National Trust, Seaton Deleval Hall Interior, Northumberland, England.(PID:23100611683) Source
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Seaton Delaval Hall is a Grade I listed country house in Northumberland, England. It is near the coast just north of Newcastle upon Tyne. Located between Seaton Sluice and Seaton Delaval, it was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in 1718 for Admiral George Delaval; it is now owned by the National Trust. Seaton Delaval Hall in its entirety was closed to visitors in 2018 on account of building work. It re-opened on Saturday 16 February 2019, from Thursdays to Sundays only. In 2020 the Hall closed again to visitors on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. The gardens re-opened in late July to visitors who have pre-booked their tickets. Since completion of the house in 1728, it has had an unfortunate history. Neither architect nor patron lived to see its completion; it then passed through a succession of heirs, being lived in only intermittently. Most damaging of all, in 1822 the central block was gutted by fire, and has remained an empty shell ever since. The 18th-century gardens of the hall are Grade II* listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. The Delaval family had owned the estate since the time of the Norman conquest. Admiral George Delaval bought the estate from an impoverished kinsman, Sir John Delaval in 1717. George Delaval had made his fortune from capturing prize ships while in the Navy, and had also served as a British envoy during the reign of Queen Anne. In 1718, he called on architect Sir John Vanbrugh to advise him on how to modernise and enhance the existing mansion. Upon viewing the site, Vanbrugh felt he could do nothing, and advised complete demolition of all except the ancient chapel near to the mansion, which is now the parish church of Our Lady. His advice was taken and the construction work was completed in 1728, two years after the death of the Admiral. The resulting new mansion was the last country house Vanbrugh designed, and it is regarded as his finest work. On completion, the Admiral's nephew Francis Blake Delaval (the elder) inherited the property, and moved in immediately. In 1775, the Newcastle portrait artist William Bell made two paintings of the Hall, depicting the north and south fronts. Bell also painted portraits of many of the residents of the house at the time, earning him the patronage of Lord Delaval, a younger son of the above-mentioned Francis Blake Delaval. These paintings can normally still be seen in the Hall, but not during the current building work. In 1822, the central block was gutted by a fire said to have been caused by jackdaws nesting in the chimneys of the section of the south-east wing closest to the main house. This wing was subsequently demolished, and various openings can still be seen, now glazed, showing where it joined the central block. The house was partially restored by the architect John Dobson in 1862–63, when the central block was re-roofed, although it remained a shell internally. The effects of the fire remain clearly visible in the great hall, originally 30 feet (9.1 m) high but now open to the roof, with blackened walls and muse statues. During the Second World War the Hall was used to house German prisoners-of-war, who worked as labourers on neighbouring farms. Further restoration was completed in 1959 and the early 1960s, including replacement of windows in the central block, restoration of the upstairs gallery in the main hall, and paving of the floors on the piano nobile. However, the house was to remain unoccupied until the 1980s when, after a period of 160 years, Edward Delaval Henry Astley, 22nd Baron Hastings moved into the west wing. It became his permanent home until his death in 2007. Subsequently the new 23rd Baron Hastings, Delaval Astley, wishing to preserve the future of the Hall and encourage greater public access, began discussions with the National Trust. On 1 September 2008 the National Trust launched an appeal for £6.3m to bring the hall, with its gardens and grounds, into the Trust's custody. In December 2009, the Trust announced that its appeal had been successful, and the purchase having gone through, the Hall opened to visitors again on 1 May 2010. The style of architecture is known as English Baroque, based on the Palladian style introduced into the UK by Inigo Jones. Vanbrugh developed the style from the more decorated and architecturally lighter continental baroque popular in Europe. The design is of a centre block portico, or corps de logis, containing the state and principal rooms, between two flanking wings. The wings have a centre projection of three bays, crowned by a pediment, either side of which are 7 bays of sash windows above a ground floor arcade. The west wing originally housed secondary and service accommodation. Damaged in an earlier fire but restored to the original plan, it is distinguished by a great colonnade and boasted a lofty vaulted kitchen, now a salon. The east wing contains the stables, a sixty-foot chamber of palatial design, with stalls and mangers of stone fit. They were reportedly inspired by the stables at Hopetoun House, designed by Robert Adam. In 1768 Sir Francis Blake Delaval wrote thus to his brother: "I am putting up the grand stable on a plan we saw at Lord Hoptoun's when we were in Scotland, with stone divisions of the stalls." So pleased was he with the results that Sir Francis held a dinner party in the new stables. Between the two wings is a cour d'honneur, a great open courtyard 180 feet (55 m) long and 152.5 feet (46.5 m) broad. While the exterior is still a perfect example of English baroque at its finest, the interiors of the state rooms remain unrestored from the fire. Also in the 400 acres (160 ha) estate park is a stone mausoleum, about half a mile east of the hall, which once had a majestic dome, now gone, but which retains a portico resting on huge monolithic columns. The mausoleum is surrounded by a circular ha-ha, a stone-faced ditch. It was erected by Lord Delaval to his only son, John, who died in 1775 aged 19, "as a result of having been kicked in a vital organ by a laundry maid to whom he was paying his addresses". No-one was ever buried in the mausoleum, which was never consecrated, and the unfortunate John Delaval was buried in St Peter's Doddington, Lincolnshire. The mausoleum is now ruinous and its lead roof has gone. Also to the east in the walled garden is a south-facing orangery, designed by the architect William Etty, who collaborated with Vanbrugh. It has five glazed arches separated by Doric demi-columns. The statue in the forecourt in front of the house is a lead figure of David, with empty sling, lightly poised above the crouching form of Goliath, who has his thumbs doubled inside his palms. This is an 18th-century copy, possibly by John Cheere, of a 16th-century Italian marble by either Baccio Bandinelli or a follower of Giambologna. The statue has been repositioned from one of the corner bastions of the garden. A large obelisk commands the fields to the south of the hall; the stub of a second can be found on the north side of the road running past the hall, next to the turning for New Hartley. This second obelisk marked the site where Admiral George Delaval was killed in a fall from his horse in 1723, before his new hall had been completed. Only the pedestal of the obelisk survives, half-hidden by trees; it is uninscribed. From the steps of the house on a clear day, The Cheviot and Hedgehope Hill can be clearly seen on the northern horizon, some forty miles away on the Scottish border. Also visible to the northwest are the Simonside Hills. As with many big old houses, Seaton Delaval Hall is alleged to have a ghost. According to family biographer Francis Askham: There is a first-floor window on the North front of Seaton Delaval where, so it would seem from one particular part of the forecourt, a white-clad figure is