Lecture. Theme: How they live

Plan: 1 Architecture

2 Museums and Art Galleries.

3 Holidaysand Customs

4 Mass media.

5 Sports and leisure

6 Religion


The aim of the lecture:To get acquainted with the way of life, with the holidays, customs, museums and art galleries in Britain.

The content of the lecture:



Artistic and cultural life in Britain is rather rich. It passed several main stages in its development. The Saxon King Alfred encouraged the arts and culture. The chief debt owed to him by English literature is for his translations of and commentaries on Latin works. Art, culture and literature flowered during the Elizabethan age, during the reign of Elizabeth I; it was the period of English domination of the oceans. It was at this time that William Shakespeare lived. The empire, which was very powerful under Queen Victoria, saw another cultural and artistic' hey-day as a result of industrialization and the expansion of international trade. But German air raids caused much damage in the First World War and then during the Second World War. The madness of the wars briefly interrupted the development of culture.

Immigrants who have arrived from all parts of the Commonwealth since 1945 have not only created a mixture of nations, but have also brought their cultures and habits with them.

Monuments and traces of past greatness are everywhere. There are buildings of all styles and periods. A great number of museums and galleries display precious and interesting finds from all parts of the world and from all stages in the development of nature, man and art.

London is one of the leading world centers for music, drama, opera and dance. Festivals held in towns and cities throughout the country attract much interest. Many British playwrights, composers, sculptors, painters, writers, actors, singers and dancers are known all over the world.

The British Council promotes knowledge of British culture and literature overseas. It organizes British participation in international exhibitions and encourages professional interchange in all cultural fields between Britain and other countries.

Inigo Jones was the first man to bring the Italian Renaissance style to Great Britain. He had studied in Italy for some years, and in 1615 became Surveyor-General of the works.

The style he built in was pure Italian with as few modifications as possible. His buildings were very un-English in character, with regularly spaced columns along the front.

His two most revolutionary designs were the Banqueting House in Whitehall and the Queen's House at Greenwich. The plan of the latter, completely symmetrical, with its strict classical details and the principal rooms on the first floor, influenced architecture in Britain. But not during the lifetime of Inigo Jones. All those who followed him had to adapt this new foreign building technique to English ways and English climate, English building materials and English craftsmen.

Christopher Wren was the man who did it. He was a mathematician, an astronomer and, above all, an inventor. He invented new ways of using traditional English building materials, brick and ordinary roofing tiles, to keep within the limits of classical design. He, like Inigo Jones, was appointed Surveyor-General to the Crown when he was about thirty years old, and almost immediately he started rebuilding the churches of London, burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666. Wren's churches are chiefly known by their beautiful spires which show in their structure the greatest engineering cunning. But Ch. Wren also influenced the design of houses, both in town and in the country. The best-known buildings designed by Ch. Wren are St. Paul's Cathedral in London and the Sheldonion Theatre in Oxford. The period of the Industrial Revolution had no natural style of its own. Businessmen wanted art for their money. The architect was to provide a facade in the Gothic style, or he was to turn the building into something like a Norman castle, or a Renaissance palace, or even an Oriental mosque. For theatres and opera houses the theatrical Baroque style was often most suitable. Churches were more often than not built in the Gothic style. The twentieth century has seen great changes in Britain's architecture.



It is safe to say that the three most famous buildings in England are the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral.

The Tower of Londonon 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 amour, 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 night 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?' The 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.


Westminster Abbey is a fine Gothic building, which stands opposite the Houses of Parliament. It is the work of many hands and different ages. The oldest part of the building dates from the eighth century. It was a monasterythe West Minster. In the 11th century Edward the Confessor after years spent in France founded a great Norman Abbey. In 200 years Henry IIP decided to pull down the Norman Abbey and build a more beautiful one after the style then prevailing in France. Since then the Abbey remains the most French of all English Gothic churches, higher than any other English church (103 feet) and much narrower. The towers were built in 17351740. One of the greater glories of the Abbey is the Chapel of Henry VII, with its delicate fan-vaulting.

