This entry covers Anglo-Saxon practices of magic and witchcraft through the Middle Ages in England. See also separate entries for Scotland, Wales, and the pre-Saxon inhabitants of England, the Celts. For the modern period, see separate entries on magic and witchcraft.
Early Magic and Witchcraft
The Anglo-Saxon system of magic was based on the Teutonic. Witchcraft practitioners were called wicca (or wicce, femi-nine), scin-laeca, galdor-craeftig, wiglaer, and morthwyrtha. A wiglaer (from wig, idol or temple, and laer, learning) was a wizard, and a wicca or wicce was a witch. Scin-laeca (a shining dead body) was a species of phantom or apparition; the term was also used to identify someone who had the power of producing such phantoms. Galdor-craeftig implies one skilled in incantations, and morthwyrtha is, literally, "a worshiper of the dead." Another general appellation for such personages was dry (magician).
The laws prohibiting these practices carried severe penalties. The best account given of them is found in a passage written during the reign of Edward and Guthrun (tenth century):
"If any wicca, or wiglaer, or false swearer, or morth-wyrtha, or any foul, contaminated, manifest horcwenan [whore queen or strumpet], be any where in the land, man shall drive them out. We teach that every priest shall extinguish all heathendom, and forbid wilweorthunga [fountain-worship], and licwiglunga [incantations of the dead], and hwata [omens], and galdra [magic], and man-worship, and the abominations that men exercise in various sorts of witchcraft, and in frithspottum, and with elms and other trees, and with stones, and with many phantoms."
From subsequent regulations, it is clear that witchcraft and magic were used for violence, for penitentiary penalties were levied against anyone who injured or killed another by wiccecraefte (witchcraft).
Witches apparently used philters (love potions), for it was also a crime to gain another's love through enchanted food or drink. Wicca were also forbidden to wiglian (divine) by the moon. King Canute renewed the prohibitions. He declared it illegal to worship the sun or the moon, fire or floods, wells or stones, or any sort of tree; to love wiccecraefte, or to frame death spells, either by lot or by torch; or to effect anything by phantoms. The Poenitentiale of Theodore reveals that witches also claimed the power of letting loose tempests.
Another name for magic among the Anglo-Saxons was unlybban wyrce (destructive of life). Penitence was prescribed for a woman who killed a man by unlybban. In one account a woman who had resolved to kill her stepson, or at least to alienate him from his father's affection, sought a witch who knew how to change minds by arts and enchantments. Offering the witch rewards, the stepmother inquired how the father's mind might be turned from the child and fixed on her. The witch immediately made a magic medicament and it was mixed with the husband's meat and drink. The episode ended with the murder of the child and the stepmother's exposure.
The Anglo-Saxons used numerous charms. They trusted in their incantations to cure disease, for successful planting and harvest, for the discovery of lost property, and for the prevention of casualties. Specimens of their charms have been preserved. The Venerable Bede recorded that "many, in times of disease (neglecting the sacraments) went to the erring medicaments of idolatry, as if to restrain God's chastisements by incantations, phylacteries, or any other secret of the demoniacal arts."
Their prognostications—from the sun, from thunder, and from dreams—were so numerous that they perpetuated superstition. Every day of every month was cataloged as a propitious or unpropitious date for certain transactions. There were Anglo-Saxon treatises that contained rules for discovering the future and disposition of a child from the day of birth. One day was useful for all things; another, though good to tame animals, was poor for sowing seeds. One day was favorable to business, another to let blood; on others these things were forbidden.
On a particular day it was said that one must buy, on a second sell, on a third hunt, on a fourth do nothing. If a child was born on a certain day it would live; if on another, it would be sickly; if on still another, it would perish early. The future could be predicted by noticing on what day of the week or month it first thundered, or when the new moon appeared. Dreams likewise had regular interpretations and applications, and thus life, instead of being governed by counsels of wisdom, was directed by those solemn rules of superstition.
Beginnings of Witchcraft in England
Prior to the Reformation, little official notice was given to the practice of witchcraft, "the craft of the wise," but authorities were always on the lookout for anyone believed to be practicing sorcery (i.e., malevolent magic). It was regarded as a political offense to employ sorcery against the ruling powers and it was punished severely, as is witnessed by the execution of the duchess of Gloucester in Henry VI's reign and the duke of Buckingham in 1521. In Henry VI's time Lord Hungerford was beheaded for consulting certain soothsayers concerning the duration of the king's life.
Witchcraft was widespread and of early origin in England, but it seems those practicing it were not systematically punished until after the sixteenth-century Reformation period. Prosecution may have taken place against witches in Plantagenet and early Tudor times, but the popularity of sorcery was probably so widespread and the protection against it by the church was supposed to be so powerful that nothing like a crusade was directed against it.
At very early periods the church had fulminated against those who practiced witchcraft. In 696 C.E. a canon of council held at Berkhampstead condemned to corporal punishment those who made sacrifices to evil spirits.
According to James I. F. A. Inderwick, in Side-Lights on the Stuarts (1888),
"For centuries in this country strange as it may now appear, a denial of the existence of such demoniacal agency was deemed equal to a confession of Atheism and to a disbelief in the Holy Scriptures themselves. But not only did Lord Chancellors, Lord Keepers, benches of Bishops and Parliament attest the truth and the existence of witchcraft, but Addison writing as late as 1711, in the pages of the Spectator, after describing himself as hardly pressed by the arguments on both sides of this question expresses his own belief that there is and has been, witchcraft in the land."
It was in the twelfth century that pagan witchcraft practices were first associated with the devil. The tale of the old woman of Berkeley that Southey's ballad familiarized was earlier related by William of Malmesbury (ca. 1125) on the authority of a professed eyewitness. When the devil informed the witch of the near expiry of her contract, she summoned the neighboring monks and her children, and, after confessing her criminal compact, displayed great anxiety lest Satan should take her body as well as her soul.
She asked that her body be sewn in a stag's hide and placed in a stone coffin closed with lead and iron. The coffin was then to be loaded with heavy stones and the whole fastened down with three iron chains. In order to baffle the power of the demons, she further directed that 50 psalms be sung by night, and 50 masses be sung by day, and at the end of three nights, if her body was still secure it could be buried with safety.
All these precautions, however, proved of no avail. The monks bravely resisted the efforts of the fiends on the first and second nights, but on the third night in the middle of a terrific uproar an immense demon burst into the monastery and in a voice of thunder commanded the dead witch to rise. She replied that she was bound with chains, but the demon snapped them like thread. The coffin lid fell aside, and when the witch arose the demon bore her off on a huge black horse, galloping into the darkness while her shrieks resounded through the air.
The first trial for witchcraft in England is believed to have occurred during the tenth year of the reign of King John (Robin Hood's opponent) when, according to the Abbreviato-Placitorum, Agnes, the wife of Odo the merchant, accused one Gideon of the crime. He proved his innocence, however, by the ordeal of the red-hot iron.
A trial for sorcery was reported with more detail in the year 1324. Certain citizens of Coventry had suffered at the hands of the prior, whose extortions were approved of and supported by two of Edward II's favorites. By way of revenge they plotted the death of the prior, the favorites, and the king.
To carry out their plot they consulted John of Nottingham, a famous magician of the time, and his servant Robert Marshall of Leicester. Marshall, however, betrayed the plot and stated that he and his master fashioned images of wax to represent the king, his two favorites, the prior, his caterer and steward, and one Richard de Lowe—the latter being brought in merely as an experimental figure to test the effect of the charm.
At an old ruined house near Coventry on the Friday following Holy Cross Day, John gave Marshall a sharp-pointed leaden branch and commanded him to plunge it into the forehead of the figure representing Richard de Lowe. This being done, John dispatched his servant to Lowe's house to find out the result of the experiment. Lowe it seems had lost his senses and went about screaming "Harrow!" On the Sunday before Ascension, John withdrew the branch from the image's forehead and thrust it into the heart, where it remained until the following Wednesday, when the unfortunate victim died. Such was Marshall's testimony, but the judges gave it little credence, and after several adjournments the trial was abandoned.
The first enactment against witchcraft in England was by the Parliament of 1541 and was annulled six years later. In 1551 further enactments were leveled at it, but it was not until 1563 that Parliament defined witchcraft as a capital crime. The regular persecution of witches followed. Many burnings occurred during the last years of Elizabeth's reign.
Early Witchcraft Trials
At the village of Warboys, in Huntingdon county, in 1589 lived two country gentlemen, Robert Throgmorton and Sir Samuel Cromwell. Throgmorton's family consisted of his wife and five daughters, of whom the eldest, Joan, a girl of 15, was well versed in ghost and witch lore.
On one occasion Joan had to pass the cottage of a laboring family by the name of Samuel. This family consisted of a man, his wife, and their grown daughter. Mother Samuel was sitting at the door, where she was busily engaged in knitting. Joan accused her of being a witch, ran home, and fell into strange convulsive fits, swearing that Mother Samuel had bewitched her. In due course the other Throgmorton daughters were beseiged by similar fits and placed the blame on Mother Samuel.
The parents began to suspect that their children were really bewitched and reported the matter to Lady Cromwell, who, as an intimate friend of the family, took up the matter. She and Sir Samuel ordered that the alleged witch be put to ordeal. Meanwhile the children let loose their imaginations and invented all sorts of weird and grotesque tales about the old woman.
Eventually Throgmorton had the poor old woman dragged to his grounds, where she was subjected to torture, pins being thrust into her body to see if blood could be drawn. Lady Cromwell tore out a handful of the woman's hair, which she gave to Mrs. Throgmorton to burn as an antidote to witchcraft. Suffering under these injuries the old woman invoked a curse against her torturers that was afterward remembered, although she was allowed her liberty. She suffered much persecution thereafter at the hands of the two families; every misfortune occurring among their cattle and livestock was blamed on her.
Eventually Lady Cromwell was seized with an illness that caused her death, and Mother Samuel was blamed. Repeated efforts were made to persuade her to confess and amend what she had done. At last, tormented beyond endurance, she let herself be persuaded to pronounce an exorcism against the spirits and confessed that her husband and daughter were associates with her and had sold themselves to the devil. On the strength of this confession the whole family was imprisoned in the Huntingdon jail.
At the following court session the three Samuels were put on trial and indicted with various offenses, among them, "bewitching unto death" the Lady Cromwell. In the agony of torture the old woman confessed all that was required, but her husband and daughter strongly asserted their innocence. All were sentenced to be hanged and burned. The executions were carried out on April 3, 1593.
With the accession of James I, (the former James IV of Scotland) the Continental crusade against witchcraft that had begun in the late fifteenth century came to England. James, who believed deeply in the negative power of witches, became greatly concerned about the spread of witchcraft in his land. He studied the nature of witchcraft and wrote a significant polemic against the practice. His book Daemonologie (1547) gave great impetus to the persecution of witches in England. Some 50 witches were executed during his reign. (English Protestants, who needed the approval of James, a Roman Catholic, to get their new translation of the Bible published, not only dedicated it to him but improperly translated the Hebrew word ob as "witch" as an additional means of gaining his support.)
The famous case of the Lancashire witches, notable for its accounts of witch covens (as opposed to the actions of individual sorcerers) arose in 1612. Twenty-two years later, when a boy called Robinson claimed that he had witnessed a witches' Sabbat at the Hoare Stones, some 17 women were brought to trial at Lancaster assizes.
As a result of the severe legislation against witchcraft, there arose a class of self-appointed witchfinders who used their power for personal advantage and caused the sacrifice of many innocent lives.
The most famous of these witchfinders was Matthew Hopkins of Manningtree, in Essex. He assumed the title "Witchfinder General," and, with an assistant and a woman whose duty it was to examine female suspects for devil's marks, he traveled about the counties of Essex, Sussex, Huntingdon, and Norfolk. In one year, from 1645 to 1646, Hopkins brought about the death of 60 people.
His general test was that of swimming. The hands and feet of the accused were tied together crosswise. She was wrapped in a sheet and thrown into a pond. If she sank—as frequently happened—she was deemed innocent, but at the cost of her life; if she floated she was pronounced guilty and immediately executed.
Another test was to repeat the Lord's Prayer without a single falter, a thing said to be impossible for a witch. Sometimes the suspect was weighed against the Bible, obtaining her freedom if she outweighed it. There is an apocryphal legend that when Hopkins's frauds were discovered an angry crowd subjected him to his own test by swimming. Hopkins retired to his home in Manningtree, Essex, in 1646, where he died about a year later.
In his book Witch, Warlock, and Magician (1889), W. H. D. Adams states:
"I think there can be little doubt that many evil-disposed persons availed themselves of the prevalent belief in witchcraft as a cover for their depredations on the property of their neighbours, diverting suspicion from themselves to the poor wretches, who through accidental circumstances had acquired notoriety as the devil's accomplices. It would also seem probable that not a few of the reputed witches similarly turned to account their bad reputation."
Decline of the Witchcraft Superstition
Toward the close of the seventeenth century, the tide began to turn and witchcraft convictions began to be discouraged by the courts. An old superstition dies hard, however, and in the early part of the eighteenth century, witchcraft was still considered credible, even among the educated classes of England. The last execution of witches in England took place at Northampton, where two were hung in 1705 and five others in 1712.
Francis Hutchison, commenting on this in his Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft (1718), states, "This is the more shameful as I shall hereafter prove from the literature of that time, a disbelief in the existence of witches had become almost universal among educated men, though the old superstition was still defended in the Judgment Seat, and in the pulpit."
According to John Wesley (1703-1791), who had considerable influence as a bishop,
"It is true likewise that the English in general, and, indeed, most of the men of learning in Europe, have given up all accounts of witches and apparitions as mere old wives' fables. I am sorry for it. The giving up of witchcraft, is in effect giving up the Bible. But I cannot give up to all the Deists in Great Britain the existence of witchcraft, till I give up the credit of all history sacred and profane."
Judge and legal authority Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) claimed that "to deny the possibility, nay, the actual existence of witchcraft and sorcery is at once flatly to contradict the revealed Word of God in various passages of the Old and New Testaments, and the thing itself is a truth to which every nation in the world hath in its turn borne testimony."
With every passing year, however, the old belief diminished, and in 1736, decades before Wesley stated his foregoing opinion, the laws against witchcraft were repealed. Yet the superstition was long-lived. In 1759 Susannah Hannaker of Wengrove was put to the ordeal of weighing, but she fortunately outweighed the Bible. Cases of ducking supposed witches occurred in 1760 at Leicester, in 1785 at Northampton, and in 1829 at Monmouth, while as late as 1863 a Frenchman died as the result of an illness caused by his having been ducked as a wizard. On September 17, 1875, an old woman named Ann Turner, a reputed witch, was killed at Long Compton in Warwickshire.
Magic in England in early times coexisted with witchcraft; only Roger Bacon, scientist-philosopher, displayed a separation between the two. Of course the occult traditions concerning Bacon are merely legendary, but they help to crystallize the popular idea of an English magician of medieval times. The Elizabethan History of Friar Bacon was probably the first to place these legends on record. It has no factual concern with the Bacon of science, for the Bacon of superstitious belief is a magician who cheated the devil, made a brazen head that spoke, and engaged in all manner of black magic.
In England the popular belief in magic was strengthened by the extraordinary effects of natural processes then known only to a small number of individuals who concealed their knowledge with the most profound secrecy. In England before the Reformation, the study of magic and alchemy were extremely common among the Roman clergy.
