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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 01:06 GMT 02:06 UK
A tale of two centres
Charles and Margaret Farmer
The Farmers live at the centre of England

Continuing our series of features looking at the precise centres of Great Britain and the home nations, we find that the heart of England is on a farm in Leicestershire.
The "English Midlands" is a vague term covering hundreds of square miles.

So where exactly is the middle of England?

If pressed, many people guess the answer is Meriden, near Coventry, where an ancient monument marks the "traditional centre of England".

But, to find the true answer, BBC News Online paid a visit to Charles and Margaret Farmer, an elderly couple who live in Leicestershire.

Meriden monument
Meriden's monument to the "traditional centre"
The nation's chief mapping agency, the Ordnance Survey, has calculated the exact centre of England to be on Lindley Hall Farm, owned by the Farmers.

To be precise, it puts the centre at grid reference SP 36373.66 96143.05.

A global positioning system, which uses satellites to locate exact co-ordinates, showed this point to be in a paddock just a couple of hundred metres from the Farmer's house.

Mr and Mrs Farmer, aged 89 and 80, said they were "surprised" to learn their farm was special.

Mrs Farmer said: "We like it here because it is nice and peaceful and it is good land.


Someone said we should build tearooms here and possibly American tourists would come out

Margaret Farmer

"Like most people, I always thought the centre of England was Meriden, but now we are told it is here.

"Someone said we should build tearooms here and possibly American tourists would come out, but I think we are a bit old for that."

The Farmers' son Richard does most of the work on Lindley Hall Farm, which has been in the family for 41 years.

It was formerly a dairy farm, but all its animals were destroyed following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Old monument

It is now being farmed for sheep, cattle, wheat, oats and barley.

About 11 miles (18 kilometres) to the south is Meriden, which has traditionally claimed to be "The Centre of England".

A 500-year-old monument in the town boasts the title.

Tracy Gardiner, left and Sue Power at Centre of England Florist
Meriden's florist cashes in on the title

Facing the square is Centre of England Florist, owned by Tracy Gardiner.

"Tourists and media always use my shop as a backdrop for photos and things like that," she said.

"I have actually had an order placed from the United States by a man who saw a picture of the shop."

Mrs Gardiner was unperturbed about losing the title to Lindley Hall Farm.

"I don't know how Meriden came to be thought of the centre, but it is always a good talking point," she said.

The centre co-ordinates were calculated by the Ordnance Survey using a gravitational method.


You'll never win an argument against tradition

Trevor Mouncey
Ordnance Survey

To put it simply, it marks the point where a cardboard cut-out of the country could be balanced on the tip of a pencil.

The islands of England were included in the computer calculation.

The Ordnance Survey's Trevor Mouncey said he was unsure how Meriden became known as the centre, but experience had taught him not become embroiled in the argument.

"You'll never win an argument against tradition. It may be worth noting that cartography has come on a bit in 500 years."

Over this week, BBC News Online is revealing what lies at the centre of each of the home nations.

The reports include:

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Quentin Rayner
"All I need is a cardboard cut-out of England"
BBC News Online's Brady Haran
"It's all science"

Click here to go to Leicester

Click here to go to BBC Coventry and Warwickshire
BBC News Online's series of the exact centre of Great Britain and all the home nations

Around the country

In pictures
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


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Links to more England stories

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