standing. This, according to legend, is the White Lady, a girl who fell in love with the Delaval heir and died of a broken heart because the marriage was forbidden. England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight. The area now called England was first inhabited by modern humans during the Upper Paleolithic period, but takes its name from the Angles, a Germanic tribe deriving its name from the Anglia peninsula, who settled during the 5th and 6th centuries. England became a unified state in the 10th century and has had a significant cultural and legal impact on the wider world since the Age of Discovery, which began during the 15th century. The English language, the Anglican Church, and English law—the basis for the common law legal systems of many other countries around the world—developed in England, and the country's parliamentary system of government has been widely adopted by other nations. The Industrial Revolution began in 18th-century England, transforming its society into the world's first industrialised nation. England's terrain is chiefly low hills and plains, especially in central and southern England. However, there is upland and mountainous terrain in the north (for example, the Lake District and Pennines) and in the west (for example, Dartmoor and the Shropshire Hills). The capital is London, which has the largest metropolitan area in both the United Kingdom and, prior to Brexit, the European Union.[nb 1] England's population of 56.3 million comprises 84% of the population of the United Kingdom, largely concentrated around London, the South East, and conurbations in the Midlands, the North West, the North East, and Yorkshire, which each developed as major industrial regions during the 19th century. The Kingdom of England – which after 1535 included Wales – ceased being a separate sovereign state on 1 May 1707, when the Acts of Union put into effect the terms agreed in the Treaty of Union the previous year, resulting in a political union with the Kingdom of Scotland to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801, Great Britain was united with the Kingdom of Ireland (through another Act of Union) to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922 the Irish Free State seceded from the United Kingdom, leading to the latter being renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The name "England" is derived from the Old English name Englaland, which means "land of the Angles". The Angles were one of the Germanic tribes that settled in Great Britain during the Early Middle Ages. The Angles came from the Anglia peninsula in the Bay of Kiel area (present-day German state of Schleswig–Holstein) of the Baltic Sea. The earliest recorded use of the term, as "Engla londe", is in the late-ninth-century translation into Old English of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. The term was then used in a different sense to the modern one, meaning "the land inhabited by the English", and it included English people in what is now south-east Scotland but was then part of the English kingdom of Northumbria. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded that the Domesday Book of 1086 covered the whole of England, meaning the English kingdom, but a few years later the Chronicle stated that King Malcolm III went "out of Scotlande into Lothian in Englaland", thus using it in the more ancient sense. The earliest attested reference to the Angles occurs in the 1st-century work by Tacitus, Germania, in which the Latin word Anglii is used. The etymology of the tribal name itself is disputed by scholars; it has been suggested that it derives from the shape of the Angeln peninsula, an angular shape. How and why a term derived from the name of a tribe that was less significant than others, such as the Saxons, came to be used for the entire country and its people is not known, but it seems this is related to the custom of calling the Germanic people in Britain Angli Saxones or English Saxons to distinguish them from continental Saxons (Eald-Seaxe) of Old Saxony between the Weser and Eider rivers in Northern Germany. In Scottish Gaelic, another language which developed on the island of Great Britain, the Saxon tribe gave their name to the word for England (Sasunn); similarly, the Welsh name for the English language is "Saesneg". A romantic name for England is Loegria, related to the Welsh word for England, Lloegr, and made popular by its use in Arthurian legend. Albion is also applied to England in a more poetic capacity, though its original meaning is the island of Britain as a whole. History Main article: History of England Prehistory and antiquity Main article: Prehistoric Britain Sun shining through row of upright standing stones with other stones horizontally on the top. Stonehenge, a Neolithic monument View of the ramparts of the developed hillfort of Maiden Castle, Dorset, as they look today The earliest known evidence of human presence in the area now known as England was that of Homo antecessor, dating to approximately 780,000 years ago. The oldest proto-human bones discovered in England date from 500,000 years ago. Modern humans are known to have inhabited the area during the Upper Paleolithic period, though permanent settlements were only established within the last 6,000 years. After the last ice age only large mammals such as mammoths, bison and woolly rhinoceros remained. Roughly 11,000 years ago, when the ice sheets began to recede, humans repopulated the area; genetic research suggests they came from the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula. The sea level was lower than now and Britain was connected by land bridge to Ireland and Eurasia. As the seas rose, it was separated from Ireland 10,000 years ago and from Eurasia two millennia later. The Beaker culture arrived around 2,500 BC, introducing drinking and food vessels constructed from clay, as well as vessels used as reduction pots to smelt copper ores. It was during this time that major Neolithic monuments such as Stonehenge and Avebury were constructed. By heating together tin and copper, which were in abundance in the area, the Beaker culture people made bronze, and later iron from iron ores. The development of iron smelting allowed the construction of better ploughs, advancing agriculture (for instance, with Celtic fields), as well as the production of more effective weapons. During the Iron Age, Celtic culture, deriving from the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures, arrived from Central Europe. Brythonic was the spoken language during this time. Society was tribal; according to Ptolemy's Geographia there were around 20 tribes in the area. Earlier divisions are unknown because the Britons were not literate. Like other regions on the edge of the Empire, Britain had long enjoyed trading links with the Romans. Julius Caesar of the Roman Republic attempted to invade twice in 55 BC; although largely unsuccessful, he managed to set up a client king from the Trinovantes. Painting of woman, with outstretched arm, in white dress with red cloak and helmet, with other human figures to her right and below her to the left. Boudica led an uprising against the Roman Empire. The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD during the reign of Emperor Claudius, subsequently conquering much of Britain, and the area was incorporated into the Roman Empire as Britannia province. The best-known of the native tribes who attempted to resist were the Catuvellauni led by Caratacus. Later, an uprising led by Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, ended with Boudica's suicide following her defeat at the Battle of Watling Street. The author of one study of Roman Britain suggested that from 43 AD to 84 AD, the Roman invaders killed somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000 people from a population of perhaps 2,000,000. This era saw a Greco-Roman culture prevail with the introduction of Roman law, Roman