Skip To Content

    28 Of The Most Delightfully British Facts Ever

    Just how much tea do British people drink anyway?

    1. Gyldenbollockes was an actual surname in medieval England.

    2. Sir Bruce Forsyth is four and a half months older than sliced bread.

    3. The first fatal car accident in the UK was caused by a driver going at four miles per hour.

    4. The Queen took her favourite corgi on her honeymoon.

    5. A series of riots that lasted three months in 1809 were caused by the Covent Garden theatre putting its ticket prices up.

    6. The 11 days between September 3 and September 13 1752 were the least eventful in British history – because they never happened. Thanks to the move from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, the date skipped straight from Wednesday 2 to Thursday 14.

    7. In the 14th century, Sussex priest William of Shoreham advised baptising babies in cider instead of water.

    8. The oldest condoms ever found were from Dudley Castle in the 1640s, and were made from animal and fish intestines.

    9. Lieutenant Colonel "Mad" Jack Churchill is only British soldier in WWII known to have killed an enemy soldier with a longbow. He insisted on going into battle armed with both a medieval bow and a claymore sword.

    10. In 2009, a search of Loch Ness for the Loch Ness monster instead discovered thousands of lost golf balls.

    11. The village of Lost in Aberdeenshire has its road sign welded to the post because it kept getting stolen.

    12. According to PornHub, the word most commonly used by people in the UK when searching for porn is "British".

    13. Nineteenth-century biologist Sir John Lubbock experimented on ants by getting them drunk. He discovered that sober ants would carry drunk ants from the same colony as them back to their nest, but would throw drunk strangers into water.

    14. In World War II, British soldiers got a ration of three sheets of toilet paper a day. Americans got 22.

    15. The last English woman convicted under the Witchcraft Act of 1735 was convicted in 1944.

    16. The equals sign was invented by Welshman Robert Recorde in 1557, because he thought writing "is equal to" over and over again was "tedious".

    17. Alan Turing, the father of modern computing, was an Olympic-standard marathon runner – when he had meetings in London, he would sometimes run the 40-plus miles there from Bletchley Park.

    18. Everyone on Palmerston Island in the middle of the Pacific speaks with a Gloucestershire accent.

    19. During World War II, the crew of the British submarine HMS Trident kept a fully grown reindeer called Pollyanna aboard their vessel for six weeks (it was a gift from the Russians).

    20. Charles Darwin let his children use the original manuscript for On the Origin of Species as drawing paper.

    21. J.M. Barrie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, P.G. Wodehouse, and A.A. Milne all played for the same cricket team. The team was rubbish.

    22. Speaking of which, Doyle was once set on fire by a cricket ball while batting at Lord's. (It hit a box of matches in his pocket, igniting them.)

    23. When England's first escalator was installed in Harrod's in 1898, smelling salts and brandy were offered to customers at the top in case they had been made faint by the ride.

    24. When the London Underground's first escalator opened in 1911, a one-legged engineer called Bumper Harris rode it to reassure passengers that it was safe.

    25. In 1816, The Times warned its readers that the waltz was an "indecent foreign dance" and a "fatal contagion" that should be "confined to prostitutes and adultresses".

    26. On average, Brits consume almost 4.3 pounds of tea per person every year. That's actually slightly behind the Irish, who get through 4.8 pounds.

    27. One in four potatoes in Britain end up as chips, according to the Potato Council.

    28. A massive beer flood killed at least seven people in London in 1814 when a vat burst at a brewery in Tottenham Court Road, sending a 15-foot wave of beer through the neighbourhood.

    Some facts adapted from 1,411 QI Facts To Knock You Sideways by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson. Both cricket facts adapted from Peter Pan's First XI by Kevin Telfer.