England is one of several users of the British pound, sometimes known as the pound sterling. It is represented by the ISO code GBP and is one of the most popular and well-known currencies throughout the world. Here we will not only find out about the currency itself and its history, but also what the average traveller can expect when visiting England.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
As you may already know, the British pound is a decimal currency comprised of 100 pennies to each pound. There are eight coins available for use in total. Six of these are denominated as pence, which is the plural for the penny. They are the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p coins. In addition you can use the £1 coin and the £2 coin, although the latter is not as common as the former.
You can also use four banknotes while paying for things throughout England. These are the £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes. While the £50 is legal tender it is actually quite unusual to see it in circulation. Most people get by with the other three notes and rarely see any £50 notes at all.
From past to present – the history of the English pound
Before the 1700s England was formally known as the Kingdom of England. It used a different currency to the one used in the Kingdom of Scotland. All this changed though when the Acts of Union were passed in parliament in the early 1700s. From this moment on the British pound was used by both countries so England has had this currency in use for a long time. Indeed a pound of one kind or another has been in use ever since Anglo-Saxon times. It is also the oldest currency the world has that is still used today.
How to get hold of the English pound
This is very easy to do. The British pound is one of the most popular currencies and is used by people in England, Scotland and Wales as well as in Northern Ireland. England itself is also very popular as a tourist destination so you should have no trouble ordering it from any bureau de change. As with all foreign currencies though, you should shop around prior to using the services of any bureau de change. This will ensure you can find one that offers a good rate of exchange.
You can also use traveller’s cheques throughout England. Many banks will exchange them and so do other outlets such as hotels and bureaux de change. While you will want to get hold of some pounds to carry as cash, you should consider getting some of these traveller’s cheques as they’re a safe way to carry more with you. Just remember to jot down the serial numbers and keep them in a safe place. If you do this you will be able to get them replaced if you should lose them or they should be stolen.
England also has an extensive network of cash machines you can use wherever you go. They’re likely to be fewer and farther between when you go into the more rural areas, but in towns and cities you won’t have to go far to find one.
Finally you can of course make card payments in many places (probably most places to be honest). Credit and debit cards will be accepted for the majority of networks. Of course if you’re travelling from abroad you may wish to check whether or not your debit card will be accepted in England. If it is on a major well-known network used in several parts of the world you should find you’ll be okay.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the English pound
All you need to do this is access to a currency converter. Since the British pound is one of the most often-used currencies in the world, you may even find it is listed at the top of all the currencies available. Some converters do this – they’ll provide the most popular ones at the top before listing the rest in alphabetical order. If not, just use the ISO code (GBP) to find it as quickly as possible.
If you’re travelling within the United Kingdom you won’t have any problems visiting England. However if you’re travelling from abroad you should check and see whether you might need a visa to enter the country. This is easy to check by visiting the official website for the UK government. The appropriate page with all the links you need is at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration.
Travelling safely with the English pound
For the most part England is a pretty safe country to visit. Crime does occur but the vast majority of visitors are not affected by it during their time in the country. There is a greater potential for crime to occur – particularly petty crime – in some areas as compared to others. In this situation it is the heavily-populated areas – the cities and towns – where there is a greater likelihood of petty crime taking place. This is particularly true in spots that are well-known for attracting lots of tourists.
Generally speaking though, you should only have to take reasonable precautions to preserve your safety while in England. For example, make sure you take good care of your possessions and don’t leave any bags unattended for any period of time. Watch your bag and jacket if you leave them hanging on the back of a chair while in a restaurant for example. Always keep your bag closed and your wallet or purse safely tucked away. Pickpockets are known to operate in some areas, with London being a prime example of this. Having said that most people who visit the capital never have any problem with this type of crime, so it is easy to get carried away and become nervous of something that may never happen.
Where to spend your pounds in England – and what to spend them on
England forms part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by two other countries – Scotland to the north and Wales to the west. It covers quite a large land mass and there are many attractive places you could visit here. Indeed it offers the opportunity to have many different types of holiday. You could choose a city break in London or head to one of the university cities such as Oxford or Cambridge. Alternatively you could go to one of the well-known seaside locations such as King’s Lynn or Brighton, where there is plenty to see and do.
Another option would be to visit one of the national parks. There are several of these dotted up and down the country. Several of them are within easy reach of each other towards the northern part of the country. These include the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North York Moors National Park. Much further south is the South Downs National Park, which sits just above Chichester and Waterlooville among other places. Down in Devon and Cornwall you can also visit Exmoor National Park and Dartmoor National Park, so you can see there are plenty to choose from. All of these offer outstanding walking opportunities that visitors of all abilities will love to make the most of.
With regard to city breaks there can be no better option than to visit London, the capital itself. There are so many opportunities to have a great time here. For example you can consider taking in a West End show; there are chances to pick up late tickets for that evening if you’re lucky. There are also many parks in the city when you need some respite from the hustle and bustle.
You can also take in some of the most famous sights. London Zoo is well worth a look for example. Buckingham Palace is open to visitors at certain times of the year, although you will only see certain parts of it. There are lots of museums too, including the Museum of London (definitely worth a look as it goes right back to Londinium times, as it used to be called!). Elsewhere you can see the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, each of which have some spectacular exhibits. You certainly won’t be bored if you spend a weekend or longer here.
As you can see, all kinds of holidays and trips are possible when you visit England. Even if you live in the country the chances are you won’t have seen a fraction of the places it has to offer. If you’re coming from abroad you will want to plan your trip in advance so you get the chance to take in some of the most appealing sights.
Of course your options may be narrowed somewhat by the type of holiday you want to take. Some people will love nothing better than diving into everything one of the big cities has to offer. Alternatively others would make a beeline for the rural areas and the national parks. Where will you go first?