The rapid rise to power of statesmen like Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell led people to think that they had gained their high positions through diabolical assistance. There were a great number of magicians during the reign of Henry VIII, as is witnessed by documents in the Public Record Office in London.
According to Thomas Wright in his Narratives of Sorcery and Magic (2 vols., 1851), at the height of Wolsey's career a magician described as "one Wood, gent." was dragged before the privy council, charged with some misdemeanor that was connected with the intrigues of the day. In a paper addressed to the lords of the council, Wood stated that William Neville had sent for him at his house at Oxford, it being the first communication he had ever had with him. After he had been at Weke a short time, Neville took him by the arm and led him privately into the garden. Wood said Neville then asked him to make a ring that would bring him favor with the king, but he declined and left.
Neville sent for him again and entered into further communication with him on the subject, telling him that he had another conjurer (occult magician) named Wade who could show him more than Wood could. Among other things, Neville said, the conjurer had shown him that "he should be a great lord." This was an effective attempt to move Wood to jealousy, and Neville then prevailed upon him to make "moldes" (probably images) of a woman on whom he seemed to have set his love. Wood again refused, declaring that, although at the desire of "some of his friends," he had "called to a stone for things stolen," he had not undertaken to find or make treasures.
The search for treasure, which the conjurer Wood so earnestly disclaimed, was, however, one of the most usual occupations of magicians of this period. The frequent discoveries of Roman, Saxon, or medieval deposits in the course of accidental digging (then probably more common than today) was enough to whet the appetites of the needy or the miserly. The belief that the sepulchral barrow, or the long-deserted ruin, or even the wild and haunted glen concealed treasures of gold and silver was carried down in a variety of local legends. Hidden treasures were said to be under the charge of spirits who obeyed the magician's call. These searches were not always successful, as is evident from the following narrative, abridged from the account of William Stapleton, the main character in the story.
In the reign of Henry VIII, a priest named William Stapleton was placed under arrest as a conjurer, having been involved in some court intrigues. At the request of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey he wrote an account of his adventures, which is preserved in the Roll's House records (it is addressed to Wolsey, and not, as has been supposed, to Thomas Cromwell). Stapleton stated that he was a monk of the mitred abbey of St. Benet in the Holm, in Norfolk, where he lived in the nineteenth year of Henry VIII's reign (i.e., in 1527 or 1528), at which time he borrowed from one Dennys of Hofton a book called Thesaurus Spirituum, and after that another, called Secreta Secretorum, a little ring, a plate, a circle, and also a sword for the art of digging, and spent six months in studying their use.
Stapleton disliked rising early, and after having been frequently punished for being absent from matins and negligent of his duty in church he obtained a leave of six months from the abbot to go into the world and try to raise money to buy a dispensation from an order that did not suit him.
The first person Stapleton consulted with was his friend Dennys, who recommended he try his skill in finding treasure. Dennys introduced Stapleton to two "knowing men" who had "placards" or licenses from the king to search for treasure troves, which were not infrequently bought from the crown at this period. These men lent him other books and instruments related to the "art of digging," and they went together to a place named Sidestrand in Norfolk to search and mark out the ground where they thought treasure should lie. It happened, however, that the lady Tyrry, to whom the estate belonged, learned of their trespassing, and after sending for them and subjecting them to a close examination, ordered them to leave her grounds.
After several more futile attempts at "conjuring" treasure at other towns, a disappointed and disgusted Stapleton gave up the pursuit. Back in Norfolk, however, he soon met with some of his old treasure-seeking acquaintances, who urged him to go to work again, which he refused to do unless he had better books. They told him of a man called Leech who had a book to which the parson of Lesingham had bound a spirit called "Andrea Malchus." Stapleton went to see the man.
Leech gave Stapleton all his instruments, and told him that the parson of Lesingham and Sir John of Leiston (another ecclesiastic) as well as others, had recently used the book to call up three spirits: Andrea Malchus, "Oberion," and "Inchubus."
After Stapleton acquired Leech's instruments he journeyed to Norwich, where he was soon found by a messenger from Lord Leonard Marquees, who lived at "Calkett Hall" and wanted a person expert in the art of digging. Stapleton met him at Walsingham; the lord promised him that if he would take pains in exercising the dig he would request a dispensation that would make Stapleton a secular priest and the lord's own chaplain.
Leonard proceeded rather shrewdly to test the searcher's talents: he directed one of his servants to hide a sum of money in the garden, and Stapleton dug for it, and one Jackson "scryed" (invoked the treasure's "spirit" through a crystal), but they were unable to find the money. Undaunted, Stapleton went directly with two other priests, Sir John Shepe and Sir Robert Porter, to a place beside Creke Abbey, where treasure was supposed to be, and "Sir John Shepe called the spirit of the treasure, and I shewed to him, but all came to no purpose."
Stapleton went to hide his disappointment in London, where he remained some weeks, until Leonard, who had arranged the dispensation he promised, sent for him to pass the winter with him in Leicestershire. Toward spring Stapleton returned to Norfolk. There he was informed that there was "much money" hidden in the neighborhood of Calkett Hall, especially in the Bell Hill (probably an ancient grave). After some delay, he obtained his instruments and went to work with the parish priest of Gorleston but reported, "of truth we could bring nothing to effect." After this Stapleton returned to London, carrying his instruments with him; on his arrival he was thrown into prison at the suit of Leonard, who accused him of leaving his service without permission, and all his instruments were seized. He never recovered them, but he was soon released from prison and obtained temporary employment in the church. The number of such treasure hunters appears to have been far greater among Stapleton's contemporaries in almost all classes of society than one might believe.
A few years before these events, in the twelfth year of Henry VIII's reign (1521) the king granted to Robert, Lord Curzon,the monopoly of treasure seeking in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. Curzon immediately delegated to a man named William Smith of Clopton, and to a servant or retainer of his own named Amylyon, not only the right of search given to him but also the power to arrest and press charges against any other person they found seeking treasure within the two counties.
Smith and Amylyon apparently used this delegated authority for purposes of extortion, and in the summer of 1521 Smith was brought before the court of the city of Norwich, at the suit of William Goodred of Great Melton.
It appears that the treasure diggers, who had received their "placard" (license) from Curzon in March, went to Norwich about Easter and paid a visit to the schoolmaster George Dowsing, who, they had heard, was skilled in magical arts. They showed him their license for treasure seeking, which authorized them to press into their service any persons they might find who had skill in the science; so it appears that they were not capable of raising spirits themselves without the assistance of "scholars."
The schoolmaster entered willingly into their project, and they went, about two or three o'clock in the morning, with one or two other persons who were admitted into their confidence, and dug in the ground beside "Butter Hilles," within the walls of the city, but found nothing there. (These "hilles" were probably ancient games.) They next proceeded to a place called "Seynt William in the Wood by Norwich," where they excavated two nights but with no better success.
They then held a meeting at the house of one Saunders in the market of Norwich and called to their assistance two ecclesiastics, one named Sir William, the other Sir Robert Cromer, the former being a parish priest. At this meeting, Dowsing allegedly raised "a spirit or two" in a scrying glass, but Cromer "began and raised a spirit first." Spirit or no spirit, however, they seem to have had as little success as ever in discovering the treasure.
Unable after so many attempts to find the treasure themselves, they resolved to extort a general contribution from everybody who followed the same calling. They accused a person of the name of Wikman of "digging of hilles" and by threatening to take him before Curzon they obtained ten shillings from him.
With the era of John Dee and Edward Kelley (middle to late sixteenth century), a much more definite system of magico-astrology evolved on English soil. Although Kelley was a rogue, there is little doubt that Dee possessed psychic gifts of no mean character. His most celebrated followers were William Lilly and Elias Ashmole. Lilly gathered about him quite a band of magicians—Ramsey, Scott, Hodges, and others, as well as his "skryers" (crystal gazers) Sarah Skelhorm and Ellen Evans. These may be said to be the last of the practical magicians of England. Their methods were those of divination by crystal gazing and evocation of spirits, combined with practical astrology.
The mid-seventeenth century also produced such individuals as Robert Fludd, who wrote concerning the secrets of mysticism and magnetism. Fludd was a Paracelsian (after sixteenth-century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus ) and regarded man as a microcosm of the universe. He was an ardent defender of the Rosicrucians and wrote two spirited works about them, as well as his great Tractatus Apologeticus and many other alchemical and philosophical treatises. The part of the Tractatus that deals with natural magic is one of the most definitive ever written on the subject.
Thomas Vaughan is likewise a figure of intense interest from this period. He was a supreme expert of spiritual alchemy, and his works written under the pseudonym "Eugenius Philalethes" show he possessed an exalted mind. It is through men of this type that a mystical or spiritual dimension was added to the earlier uncritical and superstitious belief in magic.
(For the development of Spiritualism, psychical research, and parapsychology in Britain, see entries under those headings.)
The British occult witnessed a revival in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, resulting in keen interest in spiritualism, psychic readings, and the development of magical orders, including Wicca. The word Wicca refers to British Traditional Witchcraft, also called English Traditional Witchcraft, a specific magical Mystery tradition that evolved over centuries. The use of the Old English word Wicca distinguishes British Traditional Witchcraft from the many other forms of religious witchcraft that exist. While the Old English form was "wiccecraeft," the modern usage has become "Wicca Craft" or the Craft of the Wicca. The concepts of Wicca known today derive from ceremonial magic and Freemasonry. Wiccans are a proper subset of religious practitioner Witches and are very active today.
Claims of the paranormal remain popular in the British Isles, with many of the twentieth centuries' most world-renown and controversial cases emerging from England. In 1998 The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of Paranormal compiled what they believe to be the top 10 enduring paranormal "hoaxes," three of which are based in England. Number five on the list is the Cottingley Fairies, where in 1917 two English schoolgirls took photographs of winged fairies dancing in Cottingley Glen. Although photography experts attested the images were not double exposures nor had the negatives been altered, the scene itself was eventually determined to be faked, as the girls had merely posed with paper fairy cutouts. The photos deceived many for several years, however, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.
Crop circles were number six on the skeptic's list. Elaborate patterns have been mysteriously appearing in southern English wheat fields since the late 1970s. Many offered mystical or extraterrestrial explanations for the bent stalks. In 1991, however, two men demonstrated how they had created the first crop circles, which others have repeatedly copied.
Number eight on the list was the Piltdown "Missing Link" case. The "missing link" between mankind and our prehistoric ancestors was reportedly uncovered near Piltdown Common in England by an amateur fossil collector in December 1912. The story was recognized across the world and the bones were exhibited in the British Museum. In 1953, however, the find was revealed to be a combination of ordinary human cranial pieces and the jawbone of an orangutan.
With the exception of the Piltdown Missing Link case, people worldwide continue to believe in claims of paranormal activity.
Despite skeptical rebuff to many paranormal and supernatural claims, psychical research is currently undergoing a boom in the United Kingdom, especially in the form of universitybased research; in England alone this includes research projects at the University of Hertfordshire, the University of the West of England, University College Northampton, and Coventry University. Organizations dedicated to the subject include the Society for Psychical Research, based in London, and the Student Parapsychology Society, based in Cheltenham, Gloucester.
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Summers, Montague. Witchcraft and Black Magic. London: Rider, 1946. Reprint, New York: Causeway Books, 1974.
Thomas, Keith. Religion and the Decline of Magic. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971.
Valiente, Doreen. An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present. New York: St. Martin's Press; London: Macmillan, 1973.
Wright, Thomas. Narratives of Sorcery and Magic. 2 vols. London, 1851. Reprint, Detroit: Gale Research, 1974.
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Gale Group Inc.
ENGLAND. At the level of world history, England between 1485 and 1789 is most important for the developments that helped usher in aspects of the modern world. Three, in particular, are worthy of note. First, the expansion of English power was such that, by 1700, England was the world's leading maritime power and the most important colonial power in North America; by the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763, England was the strongest state in the world. Second, the religious and political changes within England transformed the nature of its political culture and therefore ensured the character of the state that was to become the most important in the world, and, to a certain extent, contributed to that development. The most significant of these changes within England were the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century and the overthrow of Stuart authoritarianism in the seventeenth century and its replacement by a political system in which Parliament played a leading role. Third, the period saw the development of the English language. The vocabulary expanded, English replaced Latin and Norman French as the language of the Bible and the law respectively, and, with the plays of William Shakespeare (1564–1616), it reached new cultural heights.
CHRISTIANITY AND WITCHCRAFT
It is also important to draw attention to other aspects of the period that do not so readily accord with this account of modernization. In many profound ways, both the facts and details of life and the attitudes of the period were totally different from those today. This was a realm that was shadowed by a world of spirits, good and bad, and these spirits were seen and believed to intervene frequently in the life of humans. This belief brought together both Christian notions—in particular providentialism, a conviction of God's direct intervention in the life of individuals, the intercessory role of saints, sacraments, prayer and belief, the existence of heaven, purgatory, hell, and the devil, and a related and overlapping group of ideas, beliefs, and customs—that were partially Christianized but also testified to a mental world that was not explicable in terms of Christian theology. This was a world of good and evil, knowledge and magic, of fatalism, of the occult, and of astrology and alchemy. Such beliefs were widely held.
This fearful world could be only partially countered by Christianity, but the very sense of menace and danger helps to account for the energy devoted to religious issues in the sixteenth century and the fears encouraged by changes in church belief and practice, for example, the despoliation of shrines and the ending of pilgrimages. The true path of Christian virtue and salvation was challenged not only by false prophets laying claim to the word of Jesus, but also by a malevolent world presided over by the devil. Witches were prominent among the devil's followers, and concern about witches gained a new prominence in the sixteenth century. James I (reigned 1603–1625), for whose court Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, wrote against witches and was believed to be the target of their diabolical schemes, although he later recanted his opinions and, if anything, became a force for moderation in their treatment.
Witchcraft was not swept away by the Renaissance, the Reformation, or the supposed onset of the modern age. Indeed, belief in prediction, astrology, alchemy, and the occult was especially strong in the early seventeenth century. The last recorded witch trial in England occurred in 1717, and the Witchcraft Act of 1736 banned accusations of witchcraft and sorcery.
LIVING CONDITIONS IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND
The sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation with its emphasis on a vernacular Bible ensured that good and evil became more literary and less oral and visual than hitherto, but that did not diminish the need for people to understand their world in terms of the struggle between the two. Evil, malevolence, and the inscrutable workings of the divine will seemed the only way to explain the sudden pitfalls of the human condition.
The average experience of life for the people of the period necessarily came at a younger age than for the average person today, and was shaped within a context of the ever-present threat of death, disease, injury, and pain. There was still joy and pleasure, exultation and exhilaration, but the demographics were chilling. Alongside individuals who lived to old age, there were lives quickly cut short—in the case of women, especially in childbirth. Child mortality figures continued to be high. Thirty-eight percent of the children born in Penrith in the northwest of England between 1650 and 1700 died before reaching the age of six. Defenses against disease remained flimsy, not least because of the limited nature of medical knowledge. Treatments such as blistering and mercury were often painful, dangerous, or enervating. Surgery was primitive and was performed without anesthesia. There was nothing akin to the modern expectation that there should be a medical cure for everything; people were forced to resort to quack medicines, folk remedies, and prayer. Typhus, typhoid, influenza, dysentery, chicken pox, measles, scarlet fever, and syphilis were all serious threats. Other conditions that can now be cured or held at bay were debilitating.
