Mike Smith

I think the best thing I can contribute is a hymn that I wrote for the Gloucestershire Branch of The Royal Society of St. George’s Annual St. George’s Day Service in Gloucester Cathedral.

The Service fills the Cathedral each year with representatives from many strands of English life.
It was honoured with the presence of HRH The Duke of Gloucester last year.

‘Oh, Lord Whose Bounty Never Fails’ -.
Tune; Repton (Dear Lord and Father of Mankind)

O Lord, whose bounty never fails
We thank Thee for our land,
The gentle hills, the rolling dales .
Where lark Thy Glory sweetly hails
And thanks Thee for this realm.
And thanks Thee for this realm
The teeming seas; the fertile fields,
That give our daily bread;
The pastures green that cattle feed;
The oil and coal, the fuel we need,
Are gifts, all sent from Thee
Are gifts all sent from Thee.
A cradle of democracy,
Where man may speak his mind
And worship Thee, in manner free
O! Let us sing wholeheartedly
And thank Thee for this realm
And thank Thee for this realm
But freedom is a fragile flower
That needs such tender care.
We ask Thee for Thy help each hour
To keep it fresh in England’s bower
And safe for all to share
And safe for all to share.
copyright; The Royal Society of St. George, Gloucestershire Branch.

Glyn Coventry

I suppose, as an Englishman, I share a generic mindset with any patriot of any country anywhere in the world. I’m driven by a deep sense of love of my country, a binding with it, a sense of identity with its very fabric and a longing for its commonweal and prosperity. Simultaneously, I feel a need to protect it, to spare it from embarrassment and to rail against the machinations of those who wish it harm. I realise there is nothing specifically English in these sentiments: I’m sure many non-English relate to this mindset too. Clearly, “Englishness” is more about a uniqueness, a set of idiosyncracies which collectively mark us out as being…. us.

We live south of Scotland and East of Wales on the island of Great Britain. From the genesis of our nationhood when Saxon and Angle intermarried and settled in the land that became England we have marked out this England as our ancestral land. We were one of the first European countries to unify and form a distinct identity. We have had this identity for over a thousand years and despite William the Conqueror, the Act of Union and latterly, the onslaught of Multiculturalism, our individual nationhood has remained strong. Moreover, this sense of history, tradition, nationhood pervades my sense of Self. This is reinforced by the physicality of my environs. I am reminded of my English roots in our interesting ancient buildings, our beautiful countryside and our dramatic coastline. The architecture of our towns and cities is a unique menagerie of styles that reflect some aspect of our national journey.

For me there is a solidity, borne of the state, that is attached to being English. Our institutions are ingrained in our sub-consciousness. Whether or not one agrees with them, our monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, Parliament, civil service, armed forces and Church all work well and generally to a high standard! Centuries of refinement and testing out have resulted in evolved structures of state that can be taken as a “given”. I know they are there and that they work: I don’t have to worry about coups d’etat, dictatorship, a corrupt judiciary or biased civil service. Within this framework I am free to speak my mind, I am free to make decisions, I am free to live a lifestyle that enables me to express myself and be happy (but with the proviso that I don’t harm others and abide by our laws). Basically, I can get on with my life as an Englishman unlike, alas, many in Africa, South America and Asia.

I’m proud to be English! We have certainly made our mark on the world. Our language is universal. Our literature, music, science, engineering, architecture, TV shows etc. have all, (disproportionately for such a small nation) influenced the world scene. We spawned some of the world’s firsts…modern science through Newton, Darwin and others, the agricultural and industrial revolutions, manifold inventions and innovations, wonderful literature and poetry and fantastic music. The list isn’t exhaustive. We also spawned the largest empire the world has ever seen which, in my opinion, was a force for great good in the world and, importantly, have since become the world’s greatest de-coloniser. We established workable democracies and viable economies in these former colonies and have nurtured them in nationhood with aid thereafter. We won two World Wars. We have fraternally stood by our allies in time of their darkest hours, witness Belgium, Poland and latterly the USA after 9/11. We continue to stand up for what is right in the world, even if this means loss of our dear compatriots. We continue to contribute, innovate, invent and influence.

