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British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
What famous people are there in Britain?

The Top 10 Greatest Britons

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Sir Winston Churchill Charles Darwin William Shakespeare Lord Nelson Diana, Princess of Wales Oliver Cromwell John Lennon Queen Elizabeth I Sir Isaac Newton Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Famous writers

William Shakespeare - arguably the most famous writer in the world.

Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne), Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Dickens.

Famous Poets

Lord Byron, Robert Burns, and Thomas Hardy.

Famous Composers

William Byrd , Thomas Tallis , John Taverner , Henry Purcell , Edward Elgar, Arthur Sullivan , Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Benjamin Britten.

The Greatest Britons of all Time
chosen by the people of Britain.

In November 2002, the British public voted to find the Greatest Briton of all time. Over a million people voted.

NB. The list contains a few non British entrants includinding two Irish nationals (Bono and Bob Geldof) and Freddie Mercury, who was born in Zanzibar to Indian Parsi parents.

Here are the results:

  1. Sir Winston Churchill Sir Winston Churchill
    Winston Churchill was a politician, a soldier, an artist, and the 20th century's most famous and celebrated Prime Minister.
  2. Isambard Kingdom Brunel
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an extraordinary Victorian engineer. He designed and
    built amongst other structures bridges, ships, railways and viaducts
  3. Diana, Princess of Wales
    From the time of her marriage to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in a car accident in Paris in 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales was one of the world's most high-profile, most photographed, and most iconic celebrities.
  4. Charles Darwin
    Charles Darwin was a British naturalist of the nineteenth century. He and others developed the theory of evolution. This theory forms the basis for the modern life sciences. Darwin's most famous books are 'The Origin of Species' and 'The Descent of Man'.
  5. ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare was a playwright and poet whose body of works is considered the greatest in English literature. He wrote dozens of plays which continue to dominate world theater 400 years later.
  6. Sir Isaac Newton
    Isaac Newton was a mathematician and scientist who invented differential calculus and formulated the theory of universal gravitation, a theory about the nature of light, and three laws of motion.
  7. Queen Elizabeth IQueen Elizabeth I
    The daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth 1 reigned England from 1558–1603. Her reign was marked by several plots to overthrow her, the execution of Mary Queen of Scots (1587), the defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588), and domestic prosperity and literary achievement.
    Find out more about Elizabeth 1
  8. John Lennon
    John Lennon was a musician and composer who was a member of the Beatles, the biggest rock band of the 1960s.
  9. Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson
    Nelson is the greatest hero in British naval history, an honour he earned by defeating Napoleon's fleet in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar.
  10. Oliver Cromwell
    Oliver Cromwell was a military, political, and religious figure who led the Parliamentarian victory in the English Civil War (1642–1649) and called for the execution of Charles I. He was Lord Protector of England for much of the 1650s, ruling in place of the country's traditional monarchy.
  11. Ernest Shackleton
    Ernest Shackleton was a British explorer of the South Pole who is best remembered for leading his crew to safety after the failed expedition of the Endurance (1914-16).
  12. Captain James Cook
    James Cook was an explorer of the eighteenth century, known for his voyages to the Pacific Ocean. Cook visited New Zealand, established the first European colony in Australia, and was the first European to visit Hawaii. He also approached Antarctica and explored much of the western coast of North America.
  13. Baden-PowellRobert Baden-Powell
    British soldier who founded the Boy Scouts (1908) and with his sister Agnes (1858–1945) the Girl Guides (1910).
  14. King Alfred the Great
    King of the West Saxons (871–899), scholar, and lawmaker who repelled the Danes and helped consolidate England into a unified kingdom.
  15. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
    British general and politician. Commander of British troops during the Peninsular War (1808–1814), he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo (1815), thus ending the Napoleonic Wars. As prime minister (1828–1830) he passed the Catholic Emancipation Act (1829).
  16. Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher
    Margaret Thatcher was the United Kingdom's first woman prime minister, and she held the office of PM for longer than anyone in the 20th century.
  17. Michael Crawford -Actor
  18. Queen Victoria
    Victoria's nearly 64-year reign was the longest in British history.
    Find out more about Victoria
  19. Sir Paul McCartney
    McCartney was a singer, songwriter and guitarist for The Beatles, the biggest rock band of the 1960s.
  20. Sir Alexander Fleming
    British bacteriologist who discovered penicillin in 1928, for which he shared a Nobel Prize in 1945.
  21. Alan Turing
    English mathematician whose works explored the possibility of computers and raised fundamental questions about artificial intelligence. During World War II he contributed to the allied victory by helping to decipher the German Enigma codes.
  22. Michael Faraday
    British physicist and chemist who discovered electromagnetic induction (1831) and proposed the field theory later developed by Maxwell and Einstein.
  23. Owain Glyndwr
    The last Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales.
  24. QueenQueen Elizabeth II
    Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary), is the Queen regnant and Head of State of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and fifteen other Commonwealth countries.
  25. Professor Stephen Hawking
    British theoretical physicist noted for his research into the origin of the universe. His work influenced the development of the big bang and black hole theories.