Living conditions contributed to the problem. Crowded housing, especially the sharing of beds, helped spread diseases, particularly respiratory infections. Most dwellings were neither warm nor dry, and sanitary practices were a problem. There were few baths, washing in clean water was limited, and louse infestation was serious. Although outer clothes were worn for long periods and were not washable, those who could afford it wore linen or cotton shifts next to their skin, and these shifts could be regularly laundered. However, most people wore the same clothes for as long as they could. Bedbugs and rats were real horrors and, by modern standards, breath and skin must have been repellent. It is difficult to recreate an impression of the smell and dirt of the period. Ventilation was limited. Humans lived close to animals and dunghills, and this damaged health. Manure stored near buildings was hazardous and could contaminate the water supply, while effluent from undrained privies and animal pens came into houses through generally porous walls. Privies with open soil pits lay directly alongside dwellings and under bedrooms.
Poor nutrition lowered resistance to disease. Fruit and vegetables were expensive and played only a minor role in the diet of the urban poor, who were also generally ill clad. The poor ate less meat. Plant stocks had not been scientifically improved to resist disease and adverse weather conditions and to increase yields.
Agricultural labor was arduous, generally daylight to dusk in winter, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in summer. Industrial employment was also hard—up to sixteen hours daily in the Yorkshire alum houses—and often dangerous. Each occupation had its own hazards. Millers worked in dusty and noisy circumstances, frequently suffered from lice, and often developed asthma, hernias, and chronic back problems. Disorders could result from the strain of unusual physical demands or postures, such as those required of tailors and weavers. Many places of work were damp, badly ventilated, and poorly lit. Work frequently involved exposure to dangerous substances such as arsenic, lead, and mercury or was dangerous in itself, particularly construction, fishing, and mining. Many industrial processes were dangerous to others besides the workers: dressing and tanning leather polluted water supplies.
At a more mundane level, uncertainty was a matter not only of demographics but also an aspect of the contemporary world of space, not least of transport. This uncertainty, in comparison with modern life, was captured most vividly by the abrupt shift from light to darkness. The modern world can overcome the latter with electric lighting and, as far as travel and distance are concerned, navigation systems, but, in the early modern world, the dark was a world of uncertainty, danger, and menace. This was especially true for the traveler literally unable to see his routes.
In addition to the problems presented by the darkness, road surfaces were unreliable. They were greatly affected by rain, especially on clay soils. Travel through the heavily forested Weald in Kent, Surrey, and Sussex, in the southeast, posed particular problems, but heavy clays, for example in south Essex and the Vale of Berkeley (Gloucestershire), also created difficulties. Furthermore, standards of road maintenance were low. Upkeep was largely the responsibility of the local parish, and the resources for a speedy and effective response to deficiencies were lacking.
The situation did not improve greatly through the early modern period. Travel was not much easier in 1700 than it had been in 1500. Horses were the same, ships were still wooden and wind-powered, most roads were still dirt tracks, and the impact of the weather had not changed. The slowness of land travel, the difficulty of moving bulk goods on land, other than by river, and Britain's island character ensured that trade and travel by sea were more important than they are today. On land, a network of regular and reliable long-distance wagon services did not develop until the seventeenth century. The situation was worse at sea. Shipwreck and the problems of storm-tossed or, in contrast, becalmed journeys engaged the imagination of the age, as can be seen from the role of storms and shipwrecks in such Shakespeare plays as The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Pericles, A Winter's Tale, and The Comedy of Errors.
PLAGUE, POPULATION, AND URBAN EXPANSION
There were still virulent outbreaks of the plague, as in 1499–1500, 1518, 1538, 1563, and 1665, the last the Great Plague in which between seventy and one hundred thousand people died. Nevertheless, there was also a major rise in population. Prior to the first national census in 1801, all figures are approximate, but the population of England and Wales seems to have increased from under 2.5 million in 1500 to over 4 million by 1603 and about 5 million by 1651. The impact of this change was accentuated because it followed a period of stagnation after the Black Death (1348–1350) and preceded another that lasted until the 1740s. The increase in population was due largely to a fall in mortality, but a rise in fertility stemming from a small decrease in the average age of women at marriage was probably also important.
The rise in population affected the structure of society by leading to overpopulation as far as the distribution of resources was concerned, certainly in comparison with the fifteenth century. This encouraged a persistent rise in prices in the sixteenth century. The demand for food caused the rents of agricultural land to rise proportionately more rapidly than wages. This hit both tenants and those with little or no land. In the volatile and tense situation, agrarian capitalism became more intense. Landlords tried to increase the yield of their customary estates and to destroy the system of customary tenure. Much of the peasantry lost status and became little different from poorly paid wage laborers. The growing number of paupers and vagrants greatly concerned successive governments, although more for reasons of law and order than because of concern about the poor.
Urban expansion was a product of the role of towns as centers of manufacturing, trade, government, and leisure. Yet all four were also pursued in the countryside, just as there was much market gardening within town walls, as well as orchards and pastures, the latter particularly for milk, which could not be refrigerated, treated, or preserved. With the exception of London, cities were small and the countryside was always nearby. In 1523, Worcester ranked sixteenth among England's towns by population, which was only about 4,000, and only about 6,000 in 1646. Evesham, the next biggest town in Worcestershire, had only about 1,400 people—the size of a modern village—in the mid-sixteenth century.
Rural fairs remained important to trade, their episodic character a reminder of the rhythm of seasonal activity that framed life. Much industry was also located in the countryside, in part because of the importance of waterpower provided by fast-flowing rivers and tapped by the water wheels in mills.
Alongside any emphasis on elements of continuity, it is necessary to draw attention to signs of economic change. This was both quantitative (increased production) and qualitative (new methods and routes). Both were important. A more integrated economy reflected the demands of a growing population and urban markets and the absence of internal tariffs. Trade increasingly linked distant areas. Northeastern coal was shipped from Newcastle to London. As national markets developed, the importance of transport links and capital availability increased. The processing of rural products—grain, meat, wool, wood, hides, hops—was central to industry throughout Britain. The cost and difficulty of transport encouraged the production of goods near the markets for which they were destined. Thus, rural Britain was dotted with breweries and mills.
Building reflected affluence and expenditure, as with the insertion of chimney stacks in many houses. The world of "things" increased over the early modern period. More artifacts survive from the sixteenth century than from the fifteenth, and other evidence, such as probate inventories, legal records, and literary references, also suggest a marked trend toward possessing more. Increasing material consumption also invited denunciation by moralists and was seen as the cause of what was regarded as a major rise in crime. The world of things had important cultural consequence. Craftsmanship flourished in the manufacture of many goods. The increase in the number of musical instruments, such as lutes, probably ensured that instrumental music came to play a prominent role, especially in genteel society. Songs were set to music, which it must be assumed people could readily play.
Books were an important part of this new world. Early beginnings in printing were less important than sustained growth in the production and consumption of books and other printed material in the sixteenth and later centuries. The availability of books helped to encourage literacy. It was important for its collective functions, especially the use of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer in church and the energizing of cultural production. But it also offered the possibility of a more private and individual culture than that provided by the conspicuous consumption and display of public ceremonial.
The publication of the vernacular Bible helped to validate both books and the use of English rather than Latin. Printing made writing more available in a standard form, creating a shared and repeatable culture that manuscripts could not generate. Print thus lent itself to the demands of a state that from the 1530s was legislating actively in lay and ecclesiastical matters.
As yet, however, the impact of popular literacy and the print revolution upon oral culture was limited. Most people could neither read nor afford books. Furthermore, most people lacked formal education. Thus, printing exacerbated social divisions and gave an extra dimension to the flow of orders, ideas, and models down the social hierarchy. The inability of the poor to express themselves was accentuated. Conversely, education, the world of print, the impact of government, and the role of London all encouraged the gentry increasingly to view politics and society in national terms.
The poverty of the majority was counterpointed by the growing comfort that characterized the wealthy. This contrast was also seen in political and religious change, with the bulk of the population neither consulted nor considered other than as objects of control. The absence of consultation was more disruptive than it had been ever since the Norman Conquest of 1066 because change was not simply a matter of monarchs and aristocratic factions competing for the spoils of power and privilege, but, with the Reformation, also a deep-seated and divisive change in the nation's ideology and culture. The extent of this has been largely overlooked because, from the reign of Elizabeth (1558–1603), the Reformation was seen as the national destiny and central to national identity. English became the language of God's work and the monarch was now head of the church. The assertion by the English Church that purgatory did not exist and the consequent abolition of prayers for the dead destroyed links between the communities of the living and the dead. The loss of the monasteries in the 1530s brought much disruption, including, in many localities, the breakdown of poor and medical relief. Although in the short term monastic charity was ended, before long Protestant-influenced patterns of charitable giving developed. Instead of bequests going to masses for the dead and to chantry priests, they were now more frequently left for parish charities, educational provision, and almshouses.
RELIGION AND POLITICS
Henry VIII's use of Parliament in the 1530s and 1540s to legitimate his objectives increased its frequency and role. Nevertheless, the idea that there was a revolution in government in the 1530s is questionable: Henry's preference for direct control remained the dominant theme throughout his reign. He kept his grip on the domestic situation, helped by his clear right to the throne, his unwillingness to turn obviously to either religious option, and the selective use of terror. Henry retained control of the government, as well as of the aristocracy through their attendance at court, through the travels of the court itself, through shared participation in military activities and the hunt, and through patronage.
Under Edward VI (ruled 1547–1553), politics at the center and control of the localities were greatly complicated by religious disputes. They made it harder to ensure cooperation and consensus. During his reign, Edward was opened to the influence of Protestantism from the Continent, and there was a surge of state-supported and purposeful Protestant activity. Hostility to religious change played a major role in the widespread uprisings in the southwest in 1549, although the rising in Norfolk that year focused on opposition to landlords, especially the enclosure of common lands and their high rents, and to oppressive local governments. Although crushed, the risings in 1549 indicated the extent to which developments in the 1530s through the 1560s encouraged a degree of hostile popular response that menaced the political system and thus required the development of a new language and practice of apparent consultation within the political nation.
Similarly, under Mary (ruled 1553–1558), the failure of Wyatt's rising indicated the precarious nature of the regime, but also the problems affecting rebellions. Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragón, was a devout Catholic who was determined to return England to the Catholic fold. A parliamentary statute declared her power identical to that of a male ruler. She persuaded Parliament to repeal Edward's religious legislation and her father's Act of Supremacy. She restored papal authority and Catholic practice, although a papal dispensation from Julius III allowed the retention of the former church lands by those who now held them. The reign of the sickly Mary was brief, and her chance of success in re-Catholicizing England and Wales was further victim of her failure to produce an heir, in spite of two phantom pregnancies. Mary is chiefly remembered as a persecutor ("Bloody Mary"). Nearly three hundred Protestants were burned at the stake, including many leaders. Her reign was also important because in 1558 the French retook Calais, the last English possession in mainland France: only the Channel Islands were left.
THE AGE OF ELIZABETH
Parliamentary management became more important during the long reign of Elizabeth (ruled 1558–1603). This was an aspect of a shift in the politics of the country away from a focus on relations between crown and aristocracy and, instead, toward relations between crown and gentry. At the center, although the royal court remained the major focus of politics, this led to a greater role for Parliament and a stress on ideas of representation, and in the localities to the growing importance of the gentry as justices of the peace. The rise of a numerous and independent gentry with a sense and obligation of public duty was linked to the failure of the peerage to be the prime beneficiary of the sociopolitical changes of the period. The creation of stronger links between crown and gentry was fundamental to the achievement of the Elizabethan period. Elizabeth was the most experienced politician in her kingdom, anxious to preserve the royal prerogative, but knowing when to yield without appearing weak. She had favorites but did not give them power, and she never married. Claiming that she was an exceptional woman because she was chosen by God as his instrument, Elizabeth was pragmatic and generally more successful in coping with, indeed exploiting, divisions among her advisers than Mary had been. She presented herself as "mere English."
Elizabeth's lengthy reign permitted the consolidation of a relatively conservative Protestant church settlement, and also contrasted both with the chaos of the preceding two reigns and with the disturbed situation in contemporary France, where the lengthy civil Wars of Religion (1552–1598) were soon to begin. Like her grandfather, Henry VII (ruled 1485–1509), Elizabeth was a skillful manipulator, not a zealot. In religion, she sought to avoid extremes and would have preferred a settlement closer to that of her father, Henry VIII: Catholicism without pope or monks. She was, nevertheless, a Protestant in the last analysis. Mary's ministers and favorites were mostly dismissed, and the domestic political situation led Elizabeth in a more Protestant direction, but the Protestant settlement she introduced was more conservative than that of the last years of Edward VI. Elizabeth also sought to prevent further change, and this led to disputes with the more radical Protestants, the Puritans.
Elizabeth's Protestant settlement aroused Catholic concern, and the situation became volatile in 1568 when her cousin, the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–1587), fled to England, where she was next in line in the succession. Mary's presence acted as a focus for conspiracy, helping trigger the unsuccessful Northern Rising of 1569. Its failure was one of the major stages in the political unification of England, for it marked the end of any viable prospect of regional autonomy centered on a different political and/or religious agenda. This was important because the north was more religiously conservative than the south. Even in 1569, the rebellion had been intended to ensure a change in the policy of the central government. Thereafter, politics centered far more on nationwide attempts to influence the center, rather than local efforts to defy it.
The Northern Rising was followed by an escalation in tension between Elizabeth's government and Catholic Europe. In 1570, Pope Pius V excommunicated and deposed Elizabeth. This eased the path for a number of unsuccessful conspiracies designed to replace Elizabeth with Mary, Queen of Scots, which led in turn to the execution of the latter in 1587.
Two years earlier, English military support for Dutch Protestant rebels against Philip II of Spain, and English raids on Spanish trade and colonies, especially those by Francis Drake (c. 1540–1596), had led to war between the two powers. This conflict was most famous for the Armada of 1588, a Spanish attempt to send a major fleet up the English Channel in order to cover an invasion of England from the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium) by the effective Spanish army of Flanders under the duke of Parma. This was thwarted by a combination of poor planning, a skillful English naval response, and the weather. The latter fueled the development of belief in a providential sanction for English Protestantism. To contemporaries, the unassailable nature of divine approval was clear.
Despite the defeat of the Armada, Elizabeth I's reign did not end on a triumphant note. Inflation and a lack of crown revenue created a difficult situation. Elizabeth preferred to cut public expenditure rather than reform the revenue system. Demands for additional taxation and attempts to raise funds by unpopular expedients—especially forced loans, ship money, and the sale of monopolies to manufacture or sell certain goods—led to bitter criticism in the Parliaments of 1597 and 1601. Tax demands were especially unwelcome because of harvest failures and related social tensions. There were problems—political, social, and economic—aplenty, the government had a stopgap feel to it, and Elizabeth was less adept and tolerant in her last years than she had been earlier in the reign.
THE STUART SUCCESSION AND CIVIL WAR
Yet there was no civil war comparable to that in France, and the Stuart succession was inaugurated in 1603 without such a war. The increasing widespread politicization that was a feature of sixteenth-century England did not present insuperable problems. Instead, it contributed to a stronger national consciousness.
Thus, Parliament was a national body, whereas the nearest equivalent in France, the Estates-General, had less impact (and was not summoned between 1614 and 1789) than the regional Estates. As a unitary state, England could not be divided to suit the views of a ruler.