architecture, aqueducts, sewers, many agricultural items and silk. In the 3rd century, Emperor Septimius Severus died at Eboracum (now York), where Constantine was subsequently proclaimed emperor a century later. There is debate about when Christianity was first introduced; it was no later than the 4th century, probably much earlier. According to Bede, missionaries were sent from Rome by Eleutherius at the request of the chieftain Lucius of Britain in 180 AD, to settle differences as to Eastern and Western ceremonials, which were disturbing the church. There are traditions linked to Glastonbury claiming an introduction through Joseph of Arimathea, while others claim through Lucius of Britain. By 410, during the Decline of the Roman Empire, Britain was left exposed by the end of Roman rule in Britain and the withdrawal of Roman army units, to defend the frontiers in continental Europe and partake in civil wars. Celtic Christian monastic and missionary movements flourished: Patrick (5th-century Ireland) and in the 6th century Brendan (Clonfert), Comgall (Bangor), David (Wales), Aiden (Lindisfarne) and Columba (Iona). This period of Christianity was influenced by ancient Celtic culture in its sensibilities, polity, practices and theology. Local "congregations" were centred in the monastic community and monastic leaders were more like chieftains, as peers, rather than in the more hierarchical system of the Roman-dominated church. Middle Ages Main article: England in the Middle Ages Studded and decorated metallic mask of human face. Replica of the 7th-century ceremonial Sutton Hoo helmet from the Kingdom of East Anglia Roman military withdrawals left Britain open to invasion by pagan, seafaring warriors from north-western continental Europe, chiefly the Saxons, Angles, Jutes and Frisians who had long raided the coasts of the Roman province. These groups then began to settle in increasing numbers over the course of the fifth and sixth centuries, initially in the eastern part of the country. Their advance was contained for some decades after the Britons' victory at the Battle of Mount Badon, but subsequently resumed, overrunning the fertile lowlands of Britain and reducing the area under Brittonic control to a series of separate enclaves in the more rugged country to the west by the end of the 6th century. Contemporary texts describing this period are extremely scarce, giving rise to its description as a Dark Age. The nature and progression of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain is consequently subject to considerable disagreement; the emerging consensus is that it occurred on a large scale in the south and east but was less substantial to the north and west, where Celtic languages continued to be spoken even in areas under Anglo-Saxon control. Roman-dominated Christianity had, in general, disappeared from the conquered territories, but was reintroduced by missionaries from Rome led by Augustine from 597 onwards. Disputes between the Roman- and Celtic-dominated forms of Christianity ended in victory for the Roman tradition at the Council of Whitby (664), which was ostensibly about tonsures (clerical haircuts) and the date of Easter, but more significantly, about the differences in Roman and Celtic forms of authority, theology, and practice. During the settlement period the lands ruled by the incomers seem to have been fragmented into numerous tribal territories, but by the 7th century, when substantial evidence of the situation again becomes available, these had coalesced into roughly a dozen kingdoms including Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, East Anglia, Essex, Kent and Sussex. Over the following centuries, this process of political consolidation continued. The 7th century saw a struggle for hegemony between Northumbria and Mercia, which in the 8th century gave way to Mercian preeminence. In the early 9th century Mercia was displaced as the foremost kingdom by Wessex. Later in that century escalating attacks by the Danes culminated in the conquest of the north and east of England, overthrowing the kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia. Wessex under Alfred the Great was left as the only surviving English kingdom, and under his successors, it steadily expanded at the expense of the kingdoms of the Danelaw. This brought about the political unification of England, first accomplished under Æthelstan in 927 and definitively established after further conflicts by Eadred in 953. A fresh wave of Scandinavian attacks from the late 10th century ended with the conquest of this united kingdom by Sweyn Forkbeard in 1013 and again by his son Cnut in 1016, turning it into the centre of a short-lived North Sea Empire that also included Denmark and Norway. However, the native royal dynasty was restored with the accession of Edward the Confessor in 1042. King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt, 1415. King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt, fought on Saint Crispin's Day and concluded with an English victory against a larger French army in the Hundred Years' War A dispute over the succession to Edward led to the Norman Conquest in 1066, accomplished by an army led by Duke William of Normandy. The Normans themselves originated from Scandinavia and had settled in Normandy in the late 9th and early 10th centuries. This conquest led to the almost total dispossession of the English elite and its replacement by a new French-speaking aristocracy, whose speech had a profound and permanent effect on the English language. Subsequently, the House of Plantagenet from Anjou inherited the English throne under Henry II, adding England to the budding Angevin Empire of fiefs the family had inherited in France including Aquitaine. They reigned for three centuries, some noted monarchs being Richard I, Edward I, Edward III and Henry V. The period saw changes in trade and legislation, including the signing of the Magna Carta, an English legal charter used to limit the sovereign's powers by law and protect the privileges of freemen. Catholic monasticism flourished, providing philosophers, and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge were founded with royal patronage. The Principality of Wales became a Plantagenet fief during the 13th century and the Lordship of Ireland was given to the English monarchy by the Pope. During the 14th century, the Plantagenets and the House of Valois both claimed to be legitimate claimants to the House of Capet and with it France; the two powers clashed in the Hundred Years' War. The Black Death epidemic hit England; starting in 1348, it eventually killed up to half of England's inhabitants. From 1453 to 1487 civil war occurred between two branches of the royal family – the Yorkists and Lancastrians – known as the Wars of the Roses. Eventually it led to the Yorkists losing the throne entirely to a Welsh noble family the Tudors, a branch of the Lancastrians headed by Henry Tudor who invaded with Welsh and Breton mercenaries, gaining victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field where the Yorkist king Richard III was killed. Early modern King Henry VIII (1491–1547) Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603) During the Tudor period, the Renaissance reached England through Italian courtiers, who reintroduced artistic, educational and scholarly debate from classical antiquity. England began to develop naval skills, and exploration to the West intensified. Henry VIII broke from communion with the Catholic Church, over issues relating to his divorce, under the Acts of Supremacy in 1534 which proclaimed the monarch head of the Church of England. In contrast with much of European Protestantism, the roots of the split were more political than theological.