The Chapel is of stone and glass, so wonderfully cut and sculptured that it seems unreal. It contains an interesting collection of swords and standards of the 'Knights of the Bath'. The Abbey is famous for its stained glass.

Since the far-off time of William the Conqueror Westminster Abbey has been the crowning place of the kings and queens of England. The Abbey is sometimes compared with a mausoleum, because there are tombs and memorials of almost all English monarchs, many statesmen, famous scientists, writers and musicians.

If you go past the magnificent tombstones of kings and queens, some made of gold and precious stones, past the gold-and-silver banners of the Order of the Garter, which are hanging from the ceiling, you will come to Poets' Corner. There many of the greatest writers are buried: Geoffrey Chaucer, Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling. Here too, though these writers are not buried in Westminster Abbey, are memorials to William Shakespeare and John Milton, Burns and Byron, Walter Scott, William Makepeace Thackeray and the great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

St. Pauls Cathedral is the work of the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren. It is said to be one of the finest pieces of architecture in Europe. Work on Wrens masterpiece began in 1675 after a Norman church, old St. Pauls, was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. For 35 years the building of St. Pauls Cathedral went on, and Wren was an old man before it was finished.

From far away you can see the huge dome with a golden ball and cross on the top. The interior of the cathedral is very beautiful. It is full of monuments. The most important, perhaps, is the one dedicated to the Duke of Wellington. After looking round you can climb 263 steps to the Whispering Gallery, which runs round the dome. It is called so, because if someone whispers close to the wall on one side, a person with his ear close to the wall on the other side can hear what is said. But if you want to reach the foot of the ball, you have to climb 637 steps.

As for Christopher Wren, who is now known as the architect of London, he found his fame only after his death. He was buried in the Cathedral. Buried here are Nelson, Wellington and Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Those who are interested in English architecture can study all the architectural styles of the past 500 or 600 years in Cambridge. The Chapel of Kings College is the most beautiful building in Cambridge and one of the greatest Gothic building in Europe. It is built in the Perpendicular style. Its foundation stone was laid in 1446, but it was completed69 years late. The interior of the Chapel is a single lofty aisle and the stonework of the walls is like lace. The Chapel has a wonderful fan-vaulting which is typical of the churches of that time. We admire the skill of the architects and craftsmen who created all these wonderful buildings.

Britishs Theatres.Britain is now one of the world's major theatre centers. Many British actors and actresses are known all over the world. They are Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Glenda Jackson, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and others. Drama is so popular with people of all ages that there are several thousand amateur dramatic societies.

Now Britain has about 300 professional theatres. Some of them are privately owned. The tickets are not hard to get but they are very expensive. Regular seasons of opera and ballet are given at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London. The National Theatre stages modern and classical plays, the Royal Shakespeare Company produces plays mainly by Shakespeare and his contemporaries when it performs in Stratford-on-Avon, and modern plays in its two auditoria in the City's Barbican Centre. Shakespeare's Globe Playhouse, about which you have probably read, was reconstructed on its original site. Many other cities and large towns have at least one theatre. There are many theatres and theatre companies for young people: the National Youth Theatre and the Young Vic Company in London, the Scottish Youth Theatre in Edinburgh. The National Youth Theatre, which stages classical plays mainly by Shakespeare and modern plays about youth, was on tour in Russian in 1989. The theatre-goers warmly received the production of Thomas Stearns Eliot's play 'Murder in the Cathedral'. Many famous English actors started their careers in the National Youth Theatre. Among them Timothy Dalton, the actor who did the part of Rochester in 'Jane Eyre' shown on TV in our country.




New Year January, 1
Christmas December,25
ST. Valentines Day February 14th
Pancake Day February
Mothers Day March
Easter April
April Fools Day April, 1
May Spring Festival May, 1
Late Summer Bank Holiday August / September
Halloween October, 31
Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night) November, 5
Remembrance Day November, 11
Boxing Day December, 26


New Yearis not such an important holiday in England as Christmas. Some people dont celebrate it at all.

Many people have New Year parties. A party usually begins at about eight oclock and goes on until early in the morning. At midnight they listen to the chimes of Big Ben, drink a toast to the New Year.

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