Greatest Beards In British History

When you are trying to figure out which style of beard you can and want to grow, there are various places you could look for inspiration.  As well as family, friends and work colleagues; you could also look to famous British people, both living and historical figures from this great nation’s often chequered, but always interesting past.

In the following article we will look at some of the most famous and infamous Brits, who amongst many other things, are and were known for their great beards.

Charles Robert Darwin

charles-robert-darwinCharles Darwin was an English geologist and naturalist who is perhaps best know by most people for his major contributions to the theory of evolution and his theory that evolution came from a process he referred to as natural selection.  He lived from 1809 to 1882 and as well as being highly respected in his field, he was also known for his long and thick beard.  It is certainly not a beard you can wear and be shy about.

John Donne

john-donneJohn Donne was a renowned English poet who lived from 1573 to 1631 and was best known as being the pre-eminent representative of metaphysical poets.  Also a cleric, his works were noted for their strong and very sensual style and included sermons, satires, songs, elegies, epigrams, Latin translations, religious poems, love poems and sonnets.  Along with his famous works, he also is known for rocking a pretty neat and tidy full beard that comes to a point at the end to mack a nice triangle shape down from his chin.

Charles John Huffam Dickens

charles-john-huffam-dickensAs a social critic and writer, Charles Dickens was regarded as not just one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era, but THE greatest.  He is famous for creating many fictional characters who are well known and loved the world over.  He enjoyed praised and popularity during his lifetime and his short stories and novels are enjoyed as much now as they were then.  Many of which have been adapted for the stage, film and television including A Take Of Two Cities, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol.

As well as his writing, he was also known for something else – if you look at any picture of the great man.  He is always wearing a pristine, with hints of wildness, beard.

William Morris

william-morrisBorn in 1834 and died in 1896, William Morris was a an enterprising and multi-talented man known as a socialist activist, translator, novelist, poet and textile designer.  During his fruitful life he not only helped to establish the literary modern fantasy genre, but as a result of his active association with the British Arts And Crafts Movement, he played a crucial part in reviving traditional British textile arts and production.  Although his creative and political works are what he is remembered for most, he had a very wavy, almost straggly beard that was very loud and proud.

Guy Fawkes

guy-fawkesRemember, remember the fifth of November?  I don’t think there are many people who don’t remember that the fifth of November is Guy Fawkes night, otherwise known as Bonfire Night.  It’s the night of the year people commemorate the night of his failed Gunpowder Plot in 1605 when he conspired to blow the Houses of Parliament up.  Along with proposed acts of high treason, he also sported a dashing beard that accompanied his long hair.  Do you want to look like a treasonous person though?

Sir Francis Drake

sir-francis-drakeA politician, navigator, privateer, sea captain and slaver, Sir Francis Drake was famous for the second circumnavigation around the world on one single expedition from 1577 through to 1580.  The interesting thing is that to British people he is considered a hero, but a pirate to the Spanish, and was referred by them to El Draque and there was even said to have been a bounty on his head of 20,000 ducats, which would be worth around £4 million, in modern money.  Aside from all of the above, he also had a rather neat and tidy, pale blondish beard and moustache.

Sir Walter Raleigh

sir-walter-raleighKnown as a wide array of different things including explorer, spy, courtier, politician, soldier, poet and writer; Sir Walter Raleigh is known for kick-starting the popularity of tobacco in England.  As he was one of the most noted people of the Elizabethan era, he ranked at number 93 in a poll run by the BBC charting the 100 Greatest Britons; and we are glad to have him on our list because of his light-ish brown, perfectly groomed full beard with triangular-shaped end.

Alfred The Great

alfred-the-greatThe man who successfully defeated the Vikings attempt to land and conquer Britain, Alfred The Great was king of Wessex from 871 to 899.  He is commemorated with a statue designed and built by Hamo Thornycroft that is on display in Winchester.  As you can see from that statue the man was pretty bad ass, with a large shield, large sword and large beard.

King Edward II

king-edward-iiKing of England, following his father King Edward I, married Isabella of France, King Philip IV’s daughter, Edward II ruled from the 7th of July 1307 to 25 January 1327.  Along with the power he also had very wavy and luscious hair and a neat, but rough to touch looking beard.

King Edward III

king-edward-iiiFollowing on from his father’s disastrous and bizarre reign, Edward II ruled England from 1327 to 1377, a 50 year reign that is the second longest in history.  The bronze effigy shows very clearly the extent of his beautifully long beard, on display in Westminster  Abbey.

King Henry III

king-henry-iiiReigning from 1216 through to 1272, King Henry the third was the successor to the throne after his father John and was a member of the Pantagent house.  As an effigy at Westminster Abbey shows, he was the wearer of an awesome and bold, full-in beard.