[nb 2] He also legally incorporated his ancestral land Wales into the Kingdom of England with the 1535–1542 acts. There were internal religious conflicts during the reigns of Henry's daughters, Mary I and Elizabeth I. The former took the country back to Catholicism while the latter broke from it again, forcefully asserting the supremacy of Anglicanism. The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor age of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I ("the Virgin Queen"). Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history. Elizabethan England represented the apogee of the English Renaissance and saw the flowering of art, poetry, music and literature. The era is most famous for its drama, theatre and playwrights. England during this period had a centralised, well-organised, and effective government as a result of vast Tudor reforms. Competing with Spain, the first English colony in the Americas was founded in 1585 by explorer Walter Raleigh in Virginia and named Roanoke. The Roanoke colony failed and is known as the lost colony after it was found abandoned on the return of the late-arriving supply ship. With the East India Company, England also competed with the Dutch and French in the East. During the Elizabethan period, England was at war with Spain. An armada sailed from Spain in 1588 as part of a wider plan to invade England and re-establish a Catholic monarchy. The plan was thwarted by bad coordination, stormy weather and successful harrying attacks by an English fleet under Lord Howard of Effingham. This failure did not end the threat: Spain launched two further armadas, in 1596 and 1597, but both were driven back by storms. The political structure of the island changed in 1603, when the King of Scots, James VI, a kingdom which had been a long-time rival to English interests, inherited the throne of England as James I, thereby creating a personal union. He styled himself King of Great Britain, although this had no basis in English law. Under the auspices of King James VI and I the Authorised King James Version of the Holy Bible was published in 1611. It was the standard version of the Bible read by most Protestant Christians for four hundred years until modern revisions were produced in the 20th century. Painting of seated male figure, with long black hair wearing a white cape and breeches. The English Restoration restored the monarchy under King Charles II and peace after the English Civil War. Based on conflicting political, religious and social positions, the English Civil War was fought between the supporters of Parliament and those of King Charles I, known colloquially as Roundheads and Cavaliers respectively. This was an interwoven part of the wider multifaceted Wars of the Three Kingdoms, involving Scotland and Ireland. The Parliamentarians were victorious, Charles I was executed and the kingdom replaced by the Commonwealth. Leader of the Parliament forces, Oliver Cromwell declared himself Lord Protector in 1653; a period of personal rule followed. After Cromwell's death and the resignation of his son Richard as Lord Protector, Charles II was invited to return as monarch in 1660, in a move called the Restoration. With the reopening of theatres, fine arts, literature and performing arts flourished throughout the Restoration of ''the Merry Monarch'' Charles II. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, it was constitutionally established that King and Parliament should rule together, though Parliament would have the real power. This was established with the Bill of Rights in 1689. Among the statutes set down were that the law could only be made by Parliament and could not be suspended by the King, also that the King could not impose taxes or raise an army without the prior approval of Parliament. Also since that time, no British monarch has entered the House of Commons when it is sitting, which is annually commemorated at the State Opening of Parliament by the British monarch when the doors of the House of Commons are slammed in the face of the monarch's messenger, symbolising the rights of Parliament and its independence from the monarch. With the founding of the Royal Society in 1660, science was greatly encouraged. In 1666 the Great Fire of London gutted the City of London but it was rebuilt shortly afterwards with many significant buildings designed by Sir Christopher Wren. In Parliament two factions had emerged – the Tories and Whigs. Though the Tories initially supported Catholic king James II, some of them, along with the Whigs, during the Revolution of 1688 invited Dutch prince William of Orange to defeat James and ultimately to become William III of England. Some English people, especially in the north, were Jacobites and continued to support James and his sons. Under the Stuart dynasty England expanded in trade, finance and prosperity. Britain developed Europe's largest merchant fleet. After the parliaments of England and Scotland agreed, the two countries joined in political union, to create the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. To accommodate the union, institutions such as the law and national churches of each remained separate. Late modern and contemporary The River Thames during the Georgian period from the Terrace of Somerset House looking towards St. Paul's, c.1750 Under the newly formed Kingdom of Great Britain, output from the Royal Society and other English initiatives combined with the Scottish Enlightenment to create innovations in science and engineering, while the enormous growth in British overseas trade protected by the Royal Navy paved the way for the establishment of the British Empire. Domestically it drove the Industrial Revolution, a period of profound change in the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of England, resulting in industrialised agriculture, manufacture, engineering and mining, as well as new and pioneering road, rail and water networks to facilitate their expansion and development. The opening of Northwest England's Bridgewater Canal in 1761 ushered in the canal age in Britain. In 1825 the world's first permanent steam locomotive-hauled passenger railway – the Stockton and Darlington Railway – opened to the public. multi-storey square industrial buildings beyond a river The Battle of Trafalgar was a naval engagement between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies during the Napoleonic Wars. During the Industrial Revolution, many workers moved from England's countryside to new and expanding urban industrial areas to work in factories, for instance at Birmingham and Manchester, dubbed "Workshop of the World" and "Warehouse City" respectively. Manchester was the world's first industrial city. England maintained relative stability throughout the French Revolution; William Pitt the Younger was British Prime Minister for the reign of George III. The Regency of George IV is noted for its elegance and achievements in the fine arts and architecture. During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon planned to invade from the south-east. However this failed to manifest and the Napoleonic forces were defeated by the British: at sea by Lord Nelson, and on land by the Duke of Wellington. The major victory at the Battle of Trafalgar confirmed the naval supremacy Britain had established during the course of the eighteenth century. The Napoleonic Wars fostered a concept of Britishness and a united national British people, shared with the English, Scots and Welsh. The Victorian era is often cited as a Golden Age. London became the largest and most populous metropolitan area in the world during the Victorian era, and trade within the British Empire – as well as the standing of the British military and navy – was prestigious. Technologically, this era saw many innovations that proved key to the United Kingdom's power and prosperity. Political agitation at home from radicals such as the Chartists and the suffragettes enabled legislative reform and universal suffrage. Samuel Hynes described the Edwardian era as a "leisurely time when women wore picture hats and did not vote, when the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, and the sun really never set on the British flag." Power shifts in east-central Europe led to World War I; hundreds of thousands of English soldiers died fighting for the United Kingdom as part of the Allies.