Best of British: 60 things that make Britain great

Imagine you're cut off in a far-off land. What longings would be uppermost in your mind? Here we celebrate those aspects of life that make our islands distinct and beguiling.

13. Wellington boot

wellington boots

We have Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, to thank for Britain’s treasured wellie. Fresh from his defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the Duke deemed his current boots uncomfortable and asked his personal shoemaker to tweak the design of his military Hessian pair. The Wellington boot was originally made from leather until the mid 19th century, when a revolutionary rubber process was discovered. The boot meant farmers could now work a day outside with the luxury of dry feet. Still a farmer’s best friend, modernisation and the rainbow of colours available have ensured it also enjoys a cult fashion status, with the rubber boots now equally at home, caked in mud, at Glastonbury.

‘There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet’
(Samuel Beckett)

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