopolitan familiarity with all things exotic: fish and chips have given way to Indian, Chinese, and Italian cuisine, guitar-based rock blends with South Asian rap and Afro-Caribbean salsa, and the English language itself abounds in neologisms drawn from nearly every one of the world’s tongues.
Even as England has become ever more diverse culturally, it continues to exert a strong cultural influence on the rest of the world. English music, film, and literature enjoy wide audiences overseas, and the English language has gained ever-increasing currency as the preferred international medium of cultural and economic exchange.
Historically, English daily life and customs were markedly different in urban and rural areas. Indeed, much of English literature and popular culture has explored the tension between town and country and between farm and factory. Today, even though the English are among the world’s most cosmopolitan and well-traveled people, ties to the rural past remain strong. Urbanites, for example, commonly retire to villages and country cottages, and even the smallest urban dwelling is likely to have a garden.
Another divide, though one that is fast disappearing, is the rigid class system that long made it difficult for nonaristocratic individuals to rise to positions of prominence in commerce, government, and education. Significant changes have accompanied the decline of the class system, which also had reinforced distinctions between town and country and between the less affluent north of England and the country’s wealthy south. For example, whereas in decades past English radio was renowned for its “proper” language, the country’s airwaves now carry accents from every corner of the country and its former empire, and the wealthy are likely to enjoy the same elements of popular culture as the less advantaged.
Many holidays in England, such as Christmas, are celebrated throughout the world, though the traditional English Christmas is less a commercial event than an opportunity for singing and feasting. Remembrance Day (November 11) honours British soldiers who died in World War I. Other remembrances are unique to England and are nearly inexplicable to outsiders. For example, Guy Fawkes Night (November 5) commemorates a Roman Catholic conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, and Saint George’s Day (April 23) honours England’s patron saint—though the holiday is barely celebrated at all in England, in marked contrast to the celebrations in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland for their respective patron saints. Indeed, the lack of official celebration for Saint George contributes to the ambiguity of “Englishness” and whether it can now be distinguished from “Britishness.” The monarch’s official birthday is also observed nationally and commemorated in the summer by a military parade called Trooping the Colour, which has been celebrated since the 18th century.
English cuisine has traditionally been based on beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and fish, all cooked with the minimum of embellishment and generally served with potatoes and one other vegetable—or, in the case of fish (most commonly cod or haddock) deep-fried in batter and served with deep-fried potato slices (chips). Fish and chips, traditionally wrapped in old newspapers to keep warm on the journey home, has long been one of England’s most popular carryout dishes. By convention, at least for middle-income households, the main family meal of the week was the “Sunday joint,” when a substantial piece of beef, lamb, or pork was roasted in the oven during the morning and served around midday. In the 1950s and ’60s, however, these traditions started to change. Immigrants from India and Hong Kong arrived with their own distinctive cuisine, and Indian and Chinese restaurants became a familiar sight in every part of England. By the 1980s, American-style fast-food restaurants dotted the landscape, and the rapid post-World War II growth of holiday travel to Europe, particularly to France, Spain, Greece, and Italy, exposed the English to new foods, flavours, and ingredients, many of which found their way into a new generation of recipe books that filled the shelves of the typical English kitchen.
The arts LITERATURE
In its literature, England arguably has attained its most influential cultural expression. For more than a millennium, each stage in the development of the English language has produced its masterworks.
Little is known of English literature before the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons, though echoes of England’s Celtic past resound in Arthurian legend. Anglo-Saxon literature, written in the Old English language, is remarkably diverse. Its surviving corpus includes hymns, lyric poems such as The Wanderer and The Seafarer, riddles and spells, songs, and the epic poem Beowulf, which dates from the 9th or 10th century. Following the Norman Conquest of 1066, French influence shaped the vocabulary as well as the literary preoccupations of Middle English. Geoffrey Chaucer epitomized both the courtly philosophical concerns and the earthy vernacular of this period in his Troilus and Criseyde and The Canterbury Tales, respectively, while William Langland’s Piers Plowman was an early expression of the religious and political dissent that would later characterize English literature. The Elizabethan era of the late 16th century fostered the flowering of the European Renaissance in England and the golden age of English literature. The plays of William Shakespeare, while on their surface representing the culmination of Elizabethan English, achieve a depth of characterization and richness of invention that have fixed them in the dramatic repertoire of virtually every language. The publication of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 infused the literature of the period with both religious imagery and a remarkably vigorous language, and it served as an important instrument for the spread of literacy throughout England. Political and religious conflicts of the 17th century provided a backdrop for a wealth of poetry, ranging from the metaphysical introspections of John Donne to the visionary epics of John Milton, in addition to the prose allegory Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.
