Friday, 11 May 2012 14:35 | By Tom Phillips

Ten things you never knew about England



England (© Action Images)

1) The patron saint of England, St. George, was actually a Roman soldier from Palestine who never even visited England. St. George is also a patron saint of - among many other countries and regions - Georgia, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, Portugal, and Russia, meaning he is a patron saint of no fewer than five teams in Euro 2012.

2) London's famous "Big Ben" clock tower is not actually called "Big Ben". "Big Ben" is in fact the nickname of the largest bell within the tower - the clock tower itself is, in fact, just called the "Clock Tower".

3) The annual "Cheese Rolling" event on Cooper's Hill, Gloucester, sees hundreds of competitors race against each other to chase a large piece of cheese down a very steep hill. The event normally results in multiple injuries.

4) The dates of September 3rd to September 13th 1752 never happened in England - or the rest of the British Empire - due to the switch from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. September 2nd was followed immediately by September 14th.

5) The town of Hartlepool, in North East England, is famous for reputedly having executed a monkey during the Napoleonic Wars, under the belief that the monkey might have been a French spy.

6) The official motto of the English Monarchy is in French, not English - for many centuries the British royalty spoke French as their first language.

7) The forerunner to the modern Olympic Games was an athletic event started in the small English town of Much Wenlock in 1850.

8) William Shakespeare's surname was spelled at least 14 different ways during his lifetime - and he never signed his own name using the common modern spelling.

9) Sir Isaac Newton, the genius English scientist who first described the laws of gravity and motion, is less well known for also having been a pioneer of the cat flap.

10) Just a few more of the important things that have been invented in England: the computer, the lightbulb , the reflecting telescope, the hovercraft, the refrigerator, the fire extinguisher, the machine gun, the military tank, general anaesthetic, stainless steel, tin cans, postage stamps, toothbrushes, the corkscrew and the sport of football.

IE11