However, in the civil war that began in 1642, the country did split. The Royalists and the Parliamentarians had backing in every region and social group. Parliamentary support was strongest in the most economically advanced regions—in the south, the east, and the large towns—but in each of these regions there were also many Royalists, and the relationship between socioeconomic groups and religious and political beliefs were complex. The latter were important. Charles I (ruled 1625–1649) received much support as the focus for strong feelings of honor, loyalty, and duty. There was also widespread disquiet about possible changes to church government. In contrast, Puritans were his firm opponents. As a consequence, much rivalry was within, rather than between, social and economic groups. The English Civil War was a terrible crisis. Britons fought against and killed other Britons as never before. More than half the total number of battles ever fought on English soil involving more than 5,000 men were fought between 1642 and 1651. Out of an English male population of about 1.5 million, over 80,000 died in combat and another 100,000 of other causes arising from the war, principally disease.
Charles's defeat and his execution led eventually to a republic in 1649, and, in 1653–1658, to a military regime under Oliver Cromwell that suppressed domestic opposition and projected its power abroad with considerable success. However, the Puritan cultural revolution failed. There was widespread anxiety about the overthrow of order in politics, religion, society, and the household. This anxiety was the background to the restoration, in 1660, of the Stuart monarchy in the person of Charles II (ruled 1660–1685). Despite uncertainty and opposition, Charles's reign was more stable than the previous quarter-century. This was important not only for recovery from the mid-century conflicts, but also for economic growth and development. Foreign trade rose during Charles's reign. Economic growth was modest, and the stagnant population was a damper on demand, but there was development in both agricultural and industrial production.
Monarchy, Parliament, the Church of England, and the position of the social elite were all seen as mutually reinforcing, but the Catholicism of Charles's brother and heir, James II (ruled 1685–1688), made this an elusive harmony. James inherited his father's worst characteristics—inflexibility and dogmatism—and pressed forward unpopular authoritarian changes designed to further his goals of greater royal authority and paving the way for re-Catholicization. The political culture of the age assumed deference in return for good kingship, expectations of political behavior that involved a measure of contractualism. James spurned these boundaries.
THE GLORIOUS REVOLUTION
James's base of support was narrow, and it collapsed in 1688 as a result of challenge from without by his nephew William III (ruled 1689–1702), stadtholder of the Dutch Republic and the husband of James's daughter Mary (ruled 1689–1694). William's invasion of England was quickly successful, in large part because he ably exploited James's failure of nerve. James was encouraged to flee and Parliament declared that James had abdicated, rather than adopting the more radical notion that he had been deposed. Parliament debarred Catholics from the succession and placed restrictions on royal power. The financial settlement left William with an ordinary revenue that was too small for his peacetime needs, obliging him to turn to Parliament for support. A standing army was prohibited unless permitted by Parliament. In other words, Parliament was by this time stronger than the monarchy.
As with the Tudor triumph in 1485, England had been successfully invaded. But in 1688 the political situation was very different for a number of reasons, not least the validating role of Parliament, and the need to ensure that Scotland and Ireland were brought in line. Nevertheless, there was also a fundamental continuity. Political issues were settled by conflict. Furthermore, the dynastic position was crucial: political legitimacy could not be divorced from the sovereign and the succession. Both these factors ensure that the elements of modernity suggested by the constitutional products of the 1688 invasion have to be qualified by reminders of more traditional features of the political structure.
What was to be termed by its supporters the Glorious Revolution was to play a central role in the Whiggish, heroic, self-congratulatory account of English development. It was clearly important in the growth of an effective parliamentary monarchy in which the constitutional role of Parliament served as the anchor of cooperation between the crown and the sociopolitical elite. Yet a less benign account is also possible, and not only from the perspective of the exiled James and his Jacobite supporters. The instability of the ministries of the period 1689–1721 suggests that the political environment necessary for an effective parliamentary monarchy had in some ways been hindered by the events of 1688–1689. A parliamentary monarchy could not simply be legislated into existence. It required the development of conventions and patterns of political behavior that would permit a constructive resolution of contrary opinions. This took time and was not helped by the burdens of the lengthy and difficult wars with France—from 1689 to 1697 and 1702 to 1713—that followed the Glorious Revolution. William's seizure of power did not assist this process of resolution for other reasons: alongside praise for him as a Protestant and a providential blessing, there was criticism of him as a usurper. This criticism was marginalized because the circumstances of William's reign permitted him a political and polemical victory over his opponents. As a result, the Protestant and Whiggish vision associated with the victors eventually came to seem natural to the English. However, a tenuous link can be drawn between the willingness to conceive of new political structures and governmental arrangements—seen, for example, with the parliamentary Union of England and Scotland in 1707 and the foundation of the Bank of England in 1694—and the increased interest in taking an active role in first understanding the world and then seeking to profit from this understanding, which flowered with the scientific revolution.
See also Agriculture ; Anne (England) ; Armada, Spanish ; Bible: Translations and Editions ; Capitalism ; Charles I (England) ; Charles II (England) ; Church of England ; Communication and Transportation ; Cromwell, Oliver ; Drama: English ; Edward VI (England) ; Elizabeth I (England) ; Enclosure ; English Civil War and Interregnum ; English Literature and Language ; Feudalism ; George II (Great Britain) ; George III (Great Britain) ; Glorious Revolution ; Hanoverian Dynasty (Great Britain) ; Henry VIII (England) ; Jacobitism ; James I and VI (England and Scotland) ; James II (England) ; Laborers ; Mary I (England) ; Printing and Publishing ; Puritanism ; Stuart Dynasty (England and Scotland) ; Tudor Dynasty (England) ; William and Mary ; Witchcraft .
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COPYRIGHT 2004 The Gale Group Inc.
Since the 1970s, English food appears to have undergone a transformation. A postwar cuisine of plainly cooked meat and vegetables supplemented with baked goods and puddings has apparently given way to multiculturalism. Restaurants serve fusion food. Supermarkets sell chilled meals based on Italian or Asian recipes. The cookery sector of publishing is buoyant. This seems astonishing for a country whose eating habits evolved little between the mid-nineteenth century and 1953, when Second World War rationing ended; but beneath the metropolitan froth, old ideas about plain cooking live on.
England has an unpredictable but generally benign maritime climate, without extremes; relief is low, the highest mountain standing 3210 feet (978 meters). A basic topographic division runs from northeast to southwest, along the watershed of the Trent and Severn rivers. North and west of this, the land tends to be higher, and the climate colder and wetter. To the south and east, hills are generally low, and summers warmer and drier. Annual rainfall ranges from about 97 inches (2,500mm) in the hills of the northwest to about 23 inches (600mm) in the driest parts of the east; winter temperatures rarely drop more than a couple of degrees centigrade below freezing and the summer maximum is about 86°F (30°C).
England's political and cultural dominance of the United Kingdom makes it difficult to disentangle English food habits from those of the Welsh, Scots, and Irish. Successive waves of settlers have brought ideas about food, but few attributions can be made until the twentieth century. Foreign trade has been important to English cuisine since at least the late Middle Ages. Spices came from the East Indies; sugar and currants were initially imported from the Mediterranean, and later from colonial possessions. A dependence on tropical crops—tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar—developed in the nineteenth century; and the idea of curry came home with the nabobs of the East India Company.
Localized breeds of cattle, sheep, and pigs developed in the nineteenth century. Grass-fed beef from Aberdeen Angus, Hereford, and other traditional breeds is considered best. Most sheep meat is eaten as lamb, under the age of a year; mutton, from older sheep, formerly important, is now almost unobtainable. Fresh pork was and is popular, as is bacon. Wiltshire became an important center for curing meat in the nineteenth century. Bacon provided a relish for the otherwise monotonous diets of the poor. It remains an English favorite, though much is now imported from Denmark. Regional ham cures that became famous include those of York (or, more properly, Yorkshire), Cumberland, Devon, and Suffolk.
Poultry has long been important for both meat and eggs. In the nineteenth century, the counties around London produced Sussex and Dorking chickens; Surrey was famous for capons, and the town of Aylesbury produced ducks. Turkeys and geese were reared on corn (grain) stubble in East Anglia for sale in the capital. Poultry production is now an intensive industry, though small businesses based on high-quality traditional poultry production are appearing. Only geese have not succumbed to intensive systems.
Game has always featured on the aristocratic menu. Venison was most sought after; deer farming has made this more accessible, but it remains a minority taste, as do hares. Rabbits, nurtured in warrens in the Middle Ages, escaped, naturalized, and became pests, and the only wild creatures easily accessible to the poor. Wildfowl of all descriptions were eaten up to the eighteenth century, but subsequently the choice narrowed to about a dozen species, of which pheasants are most common, yet grouse from heather moorlands, and partridges are most prized.
Meat cookery demonstrates a preference for plain roasted (or, strictly speaking, baked) meat. Traditional accompaniments are horseradish sauce for beef; mint sauce (finely chopped mint mixed with sugar and vinegar) for lamb, and sage and onion stuffing and applesauce for fresh pork, which is generally roasted with the skin on to make crackling. Roast potatoes and boiled green or root vegetables are also served. Boiled meat dishes, such as salt beef with carrots, or mutton with caper sauce have almost vanished, though some people still marinate beef with salt, spices, and sugar for several days to make spiced beef. Steaks and chops are used for grilling.
Other meat dishes include pies or steamed suet puddings of beefsteak and kidney; oxtail is made into stews and soups. Skirt of beef is mixed with chopped potato, onion, and turnip in Cornish pasties, popular everywhere but closely identified with Cornwall itself. Northern butchers make a paste of cooked beef beneath a layer of fat; this potted beef is a remnant of an eighteenth-century tradition of potting all kinds of meat. Lancashire hotpot is a traditional stew of lamb or mutton chops with layers of onions and potatoes. It evolved in an area where a high rate of female employment led to a reliance on slow-cooked and ready-prepared foods.
Pork products include fresh sausages of lean and fat meat and some type of grain; the Cumberland type, with a high meat content and distinctive coiled presentation, is considered particularly good. Pork pies, survivors of a great tradition of raised pies, are made with a lard-based hot-water crust. Melton Mowbray in the Midlands is famous for a fine version. Black puddings (blood sausages), highly seasoned mixtures of blood, grain, and cubes of fat, are known everywhere but have a strong association with the industrial towns of south Lancashire (as does ox tripe). Hog's puddings, of seasoned grain and fat, are popular in the southwest. Other items include faggots, chopped offal wrapped in squares of caul; haslet, a kind of loaf made from scraps of lean and cured pork; and brawn, a cold jellied dish made from meat picked from the head. Lard, beef suet, and drippings are important in traditional cookery.
Chicken, once an expensive treat roasted for special occasions, is now ubiquitous. It is much used in dishes of foreign origin. Rabbit stews and pies became poverty food, and the taste for them has waned. Hare soup and jugged hare—cooked slowly with wine and herbs, the sauce thickened with the blood of the animal—are classic dishes of English game cookery.
Cod and haddock, though becoming scarce, are staples of fish and chip shops; grilled Dover sole is a standard of English restaurant cookery. Oysters, until the mid-nineteenth century a cheap food, suffered from pollution and disease and are now a luxury. Morecombe Bay shrimps (Crangon crangon ), potted in spiced butter, are a traditional teatime delicacy. Eels, until the 1970s, were closely associated with the food habits of the London poor. Eel pie, and mash (mashed potatoes) shops sold them cold as jellied eels (boiled and allowed to cool in their liquid) or hot with mashed potato and "liquor," a green parsley sauce. Herrings were important until a recent decline in fish stocks. Some were eaten fresh, but most were preserved. Red herrings (heavily salted and smoked for long-term keeping) were superseded in the nineteenth century by lighter cures: kippers (split and cleaned before smoking) evolved in Northumberland, while Yarmouth favored bloaters (whole, lightly salted smoked herrings). Salmon, which became expensive when rivers were polluted during the nineteenth century, is cheap again because of fish farming, and poached salmon with cucumber is an English summer favorite.
Bread and Baking
White wheaten (wheat) bread is of primary importance. Traditional oblong tin loaves have become degraded under industrial production, and foreign influence makes it easier to buy croissants, ciabatta (a bread of Italian origin with a chewy, open texture), pita, or nan bread than a traditional cottage loaf (two-tiered round loaf). Historically, bread grains included rye, barley, and maslin (mixed grain). In the northern hills, oats, the only reliable grain crop, were used for flatbreads. By the seventeenth century a preference for wheat had developed in the London area. Variety diminished as the taste for wheat spread and grain imports grew in the nineteenth century. Now, only the oat-bread tradition survives. Haverbread (from Old Norse hafre, oats), flat ovals about a foot long, can occasionally be found in towns on the Yorkshire-Lancashire border. A stronger custom of baking floppy oatcakes about ten inches in diameter continues in Staffordshire. Barley is now grown for brewing.
There are many small regional breads. Kentish huffkins, Cornish splits, and Yorkshire teacakes are all round and flattish, enriched with a little sugar, lard, and dried fruit. Hot plates are used to bake muffins (made from soft bread dough), and also crumpets, and pikelets (both made from thick, yeast-leavened batter). This trio of foods are all eaten toasted and spread with butter for breakfast or tea. Scones, of flour, sugar, egg, and dried fruit, are common. Chelsea buns and Bath buns are rich and sweet. Hot cross buns, marked with a cross on top, are plainer and spiced; formerly made only on Good Friday, they are now produced for several weeks around Easter.
Lardy cakes made from bread dough folded with lard, sugar, and dried fruit are typical of southern England. Currants, raisins, and candied peel feature in yeast-leavened Guernsey gâches, Cornish saffron cakes, and Yule loaves (sweetened Christmas breads made in the north). Rich fruit cakes are related to these breads historically. Modern versions are heavy with sugar, butter, raisins, currants, and candied cherries. Covered with almond paste and sugar icing, they are essential for Christmas or weddings; baked with a marzipan layer in the middle, they become simnels, for Easter.
The taste for dried fruit extends to Eccles, Chorley, and Banbury cakes—spiced currant mixtures wrapped in puff pastry. Small mince pies, filled with a mixture of dried fruit, spices, and sugar, are eaten all over the country throughout the Christmas season. Originally the mincemeat filling did contain veal, mutton, or beef; now, an enrichment of beef suet is all that survives of this. Such dried fruit and pastry confections have been popular for at least four hundred years.
Ginger is popular in baking. Grasmere gingerbread comes from the Lake District, where local ports were active in the West India trade and a taste for brown sugar, rum, and ginger survives. Parkin is a north-country gingerbread that often contains oatmeal. Cornish Fairings and Ashbourne cakes are also ginger-flavored, and have a crisp, biscuity texture. The diversity of modern British biscuits (cookies) is a product of nineteenth-century industry, but Shrewsbury cakes (related to shortbread) were recorded in the seventeenth century, and Bath Olivers (plain biscuits) in the early nineteenth.
Vegetables and Fruit
The English have never been renowned for sensitivity in cooking vegetables, which were generally boiled and served with butter. Cabbages, carrots, parsnips, spinach, and salads such as lettuce and watercress have a long history of use, as has asparagus: the Vale of Evesham and Norfolk are particularly associated with this crop. One vegetable almost uniquely used by the English is sea kale (Crambe maritima ); wild plants were overexploited in the nineteenth century but sea kale is now cultivated in small quantities. Potatoes first gained wide acceptance in the north; by the nineteenth century they were eaten everywhere by everyone, and have continued to be so.
Apples, pears, cherries, and plums are traditional fruit crops of the southeast and southwest. Cobnuts are grown in Kent; soft fruit is grown across much of the country, strawberries and raspberries being favorites. Historically, the north, with a more challenging climate, relied on gooseberries, damsons, and rhubarb, the latter mostly grown in West Yorkshire, where it is forced as an early spring crop. Traditional fruit puddings and jams are a strength of the English kitchen. One vital item, the bitter orange, is grown in southern Spain and imported specifically for making breakfast marmalade. A taste for sugar confectionery has led to numerous boiled sugar sweets, many using fruit flavorings.
