Real tennis

During the Wimbledon season (in June), it is essential to know the origins of the lawn game. The ‘old version’ dates back to the 11th century monasteries where tennis was played on an enclosed court.

The ball was solid and a racquet was used to hit it.
The game was a popular pastime activity of monarchs too, like King Henry VIII was a keen tennis player.
Nowadays, the sport is getting unique, however, it is played at many independent schools and colleges (like Cambridge in the photo above).

Shorts, please

In 2017, schoolboys at The Isca Academy, Exeter England “rebelled” the uniform policy, i.e. boys must wear trousers to school every day.
There was a great heatwave in England in June 2017. Boys at Isca Academy wanted to wear shorts but the headteacher said it was against school regulations but “You can wear skirts if you want,” he replied.
They did so. Meanwhile the protest ended in an all-round U.K support since many schoolboys joined the campaign and went to school in skirts.

GR8 to Know
As a result of the globally raised attention, Isca Academy altered its rules about school uniform and many other U.K.-schools did so.

Save daylight: William Willett’s BST

It’s time for time change – British Summer Time (BST) changes to Greenwich Mean Time every last October Sunday. This time adjustment by one hour twice a year has been going on since 1916. Builder William Willett’s idea was to save hours of daylight. It went into reality a year after he died in 1915.

Willet was riding his horse and noticed closed window shutters well after sunrise. This gave him the idea of DST – Daylight Saving Time. His pamphlet “The Waste of Daylight” written in 1907 got several followers and even supporters, like young politician Winston Churchill. Parliament had long debates over the matter but made no proper action.

Willett with daughter Gertrude – source: Chislehurst Society

In 1916, there was great need to reduce energy-use (mostly fuel) and support war production with the resources saved. As a result of this, an emergency law was passed to change the clocks twice a year.  “Summer Time Act” was, however, only passed in 1925.

GR8 to Know
Willett’s great-great-grandson Christ Martin from rock band Coldplay refers to his great-great-grandpa’s idea in the beginning lines of Coldplay song ‘Clocks’. Here it goes:
“The lights go out and I can’t be saved…”

Battle for life: Lord Horatio Nelson

The “admiral of admirals” is truly one of Britain’s greatest heroes. Actually, his whole life was a battle since he ad to survive several diseases from malaria to scurvy.

Although Nelson had been out to sea since childhood, he suffered from seasickness through his life.
Nelson had suffered several injuries and wounds in battles

  • he lost his right eye in the Siege of Calvi (1794) – “I have only one eye, I have a right to be blind sometimes” – Lord Horatio Nelson
  • he was shot in the arm in the Battle of Tenerife (1797), an arm which was amputated soon after the shot
    According to the doctors diary Nelson wanted no anaesthetic but a heated knife since “cold knives are more painful.”

As a great tactic, he had commanded the British Navy from 1784 to 1805, when he was shot dead in the Battle of Trafalgar. His body was preserved in brandy and taken to London. The streets of the City had seen no such mourning before. Admiral Nelson’s body was placed in a coffin down St Paul’s Cathedral’s Crypt.

“England expects that every man will do his duty” – Lord Horatio Nelson.

Name: Horatio Nelson
Rank/Titles: Vice-Admiral of the White; 1st Vicount Nelson; 1st Duke of Bronté
Birth: 29 Sept. 1758, Burnham Thorpe, ENG
Death: 21 October 1805, on board HMS Victory near Cape Trafalgar
Height: 5ft 4in (162 cm)
Years of Service: 1771-1805 inthe Royal Navy

(Click HERE to watch and play the Battle of Trafalgar)

U.K. Factfile (data and symbols)

COUNTRY England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland

*the next Census takes place in 2011

ca. 56,000,000 ca. 5,420,000 ca. 3,125,000 ca. 1,871,000
(ca. 8,8 million in Greater London)
(ca. 500,000 in the council area)
(ca. 1,000,000 in the urban zone)
(ca. 585,000 in the Metropolitan Area)
LANGUAGE English English, Scots, Scottish Gaelic Cymraeg (Welsh), English English, Irish Gaelic
OFFICIAL FLAG england scotland wales uk 1200px-Ulster_Banner.svg
(celebrated on 23 April)
St Andrew
(30 November)
St David
(1 March)
St Patrick
(17 March)
rose 2000px-Tudor_Rose_(Heraldry).svg thistle Scottish_Thistle_(Heraldry).svg daffodil Narcissus.calcicola.7114.jpg shamrock  Irish_clover
NATIONAL TREE oak Scots pine, heather oak oak
ANIMAL SYMBOL(S) lion lion, unicorn dragon Irish elk
HIGHEST POINT Scafell Pike (978 m) Ben Nevis (1344 m) Snowdon (1085 m) Slieve Donard (850 m)
LONGEST RIVER the River Thames (346 km)* River Tay (188 km) River Teifi (122 km)* River Bann (159 km)
LARGEST LAKE Windermere Loch Ness (by volume); Loch Lomond (by surface area) Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) Lough Neagh

