St Michael’s Mount: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about st Michael’s Mount.

  • St Michael’s Mount is a small island located off the south coast of Cornwall. It is connected to the mainland by a man-made causeway, which can be crossed only at low tide.
  • About 2,000 years ago, the Mount was an important centre of the tin industry.

  • It became an important religious destination and place of pilgrimage during the 6th century.
  • About 30 people live on St. Michael’s Mount. During the early 19th century, almost 200 people lived there, and the island had several schools, and a chapel.
  • The St Aubyn family has lived on the island since the 17th century. In 1954, the family gave St Michael’s Mount to the National Trust, who look after it to this day.
  • The 12th century castle is known for its library of valuable books, its 18th century tidal clock and its mummified cat. It also has a model of the Mount made entirely from champagne corks.

St Michael's Mount

  • During World War II the Mount was fortified against a German invasion, and the bunkers can still be seen. Some Nazis planned to live on the island after invading Britain.
  • In 1588, the Mount was the first place from where the invading Spanish Armada was spotted.
  • In 1755,an earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal caused the water around the Mount to rise by two metres.
  • St Michael’s Mount is well known for its sub-tropical gardens, with plants from Mexico and South Africa. Some terraces are so steep that the gardeners climb down with rope.
  • The Mount can be seen in several films, including the 1983 James Bond film, Never Say Never Again. It was also used as the outside of Dracula’s castle in the 1979 film Dracula.
  • Legend says that the Archangel Michael appeared to island fishermen in 495. The Mount is said to be located on a ley line, a line connecting mystical or spiritual places.

Channel Tunnel: Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about the Channel Tunnel.

  • The Channel Tunnel is a 50 km long tunnel, running under the English Channel. It links Folkestone in Kent to Coquelles in northern France, and is sometimes known as the Chunnel.

  • Plans for a tunnel under the English Channel date back to 1802.
  • In 1882, a tunnel of almost 2,000 metres was dug from England, but abandoned over fears it could weaken Britain’s defences.
  • In 2014, The Channel Tunnel is the 5th longest railway tunnel, and the 11th longest tunnel in the world. It has the longest stretch of any tunnel under the sea, at 40 km.
  • 11 huge boring machines, together weighing more than the Eiffel Tower, were used for digging the tunnel, which cost £4.6 billion in total.
  • The tunnel opened in 1994, when the English and French ends met under the channel. It took 15,000 workers to build the tunnel, 10 of whom died during construction.
  • In 2009, the racing driver John Surtees drove a sports car through the tunnel, keeping to the 50 kmh speed limit. In 2014, Chris Froome was the first to cycle through the Channel Tunnel.
  • About 20 million people use the Channel Tunnel every year, and over 400 trains run through it daily. They carry people, cars and freight.
  • Immigrants have used the Channel Tunnel to enter Britain illegally.
  • During construction, the UK increased in size by about 90 acres, when all the earth removed from under the sea was dumped. In France, the earth removed was used for a new hill.
  • The tunnel’s lining is designed to last for at least 120 years. There are two main tunnels, about 35 metres apart, as well as a smaller service tunnel designed to be used in an emergency.

Brighton: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Brighton.

  • Brighton is one of England’s most popular seaside resorts. The town has a population of about 480,000 and is located on the south coast, about 90 km south of London.
  • During the 19th century, Brighton became popular with day trippers from London, who came by train. The town also became a fashionable health resort, and bathing in seawater was widely practiced.

  • Today Brighton attracts about 8 million visitors each year.
  • It has been voted the UK’s coolest town and one of the happiest towns in the country.
  • The town has featured in books by Graham Greene, Henry James and Jane Austen. It has been featured in over 40 films, including the classic 1947 film Brighton Rock.
  • The London to Brighton veteran car run dates from 1896 and is the world’s longest running motoring event. Participating cars must have been made before 1905 and cannot go faster than 32 km per hour.
  • Brighton’s Grand Hotel was built in 1864 and when it opened, had the country’s only lift outside London. In 1984 a bomb exploded in the hotel in an attempt to kill the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
  • Brighton’s most famous building is the Royal Pavilion, designed to look like an Oriental palace. It was built for the Prince of Wales during the 18th century and was used as a hospital during World War I.
  • One of the most interesting areas of Brighton is the Lanes, a maze of narrow streets. This popular shopping area is well known for antiques, fashion and jewellery.
  • Brighton Pier opened in 1823 and is over 580 metres long. The pier is illuminated by 70,000 lights and the Isle of Wight can be seen from the helter skelter.
  • The town has almost 100 parks and gardens, and over 400 restaurants, more per person than anywhere except London. It also has Britain’s oldest purpose built cinema, dating from 1910.

What is the difference between England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom and the British Isles?

Although each of the the terms (England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, British Isles) has a specific meaning, the terms are not always strictly applied. Many people who live in the British Isles do not use the terms correctly, and it can get quite confusing.

Let’s look at the terms in more detail.

The British Isles

The British Isles refers to the group of islands to the north-west of continental Europe. This island group includes the island of Great Britain (made up of England, Scotland and Wales), the island called Ireland (made up of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands (Guernsey and Jersey).

United Kingdom (UK)

Officially known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the UK is made up of the island of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland. It does not include the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Great Britain (or Britain)

Great Britain is the largest island of the British Isles, and when combined with Northern Ireland, it makes up the United Kingdom. Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the Acts of Union which brought together England and Scotland.

England+Scotland+Wales = Great Britain.

England

England is located on the island known as Great Britain. It shares borders with Wales and Scotland. It is part of the United Kingdom (along with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

Confusing Points

  • Many people believe that Britain and the United Kingdom are one and the same. They are using Britain as a short version of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, rather than a short version of Great Britain.
  • People from the United Kingdom are referred to as British or Brits.
  • GB or GBR are used as country codes for the United Kingdom.
  • The UK Olympic team (including athletes from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) was called Team GB and not Team UK.
  • If you ask someone from England what their nationality is, they might say English, or British, or both!