The dichotomy of Classicism and Romanticism as well as of reason and imagination came to dominate the 18th century, with the Neoclassical satire and criticism of Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, and Samuel Johnson on the one hand and the somewhat later Romantic self-expression of William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and John Keats on the other. Also during this period, the novel emerged as a form capable of bringing everyday life into the province of literature, as can be seen in the work of Jane Austen. At roughly this point, the distinctive regions of England began to exert a powerful influence on many writers—such as the Lake District on Wordsworth, the Yorkshire moors on the Brontë sisters (Anne, Charlotte, and Emily), Dorset on Thomas Hardy, the Midlands coalfields on D.H. Lawrence, and London on Charles Dickens. In the mid to late 19th century, English literature increasingly addressed social concerns, yielding the utopian writings of William Morris and Samuel Butler, the psychological analysis of George Eliot, the realistic novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, and the nationalistic stories and fables of Rudyard Kipling. Many writers also found a new audience in children, giving rise to work such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and generating later classics such as Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit stories, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and even, it can be argued, the late 20th-century work of J.K. Rowling.
English literature in the 20th century was remade by native writers such as Virginia Woolf. It also absorbed and transmuted alien elements, taking into the mainstream of its tradition poets as Irish as William Butler Yeats, as Welsh as Dylan Thomas, or as securely in the classic line as the American expatriates T.S. Eliot and Henry James. Popular novelists such as Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Dick Francis, and John Le Carré fed the English love for mysteries and police procedurals, while poets W.H. Auden, Ted Hughes, and Philip Larkin brought a new approach to questions of personal relationships, and novelists Anthony Burgess, Graham Greene, and Kingsley Amis dealt with moral ambiguities and modern dilemmas. Many others, including Iris Murdoch and Martin Amis, worked in a well-established comic or satiric vein. Immigration continued to diversify England’s literary landscape, producing writers such as V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, and Kazuo Ishiguro. (For further discussion, see English literature.)
English architecture has varied significantly by location, according to readily available building materials. The typical Cotswold village, for example, consists of structures of the local silvery limestone with slate roofs. A honey-coloured stone was much used in Oxford, and a rusty ironstone is typical in northern Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire, along the line of an ironstone belt. Half-timber framing and thatch roofing are characteristic of the river valleys, and excellent clay provides the warm red brick of southern England. The ease with which cheap but nonnative materials can now be transported is to be blamed for many jarring intrusions into the harmonious towns and villages originally built mainly of local materials.
Stylistically, English architecture has been much influenced from abroad, but foreign styles take on an English aspect. The Gothic architecture of France was transformed into a characteristically English style by the delicate use of stone to provide a framework for walls that were almost all glass, culminating in triumphs of the Perpendicular style, such as King’s College Chapel at Cambridge. The European Renaissance influenced the buildings of Christopher Wren, yet his many London churches seem essentially English; though Wren’s work was derided as old-fashioned when he was alive, the buildings are now considered among England’s greatest architectural accomplishments. Similarly, the magnificent country houses of the 18th century are not mere importations of a foreign fashion but fit their landscape; and many such landscapes were designed by the great English garden and park designers William Kent, Lancelot (“Capability”) Brown, and Humphry Repton. This type of collaboration can be seen in the later work of Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll.
Many urban slums and industrial structures have been earmarked for demolition, but much contemporary building that is adequate for habitation or work is drearily uninspired. Still, England continues to produce high-calibre internationally known architects such as James Stirling and Norman Foster. The reconstruction of the World War II-damaged city areas provided opportunities for notable new architecture, and some original design and construction was undertaken; examples include the Barbican scheme in a large bombed area in London, north of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Royal National Theatre on the south bank of the Thames. Among London’s more notable modern buildings are the headquarters for Lloyd’s in the City and the controversial Millennium Dome at Greenwich, which at its completion in 1999 was the largest enclosed space in the world. Outside London, notable projects include the Coventry precinct and cathedral by Sir Basil Spence, the Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool, designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd, and a batch of new universities founded during the 1960s, such as those near Brighton, Canterbury, Colchester, Norwich, and York.
