History, art and culture
Dom Bewley

British Historical Figures: Which Is Your Favourite?

Ah, the Brits have a pretty cool track record when it comes to churning out folks who've made a name for themselves. Whether they're in the history books for good reasons or bad, we've got a fascinating array of characters.

From famous historical figures to important people in history, the United Kingdom has certainly produced its fair share of icons.

So, who takes the crown as the ultimate British legend? Don't worry, you don't have to rack that brain of yours.

We've already rolled up our sleeves and compiled a hot list just for you. Nice, huh?

A Legacy of Legends

Britain’s rich history has given us some truly great historical figures and famous British people who've left an indelible mark on the world.

Ready for some eye candy? Go ahead and scroll down to discover our carefully curated top picks. It's like the annual "Who's Who" of British awesomeness!

Henry VIII

The second Tudor monarch was famous for his six marriages and for starting the English Reformation. That's when the Church of England was created. The Pope was understandably livid. Henry was also well-known for having a 52-inch waist in his 'prime', playing tennis and taking huge amounts of money from the dissolved monasteries. Learn more at Hampton Court Palace

Elizabeth I

Daughter of King Henry VIII, the Virgin Queen of England and Ireland, and last of the Tudors. Elizabeth presided over a golden age of exploration and culture. This famous person from England had her share of trials too.

When she was 21, her older sister Queen Mary I had her imprisoned in the Tower of London for a year. A sibling rivalry to...rival...the Gallaghers. Learn more at the Tower of London

Shakespeare

One of the most famous people from the UK, he needs no introduction. “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Whatever Malvolio from Twelfth Night may have said, the playwright, author and poet is widely considered to be the greatest writer in the English language.

His story archetypes can be found in nearly every book, play and screenplay to this day. Bravo, Shakespeare. We are not worthy. Learn more at the Globe Theatre

Sir Christopher Wren

Few architects have had more influence on the London skyline than Sir Christopher. He stands as one of Britain’s most famous British historical figures. Responsible for 51 city churches and his masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral, he had a key role in the rebuilding efforts following the Great Fire of London in 1666. Sir Christopher also founded the Royal Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence in the world. They're responsible for publishing works like Isaac Newton’s 'Principia Mathematica', and Chadwick’s detection of the neutron that led to the unleashing of the atom. Fellows of the Society have included Newton himself, Darwin, Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Tim Berners-Lee – many of them British historical figures in their own right. Learn more at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Charles Darwin

A naturalist, geologist and biologist, Darwin is best known for his theory of evolution, published in “On the Origin of the Species”. He remains one of the most famous people in history for his groundbreaking work. It also continues to have a huge influence on politics and society since it was published. He also had a massive beard. Learn more at Westminster Abbey

Charles Dickens

As one of the great historical figures in literature- Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Oliver Twist, the Artful Dodger...the list goes on and on. The famous author created fictional characters that are known around the world 200 years after his death. And his stories provide a vivid insight into Victorian life, and hold a lens up to society to this day. Learn more at Charles Dickens Museum

Queen Victoria

Our longest-reigning British monarch before Elizabeth II. One of the famous British people who influenced the world, Queen Victoria presided over a period of intense innovation and development, which shaped the modern world to a remarkable degree. Her nine children and 42 grandchildren have married into royal families across the continent. A feat that's earned her the nickname “the grandmother of Europe”. We salute you, Queen Vic. Learn more at Kensington Palace

Florence Nightingale

Old Flo was known as The Lady with the Lamp from her time nursing soldiers during the Crimean War. She’s among the famous people from England who revolutionised healthcare. During the conflict, she led efforts to formalise the training of nurses and to improve care for patients. She is arguably the founder of modern nursing and also a significant social reformer, due to her role in introducing nursing to poorhouse infirmaries. Learn more at Florence Nightingale Museum

Winston Churchill

“The day may dawn when fair play, love for one’s fellow-men, respect for justice and freedom, will enable tormented generations to march forth serene and triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair.” Prime Minister of the UK on-and-off between 1940 and 1955. As one of the most famous British people, Winston Churchill remains best-known for his part in the British war efforts during World War 2. Did you know that he also won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953? No, you didn't not. This absolute legend bagged the award for “mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values". Catchy. Rolls right off the tongue. Just like his words! Learn more at the Churchill War Rooms

Bobby Moore

This British famous person is a professional footballer, captain of West Ham United and captain of the England team that won the 1966 World Cup in London. An icon to generations of English football fans who continue to hope that ‘football’s coming home’. Hopefully soon, Bobby. Hopefully soon. Learn more at Wembley Stadium Those are our picks for the greatest British historical figures. Who would you add to your list? Think about it. Hard. Maybe discuss it with friends over a pub lunch?

Who's Missing?

Those are our picks for the greatest British historical figures. Who would you add to your list? Think about it. Hard. Maybe discuss it with friends over a pub lunch?

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