Tag Archives: william the conqueror

Top 25 Reasons to Love England

The reasons to love England seem limitless to me. I could go on and on about crumpets and Peter Rabbit and Harrod’s and Cranford and Fanny Price. I’ve discovered that many of my fellow Americans are Anglophiles just like me, and they have their lists of reasons why they love all things British as well. Over time, I’ve compiled the top 25 reasons why Americans love England. You can read the original articles here and here. In fact, the first article is what inspired this blog. So enjoy, and let me know what your favorite things about England are in the comments below!

25) the Royal Guard

What’s black, white, and red all over?

24) Afternoon Tea

Sugar and a splash of cream, please.

23) Castles

Who wouldn’t want to live in a stone-walled, tapestry-lined fortress with straw for carpets and a drawbridge for a driveway?

22) Gardens

The English Garden is apparently a place to be proposed to, to ramble aimlessly on dull afternoons, to escape from unwanted suitors…

21)Double Decker Buses

Let’s just hope they aren’t too top-heavy…

20) Oxford

Second oldest university in the world – quite inspiring.

19) Pubs

They come in pints?

18) Royal Weddings

Occasions for gravity-defying hats and bell-ringing celebration, brought to you live on the BBC.

17) Rain and Fog

The perfect backdrop to the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes or the ramblings of drunken Dickens characters.

16) London

The center of Anglophilia! Everything your heart has ever desired can be found along the banks of the Thames…

15) the Accent

When I get to England, I will wander the streets, talking to random strangers just to hear their accents.

14) the Queen

Revolution or no, Americans still hold a tiny love of royalty.

13) Prince William

No longer on the singles list…

12) History

From ancient stone henge to William the Conqueror to Henry VIII to the knights of the round table…

11) the Way of Life

Rolling countryside, church steeples, knitting by the fireplace, making fresh butter… (apparently, this isn’t true anymore, and I’m living in a dream world)

10) Food 

Bubble and squeak? Hot toddy? Bangers and mash?

9) the Thatched Roof

pure cuteness!

8) the Cars

I wouldn’t mind driving around in a Mini Cooper.

7) the Red Telephone Booth

We don’t even have telephone booths in America… just phones nailed to the concrete.

6) Bond, James Bond

Classy, smooth, debonaire… Sean Connery.

5) Humor

The British have this subtle sense of humor that Americans just don’t have, and often don’t get.

4) Simon 

Simon, television sucks without you.

3) Drama

The BBC has the answers to everything.

2) Music

Perhaps it’s the accent, but I think that Brits can simply sing better than Americans.

1) Literature

Number one! English literature is one of the best gifts to mankind from mankind. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, John Keats, Tennyson, C.S. Lewis, Kazuo Ishiguro, etc. etc.

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The Tower of London

The midnight waters of the Thames washing up the sides of the wooden boat and the steady beat of the oars is all that you hear in the darkness. A half-eaten moon and a handful of stars glimmer from too far away. You can see the darkness of the sky and the deeper darkness of stone-walled buildings that line the river. With hollow steps you find yourself out of the boat and on the landing, holding your now dirtied skirts with a ringless hand. One glance over your shoulder, and the stars disappear as you find yourself inside the hole that shudders darkly in the night. You are trapped in the Tower of London.

The Tower of London ~ image courtesy Kjetil Bjørnsrud via Wikimedia Commons

Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress

The Tower of London is more that just a tower – in reality, it is a full-sized castle, holding its historical stance on the banks of the Thames. For some reason, I always imagine the Tower in its darkest moments, when royal beheadings and imprisonments were commonplace, when its walls resounded with the cries of its victims: A young Elizabeth I with her disheveled red hair, passing the endless days of her imprisonment reading Latin books by a tiny window. Lady Jane, the nine-days-queen, wondering if she had been right after all in taking the throne. Mary of the Scots, fuming with anger at her cousin that she couldn’t manage to kill. Edward and Richard, the two little princes who disappeared and were found two hundred years later, buried under the staircase. Anne Boleyn, murdered because she didn’t have a son.

"The Princes in the Tower" by John Everett Millais

The passages and corridors are haunted, they say. The murdered and martyred are said to still walk the dank and damp stone floors.

In the Tower of London, large as life,

The ghost of Anne Boleyn walks, they declare.

For Anne Boleyn was once King Henry’s wife,

Until he had the headsman bob her hair.

Oh, yes, he did her wrong long years ago,

And she comes back at night to tell him so.

With her ‘ead tucked underneath her arm,

She walks the bloody Tower,

With her ‘ead tucked underneath her arm,

At the midnight hour.

~ from “With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm” by R.P. Weston and Bert Lee

Despite the bloody history of the Tower of London, its original purpose was not to be a prison only. William the Conqueror built the White Tower in 1078, and the royal family called the palace their home for hundreds of years. In its thousand years of history, the Tower of London has been used as an armoury, a fortress, and even the Royal Mint. For over six hundred years, the Tower was home to the Royal Menagerie, a collection of exotic animals such as tigers, bears, cheetahs, and elephants. During the reign of James I (1603-1625), some of the animals were made to compete in coliseum-type fights called baiting. The animals were eventually given to the London Zoo, and now the only captives in the Tower are the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, which have been kept safe in the fortress ever since 1303.

The Crown Jewels ~ image courtesy Joseph Echeverria via Flickr

Today, the Tower of London is mostly a tourist attraction, and for about 20£ you can  see with your own eyes the White Tower, the Jewel House, the armor collection, and the Tower Green where Anne Boleyn was beheaded.

The White Tower ~ image courtesy Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia Commons

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