Monday, January 9

Icons of Englishness


What do Punch and Judy, a cup of tea and the SS Empire Windrush have in common?
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All are national icons that sum up the essence of England, a new government website claims today.
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They are on a list of 12 "national treasures" that the website, set up with £1 million of taxpayers' money, claims should kick-start a debate on the designs, artworks and monuments that sum up the idea of "Englishness".
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The creators hope to add 108 items to the list over the next year as a result of suggestions from the public and an advisory board. They will be reviewed every quarter.
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"ICONS - A Portrait of England" is the brainchild of Culture Online, an offshoot of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
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Mike Greenwood, of Culture Online, said: "This is not about nationalistic symbols. It is more a celebration of our culture and cultural objects and passions. It is about the things that really matter to people."
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The first 12 "Icons of England" are Stonehenge, Punch and Judy, the SS Empire Windrush, Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII, a cup of tea, the FA Cup, Alice in Wonderland, the Routemaster double-decker bus, the King James Bible, the Angel of the North, the Spitfire and Jerusalem.
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David Lammy, the culture minister, said: "Who hasn't ached for a proper cup of tea when they've been on an overseas holiday or yearned for their team to pick up the FA Cup at the end of the season? The ICONS website helps us to build up a national identity."
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It is hoped that the project will spark debate about what makes England what it is in the 21st century and increase the number of visitors to museums.
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Jerry Doyle, managing director of ICONS, the company set up to administer the project, said: "Ultimately, we want to build up a snapshot of the real England that people live in, not just fluffy pictures of England. Initially we are aiming at 120 icons but eventually we hope there will be hundreds."
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People can nominate anything, but not a person, that they believe builds up a picture of England. It is planned to extend the project to Wales, Scotland and possibly Ireland, if funding becomes available.
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But not everyone is convinced. Dan Cruikshank, the television presenter best known for his series Britain's Best Buildings and Around the World in 80 Treasures, said: "It seems like a lot of hot air to me. I think they would be better off spending the money on saving some of our cultural icons that are falling apart."
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At veryBritishsubjects, we believe that of the twelve "icons" listed, conspicuous by it's absence is Parliamentary democracy, which the British invented and have developed over 80o years.
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Of course, parliamentary democracy is at this time thing of the past due to our continued membership of the EU.

4 comments:

Kelly said...

LOL Over a million pounds and that is all that the committee or advisory board could come up with for Britishness? I am an American and can think of a list at least that long that embody Britishness or Englishness to me. (If there are such words and if just a few items could that is )

What about Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, London Bridge, Big Ben or maybe even Westminster Abbey? I am not familiar with the SS Empire Windrush but how about Nelson or Wellington?

There is a lot that says England or English to a lot of people. I find it difficult to believe that only such a short list was put up and at such a high cost.

Peter Troy said...

No mention of Crictet or Real Ale either !

Sarah-Jane Hollands said...

Where are G4 and Crystal Palace?!

dearieme said...

Morris dancing. The Archers.
Professional Yorkshiremen.