Increasingly, however, architects have sought to modernize or imitate old structures, rather than design completely new ones. Thus the building that housed the Covent Garden flower market has become one of London’s most visited arcades, containing shops, restaurants, and informal entertainment; a power station on the south bank of the Thames has been converted into Tate Modern, the world’s largest modern art gallery; and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has been rebuilt of materials like those of the original and to the specifications of the original design. London’s riverside, like that of many other cities, has been transformed by the conversion of old buildings, especially warehouses, into modern homes and apartments.
Immigration, too, has changed the architectural look of England, especially with the many new non-Christian houses of worship that have been built. Hundreds of Hindu temples and Muslim mosques have been established throughout the country since World War II, and some of them, such as the Hindu temple constructed in the 1990s north of London in Neasden, have generated much commentary—both praise and criticism for their sheer size and ornateness.
VISUAL ARTS SCULPTURE
Apart from traces of decoration on standing stones and the “transplanted” art of Roman occupation, the history of sculpture in England is rooted in the Christian church. Monumental crosses of carved stone, similar to the Celtic crosses of Ireland, represent the earliest sculpture of Anglo-Saxon Christians. The tradition of relief carving attained its highest expression in the stonework of the Gothic cathedrals, such as that at Wells (c. 1225–40).
The influences of Renaissance and Baroque sculpture on the Continent were slow to reach England. What borrowings there were prior to the 18th century remained ill-conceived and crudely executed. From the 1730s, however, the presence of first-rate foreign artists, together with the flowering of archaeology and the resulting accessibility of antique art, brought a new refinement to English sculpture. The Roman influence that precipitated Neoclassicism gave way in England to the Greek with the arrival of the Parthenon sculptures, known as the Elgin Marbles, which were taken from the temple and sold to the British Museum in the early 1800s. While the Romantic movement of the 19th century, which assailed the academic restraint of Neoclassicism in all the arts, invested continental sculpture with an increasing subjectivity, as well as a broader range of subject matter, the sculptors of England pursued a more conservative path. Many free-standing public monuments—the descendants of sepulchral effigies—date from this period. Not until the 20th century did English sculptors break free of traditional bounds and attain a deeply personal mode of expression. The sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth both came from Yorkshire, and something of the quality of moorland stone can be seen in their work. In 1998 the largest sculpture ever executed in Britain was unveiled—Angel of the North, created by Antony Gormley. Made of steel, 65 feet (20 metres) high, and with a 169-foot (52-metre) span, it dominates the skyline near Gateshead, south of the River Tyne.
Painting in England emerged under the auspices of the church. From the 8th to the 14th century the illumination of Gospel manuscripts developed from essentially abstract decoration derived from Celtic motifs to self-contained pictorial illustration more in keeping with the style of the European continent. In the 15th century, Italian innovations in perspective and composition began to appear in English work. The advent of printing during this period, however, rendered the labour-intensive illumination increasingly rare. English painting remained largely unaffected by the concerns of the Renaissance, and it was not until the 1630s, when Charles I employed the Flemish Baroque painters Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck in his court, that a broader artistic current reached England’s shores. Even so, provincial themes and the genres of portrait and landscape continued to preoccupy English painters for the next 150 years.
The foundation of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768 provided a focal point for the currents of Neoclassicism in English architecture, sculpture, and painting. Under the aegis of the academy, painters rendered historical and mythological subjects with a bold linear clarity. Just as the strictures of Neoclassicism developed partly in reaction to the excesses of the Baroque and Rococo, Romanticism emerged partly in defiance of academic formality. Classical antiquity, however, particularly in its ruined state, continued to provide themes and imagery. The works of the poet and painter William Blake epitomize the spiritual preoccupations of the period. Advances in science inspired a renewed artistic interest in the natural world. John Constable and J.M.W. Turner anticipated the French Impressionist movement by more than half a century in their landscape paintings charged with light and atmosphere. The early Romantic fascination with biblical and medieval themes resurged in the mid 19th century among the so-called Pre-Raphaelite painters, who combined technical precision with explicit moral content.
The emergence of the artist-craftsman, as exemplified by the Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones and the designer and social theorist William Morris, brought new vigour to the decorative arts in England. Their successors exhibited a strong affinity for the Continental Art Nouveau movement. Notable 20th-century English painters included R.B. Kitaj (born in the United States), Bridget Riley, David Hockney, Peter Blake, Francis Bacon (born in Dublin of English parents), and Gilbert and George.
