Shakespeare, the most quoted writer in the history of the English-speaking world, has been voted England’s ultimate claim to fame in VisitEngland’s Hall of Fame exhibition launched this morning. The nation’s bard has won The People’s Choice in England’s Hall of Fame with 50% more votes than any other claim.
The news comes in a big year for Shakespeare; it marks 450 years since his birth. And although his exact birthday is unknown, it’s widely believed that he was born on 23 April, St George’s Day.
Shakespeare goes on display alongside Downton Abbey, Banksy, Glastonbury and many other claims in the hotly anticipated Hall of Fame exhibition to celebrate St George’s Day. Running for one week until 30 April, the free open-air exhibition will take place at Observation Point on London’s Southbank.
The search to establish England’s Hall of Fame began in February when the tourist board asked the public to submit their suggestions. The Hall of Fame app received almost 1,000 submissions from Harry Potter to Harry Styles, the mini skirt to the tuxedo, The Beatles to punk music, and Earl Grey tea to the Scotch Egg. A panel of experts has awarded a bronze, silver and gold across six categories, to celebrate the best of what England has brought to the world and what makes the country such a diverse and fascinating place to visit and explore. The public were also given a vote, The People’s Choice.England’s ultimate Hall of Fame consists of:
The People’s Choice
Shakespeare. The most quoted writer in the history of the English-speaking world and truly, the nation’s bard. His plays are brought to life by Stratford-upon-Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Company at the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres, or you can soak up the atmosphere at the open-air Shakespeare’s Globe in London, whose spirited performances see interaction between actors and the audience. Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Family Houses are also open for the public to visit in Stratford-upon-Avon
History & Heritage
Bronze – The four surviving original copies of Magna Carta, sealed in 1215 at Runnymede, Surrey, and regarded by historians as the foundation of constitutional liberty in the English-speaking world
Silver – The smooth lawns and sweeping vistas of England’s landscaping master, Capability Brown, as seen at Northumberland's Kirkharle Lake and Courtyard
Gold – Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the world's oldest industrial complex and a crucial part of England’s naval heritage
The Great, the Good and the Notorious
Bronze – World-renowned, elusive graffiti artist Banksy, whose original murals can be spotted on a guided tour of Bristol’s street art
Silver – Robin Hood, England's lovable outlaw, whose world-famous legend is rooted in Sherwood Forest on the outskirts of Nottingham
Gold – Founder of the National Trust, Octavia Hill, whose birthplace museum in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, is dedicated to her life and social reforms
Food & Drink
Bronze – The Bakewell Pudding, first made at a local inn in Derbyshire during the 19th century… and whose recipe was something of a happy accident!
Silver – England's oldest working gin distillery in Plymouth, whose guided tours provide a glimpse into the centuries-old process of gin making
Gold – The sandwich, an essential part of afternoon tea, which was named in honour of its ingenious inventor, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Enjoy them cut up into dainty fingers at Woburn Abbey, where the tradition of afternoon tea was popularised around 1840.
Inventions & Discoveries
Bronze – England as the birthplace of the steam locomotive, whose steam train attractions can be found chugging merrily around the country. A working replica of the world’s first operational steam locomotive can be seen in action at Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge, Shropshire, whilst Birmingham’s Thinktank Science Museum is worth visiting for its exciting demonstrations of the steam engine's power.
Silver – Sir Isaac Newton’s family home at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, where the English physicist and mathematician first discovered his theory of gravity
Gold – Isambard Kingdom Brunel's engineering masterpieces in Bristol, including the magnificent Clifton Suspension Bridge and SS Great Britain passenger steamship
Sport & Leisure
Bronze – The annual BNY Mellon Boat Race (known also as the Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race), established in 1829 and one of the world’s oldest sporting events
Silver – The home of tennis, from Hampton Court Palace in Richmond-upon-Thames, where the sport is thought to have been invented, to Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
Gold – The incidental birth of modern rugby during a football game at Rugby School in Warwickshire
Culture & Entertainment
Bronze – Glastonbury, the granddaddy of all festivals on Worthy Farm in Somerset
Silver –Hampshire’s elegant Highclere Castle, the real-life location of ITV’s hugely successful Downton Abbey
Gold – The Beatles, whose mop-top haircuts and irresistibly catchy tunes set fans’ hearts on fire in 1960s Liverpool
For more information, visit www.englandshalloffame.com
The Hall of Fame expert panel included VisitEngland Chairman, Lady Cobham and VisitEngland Chief Executive, James Berresford.
• Historic yet contemporary, traditional yet cutting-edge, metropolitan yet wild: England is truly a unique destination and a real powerhouse in global tourism.
• With ancient Hadrian’s Wall straddling the wild north and the world’s biggest indoor tropical rainforest nestled in the far south, England really is the ultimate mix of old and new as well as being home to some of the most iconic sites in the world, including Stonehenge, the honey-hued Georgian terraces of Bath and the towering peaks and glistening meres of the Lake District.
More information can be found on www.visitengland.com and www.visitengland.org