England Culture and Traditions

England has long been one of the premier nations on the planet. With a recorded history that spans over 2,000 years, and a lesser known history that goes back even farther, ancient England was one the earliest known human cultures. This venerable past is written all over the English landscape, from the primordial henges of the Druidic Celts to the stone walls built by the Roman Invaders.

The many disparate tribes and people that have inhabited England over the ages have all left their mark in one way or another. This vibrant mix of ancient and more modern traditions has contributed to the rich and unique cultural heritage that England enjoys to this day.

England in more modern times has consistently been a world leader in many different spheres. Its early mariners were legendary in their skill, ability, and sea-faring exploits. Its explorers were some of the first to brave the unknown frontiers of the planet, carrying English culture and trade to the four corners of the globe. England has produced some of the finest scholars and scientists in history, and their contributions to scientific knowledge and technological progress has been a key driving force in the quest for enlightenment.

In order to learn more about England, we will take a look at the many facets of its culture individually. These include the art and architecture, literature, society, clothing, cuisine, and traditional festivities.

English Architecture And Art

England has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years, and over that time period the different peoples who have called the island nation home have left the stamp of their distinctive brands of architecture across the English landscape.

Some of the earliest known residents of Britain in general and England in particular were the Celts, who had an established culture at least 500 years before the first invasion of the Romans. Celtic architecture included hill forts, which were fortified enclosures built around hilltops, as well as thatched timber huts.

The advent of the Romans brought the introduction of Roman architecture, which was characterized by the Roman villa. This form of architecture had many amenities that may even be considered modern, including underfloor central heating and even rudimentary plumbing. These dwelling had stone foundations and timber frames, and were often roofed with tiles or slate. Many villas also included auxiliary buildings, farmland, and even fortifications. The Romans also constructed a network of roads, and are responsible for the construction of the famous Hadrian's Wall.

The Anglo-saxons were the next major group to build extensively in England. Their personal dwellings tended to be constructed from wood and wattle, and few if any remain today. They did, however, construct some impressive stone churches and monasteries, some of which exist today.

The middle-ages brought the advent of the well known Gothic style of construction, and we have many surviving examples of this remarkable architectural style. Gothic churches and buildings tend to be tall, and many feature arches and elaborate carvings.

The Tudor and Elizabethan eras saw structures built which had many modern features. Many were timber framed and shaped in a symmetrical fashion. Windows, courtyards, and gardens also became commonplace.

Modern England still has many examples of these venerable forms of architecture; that being said, England is now heavily developed and industrialized, and features buildings with architecture of the most advanced caliber.

English art is equally ancient. Some of the earliest forms of art were actually landscapes, one of the most famous being Stonehenge. Later forms of art included elaborate metal ornamentation, and well as well crafted monuments. In more modern times, English portraits and landscapes were well known for their quality and distinctive style. William Blake, Thomas Gainsborough, and the contemporary Paul Nash are among some of the more renowned English artists.

English Literature

English literature is rich and has a long history. One of the most famous pieces is the ancient Beowulf, written by an unknown Anglo-Saxon author a thousand years ago and considered to this day as a national treasure. Through the ages, England has produced some of the finest authors in history. These include figures such as John Wycliffe, Geoffrey Chaucer, and the world famous William Shakespeare. There are many more writers of distinction and genius of English origin, indeed, too many to enumerate at this time, but the weight of the quality of English literature has and will continue to leave a lasting mark on the world.

English Society

English society at one time was composed of a fairly homogeneous grouping of people, but over the span of thousands of years, the arrival and integration of many groups introduced many different factors into the social equation. The Celts, the Anglo-Saxons, the Romans, and other lesser known groups, each with their distinctive ethnic stamp, have produced an interesting and varied legacy that is still with us today. Modern English society is a social melting-pot, with representatives from countries around the globe. They each bring different customs and beliefs into the mix, and this makes for a dynamic and evolving social scene. That being said, the English do have a long standing, well established, and respected class system which is embodied in the Royal Family. This mix of the old and the new gives England a unique and interesting social flavor.

English Clothing

Like the rest of English culture, English clothing has a long and varied history. Early Celtic garb was and is well known for its quality. The cloth was usually woven wool, but silk, linen, leather, and other materials were also used. The basic outfit for males and females was the tunic, which was often worn with leggings, a belt, and in many areas a skirt-like garment known as a kilt. They often made use of natural dyes, and favored bright colors. Most Celts also wore the garment known as the cloak over their inner garments, and the length of the cloak signified the status of the wearer.

From the era of the Anglo-Saxons until the end of the middle ages, the same style of dress persisted, the tunic, trousers, leggings and cloak continuing to to be used as the common mode of dress.

The 1600's through the 1800's featured a change in the style of dress. Men began wearing outfits consisting of breeches, a jacket, and a knee length coat known as a justaucorps. Women's fashion also began to change radically, with elaborate gowns, petticoats, and chemises being introduced.

The Victorian era, for men, saw the introduction of clothing items such as top hats, vests, frock coats, cravats, and walking sticks. Women saw continued use of gowns, petticoats, chemises, and various types of hats. As the era wore on, women's fashion enjoyed many small, continuous changes in style.

Modern English clothing and modes of dress can be generally described as western, with the business suit as the dominant form of formal wear for men; many women will wear a business dress at work or during formal functions. On the casual end, there is much more diversity of garment, with the style of dress limited only to the individuals imagination and lifestyle.

English Cuisine

Modern English cuisine is as diverse as its population. With representatives from Asia, Africa, South America, the Middle East, and other places, England offers a wide variety of dishes sure to please any palate. There are, however, a few traditional dishes to be mentioned. Among these are fish and chips, bangers (sausages) and mash, strawberries and cream, and meat pie. The English also brew many famous and quality beers, wines, and liquors, many of which are known the world over for their flavor and quality.

Traditional English Festivities

England features many festivals, some of them historic, others contemporary. One of the most famous of these is Guy Fawkes Night, celebrated to commemorate a failed plot to assassinate the king. Other well known festivities include the Queen's Jubilee, and the Bedfordshyre Medieval Fair. There is a long list of other functions, festivities, and events throughout England all year long, and this reflects the fun loving spirit of the English.

In conclusion, England has an amazing and fascinating history, and the cultures that contributed to that history laid the groundwork for the dynamic and vital culture that is modern England.

Last Updated on: October 21st, 2017