Culture of Great Britain

: 3/7

In the Royal Air Force Chapel there is a monument to those who died during the Battle of Britain, the famous and decisive air battle over the territory of Britain in the Second World War.

The Tower of London

The Tower on the north bank of the Thames is one of the most ancient buildings of London. It was founded in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. But each monarch left some kind of personal mark on it. For many centuries the Tower has been a fortress, a palace, a prison and royal treasury. It is now a museum of arms and armour and as one of the strongest fortresses in Britain, it has the Crown Jewels.

The grey stones of the Tower could tell terrible stories of violence and injustice. Many sad and cruel events took place within the walls of the Tower. It was here that Thomas More, the great humanist, was falsely accused and executed. Among famous prisoners executed at the Tower were Henry VIII's wives Ann Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

When Queen Elizabeth was a princess, she was sent to the Tower by Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary) and kept prisoner for some time.

The ravens whose forefathers used to find food in the Tower still live here as part of its history. There is a legend that if the ravens disappear the Tower will fall. That is why the birds are carefully guarded.

The White Tower was built by William the Conqueror to protect and control the City of London. It is the oldest and the most important building, surrounded by other towers, which all have different names.

The Tower is guarded by the Yeomen Warders, popularly called Beefeaters. There are two letters, E.R., on the front of their tunics. They stand for the Queen's name Elizabeth Regina. The uniform is as it used to be in Tudor times.

Their everyday uniform is black and red, but on state occasions they wear a ceremonial dress: fine red state uniforms with the golden and black stripes and the wide lace collar, which were in fashion in the 16th century.

Every night at 10 p.m. at the Tower of London the Ceremony of the Keys or locking up of the Tower for the nigh takes place. It goes back to the Middle Ages. Five minutes before the hour the Headwarder comes out with a bunch of keys and an old lantern. He goes to the guardhouse and cries: Escort for the keys. Then he closes the three gates and goes to the sentry, who calls: Halt, who comes there? Headwarder replies: The Keys. Whose Keys? demands the sentry. Queen Elizabeth's Keys, comes the answer. Advance Queen Elizabeth's Keys. All's well. The keys are finally carried to the Queen's House where they are safe for the night. After the ceremony everyone who approaches the gate must give the password or turn away.

Festivals of Music and Drama

Post-war years have witnessed a significant increase in the number of festivals of music and drama though not enough has been done to involve the general public in these activities. Some of the festivals, however, are widely popular and it is with these that the book deals. A number of other festivals of music and drama, less well known but sufficiently important to be mentioned, are also included in the list below.

The Bath Festival

The number of festivals held in Britain every summer goes on and on increasing but few are as well established or highly thought of, particularly in the wider European scene, as the Bath Festival.

In June when the city is at its most beautiful the festival attracts some of the finest musicians in the world to Bath, as well as thousands of visitors from Britain and abroad.

Under the artistic direction of Sir Michael Tippett, composer, conductor and one of the greatest minds in British music today, the festival presents a programme of orchestral and choral concerts, song and instrumental recitals and chamber music, so well suited to the beautiful 18th - century halls of Bath. The range of music included is wide and young performers are given opportunities to work with some of the leading names in their fields.

But the festival is not all music. The programme usually includes lectures and exhibitions, sometimes ballet, opera, drama, or films, as well as tours of Bath and the surrounding area and houses not normally open to the public, often a costume ball, maybe poetry - the variety is endless.

: 3/08/2009