My mail carrier is a wonderful man named Tony who has never once complained about the vast poundage of glossy magazines he has to deliver to my house every month. Most of the magazines I subscribe to are related to England and in order to keep my supply coming, I bribe Tony with Starbucks gift cards, thank you notes, and promises to keep my dogs locked up at scheduled times during the day when there’s a chance his mail truck is within a 15 mile radius of my house.
A friend once asked me which magazine about England was my favorite. I struggled to answer her question in the same way a mother struggles when someone asks which child is her favorite. After some thought and several minutes of indecision and flip-flopping, I finally narrowed my favorites down to five.
Why are they my favorites? They all have stunning photography, entertaining articles, wonderful style, and insights into English culture that are hard to come by in America. Here’s how they break down:
The English Home
This magazine is filled with page after page of wonderful interior and exterior shots of homes set in ideal English locations. With every photograph I think to myself, “Oh, yes, I could live here. Yes, I definitely could live here.” I love the look of today’s English country house and this magazine indulges my fantasy of living in a comfortable but perfectly decorated home that happens to give a nod to a bygone time. Here are just a few of the topics covered in the latest edition:
- Updating a fourteenth-century manor house
- A newly-built home decorated in late Georgian/early Victorian styles
- An exploration of Durham in north-east England
- How to blending patterns, texture, light and shade to create a modern romantic interior in the English style
With an eclectic and imaginative mix of articles, history, and unique places to visit that are off the usual tourist track, this magazine inspires my inner traveler. I usually read this magazine with a package of red tape-flags at hand so I can keep track of the sites I “must add” to my ever-growing list of places to visit on my next trip to England. One of my favorite features: Each issue includes a list of novel places to stay in the UK, from unique inns and hotels to country estates and city townhouses. A few of the features from the last issue:
- A tour of Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott
- A feature on “Essential Lancashire” that includes a guide to Blackpool, the fortunes of Georgian merchant families, and walking in the footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkein
- A tour of King Henry VIII’s warship Mary Rose
- Photos of Roald Dahl’s writing hut
- Touring an Edwardian English country garden
Every issue inspires me to discover a part of England I’ve never seen before.
This is another magazine that ends up decorated with multiple red tape-flags by the time I’m done reading each issue. Take the latest (November) issue for example: it has an article on the discovery of the remains of Richard III as well as a four-page, center-fold article on the history of English puddings. Yum. And did I mention there were pictures of those puddings? And can I just say that some of those aforementioned pictured puddings were covered with awesomesauce (commonly known as “custard”)? Thanks to this educational article, I’m ambitiously planning to expand my thinking beyond plum pudding for my 2013 Christmas celebration; I’m currently hunting down recipes for Cumberland Rum Nicky, Spotted Dick and Bakewell pudding. To give you an idea of this magazine’s variety, the same issue had an article on bike riding through the Derbyshire Peak District and a 6-day guided tour from the Wye Valley to Shropshire. My favorite article in this issue (aside from those four heavenly pages devoted to pudding) was a feature on the old-fashioned way tweed is still made in the Outer Hebrides.
The lure of this magazine is that it provides a window into the English lifestyle, past and present. It reminds me a little of Reminisce magazine because many of its articles are written from the reader’s perspective. In the current edition, there’s an article on the original WWII Land Girls, a tribute to Thackeray, and a lovely two-page feature from a fledgling gardener as she readies her cottage garden for winter for the first time. There’s also a charming article by a woman who took a trip back to the old Essex childhood home her family lived in for 70 years, a list of favorite sandwiches submitted by readers, and a fun fact page full of old English words, phrases and lingo.
By the way, what do you call a horse’s attempt to dump his rider?
You’ll find the correct answer at the end of this post.
I love this publication because it demonstrates quiet pride in its countrymen, honors its veterans, and unabashedly celebrates the English way of life. There’s an unbelievable amount of information and charm in every issue, along with beautiful photographs and Colin Carr’s delightful artwork.
The publishers of Britain bill it as “The Official Magazine.” It has my vote, too, for being the best guide out there on what today’s England has to offer. Every issue is a traveler’s dream, filled with tried-and-true as well as new-and-unique destinations to visit. Want to experience London’s theatre district? There’s an article for that. Wonder what the top 12 best British sites are that you absolutely must experience? There’s an article for that. Where can you eat Dickensian-style food in London? There’s an article for that, too. Add linger-over-every-image quality photographs on each page and this publication makes you want to jump on the next plane bound for Heathrow.
So now, I ask you: With such wonderful magazines coming to my mailbox, how can I possibly choose a favorite? I can’t, but I can keep plying my mail carrier with Starbucks gift cards and find creative ways to let him know I appreciate the care he takes in delivering my England magazines in pristine condition. Tony, your next latte’s on me.
Do you subscribe to magazines about England? What are your favorite magazines and why?