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.

 6. Choristers

Choristers of St. Paul's Cathedral Choir rehearse, London, Britain - 10 Dec 2012

Is there any sweeter sound on Earth— effortless, pure and full—than that of the boy trebles of a cathedral choir taking flight? Whatever your religious inclination, this is musical performance of the highest calibre, balm for the soul and usually free. Get your child into a cathedral-choir school, and he or she will have an unrivalled education that brings intellectual stimulation, confidence and friendship.

Britain has the world’s strongest choral tradition, nurtured successively by medieval monks, royal composers Tallis, Byrd and Handel, who wrote Messiah in London, and conductors David Willcocks, John Eliot Gardiner, the late Richard Hickox and the engaging Gareth Malone, who has persuaded the entire country that singing rocks.

‘[The] sound is quintessentially English, with a purity in the way the boys in particular sing, which could become hooty but never does’
(Conductor Sir Andrew Davis, a former King’s Organ Scholar, Cambridge)

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