5 Strange British Traditions

Tourists visiting Great Britain are regularly enamoured by a much of British culture, whether its our food, or sites or most commonly, our Royal Family. What many of our visitors don’t get the chance to understand though, are some of the strange traditions performed across the country. So, we’re going to take at look at some of our most familiar strange British traditions.

Morris Dancing

Of course its on the list, Morris Dancing is a time honoured tradition across the country. An English folk dance thought to date back to 1448, Morris Dancing has now become something of a curiosity at carnivals and fairs nationwide. What many of you may not realise is that there are six different types of Morris Dance typically performed in various parts of the country, including the Cotswold Morris, Border Morris and North West Morris. Whichever of these you happen to be witness to, its a tradition that is very recognisable.


Another very odd British tradition, gurning even has its own World Championships. Traditionally associated with the North West of England, gurning involves a number of rubber-faced individuals putting their heads through a horse collar or brain, whilst creating the most bizarre face that they can manage. Strangely, the Gurning World Championships have become a national fascination, with the national news regularly reporting on the event, which is typical of Britain’s obsession with these odd pastimes.

Cheese Rolling

Be honest, this is a tradition that has a strange appeal. Can you honestly say that you’ve never been even the slightest bit tempted to chase a rolling block of cheese down a hill. The Coopers Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is held annually in the Cotswold, although has been cancelled in recent years due to injuries sustained taking part. The steepness and uneven surface of the hill certainly presents its own problems with broken bones and concussions being a regular outcome of the event, but it remains a popular part of West Country culture, and may well be making a return in 2015

Pearly Kings & Queens

A very old tradition thought to have originated in the 19th century, Pearly Kings and Queens have become an important part of East London culture. A organised charitable tradition, the strange movement was originally started by orphan street sweeper, Henry Croft who collected money for charity. London street traders used to wear trousers decorated at the seams with pearly buttons, found by market traders. Croft adapted this and create a full pearly suit to draw attention to himself whilst raising money and in 1911 the first organised pearly society was formed in Finchley.

Guy Fawkes Night

Only the British could celebrate the failed attempted of a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and every year we mark it by burning and blowing up stuff. It was in 1605, that Guy Fawkes (13 April 1570-31 January 1606), also known as Guido Fawkes was part of a plot to kill King James I and a vast majority of the aristocracy and nobility, before being turned in by an anonymous warning letter. The meaning may have become a little diluted in recent years, but we British love an excuse for a good fireworks display.

These are only a select few of our strange British traditions, and the further you delve in Britain, the stranger cultures you will find, and we love them.