King Henry IV

king-henry-ivIn a relatively short reign, from 30th of September 1399 to 20th of March 1413, Henry IV was the successor of Richard the II and came before Henry V.  He had a highly stylised and groomed moustache with flicked ends and a full beard that wasn’t too long but covered around his jawline from ear to ear.

Henry VIII

henry-viiiWhat can we say about Henry VIII that hasn’t been said before.  He had 6 marriages, broke ties with the Pope and Catholic religious lead from Rome, because the Pope would not annul his first marriage.  Though initially h was seen as handsome, powerful, intelligent and considered to be one of the most charismatic leaders ever to sit on the throne and rule England, in his later years he became terribly overweight and his health started to deteriorate before he died in 1547.  His full beard was impeccably groomed and short and actually really cool.

Richard I or Richard The Lionheart

richard-i-or-richard-the-lionheartRichard The Lionheart had already taken charge of his own army by the age of 16, securing his position as something of a bad ass and although he was born and raised in England, after his coronation, most of his time was spent in either France or out at war on the Crusade.  He had very regal and authoritative looking beard.  If you were going to have a nickname like Lionheart, that was the best kind of beard.

Eric Clapton

eric-claptonGuitar and songwriting maestro, Eric Clapton is highly respected in music for his time spent playing in a wide array of rock and blues groups such as The Yardbirds and Cream, as well as his solo career.  Some of the songs you are likely to be familiar with include Layla, Tears From Heaven and his cover version of Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff.  Although he had a lot more hair and it was much darker and thicker in his earlier years, he can still be seen rocking a tremendously cool beard nowadays.

Francis Bacon

francis-baconAn English author, orator, jurist, statesman and most famously a scientist and philosopher, Francis Bacon is said to be the father of what is known as “scientific method” and empiricism.  As well as his argument that scientific knowledge that was only based on the careful and inductive observation of events in nature, he also had a quirky but smart almost yellow pointed goatee.

Eadweard Muybridge

eadweard-muybridgeNow Eadweard Muybridge is not just included in this post because he is called Eadweard Muybridge.  Even if it is a really cool name.  Officially known as Edward James Muggeridge, he was a photographer from England most famous for his progressive work into the photographic studies of motion and early work he did with motion-picture projection.  It is thought he took on the name Eadweard Muybridge, as it is the Anglo-Saxon version of his friend.  As you can see from any picture of this intriguing man, is that he has a very long and fluffy beard, worthy of the name Eadweard Muybridge.

W. G. Grace

w-g-graceWilliam Gilbert “W.G.” Grace was an amateur cricketer from England who played an important part in the sport’s development and is considered by many to be be one of the greatest all-round cricketers ever.  Although he was adept in all of the essential skills such as bowling and fielding; it was batting for he was sublime.  As well as all the good he did for the sport, innovating techniques and providing a lasting legacy over the game he loved and was passionate about; he also had one of the most striking and spell-bindingly big and thick beards ever seen in sport.

William Shakespeare

william-shakespeareOld Bill Shakespeare really shouldn’t need much introduction.  An actor, poet and playwright; William Shakespeare is regarded as the world’s pre-eminent dramatist and greatest writer in the English language ever.  He has to his name around 154 sonnets, 38 plays, 2 long form narrative poems and various other works that may or may not be his.  Some of his best love work includes Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, King Lear Othello and a Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It is hard to really know what he looked like because there is no portrait in existence of him or any evidence that he commissioned a portrait.  But from the information we do know, he had a thick and appealing moustache and a short but thick beard that did not connect to the moustache.

Alexander Graham Bell

alexander-graham-bellThe inventor and owner of the patent for the first practical working telephone, Alexander Graham Bell was an innovator, engineer, inventor and scientist born in Scotland.  A funny fact about Bell was that he felt that his most famous invention got in the way of the work he really was passionate about as a scientist and didn’t even have or own a telephone in his study.  In one of the most widely recognised portraits photographs he can be seen wearing a short and bushy, well-groomed white beard and moustache.  Older life goals right there.

Billy Connolly

billy-connollyBilly Connolly, also known as The Big Yin (The Big One), a Scottish national, is primarily famous for being a stand up comedian, but has also dabbled in acting, presenting and as a musician.  Originally he started off as a boilermaker/welder before quitting to pursue a career as a folk singer before then changing paths as a stand up comedian.  Subsequently he is known and loved the world over and often placed at the top spot in many “best comedians” lists.  He is known as much for his long flowing hair and the various beards he has sported throughout his career (including the quirky, pink-dyed goatee he sported in recent years) as he is for his childish toilet humour, insightful observations and his thick Glaswegian drawl.