Religion in Great Britain

The official religion in Britain is Christianity as practised by the Anglican Church. Followers of this branch of Christianity are known as Protestants and make up the majority of the population, although there are also many Catholics. Christians constitute about 71% of the population, but Britain is a multi-faith society and all other religions, including; Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism are freely practiced. About 23% of Britain follows no particular religion.

Catholic Britain

Before the reign of King Henry VIII, Britain was once a Roman Catholic country guided in religious matters by the Vatican in Rome. In 1533 King Henry VIII founded the Anglican Church when the Vatican refused to grant him permission to divorce his first wife.

The development of the Anglican Church

Henry was desperate for a male heir, and up until then his first wife had only borne daughters. When the Vatican refused to allow him to divorce his wife, he was infuriated and decided to established his own faith – Church of England – and appointed himself leader.

The Anglican Church today

Catholicism had a short resurgence during the reign of Queen Mary (1553), but the Anglican Church was reinstated by Queen Elizabeth in 1558 and has been the official religion ever since. Today, every sovereign must swear to uphold and protect the Anglican faith and is expected to marry a protestant.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral - source


Education is an important part of British life. There are hundreds of schools, colleges and universities, including some of the most famous in the world. Education is free and compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 - 16. Children’s education in England is normally divided into two separate stages. They begin with primary education at the age of five and this usually lasts until they are eleven. Then they move to secondary school, there they stay until they reach sixteen, seventeen or eighteen years of age.


A-Z Guide of British life and Culture contains useful information: