I can’t speak for all of England, but where we live, we can join the libraries in East and West Sussex as well as Kent. Both East Sussex and Kent libraries offer free internet access to their patrons. In West Sussex, you pay a fee – rather expensive if you pay one-time fees each time. The current rate is 1.25 GBP for one-half hour and 2.50 GBP for one hour. If you think you’ll be using it regularly, I’d advise paying the annual subscription of 15 GBP. Unfortunately, libraries here are not equipped for WiFi use. I speak first of libraries because everywhere we’ve lived in the US we’ve had free internet at our libraries, as well as WiFi. We had expected a similar situation in the UK.
McDonald’s, as mentioned previously, has free WiFi. But so do some other dining facilities. Specifically, Costa Cafe in Haywards Heath has free WiFi for its customers. We take full advantage of that. We’ve found other Costa Cafes but they do not offer the free WiFi. Some pubs offer free WiFi but they do not advertise it so prominently. (Perhaps, it is due to not wanting to attract the wrong crowd.) We’ve stayed at the Star Inn in Lingfield a few times and they offered free WiFi; however, your connection varies depending on which room you are placed. We lunched at the Red Lion in Nutfield and they offered free WiFi, but we were unable to gain access. It may have been our positioning.
Some hotels advertise WiFi, but be careful. If they do not say free WiFi, you can expect to pay for access. Although this is outside of our area, we can report that when we visited England previously we were offered free WiFi at the Best Western Lansdowne Strand Hotel in Calne (Wiltshire).
Although we have found lists of WiFi hotspots, many of the places mentioned do not offer free WiFi access. We are still experimenting with various places and will update the lists of free internet access as we find them.