The ravens of the Tower

Ravens have been in the Tower since it was built. They are the kings of the Tower and the guardians, as the saying goes: “If the ravens leave the Tower, the kingdom will fall.”

According to the legend, it was King Charles II who ordered to protect the Ravens. There are seven ravens to guard the Tower (six plus one – and there are more – spare).

towerravens03-ravenmasterIt is the Raven Master who looks after the Tower ravens, moreover, the ravens only respond to him. All of our ravens are bred in captivity, not taken from the wild. To prevent the ravens from flying away, their lifting feathers are trimmed by the Raven Master. This procedure does not hurt the birds in any way, but by unbalancing their flight, it ensures they stay safe and do not stray far from the Tower. Look carefully and you will see the ravens’ graveyard and marker in the south moat (visible from the Middle Drawbridge). This is a great indicator of the respect in which they are held at the Tower.

Despite their having one wing trimmed, some ravens do in fact go absent without leave and others have had to be sacked. Raven George was dismissed for eating television aerials, and Raven Grog was last seen outside an East End pub. 

The ravens at the Tower eat 170g of raw meat a day, plus bird biscuits soaked in blood. Generally, a raven that comes from the crow family (and is its largest member) lives for 12-15 years, but at the Tower, a raven lived even up to 44 years.


Names, terms and dates – The Tudors



King Henry VII (1485 – 1509) the first Tudor king who won the final battle of the War of Roses; he was a powerful monarch who saved a lot of money for Britain in the treasury
treasury, the a place used for storing the money of the monarchs or the Church
King Henry VIII (1509 – 1547) he had 6 wives and 3 legitimate children; he liked sports like hunting, jousting and tennis; he sang, played music and composed songs; he built a strong navy for Britain as well as palaces;

he founded the Church of England

King Edward VI (1547 – 1553) son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour; he was a boy king and died at the age of 15; a protestant
Lady Jane Grey was queen for 9 days until Mary, daughter of Henry VIII came and put her in prison
Queen Mary I (1553 – 1558) daughter of Henry VIII and first wife Catherine of Aragon ;a Roman Catholic; made England catholic again and she ordered to execute protestants (ß nickname: Bloody Mary); she was very unpopular when she got married to the King of Spain
Queen Elizabeth I (1558 – 1603) daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn; a powerful and strict monarch who made England protestant again; she sent explorers to find new lands for the British Empire; nickname: the Virgin Queen; she won battles against the Spanish Armada on the sea
gentry, the people from high social class
yeoman, a a man who owned and land and also worked on it
jousting knights riding horses and fighting with a lance
falconry hunting with falcons or hawks
Pastime with Good Company a song composed by Henry VIII, named as The King’s Ballad
petty school a school for young boys, like a nursery or kindergarten
illiterate unable to read and write
galleon, a a ship with sails for fighting and carrying goods
Renaissance, the period in Europe btw. 14th and  17th centuries, where people got interested in ancient Greece and Rome again which produced new developments in arts: literature, music, painting and architecture
curfew, a when people mustn’t go out to the street at night
flogging a type of punishment when people were whipped and hit by sticks
pillory, the a type of punishment; a wooden frame on a pole with holes through which a person’s head and hands were placed
stock, the a type of punishment;  a wooden frame with holes through which a person’s feet was put

Tudor Monarchs

henryviiKing Henry VII (1485 – 1509)

  • defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth (that ended the War of Roses);
  • he kept England peaceful, and saved a lot of money for the country’s treasury;

henryviiiKing Henry VIII (1509 – 1547)

  • spent a lot of money away (liked hunting, jousting, singing, music, dancing, sports etc.);
  • had 6 wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived);
  • had 3 legitimate children (Mary, Elizabeth, Edward);
  • built a strong navy;
  • founded the Church of England (Anglican Church of protestants)