PERFORMING ARTS THEATRE
Theatre is probably the performing art for which England is best known. Theatrical performance as such emerged during the Middle Ages in the form of mumming plays, which borrowed elements from wandering entertainers, traditional and ancient folk agricultural rituals, and dances such as the Morris dance (with its set character parts). Under the influence of Christianity, mumming plays gradually were absorbed by mystery plays (centred on the Passion of Christ).
In the 16th century, when England’s King Henry VIII rejected Rome and formed a national church, Latin theatrical traditions also were rejected; consequently, the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages forged a distinctive tradition and produced some extraordinary and highly influential playwrights, particularly Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson. A later influence on theatre in England was the rise in the 19th century of the actor-manager, the greatest being Henry Irving.
That England remains one of the foremost contributors to world theatre can be seen in its lively theatrical institutions, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company (1864; reorganized in 1961 by Peter Hall), the Royal National Theatre (1962), regional theatres such as the Bristol Old Vic, and the great number of theatres that flourish in London’s celebrated West End district. Moreover, throughout the 20th century the works of English playwrights were much acclaimed: from Noël Coward’s bittersweet plays of the 1930s to the “kitchen sink” dramas of the 1950s by the Angry Young Men, such as John Osborne, to the more recent contributions of Harold Pinter, Edward Bond, David Hare, Howard Brenton, Alan Ayckbourn, Tom Stoppard, and Caryl Churchill and the musical extravaganzas of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Similarly, English actors, many of them trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, continue to be among the world’s best-known. Many are skilled dramatic actors, but just as many are comic. Honed on the stages in the music-hall tradition, English comedy—from the lowbrow humour of Benny Hill to the more cerebral work of Rowan Atkinson, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, and the Monty Python group—has been one of the country’s most successful cultural exports. (See also theatre, history of.)
England’s contributions to motion pictures date from the experiments with cinematography by William Friese-Greene in the late 19th century, but, because Britain presented a natural market for American English-language films, the British film industry was slow in developing. The Cinematograph Film Act of 1927 required that an escalating percentage of films shown in Britain be made domestically; as a result, during the 1930s there was a dramatic increase in British productions and the emergence of “quota quickies,” films made in England with Hollywood control and financing. During this period Alfred Hitchcock emerged as England’s first great film director with early classics such as The Thirty-nine Steps (1935) and Sabotage (1936).
In the 1940s and early ’50s a series of social comedies made by Ealing Studios, including films such as Kind Hearts and Coronets and Passport to Pimlico, brought further international acclaim to the British film industry. The Pinewood and Elstree movie studios also produced dozens of films, from low-budget horror films to the avant-garde work of Richard Lester. In contrast to the lavish films of David Lean and Michael Powell from this period, a movement of social-realist films emerged in the 1960s; rooted in the Free Cinema documentary movement and borrowing from the Angry Young Men school of British literature and drama, films by directors such as Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz, and Tony Richardson kept alive a British film industry that was increasingly becoming a satellite of the United States, which provided much of the funding for “English” films such as the James Bond series.
In the 1980s the productions of David Puttnam and the collaborations of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory led a resurgence of British moviemaking, which continued into the 21st century with the quintessentially English films of Hugh Hudson, Kenneth Branagh, Mike Leigh, and Ken Loach. In addition, Nick Park’s pioneering animated shorts and feature films, such as the Wallace and Gromit series and Chicken Run (2000), garnered international renown. The nearness of film studios to the London stage allows directors and actors to pursue careers in both mediums to an extent unknown in the United States. Their work is also supported by the highly active Film Council, a government board that works with the public and private sectors to ensure the viability of the English film industry. (For further discussion, see motion picture.)
The beginnings of art music in England can be traced to plainsong (plainchant). With the aid of monks and troubadours traveling throughout Europe, musical forms of many regions were freely intermingled and spread quickly. In the 16th and 17th centuries, England produced many notable composers, among them John Dowland, Thomas Morley, Thomas Tallis, and, perhaps greatest of all, William Byrd. The musical stature of the Baroque composers Henry Purcell and George Frideric Handel remains unquestioned. Music in England reached another peak in the late 19th century, when comic opera attained near perfection in the work of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Later significant composers include Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, William Walton, and Benjamin Britten.