[nb 3] Two decades later, in World War II, the United Kingdom was again one of the Allies. At the end of the Phoney War, Winston Churchill became the wartime Prime Minister. Developments in warfare technology saw many cities damaged by air-raids during the Blitz. Following the war, the British Empire experienced rapid decolonisation, and there was a speeding-up of technological innovations; automobiles became the primary means of transport and Frank Whittle's development of the jet engine led to wider air travel. Residential patterns were altered in England by private motoring, and by the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948. The UK's NHS provided publicly funded health care to all UK permanent residents free at the point of need, being paid for from general taxation. Combined, these prompted the reform of local government in England in the mid-20th century. Since the 20th century there has been significant population movement to England, mostly from other parts of the British Isles, but also from the Commonwealth, particularly the Indian subcontinent. Since the 1970s there has been a large move away from manufacturing and an increasing emphasis on the service industry. As part of the United Kingdom, the area joined a common market initiative called the European Economic Community which became the European Union. Since the late 20th century the administration of the United Kingdom has moved towards devolved governance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England and Wales continues to exist as a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. Devolution has stimulated a greater emphasis on a more English-specific identity and patriotism. There is no devolved English government, but an attempt to create a similar system on a sub-regional basis was rejected by referendum. Governance Politics Main article: Politics of England Photograph of rectangular floodlight building, reflected in water. The building has multiple towers including one at each end. The tower on the right includes an illuminated clock face. The Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom England is part of the United Kingdom, a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. There has not been a government of England since 1707, when the Acts of Union 1707, putting into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union, joined England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. Before the union England was ruled by its monarch and the Parliament of England. Today England is governed directly by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, although other countries of the United Kingdom have devolved governments. In the House of Commons which is the lower house of the British Parliament based at the Palace of Westminster, there are 532 Members of Parliament (MPs) for constituencies in England, out of the 650 total. As of the 2019 United Kingdom general election, England is represented by 345 MPs from the Conservative Party, 179 from the Labour Party, seven from the Liberal Democrats, one from the Green Party, and the Speaker of the House, Lindsay Hoyle. Since devolution, in which other countries of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – each have their own devolved parliament or assemblies for local issues, there has been debate about how to counterbalance this in England. Originally it was planned that various regions of England would be devolved, but following the proposal's rejection by the North East in a 2004 referendum, this has not been carried out. One major issue is the West Lothian question, in which MPs from Scotland and Wales are able to vote on legislation affecting only England, while English MPs have no equivalent right to legislate on devolved matters. This when placed in the context of England being the only country of the United Kingdom not to have free cancer treatment, prescriptions, residential care for the elderly and free top-up university fees, has led to a steady rise in English nationalism. Some have suggested the creation of a devolved English parliament, while others have proposed simply limiting voting on legislation which only affects England to English MPs. Law Main article: English law The Royal Courts of Justice The English law legal system, developed over the centuries, is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States (except Louisiana). Despite now being part of the United Kingdom, the legal system of the Courts of England and Wales continued, under the Treaty of Union, as a separate legal system from the one used in Scotland. The general essence of English law is that it is made by judges sitting in courts, applying their common sense and knowledge of legal precedent – stare decisis – to the facts before them. The court system is headed by the Senior Courts of England and Wales, consisting of the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Justice for civil cases, and the Crown Court for criminal cases. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the highest court for criminal and civil cases in England and Wales. It was created in 2009 after constitutional changes, taking over the judicial functions of the House of Lords. A decision of the Supreme Court is binding on every other court in the hierarchy, which must follow its directions. The Secretary of State for Justice is the minister responsible to Parliament for the judiciary, the court system and prisons and probation in England. Crime increased between 1981 and 1995 but fell by 42% in the period 1995–2006. The prison population doubled over the same period, giving it one of highest incarceration rate in Western Europe at 147 per 100,000. Her Majesty's Prison Service, reporting to the Ministry of Justice, manages most prisons, housing over 85,000 convicts. Regions, counties, and districts Main article: Subdivisions of England See also: Regions of England, Counties of England, and Districts of England image attributionNorthumberlandDurhamLancashireCheshireDerbs.Notts.LincolnshireLeics.Staffs.ShropshireWarks.Northants.NorfolkSuffolkEssexHerts.Beds.Bucks.Oxon.Glos.SomersetWiltshireBerkshireKentSurreyHampshireDorsetDevonCornwallHeref.Worcs.BristolEast Riding of YorkshireRutlandCambs.Greater LondonNot shown: City of LondonTyne & WearCumbriaNorth YorkshireSouth Yorks.West YorkshireGreater Manc.MerseysideEast SussexWest SussexIsle of WightWest Midlands Ceremonial counties of England The subdivisions of England consist of up to four levels of subnational division controlled through a variety of types of administrative entities created for the purposes of local government. The highest tier of local government were the nine regions of England: North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East, South East, South West, and London. These were created in 1994 as Government Offices, used by the UK government to deliver a wide range of policies and programmes regionally, but there are no elected bodies at this level, except in London, and in 2011 the regional government offices were abolished. After devolution began to take place in other parts of the United Kingdom it was planned that referendums for the regions of England would take place for their own elected regional assemblies as a counterweight. London accepted in 1998: the London Assembly was created two years later. However, when the proposal was rejected by the 2004 North East England devolution referendum in the North East, further referendums were cancelled. The regional assemblies outside London were abolished in 2010, and their functions transferred to respective Regional Development Agencies and a new system of Local authority leaders' boards. Below the regional level, all of England is divided into 48 ceremonial counties. These are used primarily as a