King Edward VI (1547 – 1553)edwardvi

  • was a boy king, he reigned under the protection of his uncle, the Duke of Somerset;
  • never married, no children; usually ill, died at the age of 15;

ladyjanegreyLady Jane Grey

  • after Edward’s death she was named the next in the line to the throne because she was a protestant à Henry VIII’s daughter Mary rode to London with her followers, put Jane in prison and executed her

maryiQueen Mary I (1553 – 1558)

  • a Roman Catholic and forced to make English people Roman Catholic again;
  • married to King Philip of Spain;
  • a very unpopular monarch;
  • nicknamed Bloody Mary because she murdered many people who were mainly protestants and against her will

elizabethiQueen Elizabeth I (1558 – 1603)

  • after Mary’s death she came to the throne and made England protestant again;
  • made Britain an empire when the British discovered a lot of new lands;
  • wore white make-up to hide the scars left by smallpox;
  • called to be the most powerful monarch because she was very strict;
  • the ‘Virgin Queen’- never married, no children;
  • she named her nephew, King James VI of Scotland (a Stuart) as her heir to the English throne –> he became King James I of ENG (and WAL, SCO)

The life of William Shakespeare


He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon maybe on 23rd April 1564. Nobody is sure about his date of birth. He was baptised on 26th April, and in those times people were baptised 3 days after their birth. William was the third child of John and Mary Shakespeare. His father was a leather merchant and glove maker and his mother was a ‘local-landed heiress’, which meant that she came from a wealthy family. Her father was a rich farmer.

Visit THIS website to watch the Shakesepare video and do the activities.

 William had two older sisters, Joan and Judith, and three younger brothers called Gilbert, Richard and Edmund.

Young William’s education probably went to school at King’s New School in Stratford where he learnt Latin and Greek languages and History.

On November 28th 1582, at the age of 18, William married Anne Hathaway. Anne was 26 years old when they got married. They had a baby called Susanna in 1583. Two years later, Anne gave birth to twins – a boy called Hamnet and a girl called Judith. Sadly, at the age of 11, Hamnet died.

In the mid-1580s, William arrived in London. When he first arrived in the capital city, he worked as a horse attendant at some of London’s theatres. By 1592, he was earning money as an actor and a playwright. He was managing partner of a company of actors called The Lord Chamberlin’s Men. Their name was changed to The King’s Men after King James I was crowned the new king of England.

By 1697, William earned so much money that he bought the second largest house in his hometown of Stratford. Because it took about four days to get from London to Stratford by horse, William only ever went home during the forty days of Lent when the theatres were closed.

Shakespeare wrote plays called tragedies and comedies (more than 38 altogether). He acted in several of his plays in front of Queen Elizabeth I. He often included the themes of religion, love and the monarchy in his plays. Some of his tragedies are: Romeo and Juliet; Othello; Macbeth; King Lear; Hamlet. Some of his comedies are: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Much Ado About Nothing; As You Like It; The Taming of the Shew.

Shakespeare also wrote sonnets – a sonnet is a poem with 14 lines. Shakespeare’s sonnets were about love, death and loss.

William Shakespeare died on April 23rd 1616, which was the same day as his birthday, at the age of 52. He is buried in the Holy Trinity churchyard in Stratford.

Look at the drawings and tell Shakespeare’s life.

Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty’s London home


  • she became queen in 1952;
  • she meets politicians and other monarchs in her office at Buckingham Palace;
  • in the afternoons, she visits (or opens) public buildings (e.g.: schools, hospitals etc.);
  • in the summer, she has three garden parties at the palace;
  • she keeps the tradition of having breakfast exactly at 8.30 with her husband, Prince Philip while listening to traditional Scottish bagpipe music played by a piper in the Palace Gardens;
  • at dinner, she starts to eat first and when she finishes eating, everybody must finish;
  • she never accepts a phone call during dinner, not even in case of an emergency

Read more HERE and HERE



  • tourists can visit several rooms of the palace in August and September (while the Queen is in Scotland at Balmoral Castle);
  • The Palace Gardens, the Queen’s Gallery and The Royal Mews can be visited all year round;
  • you know that Her Majesty is at home if: the flag at the top of the palace flies and outside the front gate there are four Foot Guards (otherwise there are only 2 of them);
  • there are seven people whose only job is to take after Her Majesty (and her dogs);
  • the palace is like a small town (with its own police station, hospital, post offices, cinema, swimming pool etc.)

Read more HERE