Opera is regularly performed by the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, London, by the English National Opera, and by other companies. A world-renowned opera festival is held annually at Glyndebourne, and music festivals of many other types thrive. England also has a number of orchestras, chamber groups, choruses, and cathedral choirs. The Sir Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, popularly known as the “Proms” and sponsored by the British Broadcasting Corporation, play nightly from July to September at London’s Royal Albert Hall, forming the largest regular classical music festival in the world.
English folk music—exemplified by ballads, sea chanteys, children’s game songs, carols, and street cries—has had a tremendous influence on the folk music, and even the hymnody, of the United States, Canada, and other former colonies; periodic revivals, especially in the late 1960s and mid-1990s, helped to keep English folk music before a broad public. Drawing on the folk and classical traditions alike, anthems such as “God Save the Queen”, “Jerusalem,” and “Land of Hope and Glory” are held in great affection. However, 20th-century British popular music, especially rock music, had even more visible impact on world culture. Beginning in the 1950s with skiffle groups, young Britons began borrowing from American blues, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll to create their own version of each. By the mid-1960s, English “beat” groups such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and the Who had burst onto the world stage; in the United States their sensational popularity was labeled the British Invasion. Thereafter, rock and pop music remained among Britain’s main cultural exports, marked by the international popularity of Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and Pink Floyd in the 1970s and punk groups such as the Sex Pistols and the Clash later in the decade; performers as various as the Police, the Smiths, Boy George, the Spice Girls, Oasis, Blur, and Radiohead in the 1980s and ’90s; and the techno music of the turn of the century.
Closely associated with song in folk tradition, folk dances have their origins in many of the same sources—mummers’ dances, masques, and assorted ancient rituals of birth, courtship, war, death, and rebirth. In England remnants of early forms of sword dances, Morris dances, and country dances remain popular participatory entertainment. From the 14th to the 17th century, performance-oriented dances, including court dances and dances developed for the stage, were much in evidence in more sophisticated circles of society. Although dancing masters and ballet as such were in existence from the 18th century, a native impulse toward the ballet really began to take hold in England only in the early 20th century, when Irish-born Ninette de Valois and Lilian Baylis established the Vic-Wells Ballet (now the Royal Ballet) and Marie Rambert formed the Ballet Club (now Dance Rambert). These highly talented women fostered ballet and its offshoot, modern dance. With their leadership, England advanced to the forefront of dance in the 20th century, producing internationally known artists such as Frederick Ashton, Anton Dolin, Margot Fonteyn, Kenneth MacMillan, Alicia Markova, Bronisława Nijinska, and Antony Tudor.
All manner of general and esoteric societies, institutions, museums, and foundations can be found in England. One of its more prestigious learned societies is the Royal Society (1660), which awards fellowships, medals, and endowed lectureships based on scientific and technological achievements. The British Museum contains a wealth of archaeological and ethnographic specimens; its extensive library—containing ancient and medieval manuscripts and papyruses—was merged in 1973 with several other holdings to form the British Library, which was in turn relocated to a new structure near St. Pancras Station, in London, in the late 1990s. The Zoological Society of London maintains the London Zoo and also conducts research, publishes journals, and supports a large zoological library. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, are significant both as a research institute and as one of England’s many places of great natural beauty. There are also notable libraries at the University of Cambridge and at the University of Oxford (the Bodleian Library).
Art galleries abound in England. The best-known are based in London and include the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, two Tate galleries—Tate Britain (with superb collections of John Constable and the Pre-Raphaelites) and Tate Modern—and the Wallace Collection.
Sports and recreation
Although England has a lively cultural life, its characteristic pursuits are of a more popular kind. The exploitation of leisure is increasingly the concern of commerce: foreign holiday package tours, gambling of many kinds (from bingo to horse-race and political betting), and the transformation of the traditional English pub by trendy interior decoration. The English weekend is the occasion for countryside trips and for outdoor activities from fishing to mountaineering. England gave to the world the sports of cricket, football (soccer), and rugby football but now seldom shines at any of these in international competitions. Among the most popular sports and recreational activities in which the English participate are angling, basketball, snooker, and swimming. Yet the most commonly accepted leisure activities are those connected with the home, including both traditional and more modern, electronic distractions. Domestic comforts, epitomized in the cozy charm of cottages and gardens and the pervasive ritual of afternoon tea, continue to figure prominently in the character of English life. (For further discussion, including details on sporting culture, see United Kingdom: Cultural life.)
