Ben Stokes scored the fastest-ever Test hundred at Lord's, while England captain Alastair Cook weighed in with a less spectacular but equally valuable century of his own as the hosts fought back against New Zealand on Sunday.
England were 429 for six in their second innings at stumps on the fourth day, a lead of 295 runs, despite having been outplayed for much of this match, the first of a two-Test series.
Cook was 153 not out — his fourth and highest Test century at Lord's — after Stokes had struck a truly thrilling hundred against the country of his birth in just 85 balls, including 15 fours and three sixes.
Only three sides have scored more than 200 in the fourth innings to win a Test at Lord's.
West Indies, inspired by Gordon Greenidge's double century posted 344 for one in 1984, while England have twice done it against New Zealand, with 282 for three in 2004 and 218 for three in 1965.
England were in trouble when they lost Ian Bell, caught behind off a Tim Southee outswinger, to Sunday's third ball without adding to their overnight score to be 74 for three.
But Cook, whose century saw him extend his England Test record to 27, shared partnerships of 158 and 132 with Joe Root (84) and Stokes (101) respectively.
Root, out for 98 in the first innings, again missed out on a century but Stokes followed his first-innings 92 with his second Test century but first in England following the Durham all-rounder's 120 against Australia in Perth in 2013.
"I rode my luck a little bit but you need a little bit to succeed," Stokes told Sky Sports. "Things just went my way all day.
"I was pretty nervous when I was in the nineties again but to get that one away was a pretty special feeling, and to do it at the 'home of cricket' was fantastic — and something I'll never forget."
He added: "It is a great day personally but more importantly we are in a good position as a team."
Earlier, left-handed opener Cook scored his second hundred in as many Tests after he ended a near two-year-wait for a Test ton with 105 against the West Indies in Barbados earlier this month.
It was also his first ton on home soil since his 130 against New Zealand at Headingley in 2013 and saw the 30-year-old Cook extend his England record for Test centuries to 27.
As the ball became older, things got tougher for New Zealand's quicks, while off-spinner Mark Craig was milked for 54 runs in 10 overs after lunch.
But Root fell into an obvious hooking trap when he holed out to Trent Boult at long leg off Test debutant fast bowler Matt Henry.
England were now 232 for four, effectively 98 for four, with the match very much in the balance. Nevertheless, a composed Cook off-drove Henry for three to complete a 206-ball century featuring 12 fours.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum wasted no time in taking the new ball, with overcast conditions also promising to make batting difficult.
However, Stokes, the Christchurch-born but England-raised son of former Kiwi rugby league international Ged Stokes, responded with two hooked sixes off successive Southee deliveries.
The second was dropped by substitute fielder Doug Bracewell, clearly worried about stepping over the boundary rope.
But when Southee pitched short next over, Stokes pulled him for a far more convincing six and next ball drove him down the ground for four.
Southee's first six overs with the new ball were savaged for 53 runs. Left-arm paceman Boult also got the Stokes treatment, driven down the ground for four as the 23-year-old went to 99.
Then a single though midwicket saw left-hander Stokes to a stunning hundred as he bettered the 87-balls taken by India's Mohammad Azharuddin for a Test century at Lord's in 1990.
But trying to thrash Craig, Stokes was caught by Ross Taylor at slip.
In Stokes's stand of 132 with Cook the skipper's share was just 21, but the opener was still unbeaten at stumps after more than eight-and-a-half hours at the crease.