Dairy products were considered food for the poor in the seventeenth century, but have become progressively more important. Cream is mixed with fruit purees for fools, and beaten with wine and lemon for syllabubs. Clotted cream, heated gently to produce a thick crust, is a specialty of Devon and Cornwall. Butter is essential for spreading on bread and toast, as well as in cooking generally. Cheese-making in Britain was centralized during the Second World War, concentrating on "territorial" cheeses—Stilton, Cheddar, Gloucester, Cheshire, Lancashire, Wensleydale, Derby, and Leicester. All named for their areas of origin, they became generic (apart from Stilton, the manufacture of which was restricted to a small area in 1910). A dwindling nucleus of farm cheese-makers was boosted in the 1980s as "new wave" artisans who injected new creativity and energy into the industry.
Meal Times and Names
The British all recognize the early morning meal as breakfast, but after that a division becomes apparent. One pattern is a light midday lunch, perhaps afternoon tea, and a large dinner in the evening. The other is midday dinner and a substantial tea in the early evening. Sometimes this is called high tea or supper, though "supper," confusingly, is also used to indicate a light, late-evening repast. This divide originated when dinner, once a midday meal, slipped first to the early evening and then as late as 8:00 P.M. in the early nineteenth century. Lunch and afternoon tea developed to fill the long hours between breakfast and dinner. Wealthy younger people and southeasterners tend toward the lunch and dinner pattern. Poorer people, older ones, and northerners follow, to a diminishing extent, the dinner and tea pattern.
The "full English" breakfast. There is much nostalgia for the full English breakfast, a meal now mostly encountered in hotels, guesthouses, and cafés. Fried bacon and eggs are essential. Tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, fried bread, sausages, and black pudding are often added. Toast and marmalade generally follow. In cafés this meal is often available at any time. Time-consuming to prepare and eat, it is rarely made at home on a workday, when breakfast usually consists of cereal or toast, or coffee and a pastry bought on the way to work. However, cooked breakfasts are often made as a weekend treat.
Other items sometimes found at breakfast are oatmeal porridge (now closely identified with Scotland, but a survivor of a general British tradition of grain pottages) and kippers. In India, the British took khichri, spiced rice and lentils eaten with dried fish, and transmuted it into kedgeree, a mixture of rice, onions, and smoked haddock, still popular. Substantial breakfasts were most fully developed in country houses in the mid-nineteenth century, when huge buffets including such delicacies as deviled kidneys, raised pies, and cold tongue were laid out.
Lunch. Lunch has few special foods linked with it; though large formal lunches are sometimes eaten, a collation of odds and ends is more frequent. Sandwiches are a popular choice. The English have found sandwiches a convenient handheld meal since the mid-eighteenth century, when the Earl of Sandwich is said to have asked for his meat between two slices of bread, so as to avoid leaving the gaming table. Currently enjoying a zenith of popularity and variety, numerous specialty shops sell them filled with anything from conventional cheese and pickles or roast beef and horseradish combinations to chicken tikka or prawns and avocado. For those who want a hot lunch, soup or "something on toast"—cheese, eggs, fish, baked beans—are popular.
Dinner. Dinner is a substantial hot meal, whether taken at midday or in the evening. The traditional pattern is cooked meat or fish with vegetables. A sweet course, usually referred to as pudding, follows. Food may come from the prepared-food counter in a supermarket, and home cooks are as likely to choose dishes from the Mediterranean or the Indian subcontinent as traditional English ones. Take-away (takeout) food, from traditional fish and chips to kebabs, curries, or "a Chinese," are possible choices.
Confounding the lunch-dinner division are the special cases of Sunday dinner and Christmas dinner. These phrases still imply a large midday meal. Sunday dinner is often roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, served with gravy made from the meat juices or a commercial mix. Roasted or boiled potatoes and other vegetables, typically boiled cabbage and carrots, are also served. Lamb, pork, or chicken may take the place of the beef. Pudding choices include trifle (sherry-soaked sponge cake covered with layers of custard and cream); treacle tart (filled with golden syrup, lemon, and breadcrumbs), or lemon meringue pie. Steamed suet or sponge puddings are seen as old-fashioned but remain popular, as do fruit pies.
Christmas dinner usually centers on turkey or goose accompanied by sage and onion stuffing. Bread sauce, milk infused with cloves and shallot, thickened with breadcrumbs, is a classic accompaniment and a survival of a medieval tradition of bread-thickened sauces. Brussels sprouts are generally among the vegetables. This is followed by Christmas pudding flambéed with brandy, served with rum or brandy butter. Turkey is now the general choice, a reflection of centuries of great feasts involving various bird species, though roast beef was also a standard Christmas dish until the nineteenth century.
Afternoon tea and high tea. Tea is overlaid with social nuances. Apart from tea to drink (a beverage of primary importance in England since the mid-eighteenth century), afternoon tea is a dainty meal: bread and butter, small sandwiches filled with cucumber, a cake. Cream tea is a variant on this, with scones, jam, and cream. Elaborate afternoon teas are now most often taken in a café. High tea is a substantial meal, for people returning from work, or for children after school. It involves hot food such as kippers, eggs, pies, or sausages, or, in summer, cold ham or tinned canned salmon and salad. Bread and butter is always on the table, together with jam, and a selection of cakes—large ones, such as fruit cake or a Victoria sandwich (sponge cake filled with jam and cream), and small fairy cakes (similar to cupcakes or miniature muffins), jam tarts, and cookies.
A trend toward vegetarianism and concern about animal welfare has become apparent since the 1970s, leading to a growth in consumption of organically produced and vegetarian foods. Another development is a taste for ethnic food. Though imitations of Asian food, such as curry, piccalilli, and mushroom ketchup, have been made since the eighteenth century, in the last hundred years immigrant communities have introduced numerous new ideas. Chinese restaurants were widespread by the 1960s and Italian restaurants soon followed. Indian restaurants began to penetrate beyond major centers of immigration in the 1970s, putting dishes such as chicken tikka masala on the national menu, especially after pub closing time. West Indian, Hispanic, Turkish, and Thai restaurants can now be found in most cities.
London restaurant culture now has a global reputation for excellence, and interest in eating healthily has increased; but London is not England, and the high incidence of cardiovascular disease throughout the country is partially attributed to poor diet. Writers, guides, and chefs have raised the variety and quality of ingredients and of ready-prepared food, and cookery is a popular subject for television. But the best traditional English food remains a specialty found mostly in the homes of dedicated cooks.
See also Custard; Fish and Chips; Pastry; Tea (Meal).
Ayrton, Elisabeth. The Cookery of England. London: André Deutsch, 1974.
Burnett, John. Plenty and Want: A Social History of Diet in England from 1815 to the Present Day. London: Scolar Press, 1979. Newton, Mass.: Biscuit Books, 1994.
Davidson, Alan. North Atlantic Seafood. London: Macmillan, 1979; New York: Viking, 1980. A book that covers far more than just England, but contains much information about fish as used in Britain.
Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Though this book covers food globally, it contains much information on English food habits and includes a useful article on early English cookery books (cookbooks).
Drummond, J. C., and Anne Wilbraham. The Englishman's Food: A History of Five Centuries of English Diet, with a new introduction by Tom Jaine. London: Pimlico, 1994.
Grigson, Jane. English Food, with a foreword by Sophie Grigson. London: Penguin, 1992. Classic English recipes, updated for a modern audience.
Hartley, Dorothy. Food in England. London: MacDonald and Jane's, 1954; Boston: Little, Brown, 1996. A slightly romantic but well-observed picture of traditional English cookery from information gathered between the two world wars.
Mason, Laura, and Catherine Brown. Traditional Foods of Britain: An Inventory. Totnes, Devon, U.K.: Prospect Books, 1999. Based on information gathered for Euroterroirs, a European Union study of local foods.
Walton, John K. Fish and Chips and the British Working Class 1870–1940. Leicester, U.K., and New York: Leicester University Press, 1992.
Wilson, C. Anne. Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to Recent Times. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1991. Still the standard reference on the history of food in the British Isles.
Wilson, C. Anne, ed. Luncheon, Nuncheon, and Other Meals: Eating with the Victorians. Stroud, U.K.: Alan Sutton, 1994. This book contains much information on meal times, patterns, and content as social change affected them in the nineteenth century.
Pudding has two different but linked meanings. It can indicate any sweet food considered suitable for dessert, ranging from fresh fruit to the most elaborate of sweet dishes. This usage developed after puddings, a fairly neutral staple food in the seventeenth century, evolved a subset of heavily sweetened dishes eaten for the second course at dinner.
Older meanings relate pudding to specific groups of dishes, some savory, some sweet. The oldest group is represented by sausage-type products such as black puddings (blood, fat, and grain) and white puddings, well documented since the sixteenth century. Bag puddings, mixtures of suet and flour or breadcrumbs, wrapped in a cloth and boiled, were known by the seventeenth century, and developed two distinct types. One was the sweet suet pudding with lemon peel, currants, sugar, and spice. Plum pudding, a heavily enriched version with raisins, candied peel, and sugar, has become a symbol of Christmas and remains essentially unchanged since the eighteenth century. Other sweet puddings include versions filled with fresh seasonal fruit, or jam roly-poly, suet crust spread with jam and rolled up, which became a school dinner staple. The second type was the savory suet pudding with a meat filling. These were recorded by the nineteenth century: steak and kidney remains a favorite, though puddings made with steak and oysters, mutton, and game such as partridges are also recorded.
Other ancient pudding types are pease pudding, based on a puree of dried peas, eaten with boiled bacon or ham, and Yorkshire pudding, made from batter baked in a popover pan, the principal survivor of numerous recipes for batter puddings boiled or baked.
In the eighteenth century, many sweet puddings using pastry and fruit or nuts became fashionable. Mixtures of rice or sago with milk and sugar also became common. These remain popular, though often in debased "nursery" versions. Puddings, steamed or baked, based on sponge-cake mixtures, flavored with lemon, ginger, or cocoa, became popular in the mid-nineteenth century, as did summer pudding, based on bread and fresh summer fruit.
Fish and Chips
Fish and chips, a favorite take-away (takeout) food in England, are sold in their own specialized restaurants and shops. There is some debate about when the combination became popular, but fried fish was being sold as street food in London as early as the 1830s, when Charles Dickens mentioned a fried-fish warehouse in Oliver Twist. Chips (french fries) appear to have joined the fish by the 1880s, and the pairing has remained popular ever since.
Cod is most commonly used, though haddock is preferred in some areas; the fillets are dipped in batter before deep-frying. For chips, the potatoes are cut in thick fingers and deep-fried. Vegetable oil is the usual frying medium in the south. Beef drippings are often used in the north. On purchase, the cooked fish and chips are seasoned with salt and vinegar as the customer desires. A pot of mushy peas (cooked marrowfat peas) is sometimes added to the order. Traditionally, newspapers are used for wrapping fish and chips, and the smell of deep-frying combined with hot newsprint is part of the experience. Health regulations now demand layers of greaseproof paper to insulate the food from printer's ink.
Muffins and Muffin-Men
As late as the 1930s, muffins were sold in London by muffin-men, street vendors who announced their presence by ringing a bell. In 1851, Sir Henry Mayhew recorded in London Labour and the London Poor that muffin-men bought their wares fresh from the bakers. The muffins were kept warm by wrapping them in flannel; they were then carried through the streets in baskets for resale door-to-door. The custom apparently derives in part from genteel ladies who did not keep servants who could be sent on errands, but who liked a slap-up (lavish) tea. The muffin-men recognized this, and made their rounds in mid-afternoon, convenient for tea time. Muffins were most popular in winter. To eat them, they were toasted, pulled apart around the circumference, spread with butter, and the halves put back together to allow the butter to melt.
The origin of the name is a mystery. Recipes appear in the mid-eighteenth century, but the idea is probably much older. Muffins enjoyed great popularity but were considered old-fashioned by the early twentieth century, and had almost vanished by the Second World War. In the 1980s, they were revived by industrial bakeries, and are once again available, in varying degrees of quality. Muffins in England—quite unlike sweetened muffins and what people in North America call "English muffins"—are disks about four inches in diameter and an inch thick, and made from plain, soft bread dough. Size and the use of yeast as a leaven relates them to the many other small breads of English traditional baking, while the use of a hot plate puts them in the same category as crumpets, pikelets, and several Welsh and Scottish specialties.
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England, the largest and most populous portion of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2011 pop. 53,012,456), 50,334 sq mi (130,365 sq km). It is bounded by Wales and the Irish Sea on the west and Scotland on the north. The English Channel, the Strait of Dover, and the North Sea separate it from the continent of Europe. The Isle of Wight, off the southern mainland in the English Channel, and the Scilly Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean off the southwestern tip of the mainland, are considered part of England. London, the capital of Great Britain, is located in the southeastern portion of England. The Thames and the Severn are the longest rivers.
Behind the white chalk cliffs of the southern coast lie the gently rolling downs and wide plains stretching to the Chiltern Hills and the Cotswold Hills. Along the east coast are the lowlands of Norfolk, reaching up to the Fens, formerly marshy country that has been drained, lining The Wash, an inlet of the North Sea. In the east and southeast, river estuaries lead to some of England's great commercial and industrial centers: London, on the Thames; Hull, on the Humber; Middlesbrough and Stockon-on-Tees, on the Tees; and Newcastle upon Tyne, on the Tyne. The north of England, above the Humber, is mountainous; the chief highlands are the Cumbrian Mts. in the northwest and the Pennines, which run north-south in N central England. The famous Lake District, in the Cumbrians, has England's highest points. The center of England, the Midlands, is a large plain, interrupted and bordered by hills. In the Midlands are the industrial centers of Birmingham and the Black Country. The Midlands, especially its northern edge, was formerly a great coal-mining region. On the Lancashire plain is the great city of Manchester, the center of the English textile industry. Durham and W Yorkshire are also highly industrialized, but E Yorkshire is an area of bleak moors and wolds, and the upper reaches of Northumberland are sparsely populated. In the west and southwest the border with Wales and the peninsula of Devonshire and Cornwall have a hilly, upland terrain. The main ports in the west are Bristol, on the Avon (which flows into Bristol Channel), and Liverpool, on the Mersey. In southern England, the main ports are London, Southampton, and Plymouth.
Despite its northerly latitudes (London is on the same parallel as the easterly tip of Labrador), England has a mild climate, attributable to warm currents in the surrounding seas. Most of the region is subject to much wet weather, and some of it experiences severe cold, but in general the climate is favorable to a wide variety of agricultural and industrial pursuits.
England has 27 administrative counties: Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Sussex, and Worcestershire. Nonmetropolitan areas, the counties are further divided into districts. Cornwall, Durham, Herefordshire, Isle of Wight, Northumberland, Rutland, Shropshire, and Wiltshire are historical counties that have abandoned the two-tier county council–district council structure for a single-tier unitary council; administratively, they are unitary authorities. The former counties of Avon, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Cheshire, Cleveland, and Humberside have been dissolved into smaller unitary authorities; these and other areas that were administratively part of the remaining counties are now independent local governing authorities.
