The Very Best Of Typically English Things To Do When Visiting the UK: Travel Essentials

Cover Image: Seckford Hall, courtesy of Seckford Hall Hotel and Spa, Suffolk.

Welcome back to the Tudor History & Travel Show: Travel Essentials!

Here in Travel Essentials, we cover those all important things to consider when you’re planning your next Tudor trip. For those of you who like to touch Tudor history in person, Travel Essentials makes sure you’re equipped with all of the tips and tricks to make the most of your trip. Today, we cover the very best typically English things to do when visiting the UK. You’ll learn what it’s like to be a Brit and how you can fully immerse yourself in our culture and tradition while you’re here.

I’m joined by Philippa Brewell, from British History Tours as we chat about English customs and quirks, so you can fit in with the natives when you visit. We tell you about the infamous English breakfast, the do’s and don’ts of afternoon tea, and which events celebrate English tradition in all its glory. If you’re already familiar with British and English culture, stay tuned to see which traditions you’ve taken part in, and if there any treats you’ve missed. So, fellow Anglophiles, let’s pack our bags and get travelling!

To listen to the episode, click below:

The Very Best Of Typically English Things To Do When Visiting the UK: Travel Essentials

The Very Best of Typically English Things To Do When Visiting the UK: Show Notes

Food and drink: So, first things first: let’s talk about English food. British playwright, Somerset Maugham once said ‘If you want to eat well in England, eat three breakfasts’ and let’s find out what he meant! Our English breakfast, or ‘fry-up’ includes sausage, bacon, eggs, black pudding, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast. It most certainly sets you up for the day – you won’t need much lunch, that’s for sure!

The most traditional English lunch happens on a Sunday. Best eaten in a traditional English pub, the ‘Sunday roast’ refers to roast beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and vegetables. Other meats such as chicken, lamb and pork are also popular, and vegetarian options are also available. Roast lunches go best with a pint of locally brewed beer!

Cream tea, the very best of typically English things to do when visiting the UK
A traditional cream tea

In the afternoons, either a cream tea or an afternoon tea are one of my favourite English traditions. Cream tea consists of scones served with jam, clotted cream and a cup of tea, and are available is most cafes without needing to pre-book. Afternoon tea is a more extravagant option, originating amongst the wealthy social classes in England. It was traditionally eaten about 4pm to fill the long gap between lunch and an evening meal, which was served as late as 8pm. Today, afternoon tea is a real luxury, served on a three-tiered stand, with finger sandwiches at the bottom, scones, jam and cream in the middle, and small cakes on the top tier. Of course, this is served with a pot of tea, or for very special occasions, with a glass of champagne! If you visit the UK in the summer, strawberries are an absolute must – best eaten in June and July when they’re in season and at room temperature (rather than refrigerated). Traditionally eaten with cream, a sprinkling of sugar, or if you’re feeling adventurous, black pepper.

Last but by no means least, fish and chips are a staple English treat. All towns, and often villages, will have a ‘chippie’, and those on the coast are particularly coveted, as fish and chips by the seaside is a UK beach holiday must! There are regional variations in what goes with fish and chips, but mushy peas are traditional favourite and are available throughout the UK.

Events: ‘The season’, the height of Britishness, runs from March to August and includes a number of prestigious annual events. Covering the arts, horticulture, equestrian, royal/the crown and sport, are around 20 events make up the season. All are ticketed, and most have a dress code. If you’re in the UK when one of them is running, attending can be a real experience!

Typically English things to do: Cowes week yachts
Yachts racing in the Solent during Cowes week, Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Photo credit: Peter Trimming from Croydon, England, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Very Best of Typically English Things To Do When Visiting the UK: Some Essential Links

We hope you enjoyed our discussion on English traditions. If you would like to find out more about any of the resources, places or events we mention in the podcast, please see the links provided below:

Seckford Hall in the Spotlight

John Coupland, tour guide from John England Tours, joins us to talk about his recommended place to stay: Seckford Hall. Surrounded by immaculate gardens, Seckford Hall is nestled in the Suffolk countryside. Its russet-red brick covered in ivy is quintessentially Tudor and its hotel and spa is the perfect place to relax.

John Coupland runs a private tour guide company, John England Tours. Focusing on medieval England, the Tudors and the Royal Family, John offers walking tours in London and tours of historic houses and castles in South East England. You can find John on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Not To Be Missed! Tudor-Themed Events Coming Up…


When: Throughout August

Where: Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds

Price: £5-£10

‘Join us for an action-packed summer at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds as we celebrate the Tudors with a range of different outdoor events every day: watch a horse show in our outdoor arena and see our expert historical horse riders demonstrate Tudor hunting techniques favoured by King Henry VIII; get close to birds of prey and find out how falconry was part of Tudor life in the outdoor mews; practice your aim with our have-a-go archery activity on Armouries Square in front of the museum; or meet a real blacksmith and watch a demonstration of blacksmithing skills in our outdoor Craft Court.’ From Royal Armouries website. For more information, and to book tickets, click here.


When: 29th May – 26th September

Where: Shaw House, Newbury

Price: Free

‘Discover the history of Shaw House through an exhibition of period dress. Follow a trail through the House to see each handmade replica costume, giving visitors an instant insight into Shaw House’s changing fashions and who wore them. Admire the Farthingale’s of the 1580’s, the breeches of the 1640’s, frills of the 1730’s, the weathered wool of the 19th century.’ From West Berkshire Heritage website. For more information, click here.

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