11 Bizarre Facts about Great Britain Even the British Don't Know ...

Lauren

Great Britain has a long and fascinating history and because there is no much to know, there are many fascinating facts about Great Britain that most people aren’t aware of. Here are 11 bizarre facts about Great Britain that will come as a surprise even to the British themselves!

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1

Maggie Made Ice Cream

One of the most interesting facts about Great Britain is that a young Margaret Thatcher was a member of the chemical research team that discovered the method of doubling the air in ice cream, and whippy ice cream was born. Bizarre.

2

Geese in Chimneys

Not everyone in Victorian Britain could afford to hire a chimney sweep, but they didn’t just do it themselves or leave it alone. Instead, they would drop live geese down their chimneys to force out the soot. Very cruel, but probably quite effective.

3

Beard Tax

King Henry VIII (who had a beard) introduced a tax for men with beards. It was later reintroduced by Elizabeth I, and then in 1705 a beard tax in Russia was introduced, too, to try and modernize society.

4

Mary, Mary, Not Contrary

At any given point, there will be certain names that are more popular than any other. But in 1811, nearly a quarter of all women in Britain shared the name Mary.

5

Polar Bear in the Thames

Incredibly in 1252, King Henry III received a polar bear as a gift from Norway. He kept it in the Tower of London and allowed it to swim in the Thames to catch fish.

6

Bags of Mystery

In the 19th century meat items called “bags of mystery” appeared for sale. They weren’t anything particularly disgusting by today’s standards, but simply the chosen way of marketing what we know today as the humble sausage.

7

Invisible Ink

During the First World War, British spies used semen as invisible ink. It was difficult to detect and also had the advantage of being readily available, if a bit disgusting.

8

Needles in Your Mouth

Apparently Victorian handbooks for women advised them to put needles in their mouths so that a man wouldn’t suddenly kiss them on trains, during the darkness as they went through tunnels. Rather you than me!

9

Medieval anti-slavery

William The Conqueror outlawed slavery in around 1080. The catch, though, was that he only forbade the sale of English slaves into foreign lands. It helped bring one form of slavery to an end, but ultimately contributed to the beginning of another.

10

Earrings Are Old-fashioned

You may expect ear piercing to be a relatively modern practice, but William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh and King Charles I all had pierced ears. If shaving and earrings were fashionable in the 16th and 17th centuries, we haven’t come very far!

11

Blue Blood or Vampire Blood?

Fascinatingly, Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family are related to Vlad The Impaler, a medieval Romanian king who, known for his brutality and love of impaling people, became the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

There are so many bizarre and little known facts about Great Britain that they could easily fill several books, but these are just a pick of the best. Are there any fascinating facts that you know about your own country that you think other people would be interested to know?

Feedback Junction

Where Thoughts and Opinions Converge

Cool article!

Story #5 is written on a plaque when you exit the Tower of London, right next to a copper statue of a polar bear

I spot another \'QI UK\' fan!

Interesting read! I\'m British and only knew about number 10!

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