From 1974 to 1986 there were also seven metropolitan counties: Greater London, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands, and West Yorkshire; the administrative districts that comprised these counties are now responsible for most local government functions. Greater London consists of the City of London and 32 boroughs and, unlike the other former metropolitan counties, has an elected mayor and assembly. The 39 so-called ancient or geographical counties of England (Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Westmorland, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, and Yorkshire) typically differ in area from the existing counties even when they share a name with a modern county or unitary authority. Some ancient counties (Sussex and Yorkshire) have been divided into separate counties or counties and other administrative units, while others (Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Huntingdonshire, Middlesex, and Westmorland) have been subdivided into smaller administative units.
For the history of England as well as more information on government and economy, see Great Britain.
Copyright The Columbia University Press
While new scholarship and art were flowering in fifteenth-century Italy, England was recovering from defeat in the Hundred Years' War, and English claimants to the throne from the houses of York and Lancaster were fighting a long and bloody civil war. In 1485, when Henry Tudor defeated his rival Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the Tudor dynasty was established. Returning to political and social stability, England began absorbing humanist ideas from the continent. English schools followed the new humanism, instructing their students in Latin, Greek, and the classical authors. The first printed books spread literacy, while scholars from the continent, notably Desiderius Erasmus, arrived seeking patronage. In 1509, with the start of the reign of Henry VIII, England's Renaissance took its first steps at the king's royal court, where the painter Hans Holbein worked and the renowned scholar Sir Thomas More served the king as lord chancellor. The classical languages were taught at Saint Paul's school, founded by John Colet; William Lily wrote a Latin grammar in the 1520s and Thomas Elyot a dictionary of Latin and English words.
The pivotal year in English Renaissance history was 1536, when Henry established the Church of England. The king became the supreme head of the church, which adopted many of the doctrines of Martin Luther and Protestant Reformation. Catholic property was seized and members of the church were arrested or driven into exile. Monasteries were closed and nuns and monks forced to renounce their vows. As monastic property was confiscated, large collections of books, including manuscripts of ancient Greek and Latin authors, spread to the universities. During the Tudor dynasty, religion played an important role in English foreign policy.
Henry's reign was followed by those of his son Edward and daughter Mary. Edward supported the cause of reform. During his reign the English Book of Common Prayer was published, advancing Protestant doctrine. Mary, however, was a fervently devout Catholic. She restored the traditional faith and had many Protestant leaders and nobles executed. After a short reign, she died without an heir, passing the throne to her Protestant half sister Elizabeth. Tutored by Roger Ascham, one of the foremost scholars of Latin and ancient literature, Elizabeth had an open mind to new ideas and encouraged humanist education. The queen was a lively and intelligent leader who enthusiastically patronized scholars and artists. English literature, art, architecture, and music flourished in the Elizabethan age of the late sixteenth century.
Music, drama, and pageantry were hallmarks of Elizabeth's royal court. Italian forms, such as the sonnet and the madrigal, were taken up in English poetry and music. The composer Thomas Morley set Shakespeare's poetry to music in the Italian style; Thomas Tallis and William Byrd also experimented in musical form and style. Edmund Spenser glorified the Tudor dynasty in his epic poem The Faerie Queene. The theater was brought to new heights by William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and many others. The thorough knowledge of history and classical literature reflected in their plays demonstrated the broad humanistic education that was now widely available to English students. In the field of natural philosophy, Sir Francis Bacon made an important contribution with his concepts of the scientific method.
England still faced serious threats from the continent. England's support of Protestant rebels in the Netherlands prompted the Spanish king, Philip II, to send a powerful armada of warships to invade and conquer England. The Spanish Armada was turned away in 1588 by storms and outmaneuvered by skilled English navigators. In the meantime, England was joining the era of exploration, sending ships to North America to search for a northwest passage to Asia and establishing American colonies after the turn of the seventeenth century. These voyages expanded the kingdom's trade and stimulated its economy, as chartered companies such as the East India Company, the Hudson Bay Company, and the Muscovy Company set up operations in Asia, North America, and Russia.
See Also: Bacon, Francis; Elizabeth I; Henry VIII; Marlowe, Christopher; Milton, John; Shakespeare, William
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Land and economyThe landscape is complex. In general, the n and w are higher and geologically older than the s and e. The chief rivers are the Severn, Thames, Trent, Ouse, Humber, and Mersey. The principal lakes include Windermere and Derwentwater in the Lake District. The s of the country has low hills and downs, while much of e England is flat fenland. The n is predominantly upland, and includes the Pennines, Cheviot Hills, and Cumbrian Mountains.
HistoryThere are traces of Palaeolithic settlements in England. Occupied by the Celts from c.400 bc, England was later conquered by the Romans, whose rule lasted until the 5th century. Germanic tribes began arriving in the 3rd century ad, and gradually established independent kingdoms. Christianity arrived in the 6th century. In the 9th century, Alfred the Great led a united England against the Danes. The Norman Conquest (1066) brought strong central government and inaugurated the feudal system. England conquered Ireland in the late 12th century, and Wales became a principality of England in 1284. The 13th century saw the foundations of parliamentary government and the development of statute law. During the Middle Ages, England's fortunes continued to be linked with France, as English kings laid claim to French territory. The Wars of the Roses curbed the power of the English nobility. Under the Tudors, Wales was united politically with England and became a strong Protestant monarchy. The reign of Elizabeth I was one of colonial expansion. In 1603, James I merged the English and Scottish crowns. For the subsequent history of England, see United Kingdom. Area: 130,362sq km (50,333sq mi). Pop. (1997 est.) 49,752,900.
© World Encyclopedia 2005, originally published by Oxford University Press 2005.
Identification. The name of the country and the term "English" derive from the Old English word for one of the three Germanic peoples that invaded the British Isles in the fifth century C . E ., the Angles. "Britain" and "British" derive from a Roman term for the inhabitants' language of the British Isles, called "Brythonic" or p-Celtic.
Englishness is highly regionalized. The most important regional divide is between the south and the north. The south, chiefly represented by the regions of the southeast, southwest, East Anglia, and the Midlands, now contains the economically most dynamic sectors of the country, including the City (the chief financial center of the United Kingdom) and the seat of the national government, both in London. The north, the cradle of industrialization and the site of traditional smokestack industries, includes Yorkshire, Lancashire, Northumberland, Cumbria, Durham, Merseyside, and Cheshire. Especially in the last decades of the twentieth century, the north has experienced deindustrialization, severe economic hardship, and cultural balkanization. England is also a culture of many smaller regionalisms, still centered on the old governmental unit of the county and the local villages and towns. Local products, such as ale, and regional rituals and art forms, such as Morris dancing and folk music, many of which date back to the preindustrial era, allow people to shape their attachments to their communities and the nation. Merged with the north–south divide and regionalism are notions of working class, middle class, and upper class as well as rich versus poor.
England's role as a destination for migration also has influenced conceptions of Englishness. Historically, the most prominent immigrant group has been the Irish, who came in two major waves in the modern era: 1847 and 1848 after the potato famine, and during and after World War II. Scots were present in England by the 1700s and settled in England in large numbers during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, often for economic reasons. Welsh in-migration came to prominence when deindustrialization began in Wales in the 1920s. This inmigration has brought the so-called Celtic fringe into English culture in a host of ways. There has also been the impact of Jewish, Flemish, Dutch, French Huguenot, German, Italian, Polish, Turkish, Cypriot, and Chinese cultures since the twelfth century. The loss of Britain's colonies has brought Afro-Caribbeans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians, and migrants from northwestern and eastern Africa in significant numbers. Judgments of whether England's newcomers feel themselves to be "English" vary by group and even by individual.
Location and Geography. England covers 50,357 square miles (130,423 square kilometers) of the main island of the British Isles and lies off the northwestern coast of Europe, separated from the mainland by the English Channel. The Gulf Stream makes the climate mild and rainy. The country is also divided into a highland zone and a lowland zone along a line from the mouth of the River Exe in the southwest to the mouth of the River Tees in the northeast. The highland zone's soil is poor and rocky, mainly suitable for raising livestock, but in the lowlands the land is flatter, the soil is fertile, and there are many navigable rivers. As a result of its favorable topography, the lowland region has always had the majority of the population, supported most agriculture and trade, and had the largest cities including the capital, London. The highland zone did not develop rapidly until the nineteenth century, when its coal and iron deposits allowed it to surge to prominence in the industrial revolution; its communities struggle in England's postindustrial era.
Demography. The population was 49.5 million in 1998. The estimated nonwhite proportion of the population for that year was 7.3 percent, with the officially designated ethnic groups being black Caribbean, black African, black other, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Chinese.
Celtic in-migrations continues to be a major influence. These migrations are often urban in focus and tend to cluster in particular districts like London and Merseyside. The second important shift in demography from an ethnic standpoint is related to the end of the British Empire. Beginning in the 1950s, peoples from the Indian subcontinent and the Caribbean began to immigrate to England, taking advantage of the 1948 British Nationality Act, which established that all Commonwealth citizens enjoyed British citizenship. Most of these immigrants have settled in London, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Merseyside. Between 1984 and 1996, the number of nonwhites in England, Scotland, and Wales rose from 2.3 million to 3.39 million (the majority of whom lived in England) for a total increase of 47 percent. In that same period Great Britain grew by just 5.8 percent and England by even less. European, Mediterranean, and East Asian immigrants have been part of the cultural landscape since the Middle Ages, when the Jewish community came to prominence and Flemish clothworkers began arriving. Immigrants to England in particular have been drawn there by the creation of a Common Market in Western Europe and the ending of restrictions on the movement of eastern Europeans.
Linguistic Affiliation. The primary language since the sixteenth century has been some version of English. English, however, is an amalgam of languages brought to the British Isles by invasions that began before written history. The Celts made Gaelic the dominant language until the Romans invaded in 55 and 54 b.c.e., and introduced Latin and Greek, but it was the invasion of England by Germanic tribes in the fifth century (Angles, Saxons, and Jutes) that laid the basis for English. The arrival of Christianity in 597 allowed English to interact with Latin as well as with Greek, Hebrew, and languages as distant as Chinese. Viking invasions a few centuries later brought Scandinavian languages to the British Isles, while the Norman invasion in 1066 introduced French. Gradually, all levels of society adopted English, which had largely supplanted Latin and French in the second half of the fifteenth century.
Modern English comes from the East Midland dialect of Middle English. This divide between the East Midland dialect and all others emerged between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries when those speaking with a "proper" or "posh" accent separated themselves from those speaking "Cockney" or working-class English. This division is signified by the distinction between "received pronunciation" (r.p.), Standard English, or BBC English and regional or local dialects of English. This linguistic divide has always corresponded with social rank. The elite generally spoke with an r.p. accent (also known as the Queen's or King's English), and other residents spoke a non-standard, locally mediated English. In recent decades the connection between class and accent has begun to loosen.
Except in certain urban communities, bilingualism and multilingualism continue to play a minimal role in England. As of 1980 at least twelve languages other than English had more than 100,000 speakers in Britain, including Punjabi, Urdu, Caribbean patois, Hindi, and Cantonese, which are among England's more influential second languages. In the last decade, the many varieties of spoken English have been thriving. Popular culture, especially music, radio, and television, has brought English creoles and patois; Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi English; and Celtic versions of English into the lives of the country's inhabitants. Thus, while Standard English still holds sway, it is no longer an unquestioned standard.
Symbolism. From a political standpoint, the monarchy, Parliament, and the English (or British) constitution are central symbols with both physical and ritual manifestations. Equally powerful are the rituals surrounding Parliament's routine. The monarchy expresses itself physically through the palaces and other residences of the royal family. Ritually, the monarchy permeates national life. From the social functions of the elite, which many people follow in the popular press, to the promotion of public causes, to royal weddings, the monarchy's representatives lend an almost sacral quality to public life.
Images that capture England's past have become a very important element in how people root themselves in a society that is increasingly mobile and in which the past has become a commodity. Idealizations of village and town life from bygone days are common in the speeches of politicians. Other idealizations of the past are equally popular, from the preserved industrial landscapes of the Midlands and the north, to nature walks that refer to the ancient peoples who inhabited the area long before the English arrived, to the appearance of the "English" countryside.
In recent years, popular culture has provided ways for England's immigrants to claim Englishness publicly. Before World War II the majority population insisted that newcomers assimilate and migrants were unable to lay claims to Englishness. More integrated national sports, especially soccer, and sports heroes represent the new ethnic landscape and provide symbols the young and the poor can claim. Similarly, movies, pop music, and plays have given less powerful groups ways of claiming Englishness. Popular festivals such as the Notting Hill Carnival, which is Europe's largest celebration of black identity, are also part of the mix. The New Commonwealth population also has produced widely read literary works.
History and Ethnic Relations
Emergence of the Nation. The emergence of the nation took place between 1200 and 1850. The first period when a quasi-national feeling was able to unify the people was the Hundred Years' War with France in the late Middle Ages (1337–1453). Although a dynastic conflict between successive English and French monarchs, this war became a cause in which Anglo-Saxon and Norman culture merged into a recognizably English culture.
In the sixteenth century, nationalism took on another component: anti-Catholicism. Henry VIII created the Church of England by tapping into popular sentiment against the Pope's interference in national affairs. Elizabeth I, his daughter, created a sense of national unity through the conflicts she orchestrated with Catholic Spain. Another manifestation of anti-Catholic sentiment was the Battle of the Boyne in 1689, where William III routed Catholic opposition in Ireland. William subsequently affirmed Catholicism as being contrary to English and Irish law. Beginning with Scotland and Ireland in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and continuing with competitions with the Spanish, the Dutch, and the French between 1550 and 1816, the English established a sense of expansionary patriotism. The final step in creating a national sentiment was taken in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when the middle classes defined Englishness as a positive morality to which everyone could subscribe.
National Identity. English cultural roots lie in a merging of Anglo-Saxon, Danish, and Norman French culture that has existed as a synthesis since the late Middle Ages. A process of negotiation was at the heart of this cultural creation.
Ethnic Relations. After stripping them of their assets, Edward I expelled the Jewish community in 1290, and Jews did not receive full rights and recognition until the twentieth century. The earliest guest workers, Flemish clothworkers, frequently found their contributions resented by "native" labor. German, French, and Low Countries Protestant refugees in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries were confronted with ethnic prejudices. The Irish as Celts and Catholics and the Welsh and Scots as Celts also have faced resentment, especially in eras dominated by English nationalism and British imperialism.
In the British Isles and abroad, the English record in colonized areas is no better than that of other European colonizing cultures. Beginning in the 1960s with the Immigration Acts and reaching a low point with the 1981 British Nationality Act, laws have been passed to restrict the rights of foreigners to enter the country and obtain citizenship and benefits. The support of Margaret Thatcher's government for free-market capitalism contributed to the decline of the areas where most ethnic minorities lived, sparking violent protests in the 1980s, such as London's Brixton riots in 1981. Antiracism legislation and the improving economy have lessened public and official attention to the nonwhite population. However, economic migrants and political refugees, chiefly from East Asia, eastern Europe, and Africa, have taken the place of the non-white populace as objects of public concern.
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space
England's urbanism and notions of landscape and countryside are closely tied to the movement of people and economic sectors from major metropolitan areas into new towns, extensions of older towns, smaller towns, villages, and remote rural areas. Cities are thought of as places of decay and degeneration by many people. The central principle in definitions of urban communities is their management and containment; this has been done by designating rings of nondevelopment (green belts) around major cities and urban areas. The emphasis on areas of nondevelopment also has influenced planning within cities and towns, with space being created for private and public gardens, parks, athletic fields, and other so-called greenfield sites. There has also been an emphasis on arranging cities and towns in more livable units, with more thought to the placement of work sites, public amenities, shopping areas, and dwellings and more of a focus on how streets cater to public and private uses.
