Historical and Cultural Links Between England and the USA

Thursday 19 September 2019

England and the USA share more than just a common language. Both countries share similarities historically and culturally, linking regions and even specific addresses between the two countries.

Whether to trace back ancestral roots, pay homage to Americans who served in World War II or to walk on the streets that prominent US historical figures walked on, pick a region and get ready to discover the deep historical bond England the USA share.

Hampshire

©Visit Hampshire

Before passengers aboard the Mayflower landed in the New World, they spent two weeks of preparation in Southampton, the largest city in Hampshire. Their point of departure is marked by a plaque, the Pilgrim Fathers’ Memorial. See this on a visit, along with the Seacity Museum, Tudor House Museum and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to learn more about the city’s maritime history, especially about the Titanic. Southampton was a port of a call for the White Star Line, operator of the Titanic and serviced three times weekly voyages across the Atlantic to New York.

Centuries after the Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower, Americans made Hampshire home prior to D-Day. Southwick House, a 30-minute drive from Southampton is where Eisenhower launched the biggest operation in military history.

Plymouth

© @FionnDavenport

Another coastal area is Cornwall in western England. The proximity to the ocean inspired over 25,000 residents to make the voyage over to America during the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of these voyagers were miners who brought their expertise across the ocean. Their heritage in Cornwall is preserved through UNESCO World Heritage Sites spanning over 20,000 hectares of land. Fans of Poldark will recognize many of these mining sites. To see the largest preserved mine site, visit Geevor Tin Mine.

Cornwall also served as an important site during World War II. This was the embarkation point for the D-Day Normandy landings. US troops who were stationed in Cornwall are commemorated at Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park. Today, a visit to this country home can include a tour of the Grade I building, a walk around the 7 acre gardens and a walk along one of the trails at the surrounding 865 acre park.

Essex

© @FionnDavenport

Essex county along the coast of southeast England holds strong connections to North America, as many prominent figures in American history had ties to this region. To name a few, founder of Boston, John Winthrop was married at St Mary and All Saints Church in Stambridge. Descendants of Henry Sherman, including a co-founder of Rhode Island who signed the Declaration of Independence and a vice president of the US, emigrated to New England from Dedham in Essex. William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, lived in Wanstead, then an Essex village. And Thomas Hooker who founded another state, Connecticut lived in Essex and preached at Chelmsford Cathedral. Visit this cathedral to see a stained glass window marking Anglo-American friendship.

Cambridge

© @FionnDavenport

Cambridge is home to the world-famous University of Cambridge. Emmanuel College Cambridge is known for its notable alumni, including the co-founder of Harvard University, John Harvard. Many settlers to Massachusetts were graduates of Emmanuel College, including Thomas Sheppard, who founded Cambridge, Massachusetts. The college is open to visitors to learn about its history dating back to the 1500s and to see the college’s chapel, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and a plaque dedicated to John Harvard.

Nottinghamshire

©Visit Notinghamshire

Many of the travelers who crossed to America on the Mayflower called Nottinghamshire home. To walk the same routes some of these passengers took, take a stroll on The Mayflower Trail through Nottinghamshire countryside and villages. Start the journey at Bassetlaw Museum in Retford town center to see a small area dedicated to The Pilgrim Fathers, then head on the trail and stop by the former home of William Brewster and the birthplace of William Bradford, both men who formed Separatist beliefs.

Apart from tracing the Pilgrims’ footsteps in Nottinghamshire, be sure to visit Wollaton Hall, a 16th century stately home, housing a Natural History Museum and surrounded by a park where it’s possible to catch a glimpse of herds of red and fallow deer that roam free. This stately estate also has a connection to the US - it was the site where men of the US 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division assembled before Operation Overload and Operation Market Garden.

Gloucester

©Marketing Gloucester

Many US citizens can trace their roots back to the Gloucester county of England, along with many important US historical figures. Button Gwinnett, who was a chorister at Gloucester Cathedral was the second person to sign the United States Declaration of Independence and died in the Revolutionary War. A leader of the Methodist movement, George Whitefield was born at the Bell Inn located in Gloucester. John Stafford Smith lived in the beautiful Gloucester Cathedral and composed the music of The Star Spangled Banner. With over 1,000 years of history to discover, the cathedral is open for visitors to take a guided tour. A knowledgeable guide can answer all questions about architecture and even point out the spot where Harry Potter was filmed.

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