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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Nominate England's greatest icon
Prince Charles drinks a cup of tea
Could anything be as English as a cup of tea?
What would you like to see celebrated as the greatest icon in England today - Hadrian's Wall, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, or an early example of multiculturalism, the cup of tea?

They are all among the candidates for a website to celebrate icons, planned by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's Culture Online project.

The site will bring together analysis of the unique qualities of the historic artefacts, ancient buildings, and miracles of engineering associated with England.

Design classics like Alex Issigonis' Morris Minor car could be competing alongside great artworks like Constable's Haywain and pieces by JMW Turner.

Controversially, nominations could also include the Rosetta Stone, the Egyptian tablet that allowed hieroglyphs to be translated for the first time and Greece's Elgin Marbles. Both are held in Britain, but claimed by their countries of origin.

Jonathan Drori of Culture Online, told BBC News Online: "We haven't got a prepared list. We really want the public to have a say."

Clifton Suspension Bridge
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is an emblem of Britain's industrial past
Mr Drori, formerly of BBC Online, said his personal choice would be the Hindu Temple at Neasden in north-west London.

He suggested the cup of tea would also make an excellent symbol, coming from China and India but also representing Englishness and the history of the industrial revolution, with mass production of china a significant feature of Britain's exploding manufacturing output.

"The cup of tea isn't a bad one, something that lends itself to being explored from many points of view.

"The cup of tea was at the root of the industrial revolution. All these people are suddenly drinking a safe drink, made with boiling water so it kills all the bugs and has antiseptic properties."

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may have their own versions of the website, he added.

Great feats of engineering like the Clifton Suspension Bridge or Stonehenge could also be among the contenders.

The Mini and the Morris Minor were classic pieces of design
Designed by a 23-year-old Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the great engineer described the bridge as "my first love, my darling".

Brunel was championed in the BBC's Great Britons poll by television presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who said of him: "Brunel built modern Britain, and Britain built the world, which means that Brunel built the modern world."

The public may also nominate a classic piece of design such as Alex Issigonis' Morris Minor or Mini cars, which sold millions and are seen as quintessentially English exports.

Gillian Bardsley, archivist at the Heritage Motor Centre, said she preferred the Mini to the Morris Minor, which was based on American car exteriors.

She added: "He is the only celebrity the British motor industry has ever had. They are very individualistic cars because he designed them himself. Cars are usually designed by groups of people.

"Issigonis didn't believe in styling, thinking you style a car and it eventually goes out of fashion. The Mini just took took the shape of what was inside - the style of the car was just a skin.

"The Mini went out of production in 2000 but it never looked out of place on the road. He designed it for charladies and district nurses. It has become a symbol of British eccentricity."

From penicillin to the great English oak - BBC News Online readers nominated their greatest icon.

Tea from India, sugar from the Caribbean, milk from the UK. Classic multicultural blend. Brunel was a first generation French immigrant, confirming our links with Europe and clear evidence of the benefits of immigration.
Jan, Yorkshire

London's big red Routemaster bus. Like Britain itself, everyone tries to squeeze on board for a free ride and it ends up going nowhere.
John, London

I believe the cup of tea is a great icon as it symbolises so much about England as a country and as a people. How often do friends and family greet each other with the offer of a cuppa, and sit drinking one whilst talking, laughing and sharing life.
Laura Crawford, Sutton, Surrey

From the home of the now ubiquitous sandwich what could be more of an icon but the "very, very English" cucumber sandwich.
Peter Glazier, Sao Paulo, Brazil

The English flag (St George's Cross). It is about time that this beautiful and distinctive flag was reclaimed as the positive icon of England. It should be flown with pride, but perhaps only on important days such as St George's day or May Day, or football match final days, to keep it special.
M Wilkins, Lymington, UK

One of the few remaining cotton mills would well symbolise both the industrial revolution and the role of the "English" working class in making it.
Stewart Hartley, Riotuerto, Cantabria, Spain