Villages and small towns that were fairly local or regional have become bedroom communities for large cities such as London or parts of larger regional urban networks. Sometimes they retain their original character, but more often affluent newcomers have changed these localities. Thus, while those in suburban, village, and small-town areas trumpet the rural nature of their lives, they have altered the rural landscape. Outside the towns and villages, two forces dominate the countryside: highly commercialized agriculture and preservation. Agribusiness has played a role in defining the countryside by destroying 95 percent of the nation's wetlands. Countering the trend toward developing the countryside to accommodate more housing are the preservationists, who want to expand parks, preserve a traditional country way of life, and keep urban dwellers out of these areas. Left out of towns, cities, villages, and rolling hills are those with no money and no political voice. Those most excluded from current visions and proposals are the poor and the urban-dwelling ethnic minority groups.
Many different types of Englishness compete in towns, cities, villages, and the countryside. Architecturally, little is left from the Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Roman periods, although Roman town planning, roads, and walls are still evident and Anglo-Saxon churches and Celtic monuments are still standing. The Middle Ages have left Gothic and Romanesque architecture while the Tudor and Stuart periods of England's history have also left their contributions, notably not just in buildings for the elite and the state but also for the middling sort. The eighteenth century saw Georgian and neo-Gothic architecture, which continued into the nineteenth century when neo-Classical styles arose. The twentieth century has seen the rise of suburban building styles and Modernism and reactions against both in the form of conservation, community architecture, and a tendency to revive old styles such as neo-Classicism.
Government buildings serve a range of symbolic purposes. Monuments more often symbolize particular historical figures or events. The purposes of public spaces also vary. The pews in a typical church promote an orderly separation between congregants while emphasizing togetherness as a congregation. Piccadilly Circus and many museums encourage people to mingle. Tea rooms, coffee shops, public houses, and nightclubs provide separate seating but promote a social atmosphere. People in England prefer to live in detached, suburban dwellings, ideally with a garden. First built in large numbers in the 1920s, many suburban houses were built in twos with a garden in front and rear. Another detached style was the single-story bungalow, which also became popular in the 1920s. Although in the post-war era it became common to build large, boxy modernist apartment blocks, especially for public housing, suburban building continued in additional new towns, some of which used the uniform, modernist styles. Since the 1980s more traditional designs for housing have been popular and both detached and non-detached housing have been constructed to evoke one of England's past eras. In private dwelling spaces, the English tend to fill much of the available space.
Food and Economy
Food in Daily Life. England is known for its bland cuisine. Traditional middle-class notions of diet put meats at the heart of the main meal, which usually was eaten at midday. Along with this main course, there might be a dish such as a meat casserole, and fish also was consumed. Heavy sauces, gravies, soups and stews or puddings (savory and sweet), and pasties and pies also were eaten. Vegetables included potatoes and carrots, turnips and cabbage, and salad vegetables. Fruit was also part of the diet, though in small proportions. Lighter meals included variations of the sandwich. Breakfast foods ranged from hot cereals to tea, toast, and marmalade, to steak, eggs, and kidneys. These foods were not available to most people before World War II. The rural poor, for example, ate a diet based on cheese and bread, with bacon eaten a few times a week, supplemented by fresh milk if available, cabbage, and vegetables if a garden was kept. All the classes drank tea; beer was drunk by the working classes and other alcoholic beverages were drunk by the middle and upper classes.
Since 1950, the English have eaten less red meat, more poultry, and about the same amount of fish. The consumption of fats is down, and that of alternatives such as margarine is up. Fresh fruits are in favor, while vegetables are not, and the focus is on salad vegetables. The main meal is now eaten in the evening and is likely to consist of frozen or ready-made food. In addition to eating out in pubs, inns, and restaurants, people consume fast food. There has been a dramatic increase in the variety of foreign cuisine, ranging from Chinese and Indian to French and Italian.
There are few food-related taboos. People avoid some foods for so-called hygienic reasons, such as onions and leeks, which can cause bad breath. There are also foods that are considered uncivilized. Traditionally, the English have never eaten dogs, horses, other carnivores, or insects. Increasingly, eating meat is looked on as uncivilized. As part of the shift away from meat toward fruit, vegetables, and fish, people have become more distanced from the production of the meat they eat and less willing to eat as wide a variety of meats.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Apart from cakes on birthdays, few special foods are eaten at major secular ceremonies, although such ceremonies involve toasting and drinking alcohol. In religious ceremonies, alcohol, usually wine, is common at most celebrations of the Eucharist in Christian churches and also is used at Jewish ceremonies. On Shrove Tuesday, which is both a secular and a religious occasion, many people eat pancakes.
Basic Economy. The economy is developed and highly specialized, and very few inhabitants produce food and other necessities for themselves. In 1998, approximately 13 percent of England's workforce was self-employed, many working in agriculture, fishing, and construction. This group and the few among the economically inactive (21 percent in 1998) who have opted out of the market economy completely are the only people in England who may produce goods for themselves. Given that the majority of both groups are part of the regular economy, the number of people who are completely self-sufficient is small, although at times they are politically and culturally prominent. A rough sense of England's dependence on the world can be gained by looking at trade figures as a proportion of GDP. In 1997 England's exports amounted to about 29 percent of GDP, as did imports.
Land Tenure and Property. The most common form of land tenure is the owner-occupied house, with personal ownership in 1998 at 68 percent and the remainder of the inhabitants renting government-owned rent-controlled or private dwellings. Most dwellings are in urban areas, which occupied about 12 percent of the total land area in 1999. In that same year, 71 percent of England's land was devoted to agriculture: 24 percent was rented and the remaining 47 percent was owned by resident farmers or farming enterprises. Legal rights to property have their origin in the period 1500–1800, when landholders enclosed land and claimed exclusive ownership of it. Their actions extinguished many customary use rights to land and established private claims to rights-of-way. In addition to this division between private and common land, many forms of public and semipublic land have developed. Roads, infrastructure, and official buildings are often public. Also subject to public control are the national parks and nature reserves. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are often in private hands but are under public supervision of the Countryside Agency. Public rights-of-way and common lands are often owned by individuals, but those owners may be obligated to ensure public access. The Department of the Environment, Transport, and the Regions oversees land use, working with local authorities, an arrangement in place since the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act.
Commercial Activities. In addition to manufacturing, the major sectors of the economy are financial services, wholesale and retail trade, communication technology, and education and social services.
Major Industries. The major areas of industrial output are textiles; food, beverages, and tobacco; paper, paper products, wood products; chemicals; metals and fabricated metal items; electrical and optical equipment; and transport equipment and other machinery.
Division of Labor. People with more experience still tend to hold positions with greater responsibility and rewards, but this situation has been changing since the 1970s. Increasingly, older workers are losing jobs because of business strategies to keep workforces small. This trend has hit older working class men particularly hard because the sectors in which they work are rapidly being shifted out of the economy. Ethnic prejudice, ageism, and sexism still prevent many people from advancing. Specialization, educational attainment, and status correspond fairly well, with managerial and professional groups being at the top of society, followed by white-collar workers and then skilled blue-collar workers and semi-skilled and unskilled manual laborers.
Classes and Castes. Class is the primary way in which people approach social stratification. The upper class (the landed gentry, the titled nobility, and members of the royal family) has roughly the same social position it has had since the nineteenth century, when the middle classes began to compete successfully with the landed interests for influence. However, the upper class lost official political influence (and credibility) in the twentieth century. The major change in England's social identity structure has been the shrinking number of workers in manufacturing and the increasing number of people who work in service industries. White-collar and other service workers have replaced blue-collar workers as England's economic backbone. Consequently, the middle class has increased in size and wealth, and home ownership has increased, while union membership has declined dramatically, along with the size of the traditional industrial working class.
Most workers expect unemployment at some point in their careers, especially the unskilled and uneducated. In 1983, only 5 percent of non-manual workers were unemployed. In contrast, skilled manual workers experienced 12 percent and semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers 23 percent unemployment, and manual workers combined accounted for 84 percent of the unemployed.
England is becoming a society of the included and the excluded. There has been a sharp rise in long-term unemployment. The nature of work in a fluid economy does not support long-term employment for low-skilled and moderately skilled workers, and this is reflected in the rise in part-time (24.7 percent of the 1999 workforce), and multiple-job workers. Homelessness has become a fact of English life, with 102,410 families in England accepted as homeless in 1997 alone.
The richest class has increased its share of the national income and national assets. In 1995, the wealthiest 10 percent of the population owned half the assets controlled by households. In 1997 the income of the top 20 percent of households was four times that of the bottom 20 percent. Meanwhile, those earning less than half of the median doubled between 1979 and 1998, reaching 10 percent.
Ethnic minorities have not fared well in the new economic environment. For all minority men, unemployment was 17 percent in the period 1986–1988, for example, compared with 10 percent for whites. Ten years on, in the period 1997–1998, unemployment rates of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and blacks were more than three times those for whites. Indians, on the other hand, have faired better, currently occupying a central position in the middle class as entrepreneurs and in the professions, enjoying chances of employment more comparable to whites.
Symbols of Social Stratification. Many of the traditional symbols of social difference have undergone change. Clothing and other consumer goods historically were indicators of class, but are now more ambiguous. Most consumer goods are widely available, and the clothing and fashion industries recycle styles so quickly that rank and clothing do not always correspond. Education, which used to be a clear way to divide people into classes, has also lost some of its defining power. Private primary and secondary schools increased their share of school age children through 1990, and higher education has expanded the number of places available to those who want postsecondary training; by the mid 1990s more than 30 percent of students age eighteen were attending a university. Oxford and Cambridge have been accepting students from an increasingly broad socioeconomic spectrum, and students now have many more universities to choose from. Accent also has become a less reliable class signifier.
Government. Unlike Scotland and Wales, England does not have a separate parliament or departments to represent and manage it. Contact with the central government is increasingly achieved through nine Government Offices for the Regions. Day-to-day life in the community is governed by local authorities such as district and parish councils.
Leadership and Political Officials. Political parties and institutions favor those judged to be respectable and, in senior positions, those with political experience. Thus, in the Conservative Party, only members of Parliament (MPs) can elect party leaders. It is still common for politicians and judges to have an elite education and a privileged background. Local politics is a mixed bag, with some local authorities and town and village councils politically polarized and others less so, although the larger the community the more likely it is to be dominated by the Labour Party. In general, those who participate in local politics and local organizations such as arts councils knew someone in government before becoming involved.
England has no national parties that affiliate specifically with the national culture. The main parties are the Labour Party (now often called New Labour), the Conservative Party (Tories), and the Liberal Democrats.
Access to political leaders is achieved most effectively through voluntary sector interest groups. These organizations work with local government authorities, local agencies such as the police, individual MPs, and central government ministries and may acquire an official role.
Social Problems and Social Control. For purposes of policing and criminal justice, England and Wales are treated as one unit. Policing is handled by forty-one locally organized police forces in addition to the Metropolitan Police Service and the City of London police force. Most police officers carry a nightstick, with only designated officers carrying sidearms. Persons suspected of committing a crime may be stopped and searched. More extensive searching is possible with authorization from a senior officer. For most crimes the police require judicial authorization to make arrests, but for "arrestable" offences such as murder, authorization is unnecessary. The maximum period of detention without a charge being leveled is ninety-six hours. The Police Complaints Authority handles cases of police brutality. The national policing bodies are the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service. The Home Secretary of the United Kingdom has overall responsibility for policing in England as well as for the prison service, the probation service, and the criminal law.
Criminal law is a combination of statute law made by Parliament and common law (case law). Founded in 1985, the Crown Prosecution Service prosecutes criminals arrested by the police. The court system is adversarial, and the accused is defended by a lawyer (a solicitor or barrister) who attempts to disprove the case presented by the Crown Prosecution Service. Cases that go to Crown Court involve a trial by a jury of the accused person's peers with guidance from the presiding judge. In all other cases not on appeal, the defendant is tried in magistrate court by a judge who decides the case with the assistance of a law clerk. The accused or the Crown may appeal a judgment to a higher court, with the highest court being the House of Lords. Except for treason and a few other offenses, the highest penalty is a custodial sentence.
Since the 1980s, ideas about the role of the criminal justice system have been changing, largely as a result of perceived and real increases in violent and property crimes. Local communities with their informal mechanisms for social control are considered an important part of criminal justice. Neighborhood watch schemes have become popular, and victim-offender mediation and reparation, community mediation, and neighborhood mediation have emerged. Police cautioning, in which juvenile offenders and their parents or guardians are informed of the seriousness of their offenses, has become popular. Parole boards administer the punishment of offenders in the community, and the police and other official agencies have formed partnerships with local communities and voluntary organizations. Some people are critical of the trend toward integrating informal social control into the official criminal justice apparatus. They argue that such social control may result in a culture divided into communities suspicious of outsiders. Others have noted that vigilantism, which plays a relatively small role in the culture (exceptions are street gangs, less organized groupings of males termed "the lads," and soccer hooligans), may take root.
Military Activity. Military activity is administered through the armed forces of the United Kingdom, which are directed by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense.
Social Welfare and Change Programs
Social welfare and change programs are directed toward people who cannot care for themselves (the elderly, children and youth, and the disabled), those in poverty, and those experiencing discrimination. Local government social services authorities provide for children and youth, the elderly, and the disabled, and there are advisory and regulatory bodies such as the National Disability Council and the Mental Health Act Commission. For the elderly, the disabled, and those with learning disabilities, major services include supervised residential and day care, help for those confined to the home, support services for family members caring for those individuals, and counseling. Increasingly, government policy has aimed services for the elderly, the disabled, and persons with learning disabilities at helping those people live at home and in the community. The mentally ill are treated locally, though since there are fewer places for the mentally ill in large hospitals, this has meant farming out patients to smaller hospitals and private and charity-supported facilities. Local authorities have the responsibility for child welfare, and provide aid to families such as advice, guidance, counseling, and day care. They also protect abused children and care for children without parents.
The poor and the unemployed receive support from the Department of Social Security (DSS). The major beneficiaries are the unemployed, families in need, those with short-term or long-term disability, widows, and elderly retirees. Since the early 1980s, more conditions have been placed on the receipt of DSS benefits, with the exception of the elderly and those unable to work. The unemployed, for example, must demonstrate they are looking for work to receive benefits.
Social change programs for ethnic minorities and women are in their infancy. There is a Race Equality Unit in the central government, and the 1976 Race Relations Act set up the Commission for Racial Equality that oversees over one hundred racial equality councils. These changes have not diminished ethnic inequality and tensions, although Britain has a minister for women, a Women's Unit, and an Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) as well as an umbrella group known as the Women's National Commission.
Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations
The Charity Commission for England and Wales registered 188,000 charities in 1998. Across the United Kingdom, charities employed 485,000 people and supervised three million volunteers in 1998. With the move toward privatization in the 1980s, charities became more important, but social and economic dislocation have made it difficult for them to maintain the social safety net. Nongovernmental organizations work with children and youth; marginalized or disadvantaged groups such as the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and those suffering from inequality; environmental conservationists; the science and technology sector; the arts; and the humanities.
Gender Roles and Statuses
Division of Labor by Gender. Gender roles assign homemaking, other domestic activities, and most unpaid labor to women. A man's sense of self is defined chiefly in terms of the paid work he can obtain. The impact of these constructions of gender is now much different than before, but is still felt in English society.
