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The culture of the United Kingdom
The culture of the United Kingdom refers to the patterns of human activity and symbolism associated with the United Kingdom and its people. It is informed by the UK's history as a developed island country, major power, and its composition of four countries—England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales—each of which have preserved distinct customs, cultures and symbolism.
Britain’s most frequently visited museum is the British Museum in London founded in 1753 and is especially famous for its collection of antiquities and as the home, until the early 1990s, of the British Library.
The oldest museum is the Ashmolean in Oxford founded in 1683. It has collections of ancient history, fine art and archaeology
Many of the most important specialist museums are in London. They include the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of London, the Imperial War Museum, the London Transport Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image.
Important art collections are the National Gallery, the National Portrait gallery, the Tate Gallery.
The variety of architecture to be seen in Britain provides a record for the nation’s history. The most important prehistoric monument in Britain is the stone circle at Stonehenge which was completed during the Bronze Age.
The architecture of the United Kingdom includes many features that precede the creation of the United Kingdom in 1707, from as early as Skara Brae and Stonehenge to the Giant's Ring, Avebury and Roman ruins. In most towns and villages the parish church is an indication of the age of the settlement. Many castles remain from the medieval period such as; Windsor Castle (longest-occupied castle in Europe), Stirling Castle (one of the largest and most important in Scotland), Bodiam Castle (moated castle), and Warwick Castle. Over the two centuries following the Norman conquest of England of 1066, and the building of the Tower of London, castles such as Caernarfon Castle in Wales and Carrickfergus Castle in Ireland were built.
Big Ben at dusk, with the London Eye giving a panoramic view of the city
St. Paul's Cathedral, English Baroque architecture and a Red telephone box
Apart from these early remains, it is the castles, churches, cathedrals and country houses of Britain that represent the architectural heritage of the country and attract tourists.
English customs and traditions, first of all, concerns United Kingdom political system. In Great Britain there is no written constitution, only customs, traditions and precedents.
Traditionally the Queen acts only on the advice of her Ministers. She reigns but she does not rule.
Englishmen have traditions not only in political, but in social life. For example, London, the capital of England, is traditionally divided into three parts: the West End, the East end, and the City. The City is a historical, financial and business center of London. The East End is the district inhabited by the workers, and the West End is a fashionable shopping and entertaining center.
English people like to spend their free time in numerous pubs where they can have a glass of beer and talk about different things with their friends.
The British have been known as unsociable, snobbish, hypocritical and aloof. The British think that their important national values are tolerance, decency, moderation, consensus. They pride themselves on fair play and a genius for compromise. As seen by outsiders qualities of the typical British also include reserve and modesty, politeness and helpfulness.
The British people are great lovers of gardens, dogs and horses. One of the most striking aspects of the national character is the love of the countryside. English people have many times been described as a nation of flower – growers.
They are also great lovers of sports. The most popular sports are football, golf, cricket, rugby, hockey, horse racing, rowing etc.
The British people are the world’s greatest tea drinkers. The English are traditional about their meals. They eat eggs and bacon with toasts for breakfast, pudding or apple pie for dessert. Every English family has five o'clock tea.
A typical feature of an English house is a fireplace, even when there is central heating in the house.
Englishmen have many traditional holidays. There are only six public holidays a year in Great Britain. They are : Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter, May Day Bank Holiday , Spring Bank Holiday and Late Summer Bank Holiday.
Besides public holidays, there are other festivals, anniversaries and celebration days on which certain traditions are observed, but unless they fall on a Sunday, they are ordinary working days. They are : Hogmanay, St.Valentine’s day, Pancake Day, April Fool’s day, Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes’ Night, Remembrance or Poppy Day, Hallowe’n and many others including Royal ascot – the biggest horse race, the Proms – a series of classical music concerts, the London Marathon, harvest Festival, Dog Shows and so on. Some English customs and traditions are famous all over the world. Bowler hats, tea and talking about the weather, for example. From Scotland to Cornwall, the United Kingdom is full of customs and tradition
Much of the folklore of the United Kingdom pre-dates the UK. Though some of the characters and stories are present across Britain, most belong to specific countries or regions. Common folkloric beings include pixies, giants, elfs, bogeymen, trolls, goblins and dwarves. While many legends and folk-customs are thought to be ancient, for instance the tales featuring Offa of Angeln and Weyland Smith, others date from after the Norman invasion; Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood and their battles with the Sheriff of Nottingham being, perhaps, the best known
The UK has had a large impact on modern cinema, producing some of the greatest actors, directors and motion pictures of all time including Charlie Chaplin
From its formation in 1707, the United Kingdom has had a vibrant tradition of theatre, much of it inherited from England and Scotland. The West End is the main theatre district in the UK, which is located in the West End of London. The West End's Theatre Royal in Covent Garden in the City of Westminster dates back to the mid 17th century, making it the oldest London theatre.
The United Kingdom was created as an Anglican Christian country and Anglican churches remain the largest faith group in each country of the UK. Following this is Roman Catholicism and religions including Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism. Today British Jews number around 300 000 with the UK having the fifth largest Jewish community worldwide. While 2001 census information suggests that over 75 percent of UK citizens consider themselves to belong to a religion, Gallup International reports that only 10 percent of UK citizens regularly attend religious services. A 2004 YouGov poll found that 44 percent of UK citizens believe in God, while 35 percent do not.
English language is the official language of the UK, and is spoken monolingually by an estimated 95% of the British population
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