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.

22. Badminton Lake

Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2015

The world’s oldest, most famous cross-country obstacle is a magnet for spectators anticipating a splashy mishap and nervous riders dreading one. It’s no longer the hardest test on the course, but it carries the highest risk of humiliation; photographers crowd its banks, recalling winning shots of Princess Anne emerging dripping, a laughing Capt Mark Phillips draining water from his boots, Mark Todd launching in with only one stirrup and a spectator swimming after a horse. Britain’s status as world leader in eventing owes everything to Badminton. In 1949, the 10th Duke of Beaufort, mortified by the home team’s feeble showing in the 1948 Olympics, started it on his estate to train riders. It became the sport’s ‘Wimbledon’ and embodies our unrivalled tradition of using the great country houses as backdrops.

‘Red [flag] on right, white on left, insanity in the middle’

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