Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Icons of Englishness

I read about a survey of icons of Englishness which suggested the top twelve icons of England were:-

Blake's 'Jerusalem'
Holbein's Portrait of Henry VIII
The King James Bible
Punch and Judy
A cup of tea
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The Spitfire
SS Windrush
The Angel of the North
The F A Cup
The Routemaster Bus

The Yellow Pages also did a survey and came up with these Seven Wonders of Great Britain:-
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Windsor Castle
York Minster
The Eden Project
Hadrian's Wall
The London Eye

Helen, Ian and I had a think about these and added a few more worth considering. (Please note we were concentrating on England only, though Ian was quick to suggest broadening it to include Scotch Whisky!).

A red pillar box
Peter Rabbit
A Pint
A Cottage Garden
Penny Farthing
Penny Black
Bowler Hat and Umbrella
Fish and Chips
The White Cliffs of Dover
Tower Bridge
The Millennium Dome
Wimbledon Tennis
A Cricket Ball
The Flying Scotsman
St Paul's Cathedral
The Rocket
The Last Night of the Proms
Strawberries and Cream
The British Museum
The Bodleian Library
Driving on the left
A Rolls Royce
English Apples
Darwin's Origin of Species
Blackpool tower
Wellington Boots
Lulworth Cove
Wordsworth's Grave
Ashness Bridge
Trafalgar Square
A Red Telephone Box
A Robin
An Oak tree

What would be your icon representing England? Would it be one of the above or something different?


  1. That's a difficult question since I'm not from England. It would be interesting to see what others thought of my home....

    I think my first thoughts are:

    London Bridge
    Big Ben
    The Bus you have pictured above
    Fish & Chips
    Stonehenge (although, thanks to the Outlander books (called CrossStitch in the UK), I've begun to think of it as Scottish although I know it's not.)
    Ascot Races (and the hats!!!)

    All my nursery stories and poems run together and I have trouble distinguishing which are English, and which are from other places (mostly Germany, but also Scandinavia, Russia, Poland, Greece, etc.)

    Very interesting ponder....

  2. AAH, how nice that one of your entries was the English robin. Can't quibble with that one!
    My list would probably also include Oxford, Cambridge, Statford-on-Avon and all its Shakespeare connections, Canterbury Cathedral where the steps were worn by the feet and knees of the pilgrims visiting Becket's tomb, Constable Country on the Essex-Suffolk border, The Iron Bridge Gorge, and the fabulous canal systems with their narrow boats. Oh, and how could I forget that unique place, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne? Hmm. Better stop before my list gets any longer! Thanks for your thought-provoking list.
    Canadian Chickadee

  3. Crumpets. Definitely! Crumpets, hot from the toaster with lots of "I can't believe it's not butter" melting on it.
    Yes, Fish&Chips has to be included, I agree with that. Also Hadrian's Wall and the Dover Cliffs. Land's End and Dartmoor, as well as the shabby charm of seaside towns like Scarborough. Whitby Abbey! Oh, I could go on and on.
    Anyway, your blog post has made me want to compile a similar list for my home country. Do you mind if I nick your idea for my blog?

  4. I forgot Cadbury's chocolate and Terry's Orange.
    All books by Sue Townsend, especially the Adrian Mole ones.

  5. I know most items on your list but not quite all. Here are some of the things that come to mind for me when I think of England:

    The red double-decker busses
    The red pillar boxes
    Buckingham Palace
    Trafalgar Square
    British Museum
    The parks in London
    Jane Austen, The Brontë sisters, Dickens, PG Wodehouse
    Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Lord Peter Wimsey
    King Arthur and Merlin
    Pleasure piers in coast towns
    Steam trains (museum railways)
    Country manor houses
    Fawlty Towers kinds of small hotels
    Cottages with thatched roofs
    Yorkshire (because that's where I spent most time and because of many TV-series from there)
    Tea and toast
    Fish and chips
    School uniforms
    Oxford and Cambridge
    C.S. Lewis and Tolkien
    Mary Poppins
    World War II, Churchill

    ... I could go on...

  6. I loved the Outlander series, Tiffany. Lots of great ideas, Carol. Great ideas Dawn Treader and Librarian - Crumpets and school uniforms are particularly good (i.e. I woulden't have thought of them myself and yet they are so English.)

  7. AND what about those nifty little Twittens all over Sussex John?!!

    I think that they would be top of my list.

  8. Interesting that the Flying Scotsman should be thought of as an English icon!

    Spesh - I'd never heard of a Twitten.

    I would add HMS Victory, Lord Nelson, and the Bearskin (worn by some Guards regiments ceremonially) to the list.

  9. On my cycle home from the office, through the beautiful Gloucester countryside, one day, in a garden, appeared a red routemaster bus as if from nowhere. It hadnt been there in the morning and was on the drive of a fairly normal, if expensicve detached house down a lane. Its destination was apparently Clapham Junction, which means the driver must have been really lost!
    My dad used to, in his apprenticeship, beat aluminium panels into shap for the cowl which covered the stairs, so I feel a great sense of nostalgia and the thought occurs, he may have contributed to this very bus.

    Oh, yes, sorry, I digressed, back tot he question. Pies. Nobody makes pies anywhere in the World like the English. Sorry, but its true. The best pie in the world is a steak and stilton from the Bunch of Grapes in Bradford on Avon (ccaveat: to my knowledge so far, but they are soo good, i am certain they canot be surpassed).


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