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Christmas Day, 25 December, celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a public holiday. Many Christians go to church on Christmas Eve (24 December) or on Christmas Day itself.
Poetry was very popular in the 19th century, with poets such as William Blake, John Keats, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Robert and Elizabeth Browning. Later, many poets – for example, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon – were inspired to write about their experiences in the First World War.
Everyone has the legal right to choose their religion, or to choose not to practise a religion. In the Citizenship Survey, 21% of people said that they had no religion.
The monarch is the head of the Church of England. The spiritual leader of the Church of England is the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The White Tower in the Tower of London is an example of a Norman castle keep, built on the orders of William the Conqueror.
A very impressive hill fort can still be seen today at Maiden Castle, in the English county of Dorset.
Isaac Newton most famous published work was Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (‘Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy’), which showed how gravity applied to the whole universe. Newton also discovered that white light is made up of the colours of the rainbow. Many of his discoveries are still important for modern science.
The Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age, when people learned how to make weapons and tools out of iron.
The countries that make up the UK all have flowers which are particularly associated with them and which are sometimes worn on national saints’ days:
Halloween, 31 October, is an ancient festival and has roots in the pagan festival to mark the beginning of winter. A lot of people carve lanterns out of pumpkins and put a candle inside of them during Halloween.
The Union Flag consists of three crosses:
Located on the north-east coast of Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is a land formation of columns made from volcanic lava.
As well as getting the right to vote, people on the electoral register are randomly selected to serve on a jury. Anyone who is on the electoral register and is aged 18 to 70 can be asked to do this.
The second-largest party in the House of Commons is called the opposition.
Elizabeth I never married and so had no children of her own to inherit her throne.
In England, judges developed ‘common law’ by a process of precedence (that is, following previous decisions) and tradition.
Sir Christopher Cockerell (1910–99), a British inventor, invented the hovercraft in the 1950s.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.
Civil servants support the government in developing and implementing its policies. They also deliver public services. Civil servants are accountable to ministers.
Roald Dahl (1916–90) is most well known for his children’s books, although he also wrote for adults. His best-known works include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and George’s Marvellous Medicine. Several of his books have been made into films.
In 1807, it became illegal to trade slaves in British ships or from British ports, and in 1833 the Emancipation Act abolished slavery throughout the British Empire.
The official Church of the state is the Church of England (called the Anglican Church in other countries and the Episcopal Church in Scotland and the United States).
David Allan (1744–96) was a Scottish painter who was best known for painting portraits. One of his most famous works is called The Origin of Painting.
In 2012 Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee (60 years as queen). She is married to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Her eldest son, Prince Charles (the Prince of Wales), is the heir to the throne.
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