I think we English are a people of character. We have a great sense of humour. We like to talk to one another: even strangers will utilise the topic of the weather to break the ice. As a conversion develops humour tends to creep in at some point. I notice that English people are more likely to use smiles and other aspects of facial expression to convey a positive contact when they meet others (notice how cold many Europeans are in contrast). We tend to be very accepting and polite to others. Our cultural etiquette demands that we see our faces and that we convey an openness, an acceptance of the other and that we should attempt to be civil. I’ve noticed, having travelled abroad, the absence of this politeness and friendliness. We can be eccentric and quirky. We facilitate self-expression and tend to accept the unusual. We can be seen as libertarian but there are cultural rules of engagement to ensure a propensity toward mutual respect.

Being English for me involves a good sense of the above. It is about connecting to one’s roots, being proud of our nation’s historical journey (warts and all!) and expressing one’s self to others in our unique way.

Jacqueline Meyer

England is first the homeland of my birth, the land I grew up in, the land I love with a passion; indeed, if it were ever needed, the land I would die for.

Why? Because England is my land, it is the land of my forefathers who lie buried beneath its soil, and have done for generation after generation. It is the land of green rolling hills, and winding rivers. The land of the Yorkshire pudding, and Lanchashire hotpot, of the Cornish pasty, and the Cumbrian sausage. The land of the pie and eel shop, and the cream tea restaurants. The land of the fish and chippy. The land that gave the World, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Newton, Nightingale, Constable and Turner, Willberforce, Nelson, Wellington and Churchill, to name but a very few. The bluebell woods of Kent with their dappled sunshine. The thatched cottages of the Home Counties. The rugged coast of Cornwall, the beautiful moors and solace of where earth meets sky in quiet solitude of the Yorkshire dales. The bustle of the old London, and the real cockneys (of whom my mum was one). The maypole on a village green, morris dancers in the English countryside, and the game of bowls or cricket on a summer’s afternoon.

Unfortunately so many of our English children are not brought up knowing this as it is not taught to them any more in our schools. So many of them even feel ashamed to admit they are English because of the negative things they are taught about their own people (the English). Many do not seem to know that being British is not the same as being English – Britain is made up of four different countries, these being Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England. England is a country in its own right just as the English people are a people in their own right, and they have their own culture. I am British yes, as I am part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but first and foremost I am English, as England was the land of my birth, and my parents were English.

I am proud to be English. Being English is not however just about being born here, it is about love. Love for England, love for the English people, love for our past, and love of our national heritage as a race – and that race is English. The very essence of England flows in your blood if you are truly English. It is not just history that makes us English or our people English, it is our very character, nature, culture that makes us Englishmen and women. It is a gut feeling, a certain knowledge and pride in our country and in our people. I feel that many see England as a soft touch. They mistake the English tolerance for weakness, and the English sense of fair play for stupidity; many have found out they have judged us English wrongly in that.

Yes we are fair minded and we are tolerant, but we have a lion as our emblem, that roars; and a bulldog, that when pushed too far bites.

England has contributed much to the world, and I am sick of hearing only of the bad we did. We did a lot of good too. As in railways, education, hospitals. England needs its own Parliament, just as the Scots have, the Welsh have and Northern Ireland has . Westminster is Britain’s Parliament, it is not England’s. England has no Parliament, and this is unjust and an affront to the English people . We do not want Scots, Welsh, or Northern Irish MPs deciding matters that only affect England, while they have their own elected represenatives to decide matters that affect them exclusively. Yes stay as a United Kingdom in matters of defence etc., but give us English our own Parliament. To end my small contribution on what England means to me, I will say this, I am English and proud that I am of English blood and of the English soil. I am entitled to that pride in my nation and people, the English.