England is a country full of rich history. It ignites the senses with sights, sounds and smells. We begin our travels this week heading North to the Lake District of Cumbria to soak up the mountain views of Scafell Pike then off for afternoon tea at the very popular Bettys in York. Then we travel south to London and hitch a ride in a bright red double decker bus to the Palace of Westminster where we can hear the ringing of Big Ben. Then we head over to the Tower of London to view the sparkle and gold of the crown jewels. Next we’ll venture to Stratford-Upon-Avon to sample the fish and chips at The Big Fish restaurant. The last stop is a visit to Capel Manor Gardens near Enfield to enjoy the sights and aromas of the English rose garden.
Northern England is defined by its mountainous terrain that divides the west from the east. This beautiful countryside is a feast for the eyes and the soul with breathtaking views at every turn. The climate in Northern England is cool and rainy. The atmosphere, moors and lakes of Northern England have inspired generations of romantic writers, including the Bronte sisters and the Poet Laureate Ted Hughes. The landscape also inspires painting. You might even give a try painting with tea, like we did at Gogh Arts! Traditional tea time in England features finger sandwiches, small cakes and teas from around the world, but I don’t mean to suggest that you should have a snack while painting. You can actually use the tea itself as a medium for creating art! At Gogh Arts we used black tea, green tea and orange pekoe to capture the beauty of the Northern England landscape. Did you know that the people of England drink 165 million cups of tea a day? Black tea is the most popular tea.
If you're ever in London you can take a ride on a double decker bus. These iconic vehicles provide fast, convenient and economical transportation around the city. They stand out with their bright red paint and their double than average height. These buses, however, weren’t always red. Prior to 1907 London buses were painted different colors to signify their routes. This all changed when buses were assigned numbers for their routes instead. You can make your own version of the classic London double decker using construction paper. You might even consider making your project three dimensional by wrapping a box in red paper and cutting out the windows on the top and bottom deck. At Gogh Arts we used shiny reflective paper for the windows, black foam sheets for the tires and gold glitter for the headlights. Did you know that during the week the buses in London carry over six million passengers each day? There are currently 1,280 buses traveling the streets of London.
Big Ben is an iconic symbol of England too. It’s an architectural monument built in 1859 in the style of Gothic Revival and it’s located in central London. All four nations of the United Kingdom are represented on the tower. England is represented with the rose, Scotland is represented with thistle, Northern Ireland is represented with a shamrock and Wales is represented with leek. The tower that houses Big Ben is called Elizabeth Tower but prior to 2012 it was called The Clock Tower. The name Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the clock tower. Whether you call it Big Ben or Elizabeth Tower, you can create your own version of the world famous Clock Tower with a few simple materials. At Gogh Arts we used cardboard tubes for the structure of the tower and then made some of the features of the tower from construction paper. We added details, such as the face of the clock and the roman numerals, with markers. Did you know that Big Ben first chimed on July 11, 1859? It continues to chime to this day every hour on the hour.
Another symbol of England, one that is associated with royalty, is the crown. Crowns come in many styles and they are all fun to make. At Gogh Arts we made them from construction paper and added glitter and plastic gems. It's a good idea when making a crown to measure the circumference of your head with a sewing tape measure, and you will probably discover that you will need more than one length of paper to wrap all the way around your head. I find that it is easiest to tape the two pieces of paper together first, before you begin designing your crown. At Gogh Arts students created a pattern for the ornamentation and then cut out their designs. We used clear tape to secure the ends together and finished our project by adding sparkle to our crowns. Did you know that the oldest crown in England is the crown of Princess Blanche and it dates back to 1370? It’s made of gold, and covered in diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and pearls!
Fish and chips are one of the most prominent meals in English culture. The most common fish to find their way into this meal are cod and haddock but other whitefish are often used as well. The fish are breaded and deep fried as are the chips. The chips are deep fried potato wedges and it is typical to dress them with salt and vinegar while the fish get slathered in tartar sauce. Today's fish and chips aren’t served in newspapers but this practice was still going strong until the 1980’s. You can make a fun art project about this very English food by crafting a fish from shiny paper and adding chips made from yellow foam sheets and tucking it all inside a folded newspaper for authenticity. Did you know that there is a long tradition of funny fish and chip shop names? A few noteworthy names include The Codfather, A Fish Called Rhondda, Frying Nemo and New Cod On The Block.
Roses are the national flower of England. They symbolize peace and unity. They became the national flower during the reign of the Tudors which started in 1485 after Henry Tudor claimed the throne of England, becoming King Henry Vll. Henry Tudor was a member of the House of Lancaster which was at war with the House of York. Each of these houses bore a rose on their badges which is why this war was called the War of the Roses. After King Henry VII assumed the throne he married Elizabeth of York uniting the two houses and the Tudor rose was born. The tudor rose is red, representing the house of Lancaster, with a white center, to represent the house of York. At Gogh Arts, students learned to draw and paint roses as part of our Art Around the World Camp. Though roses look complicated they are quite easy to paint if you begin in the center and work your way around in a circular pattern overlapping each petal as you go. Did you know that there are over one hundred and fifty species of roses? There are thousands of rose hybrids and they come in almost every color!