did you know?

1. The traditional English "V-sign" insult dates back hundreds of years. During The Hundred Years War, the French would chop off the two fingers of any English longbowmen who were unfortunate enough to be captured. In defiant response to this, before the commencement of battle, English longbowmen would taunt the French by giving them the two fingered salute.

2. The fact that we drive on the left hand side of the road owes itself to medieval times, when it was easier to attack someone with your sword as they came towards you on your right side.

3. In Chester, a person is permitted to shoot a Welshman with a bow and arrow, as long as he is inside the city walls after midnight.

4. All English males over the age of 14 are required by law to have two hours of longbow practice each week.

5. The English language is the most widely spoken of all languages and is also the international language of air traffic control. All international pilots must be able to speak English as well as all air traffic controllers.

6. In English law, when we swear on the bible the right hand is always raised. This stems from the medieval practice of branding thieves on the palm of the hand. Everyone in court was required to show their hand to see if they had previously been branded.

7. The “Union Jack” should only be called the “Union Jack” when it is flown from the Jack Mast of a British ship. At all other times it should be called the Union Flag.

8. St George was made the Patron Saint of England by Edward III in 1349.

9. England's national flower is the Rose and its national bird is the Wren – the smallest bird in England.

10. England does not appear on the European Union map and was described under “other European regions” See the attached map from the European Commission website. Do you know of any other country that would stand to have their name deleted from the map? (Another reason why we need an English Parliament)

11. Many of the words and phrases from Shakespeare’s plays have entered our everyday language. You may find yourself reciting Shakespeare without even knowing it. Here's a few examples...

“To be or not to be”
“More in sorrow than anger”
“To thine own self be true”
“Murder most foul”
“To the manner born”
King Lear
“More sinned against than sinning”
“The prince of darkness”
“The wheel has come full circle”
“Is this a dagger which I see before me”
“A charmed life”
The Merchant of Venice
“With bated breath”
“Love is blind”
The Merry Wives of Windsor
“The world’s mine oyster”
“What the dickens…”
“As good luck would have it”
Midsummer Night’s Dream
“The course of true love never did run smooth”
Romeo and Juliet
“What’s in a name”
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”
“Parting is such sweet sorrow"
12. Scots can still be jailed and whipped for entering England. They face the penalties if they stray into Carlisle, Cumbria, according to a lawbook for the city written in 1561, which has never been revised.

13. England’s oldest ally is Portugal. A treaty of alliance was signed at Windsor in 1386 which is still in force today and remains the oldest active international treaty in the world. The Treaty of Windsor has stood - despite sometimes severe strains - for over 600 years. Relations between England and Portugal have not always been rosy, but in all that time whenever our two nations have gone to war it has been as allies, not enemies.

14. Ever since the making of the film “Zulu” popular belief has always been that it was mainly a “Welsh” defence of Rorke’s Drift that took place during the Zulu war of 1879. The action is firmly set in people’s minds as being fought by Welshmen of the South Wales Borderers (24th Foot). In fact the regiment was the Warwickshire regiment in 1879 and only became the SWB in 1881. Like most regiments of the time it recruited from across the UK. No more than 20 of the 140 men defending Rorke’s Drift were Welshmen. Of the eleven men awarded the Victoria Crosses three were Welsh, one Irish, one Swiss and the rest were English. Having said that, the singing bit was my favourite part of the film.

15. The modern “Scottish” kilt was invented in the 1730’s by Englishman Thomas Rawlinson. A Lancastrian industrialist, he clothed his Scottish workers in the garment to save money on trousers.

16. Welsh national costume was invented in the 1830’s by Englishwomen Augusta Waddington. She was married to a government minister called Benjamin Hall who the bell “Big Ben” at Westminster was named after.

17. Many Scots and English share common ancestors. During the mid sixth century lowland Scotland was invaded and occupied by the Anglo-Saxons. One Anglo-Saxon King (Edwin) gave his name to a fortified town (burgh) he established on a prominent rock beside the River Forth. Over the years the town grew into a city which is now called Edinburgh.

18. Three-quarters of the world's electronic communication is in English and more than eighty per cent of the data stored in the world's computers is in English. The largest English dictionaries list around four hundred thousand words whith the French and German languages containing less than half of this vocabulary.Around eight hundred million people speak Englsh as a first or second language. An estimated one hundred million further, speak English fluently as a foreign language and at least several hundred million more people speak "broken" English taking the total number of people who are able to communicate in English well past the one billion mark..

19. The much-derided Sir Douglas Haig, who while the Supreme Commander of the British Forces during WW1 picked up the nickname “The Butcher of the Somme”, is always portrayed in the media as a bumbling English gent. He was Scottish.

20. Any English person who has spent even the shortest amount of time in Scotland is bound to have come across the derogatory term often aimed at the English “Sassenach”. Variants of the word also exist in different “Celtic” languages: sasanach in Irish, sasunnach in Scottish Gaelic, sais in Welsh, saws in Cornish, sosty-nagh in Manx and saoz in Breton. In all these languages it means the same – Saxon.

21. During Anglo-Saxon times English craftsmen were producing swords of equal or superior quality 600 years before the Japanese were to produce the famed Samurai blades.

22. The language “Scots” is actually a dialect of English.

23. Many of Scotland’s most famous family names including the Bruces, the Balliols and the Stuarts are actually of Anglo-Norman origin.

24. STOP PRESS – After untold hours of research, pawing over ancient manuscripts and dusty tomes, endlessly searching the bowels of near forgotten buildings with nothing but candlelight to guide us…..we’ve finally come with something, albeit a very insignificant something, from Mel Gibson’s fictional masterpiece “Braveheart” that is historically correct. The Scottish armies did actually use to “moon” at their English adversaries. There was a strange belief among the Scots that the English had tails and baring their backsides was a taunt to our supposedly deformed anscestors.

25. In 1969, Pope Paul VI (the cheeky get) reformed the calendar of the of the Catholic Church. As a result , St George was placed on a list of “doubtful saints” – those whose credentials owed more to myth than historical fact (and St Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland did he?)

26.Before his funeral 321,360 people filed past Churchill’s coffin as he lay in state. That was 16,000 more than did likewise for George VI.

27. The quintessentially Irish tune "Danny Boy" is actually English. The Paddies just love it when you inform them that it was actually written by Englishman Frederic Edward Weatherly who died in 1929 having never set foot in Ireland. Just try it. It gets them every time….What joy!

28. Over the past 250 yeas English men and women have been responsible for nearly 4 out of every 5 major inventions, discoveries and new technologies. Japanese research shows that more than half of the world’s most useful inventions since 1945 were made by English people. For comparison the Americans have contributed less than 1/5 of the worlds useful inventions since 1945

29. It was the English historian The Venerable Bede who first began the practice of referring to events after the birth of Christ using the now-familiar notation anno domini ('in the year of our Lord', abbreviated to AD).

30. The Saxons were so called because of the style of fighting knife that they often carried. The “Seax” could be as small as a penknife for everyday use or as large as a sword. Saxon literally means “the sons of the sword”

31. St Patrick the Patron Saint of Irish, the most Irish of Irish, was born near Bristol.

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