  26. William Tyndale
    English religious reformer and martyr whose translation of the New Testament was the basis of the King James Bible.
  27. Emmeline Pankhurst
  28. William Wilberforce
    British politician. As a member of Parliament (1780–1825) he campaigned for the British abolition of slavery.
  29. David Bowie
    David Bowie, is a British rock and roll musician, actor, and artist who has had a profound influence on rock and roll from the 1960s to the present.
  30. Guy Fawkes
    English conspirator who was executed for his role in a plot to blow up King James I and the Houses of Parliament (1570-1606)
    Find out more
  31. Leonard Cheshire, Baron Cheshire of Woodall
  32. Eric Morecambe - comic
  33. BeckhamDavid Beckham
    Beckham is a leading English footballer and a former star of the legendary team Manchester United.
  34. Thomas Paine
    British-born American writer and Revolutionary leader who wrote the pamphlet Common Sense (1776) arguing for American independence from Britain. In England he published The Rights of Man (1791–1792), a defence of the French Revolution.
  35. Boudicca
    Queen of ancient Britain who led a temporarily successful revolt against the Roman army that had claimed her deceased husband's kingdom.
  36. Sir Steve Redgrave
    A British rower who won a gold medal at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 to 2000, as well as an additional bronze medal in 1988. As the only Briton ever to achieve this feat, he is widely considered to be Britain's greatest Olympian.
  37. Sir Thomas More
    English politician, humanist scholar, and writer who refused to comply with the Act of Supremacy, by which English subjects were enjoined to recognize Henry VIII's authority over the pope, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London and beheaded for treason.
  38. William Blake
    British poet and artist whose paintings and poetic works, such as Songs of Innocence (1789) and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (c. 1790), have a mystical, visionary quality.
  39. John Harrison
    An English clock designer, who developed and built the world's first successful maritime clock, one whose accuracy was great enough to allow the determination of longitude over long distances.
  40. King Henry VIII
    Henry VIII is one of the most famous and controversial kings of England. His divorce from Catherine of Aragon, his first wife, compelled him to break from the Catholic Church by the Act of Supremacy (1534).
  41. Charles Dickens - writer
    Charles Dickens wrote some of the most popular and widely read novels of the 19th century, from Oliver Twist to A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.
  42. Sir Frank Whittle
    English aeronautical engineer. Whittle was one of the first men to associate the gas turbine with jet propulsion.
  43. John Peel
    John Peel was a disc jockey on BBC's Radio 1 whose 37 years of broadcasting out-of-the-mainstream acts helped popularise reggae, punk and hip-hop in Britain.
  44. John Logie Baird
    A Scottish inventor, who in 1926 gave the first demonstration of true television
  45. Aneurin Bevan
    Welsh-born British politician who as minister of health (1945–1951) was the chief architect of the National Health Service.
  46. Boy George - singer
  47. Sir Douglas Bader
  48. Sir William Wallace
    Scottish patriot who led resistance against the English and briefly gained control of Scotland in 1298.
  49. Sir Francis Drake
    English naval hero and explorer who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world (1577–1580) and was vice admiral of the fleet that destroyed the Spanish Armada (1588).
  50. John Wesley
    British religious leader who founded Methodism (1738). His brother Charles (1707–1788) wrote thousands of hymns, including “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”
  51. King Arthur
    A legendary British hero, said to have been king of the Britons in the sixth century A.D. and to have held court at Camelot.
  52. Florence Nightingale
    British nurse who organized (1854) and directed a unit of field nurses during the Crimean War and is considered the founder of modern nursing. (Although Florence was born in Italy, her parents were British and from the age of one, Florence lived in Britain).
  53. T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)
    Welsh-born British soldier, adventurer, and writer who led the Arab revolt against the Turks (1916–1918) and later wrote an account of his adventures, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926).
  54. Sir Robert Falcon Scott
    British explorer who reached the South Pole (January 1912) only to find that Roald Amundsen had discovered the spot one month before.
  55. Enoch Powell
  56. Sir Cliff Richard
    One of the UK's most popular singers of all time
  57. Sir Alexander Graham Bell
    Scottish-born American inventor of the telephone.
  58. Freddie Mercury
  59. Dame Julie Andrews
    A British actress, singer, and author, best known for her starring roles in the musical films Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music (1965).
  60. Sir Edward Elgar
  61. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother
  62. George Harrison
  63. Sir David Attenborough
  64. James Connolly
  65. George Stephenson
  66. Sir Charlie Chaplin
  67. Tony Blair
  68. William Caxton
  69. Bobby Moore
  70. Jane Austen
  71. William Booth
  72. King Henry V
  73. Aleister Crowley
  74. King Robert the Bruce
  75. Bob Geldof
  76. The Unknown Warrior
  77. Robbie Williams
  78. Edward Jenner
  79. David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd George
  80. Charles Babbage
  81. Geoffrey Chaucer
  82. King Richard III
  83. J.K. Rowling -
  84. James Watt
  85. Sir Richard Branson
  86. Bono (Born in Ireland)
  87. John Lydon (Johnny Rotten)
  88. Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
  89. Donald Campbell
  90. King Henry II
  91. James Clerk Maxwell
  92. J.R.R. Tolkien
  93. Sir Walter Raleigh
  94. King Edward I
  95. Sir Barnes Wallis
  96. Richard Burton
  97. Tony Benn
  98. David Livingstone
  99. Sir Tim Berners-Lee
  100. Marie Stopes
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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consultant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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