What makes something an icon? Is it to do with being famous or important? Is an icon beloved or somehow symbolic? Why is a cup of tea iconic and not a glass of orange juice? Do we include the Humber Bridge as well as Tower Bridge? Wimbledon or Wembley?
Icons, for our purposes, had to be uniquely important to life in England and the people who live here. That we can all agree on. Some are obvious. Stonehenge. Cricket. The Crown Jewels. Others are more controversial.
Icons Online agreed on some ground-rules for the project:
Icons are symbolic - they represent something in our culture, history or way of life
Icons are recognisable in a crowd - if no-one has heard of it or knows what it looks like, it cannot be an icon
Icons are fascinating and surprising - they have hidden depths and unexpected associations
People. Churchill and Darwin may live on as historical figures but we didn't include them as icons in this collection. This does not mean we ignore key individuals. It just means that we included Shakespeare’s plays rather than the man from Stratford, Stephenson's Rocket rather than Mr Stephenson himself.