The sun may have set on the English Empire of history books, but by no means is England’s worldly cultural influence waning. The cosmopolitan hot-spots of sophisticated London and avant-garde Manchester speak to the global future while the Roman remnants in Bath and Celtic heritage at Stonehenge stand as monumental tributes to a time past but not forgotten.
Experience England – A Setting Sun, A Dawning Era
The Brits may not traditionally be known, or even praised, for their gastronomic heritage; however, England has recently experienced a culinary renaissance of sorts and can proudly boast 14 of the world’s top 50 restaurants. Erase thoughts of porridge and stodge the British dining experience has abandoned its starchy past and embarked on a journey through multicultural and international cuisine, particularly in the South.
England’s colonial history comes forth in London’s exquisite choice of Indian restaurants. Despite this new food wave, make sure not to pass on the Yorkshire pudding and Beef Wellington when traveling through the North, which offers exceptional renditions of more traditional dishes.
From London to Land’s End
Upon arrival in the English region of this massive island, it is important to include travel outside of London for the full British experience. England’s most southwestern tip of Cornwall is home to the legendary sea-cliffs below Penzance and the dramatic peninsula of Land’s End where a 25 mile trail will take you along some of the most beautiful stretches of ocean.
Cornwall is also known for its architectural landmarks, including Cotehele, a most impressive Tudor mansion and museum along the river Tamar. Travel northeast to encounter ancient towns nestled in the picturesque countryside of The Cotswolds. This region is extremely popular for a glimpse into the idyllic English lifestyle with its 14th century stone and thatched roof cottages and cobblestone alleys.
Keep in mind that the southern regions are heavily traveled in the months of July and August by locals and foreigners alike due to the warmer weather.
Farther north, the ancient spa town of Bath is famous for the 2000 year-old Roman bathhouses, which are still open to the public, in addition to Saxon ruins and the history of local Christianity told by the Heritage Vaults. Shakespeare buffs should not miss Stratford-upon-Avon, his home town located in the Midlands. Shakespeare and his family are buried at the Holy Trinity Church in the heart of town.
While visiting the most northern regions, travel through York to see Europe’s largest Gothic cathedral, York Minster, and walk along the immaculately preserved medieval street of The Shambles. Even more enchanting are the still-standing city walls that enclose a magical mix of history and modernity in a city that was once the Danish capital of Viking England.
A Region of Global Heritage
Aside from England’s ancient history, no other nation has had such a hand in human progress in the modern era. At one time the English Empire encompassed stretches of the globe from Australia and India to Canada and America. England helped push the world stage into Industrial Revolution; the Midlands are home to the world’s first industrial cities. The land of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens, Saxons, Celts and Normans, is an intriguing and essential journey for anyone interested in the formation of contemporary global culture.