geographical frame of reference and have developed gradually since the Middle Ages, with some established as recently as 1974. Each has a Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff; these posts are used to represent the British monarch locally. Outside Greater London and the Isles of Scilly, England is also divided into 83 metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties; these correspond to areas used for the purposes of local government and may consist of a single district or be divided into several. There are six metropolitan counties based on the most heavily urbanised areas, which do not have county councils. In these areas the principal authorities are the councils of the subdivisions, the metropolitan boroughs. Elsewhere, 27 non-metropolitan "shire" counties have a county council and are divided into districts, each with a district council. They are typically, though not always, found in more rural areas. The remaining non-metropolitan counties are of a single district and usually correspond to large towns or sparsely populated counties; they are known as unitary authorities. Greater London has a different system for local government, with 32 London boroughs, plus the City of London covering a small area at the core governed by the City of London Corporation. At the most localised level, much of England is divided into civil parishes with councils; in Greater London only one, Queen's Park, exists as of 2014 after they were abolished in 1965 until legislation allowed their recreation in 2007. Geography Main article: Geography of England Landscape and rivers Blue lake between green hills. Skiddaw massif, seen from Walla Crag in the Lake District Geographically England includes the central and southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain, plus such offshore islands as the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly. It is bordered by two other countries of the United Kingdom: to the north by Scotland and to the west by Wales. England is closer than any other part of mainland Britain to the European continent. It is separated from France (Hauts-de-France) by a 21-mile (34 km) sea gap, though the two countries are connected by the Channel Tunnel near Folkestone. England also has shores on the Irish Sea, North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The ports of London, Liverpool, and Newcastle lie on the tidal rivers Thames, Mersey and Tyne respectively. At 220 miles (350 km), the Severn is the longest river flowing through England. It empties into the Bristol Channel and is notable for its Severn Bore (a tidal bore), which can reach 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height. However, the longest river entirely in England is the Thames, which is 215 miles (346 km) in length. The Malvern Hills located in the English counties of Worcestershire and Herefordshire. The hills have been designated by the Countryside Agency as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are many lakes in England; the largest is Windermere, within the aptly named Lake District. Most of England's landscape consists of low hills and plains, with upland and mountainous terrain in the north and west of the country. The northern uplands include the Pennines, a chain of uplands dividing east and west, the Lake District mountains in Cumbria, and the Cheviot Hills, straddling the border between England and Scotland. The highest point in England, at 978 metres (3,209 ft), is Scafell Pike in the Lake District. The Shropshire Hills are near Wales while Dartmoor and Exmoor are two upland areas in the south-west of the country. The approximate dividing line between terrain types is often indicated by the Tees-Exe line. In geological terms, the Pennines, known as the "backbone of England", are the oldest range of mountains in the country, originating from the end of the Paleozoic Era around 300 million years ago. Their geological composition includes, among others, sandstone and limestone, and also coal. There are karst landscapes in calcite areas such as parts of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The Pennine landscape is high moorland in upland areas, indented by fertile valleys of the region's rivers. They contain two national parks, the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District. In the West Country, Dartmoor and Exmoor of the Southwest Peninsula include upland moorland supported by granite, and enjoy a mild climate; both are national parks. The English Lowlands are in the central and southern regions of the country, consisting of green rolling hills, including the Cotswold Hills, Chiltern Hills, North and South Downs; where they meet the sea they form white rock exposures such as the cliffs of Dover. This also includes relatively flat plains such as the Salisbury Plain, Somerset Levels, South Coast Plain and The Fens. Climate Main article: Climate of England England has a temperate maritime climate: it is mild with temperatures not much lower than 0 °C (32 °F) in winter and not much higher than 32 °C (90 °F) in summer. The weather is damp relatively frequently and is changeable. The coldest months are January and February, the latter particularly on the English coast, while July is normally the warmest month. Months with mild to warm weather are May, June, September and October. Rainfall is spread fairly evenly throughout the year. Important influences on the climate of England are its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, its northern latitude and the warming of the sea by the Gulf Stream. Rainfall is higher in the west, and parts of the Lake District receive more rain than anywhere else in the country. Since weather records began, the highest temperature recorded was 38.7 °C (101.7 °F) on 25 July 2019 at the Botanic Garden in Cambridge, while the lowest was −26.1 °C (−15.0 °F) on 10 January 1982 in Edgmond, Shropshire. Nature and wildlife Main articles: Fauna of England and Fauna of Great Britain Wood Duck in St James's Park Deer in Richmond Park. The park was created by Charles I in the 17th century as a deer park. The fauna of England is similar to that of other areas in the British Isles with a wide range of vertebrate and invertebrate life in a diverse range of habitats. National nature reserves in England are designated by Natural England as key places for wildlife and natural features in England. They were established to protect the most significant areas of habitat and of geological formations. NNRs are managed on behalf of the nation, many by Natural England themselves, but also by non-governmental organisations, including the members of The Wildlife Trusts partnership, the National Trust, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. There are 229 NNRs in England covering 939 square kilometres (363 square miles). Often they contain rare species or nationally important species of plants and animals. The Environment Agency is a non-departmental public body, established in 1995 and sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with responsibilities relating to the protection and enhancement of the environment in England. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is the minister responsible for environmental protection, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in England. England has a temperate oceanic climate in most areas, lacking extremes of cold or heat, but does have a few small areas of subarctic and warmer areas in the South West. Towards the North of England the climate becomes colder and most of England's mountains and high hills are located here and have a major impact on the climate and thus the local fauna of the areas. Deciduous woodlands are common across all of England and provide a great habitat for much of England's wildlife, but these give way in northern and upland areas of England to coniferous forests (mainly plantations) which also benefit certain forms of wildlife. Some species have adapted to the expanded urban environment, particularly the red fox, which is the most successful urban mammal after the brown rat, and other animals such as common wood pigeon, both of which thrive in urban and suburban areas. Grey squirrels introduced from eastern America have forced the decline of the native red squirrel due to competition. Red squirrels are now confined to upland and coniferous-forested areas of England, mainly in the north, south west and Isle of Wight. England's climate is very suitable for lagomorphs and the country has rabbits and brown hares which were introduced in Roman times. Mountain hares which are indigenous have now been re-introduced in Derbyshire. The fauna of England has to cope with varying temperatures and conditions, although not extreme they do pose potential challenges and adaptational measures. English fauna has however had to cope with industrialisation, human population densities amongst the highest in Europe and intensive farming, but as England is a developed nation, wildlife and the countryside have entered the English mindset more and the country is very conscientious about preserving its wildlife, environment and countryside. Major conurbations See also: List of places in England The Greater London Built-up Area is by far the largest urban area in England and one of the busiest cities in the world. It is considered a global city and has a population larger than any other country in the United Kingdom besides England itself. Other urban areas of considerable size and influence tend to be in northern England or the English Midlands. There are 50 settlements which have designated city status in England, while the wider United Kingdom has 66. While many cities in England are quite large, such as Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Bradford, Nottingham, population size is not a prerequisite for city status. Traditionally the status was given to towns with diocesan cathedrals, so there are smaller cities like Wells, Ely, Ripon, Truro and Chichester. vteLargest conurbations of England 2011 census RankConurbationPop.Principal settlement 1Greater London9,787,426London 2Greater Manchester2,553,379Manchester 3West Midlands2,440,986Birmingham 4West Yorkshire1,777,934Leeds 5Liverpool864,122Liverpool 6South Hampshire855,569Southampton 7Tyneside774,891Newcastle upon Tyne 8Nottingham729,977Nottingham 9Sheffield685,368Sheffield 10Bristol617,280Bristol Economy Main article: Economy of England The City of London is the financial capital of the United Kingdom and one of the largest financial centres in the world. A grey coloured car. The Bentley Mulsanne. Bentley is a well-known English car company. England's economy is one of the largest and most dynamic in the world, with an average GDP per capita of £28,100 or $36,000. Her Majesty's Treasury, led by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is responsible for developing and executing the government's public finance policy and economic policy. Usually regarded as a mixed market economy, it has adopted many free market principles, yet maintains an advanced social welfare infrastructure. The official currency in England is the pound sterling, whose ISO 4217 code is GBP. Taxation in England is quite competitive when compared to much of the rest of Europe – as of 2014 the basic rate of personal tax is 20% on taxable income up to £31,865 above the personal tax-free allowance (normally £10,000), and 40% on any additional earnings above that amount. The economy of England is the largest part of the UK's economy, which has the 18th highest GDP PPP per capita in the world. England is a leader in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors and in key technical industries, particularly aerospace, the arms industry, and the manufacturing side of the software industry. London, home to the London Stock Exchange, the United Kingdom's main stock exchange and the largest in Europe, is England's financial centre, with 100 of Europe's 500 largest corporations being based there. London is the largest financial centre in Europe, and as of 2014 is the second largest in the world. Manchester is the largest financial and professional services sector outside London and is the mid tier private equity capital of Europe as well as one of the growing technology hubs of Europe. The Bank of England, founded in 1694 by Scottish banker William Paterson, is the United Kingdom's central bank. Originally established as private banker to the government of England, since 1946 it has been a state-owned institution. The bank has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales, although not in other parts of the United Kingdom. The government has devolved responsibility to the bank's Monetary Policy Committee for managing the monetary policy of the country and setting interest rates. England is highly industrialised, but since the 1970s there has been a decline in traditional heavy and manufacturing industries, and an increasing emphasis on a more service industry oriented economy. Tourism has become a significant industry, attracting millions of visitors to England each year. The export part of the economy is dominated by pharmaceuticals, cars (although many English marques are now foreign-owned, such as Land Rover, Lotus, Jaguar and Bentley), crude oil and petroleum from the English parts of North Sea oil along with Wytch Farm, aircraft engines and alcoholic beverages. The creative industries accounted for 7 per cent GVA in 2005 and grew at an average of 6 per cent per annum between 1997 and 2005. Most of the UK's £30 billion aerospace industry is primarily based in England. The global market opportunity for UK aerospace manufacturers over the next two decades is estimated at £3.5 trillion. GKN Aerospace – an expert in metallic and composite aerostructures is involved in almost every civil and military fixed and rotary wing aircraft in production is based in Redditch. BAE Systems makes large sections of the Typhoon Eurofighter at its sub-assembly plant in Salmesbury and assembles the aircraft for the RAF at its Warton plant, near Preston. It is also a principal subcontractor on the F35 Joint Strike Fighter – the world's largest single defence project – for which it designs and manufactures a range of components including the aft fuselage, vertical and horizontal tail and wing tips and fuel system. It also manufactures the Hawk, the world's most successful jet training aircraft. Rolls-Royce PLC is the world's second-largest aero-engine manufacturer. Its engines power more than 30 types of commercial aircraft, and it has more 30,000 engines currently in service across both the civil and defence sectors. With a workforce of over 12,000 people, Derby has the largest concentration of Rolls-Royce employees in the UK. Rolls-Royce also produces low-emission power systems for ships; makes critical equipment and safety systems for the nuclear industry and powers offshore platforms and major pipelines for the oil and gas industry. The pharmaceutical industry plays an important role in the economy, and the UK has the third-highest share of global pharmaceutical R&D expenditures. Much of the UK's space industry is centred on EADS Astrium, based in Stevenage and Portsmouth. The company builds the buses – the underlying structure onto which the payload and propulsion systems are built – for most of the European Space Agency's spacecraft, as well as commercial satellites. The world leader in compact satellite systems, Surrey Satellite Technology, is also part of Astrium. Reaction Engines Limited, the company planning to build Skylon, a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane using their SABRE rocket engine, a combined-cycle, air-breathing rocket propulsion system is based Culham. The UK space industry was worth £9.1bn in 2011 and employed 29,000 people. It is growing at a rate of 7.5 per cent annually, according to its umbrella organisation, the UK Space Agency. In 2013, the British Government pledged £60 million to the Skylon project: this investment will provide support at a "crucial stage" to allow a full-scale prototype of the SABRE engine to be built. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanised and efficient by European standards, producing 60% of food needs with only 2% of the labour force. Two-thirds of production is devoted to livestock, the other to arable crops. The main crops that are grown are wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, sugar beets. England retains a significant, though much reduced fishing industry. Its fleets bring home fish of every kind, ranging from sole to herring. It is also rich in natural resources including coal, petroleum, natural gas, tin, limestone, iron ore, salt, clay, chalk, gypsum, lead, and silica. Science and technology Main articles: List of English inventions and discoveries and Royal Society Torso of man with long white hair and dark coloured jacket Sir Isaac Newton is one of the most influential figures in the history of science. Prominent English figures from the field of science and mathematics include Sir Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, Robert Hooke, James Prescott Joule, John Dalton, Lord Rayleigh, J. J. Thomson, James Chadwick, Charles Babbage, George Boole, Alan Turing, Tim Berners-Lee, Paul Dirac, Stephen Hawking, Peter Higgs, Roger Penrose, John Horton Conway, Thomas Bayes, Arthur Cayley, G. H. Hardy, Oliver Heaviside, Andrew Wiles, Edward Jenner, Francis Crick, Joseph Lister, Joseph Priestley, Thomas Young, Christopher Wren and Richard Dawkins. Some experts claim that the earliest concept of a metric system was invented by John Wilkins, the first secretary of the Royal Society, in 1668. England was a leading centre of the Scientific Revolution from the 17th century. As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, England was home to many significant inventors during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Famous English engineers include Isambard Kingdom Brunel, best known for the creation of the Great Western Railway, a series of famous steamships, and numerous important bridges, hence revolutionising public transport and modern-day engineering. Thomas Newcomen's steam engine helped spawn the Industrial Revolution. The Father of Railways, George Stephenson, built the first public inter-city railway line in the world, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which opened in 1830. With his role in the marketing and manufacturing of the steam engine, and invention of modern coinage, Matthew Boulton (business partner of James Watt) is regarded as one of the most influential entrepreneurs in history. The physician Edward Jenner's smallpox vaccine is said to have "saved more lives ... than were lost in all the wars of mankind since the beginning of recorded history." King Charles II, a patron of the arts and sciences, supported the Royal Society, a scientific group whose early members included Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle and Sir Isaac Newton. Inventions and discoveries of the English include: the jet engine, the first industrial spinning machine, the first computer and the first modern computer, the World Wide Web along with HTML, the first successful human blood transfusion, the motorised vacuum cleaner, the lawn mower, the seat belt, the hovercraft, the electric motor, steam engines, and theories such as the Darwinian theory of evolution and atomic theory. Newton developed the ideas of universal gravitation, Newtonian mechanics, and calculus, and Robert Hooke his eponymously named law of elasticity. Other inventions include the iron plate railway, the thermosiphon, tarmac, the rubber band, the mousetrap, "cat's eye" road marker, joint development of the light bulb, steam locomotives, the modern seed drill and many modern techniques and technologies used in precision engineering. The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society". It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement. The Royal Society started from groups of physicians and natural philosophers, meeting at a variety of locations, including Gresham College in London. They were influenced by the "new science", as promoted by Francis Bacon in his New Atlantis, from approximately 1645 onwards. A group known as "The Philosophical Society of Oxford" was run under a set of rules still retained by the Bodleian Library. After the English Restoration, there were regular meetings at Gresham College. It is widely held that these groups were the inspiration for the foundation of the Royal Society. Scientific research and development remains important in the universities of England, with many establishing science parks to facilitate production and co-operation with industry. Between 2004 and 2008 the United Kingdom produced 7 per cent of the world's scientific research papers and had an 8 per cent share of scientific citations, the third and second-highest in the world (after the United States and China, respectively). Scientific journals produced in the United Kingdom include Nature, the British Medical Journal and The Lancet. Transport Main article: Transport in England red stone building with tall clock tower in corner London St Pancras International is the UK's 13th busiest railway terminus. The station is one of London's main domestic and international transport hubs providing both commuter rail and high-speed rail services across the UK and to Paris, Lille and Brussels. The Department for Transport is the government body responsible for overseeing transport in England. The department is run by the Secretary of State for Transport. England has a dense and modern transportation infrastructure. There are many motorways in England, and many other trunk roads, such as the A1 Great North Road, which runs through eastern England from London to Newcastle (much of this section is motorway) and onward to the Scottish border. The longest motorway in England is the M6, from Rugby through the North West up to the Anglo-Scottish border, a distance of 232 miles (373 km). Other major routes include: the M1 from London to Leeds, the M25 which encircles London, the M60 which encircles Manchester, the M4 from London to South Wales, the M62 from Liverpool via Manchester to East Yorkshire, and the M5 from Birmingham to Bristol and the South West. Bus transport across the country is widespread; major companies include Arriva, FirstGroup, Go-Ahead Group, National Express, Rotala and Stagecoach Group. The red double-decker buses in London have become a symbol of England. National Cycle Route offers cycling routes nationally. There is a rapid transit network in two English cities: the London Underground; and the Tyne and Wear Metro in Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and Sunderland. There are several tram networks, such as the Blackpool tramway, Manchester Metrolink, Sheffield Supertram and West Midlands Metro, and the Tramlink system centred on Croydon in South London. Hitachi AT300 at London Paddington Station. Great British Railways is a planned state-owned public body that will oversee rail transport in Great Britain from 2023. The Office of Rail and Road is responsible for the economic and safety regulation of England's railways. Rail transport in England is the oldest in the world: passenger railways originated in England in 1825. Much of Britain's 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of rail network lies in England, covering the country fairly extensively, although a high proportion of railway lines were closed in the second half of the 20th century. There are plans to reopen lines such as the Varsity Line between Oxford and Cambridge. These lines are mostly standard gauge (single, double or quadruple track) though there are also a few narrow gauge lines. There is rail transport access to France and Belgium through an undersea rail link, the Channel Tunnel, which was completed
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