England and Wales

England and Wales are currently two of the component nations of the United Kingdom, although Wales has limited powers as compared to Scotland. Scottish local government differed from that of England, there was a separate census office in Edinburgh: nothing of this kind was there in Wales.

England existed as a nation-state since before the Norman Conquest of 1066. During the medieval period its borders with Wales were an area of considerable conflict, but the London government has now controlled Wales for many centuries. However in the 12th and 13th centuries the Princes of Gwynedd came close to forming a separate Welsh nation which would not be under English rule. The Princes had a clear objective, to unite the Welsh Lords and other Princes under a single leader. They knew this was important if they were to preserve their culture and way of life. This did not mean that they were inward-looking, their courts were alive and there is evidence of regular contact with many other European countries. King John of England encouraged the Marcher Lords to expand their lands by seizing parts of Wales. Under Llewelyn Fawr much of Wales united and was able to resist. When Llewelyn was able to exert influence over most of Wales it seemed as if these aims would be achieved. However, Edward the First of England determined to end what was seen as an independent Gwynedd and went to war against the Princes. Following a successful conquest he had constructed a series of castles which are still standing today.

The country has been politically stable over a very long period. Wales is home to a wide variety of craftsmen. Welsh farmhouse cooking is well known with recipes that have been used and passed down over the centuries. Wales is also a land of music, where the harp is played and where everybody loves to sing.