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England's world records
  • Attracting city-birds looking for a quick get-away, Southend was hailed the holiday destination to visit in the 19th century. Competing with the fashionable Margate of the time, Sir William Heygate took up the campaign of creating the Essex landmark to try to blow the competition out of the water. Originally made of wood, in 1887 the pier was replaced for an iron counterpart. It currently extends 1.34 miles (2.16 km) into the Thames Estuary making it the longest pleasure pier in the world. It even has its own tram system.
  • Windsor Castle is said to be both the world’s largest and oldest occupied castle. It is an impressive architectural medley spanning centuries, with stone-clad battlements and luxurious furnishings making it an arresting sight both inside and out. Known as the Queen's official residence, it’s been the family home of English kings and queens for almost 1,000 years. Much of the castle is open to the public, such as the State Apartments, and St George's Chapel – the resting place for The Queen Mother and King George VI.
  • Founded in 1753 and open to the public in 1759, London’s British Museum enjoys the prestige of being the world’s first ever national public museum. Today, the popular London attraction houses a staggering eight million artefacts from across the globe and spans across two million years of human history. Highlights include the ancient Egyptian Rosetta Stone, the Benin Bronzes and classical Greek sculptures the Elgin Marbles.
  • Though it's thought similar games were played in ancient China, Greece and Rome, football – as we know it – is claimed to have been created in Sheffield back in 1857. According to Sheffield FC, the rules of the game were first drawn up by pioneers Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, who also founded the world���s first football club in 1857. According to the organisation, the longest derby on the planet was also played in Sheffield back in 1860, between rival teams Sheffield FC and Hallam FC. The match was also played out on the oldest football ground in the world, the Hallam Pitch at Sandygate Lane, Sheffield.
  • Jack the Ripper is claimed to be the most infamous serial killer in the world. The killer who stalked the Whitechapel area of London back in 1888 was dubbed 'Jack the Ripper', but who exactly was he? Was he the grandson of Queen Victoria, the Queen’s physician, a cabbie or a butcher? This ‘who dunnit’ conundrum remains a constant source of dark fascination.
  • Academic excellence has been nurtured at Oxford for the best part of 1,000 years thanks to the city’s world-famous university. This prestigious haunt of the intellectual elite has witnessed some of history’s greatest minds, from astronomer Edwin Hubble to playwright Oscar Wilde. Visitors can experience the university’s impressive colleges and halls for themselves.
  • Chetham's Library was founded in 1653 and is claimed to be the oldest surviving public library across the English-speaking world. The library holds over 100,000 volumes of printed books, of which 60,000 were published before 1851. Housed in a medieval sandstone building in Manchester city centre, the library was the meeting place of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels when Marx visited Manchester. The economics books Marx was reading at the time can be seen on a shelf in the library, as can the window seat where Marx and Engels would meet.
  • 300 years ago the Severn Valley, in what is now Ironbridge, echoed to the sound of furnaces and toil of smelting iron, heralding the start of the industrial revolution. The world’s first iron bridge, spanning the Severn in the heart of this World Heritage Site is a permanent reminder of this industrious past. Discover the story of Ironbridge at the 10 award-winning Ironbridge Gorge Museums.
  • The gallery was founded in 1811 when Sir Francis Bourgeois RA left his staggering collection of Old Master paintings to Dulwich College under the condition that it be housed in a purpose built gallery designed by his friend and architect, Sir John Soane, and that the paintings be on display for the "inspection of the public". Dulwich Picture Gallery claims to be the first example of a purpose built public space for art.

  • Dating from the early 12th century, Exeter Cathedral is one of England's most beautiful medieval cathedrals, with some of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the world. The view of the nave and quire vaulting from the west end of the cathedral is quite unforgettable. At 97.3m (319 feet), it is the longest continuous piece of medieval Gothic vaulting in the world.

  • Situated right on the sea-front next to Brighton's iconic pier, SEA LIFE Brighton claims to be the world's oldest operating aquarium and provides a fascinating insight into life below the waves. Built in 1872, the Sea Life Centre has recently been restored, but still retains much of its original Victorian architecture including the amazing vaulted ceiling.

  • Bigger, bolder and badder than ever! The Rat Race - Dirty Weekend at Burghley House claims to be the largest assault course on Earth. Assembled within the grounds of one of England’s finest Elizabethan Country Estate’s, the rat race includes a minimum of 200 obstacles and over 20 differently-themed zones.

  • Causey Arch in the Vale of Durham is the oldest surviving single-arch railway bridge in the world, and a key element of the industrial heritage of England. Throughout the site there is evidence of its railway past; a replica of an 18th century coal waggon, a concrete bollard marking the former location of Bobgins pumping engine and a series of panels explaining the early waggonways.

  • The skies in Northumberland are so deep and dark that Northumberland Northumberland International Dark Sky Park along with Kielder Water & Forest Park and Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society have officially been awarded Gold Tier Dark Sky Status, making it the largest Dark Sky Park in Europe. From the Northern Lights to the Milky Way, Northumberland is home to star gazing opportunities that are out of this world.

  • What goes around the world and stays in a corner? The answer... a postage stamp! This convenient method of pre-paying to send mail was thought up right here in England, with the first stamp ever to be sent posted from Bath in May 1840. The Penny Black stamp came into use on 6th May 1840, and was sold in 1990 for a whopping £55,000. England’s postal history can be explored at Bath Postal Museum.