Media and publishing
Centred in London, the broadcasting and print media in England are vast and exercise influence not only within England and the United Kingdom but throughout the world. Daily newspapers published in London include The Times, one of the world’s oldest newspapers; The Sun, a tabloid that is the country’s most widely read paper, with circulation in the millions; the The Daily Telegraph; and The Guardian (also published in Manchester). Major regional dailies include the Manchester Evening News, the Wolverhampton Express and Star, the Nottingham Evening Post, and the Yorkshire Post. Periodicals, such as The Economist, also exert considerable international influence.
The history of England is given in the article United Kingdom.
Many sources deal with Great Britain or the United Kingdom rather than with England exclusively. Britain: The Official Yearbook of the United Kingdom (annual) is a useful general reference. A.E. Trueman, Geology and Scenery in England and Wales, new ed., rev. by J.B. Whittow and J.R. Hardy (1971), is a detailed and illustrated interpretation of the physical geography. Paul Coones and John Patten, The Penguin Guide to the Landscape of England and Wales (1986); and J.A. Steers, The Sea Coast, 4th ed. (1969), are also useful. Studies of rural conditions include Joe Cornish, David Noton, and Paul Wakefield, The Countryside of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (also published as Countryside: A Photographic Tour of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, 1998); Victor Bonham-Carter, The Survival of the English Countryside (1971; also published as Land and Environment: The Survival of the English Countryside, 1973); and Howard Newby, Green and Pleasant Land?: Social Change in Rural England (1979, reissued 1985).
Historical geography is discussed in W.G. Hoskins, The Making of the English Landscape, rev. ed. (1988, reprinted 1992); and R.A. Dodgshon and R.A. Butlin (eds.), An Historical Geography of England and Wales, 2nd ed. (1990). Robin H. Best and J.T. Coppock, The Changing Use of Land in Britain (1962); and Robert Arvill, Man and Environment: Crisis and the Strategy of Choice, 5th ed. (1983), discuss the geographic impact of industrialization. The development of regional economic differences is traced in Jim Lewis and Alan Townsend (eds.), The North-South Divide: Regional Change in Britain in the 1980s (1989); and Helen M. Jewell, The North-South Divide: The Origins of Northern Consciousness in England (1994).
Governmental organization and politics are treated in Dennis Kavanagh, British Politics: Continuities and Change, 4th ed. (2000); Richard Rose, Politics in England: Change and Persistence, 5th ed. (1989); Ian Budge et al., The New British Politics (1998); Jeremy Paxman, Friends in High Places: Who Runs Britain? (1990); and John Mohan (ed.), The Political Geography of Contemporary Britain (1989). Among the historical accounts of England’s political system are David Butler and Donald Stokes, Political Change in Britain: The Evolution of Electoral Choice, 2nd ed. (1974, reprinted 1983); and David Butler, The Electoral System in Britain Since 1918, 2nd ed. (1963, reprinted 1986).
E.A. Wrigley and R.S. Schofield, The Population History of England, 1541–1871: A Reconstruction (1981, reissued 1989), provides a comprehensive historical survey of demography and social conditions. The connections between social and cultural history are examined in Raymond Williams, Culture and Society: 1780–1950 (1958, reprinted 1983; also published as Culture & Society: Coleridge to Orwell, 1993); Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy: Changing Patterns in English Mass Culture (1957, reissued 1966); Roy Lewis and Angus Maude, The English Middle Classes (1949, reissued 1973); Malcolm Muggeridge, The Sun Never Sets: The Story of England in the Nineteen Thirties (1940; also published as The Thirties: 1930–1940 in Great Britain, 1940, reprinted 1989); E.J.B. Rose, Colour and Citizenship: A Report on British Race Relations (1969); and Martin J. Wiener, English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850–1980 (1981, reissued 1995).
Discussions of English national characteristics include George Orwell, The English People (1947, reprinted 1974); and Jeremy Paxman, The English: A Portrait of a People (1998, reissued 2000). Useful sources on the arts—including architecture and city planning—are Nikolaus Pevsner, The Englishness of English Art (1956, reissued 1993), and The Buildings of England, 46 vol. (1951–74); William Gaunt, A Concise History of English Painting (1964, reissued as English Painting: A Concise History, 1978, reprinted 1993); Alec Clifton-Taylor, The Pattern of English Building, 4th ed. (1987); Frederic J. Osborn and Arnold Whittick, New Towns: Their Origins, Achievements, and Progress, 3rd ed. (1977); and Simon Jenkins, England’s Thousand Best Churches (1999).