Johnny Rotten - the greatest English cultural export since the Beatles and still an icon of everything that's great about England, or at least was until we all got complacent and greedy. Again. Failing that - Sir Winston Churchill.
Tony Coleby, Higham Ferrers, UK

A cup of tea most definitely. Life would have no meaning without it! If England still has a greatness, it is tea that has made it so!
Michael Cole, Litchfield Beach, South Carolina USA

Lords Cricket Ground to represent cricket. I read a history book once (forget which) which said that cricket is what made the industrial revolution a bloodless one and thus so effective.
Simon Bard, Stanmore, Greater London

Bowler Hat, surely? Rene Magritte, Clockwork Orange...
Adam, Lowestoft, UK

Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin has to be one of the most iconic medical advances in history and has saved millions of lives.
Daniel Coombs, UK

You are too shy to admit it, but the BBC must be the greatest icon in England today.
Philip Day, Esher, Surrey, England

The Queen, House of Commons, gold sovereigns, Cadbury's chocolate, are all obvious possibilities, but I suggest the Open University.
Miland Joshi, Birmingham, UK

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding has to be, in my opinion England's greatest icon.
Malcolm Wilkinson, Hessle East Yorks UK

Fish and chips should also be considered as a very English thing.
Tim, UK

How about derelict steel works, a derailed railway network and a multitude of closed coal mines.
Andrew Smith, Selby, UK

It's simply got to be the Land Rover! It represents everything England did - versatile, at home in any situation, an explorer...
Tom Chase, Aberystwyth, Wales

Lord Nelson's HMS Victory embodies one of this country's finest and noblest institutions.
Jim Katouzian, Oxford, England

The ZX Spectrum+. It revolutionised computer games.
Jon Wade, Chelmsford, Essex

How is tea English? What part of England is it native to? As is the case with most things "English" including the people, Christianity, the flag and the Royal Family they have been taken from other countries and claimed as "English". Tea is about as English as Chicken Tikka is Indian!

The steam locomotive Flying Scotsman must qualify as a great British icon. Known and loved by millions, this beautiful machine was built at a time when we were exporting engineering excellence to all parts of the world.
Patrick Nairne, Tonbridge Kent

Marmite. Great stuff. It's strong, unique, it's been around for years and it's not to everyone's taste.
C, South Yorks

Why are so many so-called England fans seen drinking German and Danish lager when a pint of real ale is the true symbol of England.
Chris, London, UK

Whilst I can fully comprehend how the various items such as the Mini car, Cambridge and so on could be regarded as British icons, how can tea be even considered? After all, tea is not native to the UK but it originated from China. It's like we Chinese saying Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is our icon...
Yang, Shanghai, China

The humble footpath. No other country in the world gives its people such a huge network of ancient rights of way across beautiful landscapes. England gives us footpaths and they give England to those who walk them.
Nigel Allinson, St Albans, UK

1. Durham Cathedral, 2. The Forth Rail Bridge, 3. The village cricket green, 4. Swans, 5. Drunken yobs ruining our town centres
T Jackson, Stockport, England

The Spitfire over the white cliffs !
David Hook, Gloucester England

The Beagle 2 project would be a good example of Britishness. Great power of mind and innovation, but lack of financial commitment.
Alex Moon, Reading UK

Here's a vote for red brick to be the greatest English icon of today. New house builders are even recycling the old stuff into new designs.
Debra S, Leeds

The Dyson hoover - innovative, unique, does the job brilliantly, stylish looks, a joy to use. What more could you ask for!
Sue, Farnborough

The Queen, of course!
JS, Oxon

Bitter, no other country drinks it and it is the best stuff, now I'm off to brew some more!
Hodge, Somerset, UK

The English Pub. I have never seen one anywhere else in the world.
Barbara de Souza, Twickenham, UK

Red telephone boxes and letter boxes
Pieter Dyson, Manchester, UK

A fine old Oak tree, strong enough to weather any storm.
J Asher, Manchester


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