The Relative Status of Women and Men. Although there is no equal rights amendment, in recent decades there has been a more noticeable commitment to equality of opportunity for men and women through bodies such as the Equal Opportunity Commission and laws such as the Abortion Act of 1967 and the 1969 Divorce Act. The rate of women's (especially married women's) participation in the workforce increased in the late twentieth century, as did the nature of that participation. In 1971, only 57 percent of women of working age were economically active, but in 1998 that figure was 72 percent, whereas men's participation declined from 91 percent to 84 percent. Despite their importance in the workforce, women earn only 80 percent of what men do. Women have been confined to lower-status work, are more likely to work part-time, and are under-represented in elite jobs. However, some women have obtained high-status, formerly male-dominated work, and the status of female-dominated work has risen. Women's increasing participation in political life and their progress in religious roles in society—the rise of women MPs in the 1990s and the Church of England's agreement to ordain women priests in 1994—may be an indication of this.
Women have probably made the least progress in the social sphere. They were the victims in 70 percent of cases of domestic violence in 1998, and women still perform most unpaid work, such as running households and raising children. Gender roles among particular subgroups, however, diverge from this picture. Some Muslim and Jewish women are more involved in the domestic sphere, and Afro-Caribbean community women are more likely to be employed and have a higher status than Afro-Caribbean men.
Marriage, Family, and Kinship
Marriage. Among many members of the South Asian and Jewish communities, arranged marriages as a means of cementing family alliances are the norm. Most inhabitants, however, decide independently whom to marry, often choosing to cohabit with the partner before marriage. Social position, social aspirations, and informal social control drive the choice of a marriage partner. Thus, marriages across class lines are not common, especially among unskilled workers and the professional and managerial classes. Marriages across ethnic lines also are not common. As a reason for marriage, economic security is prominent, but so is the desire for sexual and social companionship. In 1997, about half the population over age sixteen was married. While marriage between a man and a woman remains the primary model for long-term relationships, it is not the only one. Same-sex unions and so-called blended families are increasingly common, and experimentation with forms of quasi-polygamy has taken place.
Domestic Unit. The basic domestic unit is a household headed by a married couple—a model that accounted for 59 percent of the households in 1998. Close to 73 percent of inhabitants live in a family headed by a couple (though not necessarily a married couple). It is uncommon for couples to live with the kin of either partner. Current gender roles dictate that men are the primary breadwinners and women are responsible for household management. Who actually controls the household on a daily basis, however, varies by household. Single-parent, usually female-headed households are on the rise, accounting for 9 percent of all households in 1998. The extended family is a visible and important social institution in the South Asian, Asian, Afro-Caribbean, and Jewish communities and still plays a role in the majority population. People living alone represented 28 percent of households in 1998.
Inheritance. Children rarely depend on inherited wealth to become independent and usually inherit movable property rather than real estate. When real estate is involved, it often consists of a home and the attached land, not agricultural land. Most people follow the principle of equal division of inherited wealth among offspring, with some favoritism toward biological offspring in blended families.
Kin Groups. People envision themselves as part of a set of interconnected families, the size of which varies with marital status and family traditions. Most people include three to four generations of people in their kin group. Those who are married count the same number of generations of the spouse's family as part of their family. Kin groups do not have prominent status in society formally or informally. Notions of kinship involve a network of individuals who enter into kin relationships. The individual is not subsumed by the kin structure.
Infant Care. Good mothering entails stimulating an infant through play and other activities. Many other aspects of infant care are class-specific. For example, middle-class mothers are likely to breast feed babies and wean them early, while working-class mothers tend to use bottle feeding and wean infants later. Middle-class infants are more likely to sleep in a separate room in a crib than are their working-class peers. Working-class infants also are more likely to receive physical chastisement for crying. Working-class fathers are not likely to participate in the upbringing of infant children because of the difficulty of obtaining time off.
Child Rearing and Education. A good child is often termed well adjusted, as opposed to children who are shy, withdrawn, overly aggressive, or hyperactive. Typically, people see children's behavior as the result of interactions with those around them, with the parents being the primary influence. Some children are viewed as having health problems that affect behavior, requiring medical intervention. There are two major areas of emphasis in child-rearing practices and beliefs. First, adults, particularly parents, need to teach children and young adults how to behave by setting limits to what they can and cannot do, teaching them how to solve conflicts and deal with others, and modeling good behavior. Second, adults should stimulate children to learn and be curious and creative to promote the growth of their mental capacities. Children are supposed to be well behaved but capable of interacting with their peers without shyness and should be curious and inquisitive as learners. Models for learning, teaching, and parenting involve intense interaction between teacher and learner and parent and child. Major secular initiation ceremonies for children and young adults revolve around the educational process and clubs. School graduation ceremonies are a primary rite of passage for most children and young adults. Hazing is used to initiate junior members of clubs, schools, and street gangs. There are three levels of schooling below the university level: preschool, primary school, and secondary school. Depending on the kinds of knowledge tested at the secondary levels, schools emphasize practical knowledge and problem solving as much as the mastery of a body of knowledge.
Higher Education. Government policy since the late 1950s has been aimed at expanding the opportunities for students to benefit from postsecondary education to create a more skilled workforce and increase social mobility. In the 1990s, more than 30 percent of all eighteen-year-olds were attending a university (up from under 5 percent in 1960), although the recent introduction of student fees may cause some to discontinue their education.
Etiquette is changing, but norms for appropriate behavior articulated by the elite and the middle class are still an important normative force. Greetings vary by the class or social position of the person with whom one is dealing. Those with titles of nobility, honorific titles, academic titles, and other professional titles prefer to be addressed by those titles, but like people to avoid calling too much attention to a person's position. Unless invited to do so, one does not call people by their nicknames. Postural norms are akin to those in other Western cultures; people lean forward to show interest and cross their legs when relaxed, and smiles and nods encourage conversation. The English expect less physical expression and physical contact than do many other societies: handshakes should not be too firm, social kissing is minimal, loud talking and backslapping are considered inappropriate, staring is impolite, and not waiting one's turn in line is a serious social blunder.
In conversation the English are known for understatement both in humor and in other forms of expression. On social occasions, small talk on neutral topics is appropriate and modest gifts are given. People reciprocate in paying for food and drink in social exchanges, by ordering drinks by rounds, for example. In public houses (bars), appropriate etiquette includes not gesturing for service. In restaurants it is important to keep one's palms toward the waiter, and tips are in the range of 10 to 15 percent. Standard table manners include holding the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right hand, tipping one's soup bowl away when finishing, and not leaning one's elbows on the table. Deviations from these norms occur in ethnic subcultures and among the working class. These groups usually develop their own version of etiquette, appropriating some rules from the majority standard while rejecting others.
Religious Beliefs. In 1998, approximately 10 percent of the population claimed to be atheists and 15 percent said they were agnostics, while 20 percent said they believed in God. In 1991, about 25 percent of inhabitants claimed to believe in astrology and good luck charms, and 42 percent believed in fortune-telling and faith healing. The major religious traditions are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism. In recent decades, so-called pagan or cult religions have included Wicca, shamanism, heathenism, druidry, goddess religion, the Unification Church, and Transcendental Meditation.
Religious Practitioners. Christian leaders derive power and authority from their control and dispensation of sacraments. Jewish rabbis and Islamic imams derive their authority from their mastery of a specific set of religious legal texts and the application of those texts to everyday life. Hinduism relies on a wide variety of texts, and traditionally its primary leaders gain authority from their caste position as well as from their adherence to specific ascetic rules and, especially in the case of gurus, their perceived connection to the divine. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion with a single set of texts, and ideally Sikhs associate themselves with a guru who helps believers achieve spirituality. In the most popular form of Buddhism (Mahayana), monks and teachers hold spiritual authority by virtue of their ascetic way of life and mastery of certain texts. In the various forms of Buddhism, monks and teachers hold spiritual authority by virtue of their ascetic way of life, their mastery of certain texts, and their leadership of worship ceremonies. Modern paganism often envisions its priests as deriving their power through a unique connection to the hidden forces in nature. Leaders of other movements rely on charisma or the attractiveness of the skills they teach.
Rituals and Holy Places. Christians celebrate an annual cycle of rituals that vary by denomination. Most celebrate Christmas and Easter and attend services in a church on Sunday. Judaism has particular days of celebration, such as Passover, and weekly services on Saturdays in a synagogue. Islam has special celebrations (the month of Ramadan) and weekly attendance at worship services in a mosque on Fridays. In Hinduism worship is a daily activity, often taking place at the household shrine but also at the local temple. There are festivals and feasts to honor individual deities (Ram Navami) and particular occasions in the year (e.g. Divali); some are yearly, others weekly and fortnightly. For Sikhs, regular worship at the temple is important, but there are no days that are particularly holy; Sikhs worship on Sunday. For Buddhists, worship is done both at home and at religious centers and occurs on a weekly basis; the birth of the Buddha is an important occasion that is celebrated. Alternative religions vary in where they worship, how often, and on what days.
Death and the Afterlife. In the early 1990s, about 25 percent of the population believed in life after death, although there is a wide range of practices around death. For a majority of the population, ideas about the afterlife are based on typical Victorian notions that are reinforced on television and in film: a place where life is better and those who have lived a good life are rewarded. For most people, funerals have become much cleaner, with the deceased meticulously prepared and cleaned before burial. Cemeteries are kept pristine and immaculate. Others, however, feel that the dead are very much among the living in photographs, videos, and other visual mementos. People used to remember the dead in a yearly cycle of religious days, but with the geographic spread of families, family occasions have become the occasions to recall them. There are organizations that promote awareness of how to die, from living wills to hospice care to palliative measures and euthanasia.
Medicine and Health Care
Since 1946, most people have obtained health care from a physician or other specialist attached to the National Health Service (NHS), a government-controlled and government-funded health care system. Although in the 1980s and early 1990s there were attempts to introduce market-driven principles into the NHS, and the number of privately insured inhabitants has risen; the NHS retains the principles of free services at the point of delivery, and the current Labour government has rescinded many of the measures intended to manage healthcare by market principles.
Most people believe in an approach to medicine that focuses on particular problems and illnesses as opposed to overall wellness. In this type of medicine a patient sees a medical specialist when a health complaint arises. The doctor diagnoses the problem on the basis of the patient's physical symptoms and either prescribes a treatment or sends the patient to a more specialized doctor. In recent years, a very different set of approaches to medicine and health (complementary medicine) has been informed by non-Western traditions such as traditional Chinese medicine and nonstandard approaches such as herbal lore. Rather than trying to cure a specific ailment, practitioners of complementary medicine attempt to restore the well-being of the patient's entire mind and body, often by tapping the body's capacities to heal itself. Examples of complementary medicine are acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage therapy, and healing touch.
New Year's Eve and Day (31 December, 1 January), celebrate the beginning of the new year. April Fool's Day (1 April), is a day on which people play practical jokes on one another. The sovereign's birthday is celebrated in June. Guy Fawkes's Day (5 November) commemorates the foiling of a 1605 Catholic plot to blow up the houses of Parliament and is an occasion for fireworks and revelry. Remembrance Day (11 November) celebrates the contributions of war veterans to defending the freedom of the nation.
The Arts and Humanities
Support for the Arts. In addition to artists' earnings, support for the arts derives from the government, chiefly through the Arts Council and business and private philanthropic sources.
Literature. The elaboration of an expressly English literature began in the medieval period with Geoffrey Chaucer and continued into the Renaissance and then into the Restoration with William Shakespeare, John Milton, and John Dryden. During those periods, drama and poetry were the major literary forms, with popular literature shading into song, cartoons, and storytelling.
The eighteenth century is notable for the emergence of new literary forms such as the novel, the true crime tale, light opera, magazines, and new oral traditions associated with England's port districts. Regionalized music and storytelling from this era still provide the foundation for much currently performed folk music in England.
The nineteenth century is the age of the Romantics and the Victorians. Artists in both movements were social realists, with the Romantics known for recovering older forms and the Victorians known for highly elaborate language. Popular literature offered the penny dreadful and a profusion of magazines that published novels and other literary work serially. New oral traditions sprang up around labor protest movements such as those of the Luddites and Chartists.
In the twentieth century, writers born in England shared the stage with Commonwealth writers such as Derek Walcott, V.S. Naipaul, and Nadine Gordimer and with other non-English writers such as James Joyce, Dylan Thomas, and Alice Walker. The twentieth century also saw the continuance of the phenomenon of Anglicized émigré writers such as T. S. Eliot. Edwardians such as E. M. Forster and moderns such as D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf dominated the period 1900–1950. Edwardians extended Victorian approaches, and moderns worked in older forms such as the novel and helped develop the short story.
Since World War II, the efforts of writers to stretch the bounds of genres expanded. Poetry is now performed in the form of hip-hop music or at poetry slams, while written poetry may be rooted in jazz and has lost prominence. Drama has flourished, as have filmed versions of classic and contemporary works. Novels focus on the everyday and the autobiographical, a reflection in part of women's influence on literature.
Graphic Arts. Most training of graphic artists is provided by universities and art colleges. Art has been incorporated into the school curriculum as part of the nation's educational policy, and all English students receive some training in and exposure to the graphic arts. In 1997 and 1998, 22 percent of the population over age 15 visited a gallery, museum, or other major collection, a figure that has shown little change since the late 1980s. Whether museums are egalitarian in terms of affordability and relevance, however, is debatable. The National Disability Arts Forum and similar organizations are funded by the Arts Council of England and improve access to the arts and training in the arts for the disabled population; the Arts Council promotes cultural diversity as well.
Performance Arts. The Royal Shakespeare Company and musical productions in London's West End are well attended. Musical productions range from orchestras such as the London Philharmonic to jazz, rock, and folk music. Dance forms range from classical ballet to free-form club dancing. Ticket prices limit attendance at elite forms of performance art, although statistics show that in the last decade their audience has not decreased in size.
The State of the Physical and Social Sciences
England supports research and teaching in all areas of science and the social sciences. The government funds most scientific and social scientific research. Larger private corporations and private foundations are also major players. The research sector develops applications for basic primary research in a range of fields. With a long tradition of empirical inquiry, English scholars have often been active in applied science.
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See Also: United Kingdom
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- an authority on England, its language, or its literature.
- an extreme devotion to English manners, customs, or institutions.
- great admiration for England and things English. —Anglophile , n., adj.
- a hatred or fear of England and things English. —Anglophobe , n., adj.
- 1 . the state or condition of being English, especially by birth.
- 2 . a population outside of England that is English or of English descent.
- English History. the seven principal concurrent early English kingdoms. —heptarch , n. —heptarchic , heptarchical , heptarchal , adj.
- the squires or landed gentry as a class.
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England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity this saying, associated with the aspirations of Irish nationalism, is recorded from the mid 19th century.
See also the cat, the rat, and Lovell our dog, rule all England under the hog, what Manchester says today, the rest of England says tomorrow, turkeys, heresy, hops, and beer came into England at turkey.
© The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable 2006, originally published by Oxford University Press 2006.
So English OE. englisċ pert. to the group of Germanic peoples known coll. as Angelcynn, lit. ‘race of Angles’; also adj. and sb., of their language. Hence Englishman OE. Englisċmon.
© The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology 1996, originally published by Oxford University Press 1996.
ENGLAND. SeeGreat Britain, Relations with .
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COPYRIGHT 2003 The Gale Group Inc.
© Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes 2007, originally
published by Oxford University Press 2007.