Discover Britain

October/November 2021

Celebrating the best of our nation, every issue of Discover Britain is packed with features from history to travel. Read about the events that changed history, as well as British traditions and their origins, or be inspired for your next trip with great ideas for where to go and what to see. Whether you’re planning a weekend city break or an escape to the countryside, Discover Britain is your essential guide to getting the most out of your stay.

United Kingdom
Chelsea Magazine
6 Issues

in this issue

1 min

Often when compiling a new issue, unexpected themes emerge and language has proved one of those threads here. We begin with arguably Britain’s greatest wordsmith, William Shakespeare, as we tour the area surrounding his Stratford-upon-Avon home in search of ruined castles, Tudor gardens and curiously-titled villages that sound as if they were named by the Bard himself (p10). Our former deputy editor Sally Hales has also written a fascinating piece about the campaign to preserve the Welsh language, underlining the cultural benefits while suggesting places to visit and find out more (p38). And finally, we’ve picked out 13 of the greatest speeches in British history from Oscar Wilde to Margaret Thatcher (p20), celebrating our nation’s history of excellence in eloquence. If you have a favourite historic speech that we missed from…

1 min

Cornish connections Your article about St Ives [Issue 222] was of special interest for me due to my recent genealogical work. I have traced my maternal grandmother’s family (maiden name Hawking) back six generations, all living in St Ives. Although I have visited Britain over the years, I have never visited Cornwall, so your excellent article has resolved me to see St Ives in the near future. I found it of particular interest that St Ives [above] has a Tate gallery and that the city has a connection with Virginia Woolf. The details in the article, plus the excellent photography, make it very easy for me to envision a journey. David Wend, via email A tasty suggestion What a wonderful respite from all the traumatic occurrences going on in our world today your magazine is. I…

2 min
wish you were here...

GAINSBOROUGH, LINCOLNSHIRE Hidden gem of Medieval Midlands is returned into English Heritage care Situated on a medieval estate, Gainsborough Old Hall was built in around 1460 and remains one of England’s best preserved manor houses of the Tudor era. Henry VIII was certainly impressed when visiting with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, in 1541. Largely overlooked by overseas visitors, the hall has recently returned to English Heritage care. “It has been an absolute privilege to be able to work through finding clues in the building and then connecting them to the people and their stories, bringing those voices to life for our visitors,” says the charity’s senior curator Kevin Booth. Highlights include an original timbered Great Hall, a vast medieval kitchen, and a 59-step staircase up to a tower providing stunning views of the…

9 min
shakespeare beyond

Rightly regarded as “Shakespeare’s England”, there is far more to Warwickshire than literary connections William Shakespeare famously declared that all the world’s a stage, yet he spent much of his life treading the boards of a very small part of it. For while he may have established his famous Globe Theatre in London, and later gained worldwide acclaim, it was the small Midlands town of Stratford-upon-Avon that remained his beloved home throughout his brilliant life. He was born there on Henley Street – now the restored Shakespeare’s Birthplace attraction – in April 1564 and he died there 52 years later, around the corner at his New Place home on Chapel Street. Shakespeare was both baptised and buried at the town’s Holy Trinity Church, a grand 13th-century parish on the banks of the…

8 min
talking points

1 ELIZABETH I on leadership (1588) When Elizabeth I accepted the Earl of Leicester’s invitation to inspect her troops at Tilbury Fort in Essex on 9 August 1588, she had no idea that the threat from which they were expected to defend the country had already crumbled. The Spanish Armada – a fleet of 130 ships transporting a Spanish Hapsburg army to invade England – had been vanquished 11 days earlier off the northern French coast. The Virgin Queen was unaware of that collapse and believed that a speech of sleeve-rolling defiance was required. “I know I have the body but of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too,” she told the amassed forces, reassuring them that she…

8 min
far from the madding crowd

The Romantic poets first championed the wide-open spaces of Britain’s Lake District and called for its preservation in the late 18th century. With the popularity of Grand Tours to continental Europe on the wane and city life increasingly uncomfortable, they eulogised wild landscapes, embracing the natural world to restore health. William Wordsworth, the poster boy for the nature-inspired poetry movement, led the lyrical charge, referring to the Lake District as “…a sort of national property, in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy”. It wasn’t until 1951, however, that the Lake District was formally designated as a national park, becoming the UK’s second after the Peak District. It has subsequently evolved into a major destination for visitors from around…