The national symbols of England are things which are emblematic, representative or otherwise characteristic of England or English culture. Some are established, official symbols; for example, the Royal Arms of England, which has been codified in heraldry. Other symbols may not have official status, for one reason or another, but are likewise recognised at a national or international level.
The national flag of England, known as St George's Cross, has been England's national flag since the 13th century. Originally the flag was used by the maritime state the Republic of Genoa. The English monarch paid a tribute to the Doge of Genoa from 1190 onwards, so that English ships could fly the flag as a means of protection when entering the Mediterranean. A red cross acted as a symbol for many Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries. It became associated with Saint George, along with countries and cities, which claimed him as their patron saint and used his cross as a banner. Since 1606 the St George's Cross has formed part of the design of the Union Flag, a Pan-British flag designed by King James I.
Fish and chips has been a recognisable cultural and culinary symbol of England since the mid-19th century. A strong contender for the unofficial title of England's national dish, it remains hugely popular as an affordable and nutritious takeaway meal.
Tea is symbolic of England. In 2006, a government-sponsored survey confirmed that a cup of tea constituted a national symbol of England. By an alternative view, it may be considered symbolic of Britain rather than England alone for its historical British connection with Empire and India, and is not specifically pre-Union of the Crowns or pre-Union of Parliaments. It is also drunk widely and equally in England, Scotland and Wales.
Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658): English soldier and statesman, who raised England's status once more to that of a leading power following a decline after the death of Queen Elizabeth I. A man of outstanding gifts, he believed deeply in religious toleration, and continued to influence political and social ideas until recent times.
London taxi / black cab / Hackney carriage: Inimitable and timeless taxi design. Only licensed hackney carriages can pick up passengers on the street and without pre-booking. London's traditional black cabs are specially constructed vehicles designed to conform to the standards set out in the Conditions of Fitness. Traditional London taxi drivers are licensed and must have passed an extensive training course (the Knowledge).
King Arthur: legendary sovereign of Britain who defeated Anglo-Saxons in the late 5th and early 6th centuries and appears in an international cycle of chivalric romances (known as the Matter of Britain). It is unknown of legends of King Arthur began, but the literary persona of Arthur began with Geoffrey of Monmouth's pseudo-historical Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), written in the 1130s. It is also unknown whether the figure Arthur was based on a historical person and his historical basis has been long debated by scholars.
Queen Victoria (1819–1901): her reign (1837–1901) is known as the Victorian era; it was a period of great industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change, and was marked by a grand expansion of the British Empire.
Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, and often extended to refer to the clock and the clock tower. The tower is officially known as Elizabeth Tower: it was renamed in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. Previously it was known simply as the Clock Tower. "Big Ben" has become one of England's most prominent symbols.
Morris dancing is a form of English folk dance normally accompanied by music. It involves rhythmic stepping and choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins. Morris dancers may use sticks, swords and handkerchiefs when dancing. The earliest known, surviving English record of Morris dancing is dated to 1448.
The White Cliffs of Dover: The cliffs have great symbolic value in England because they face Continental Europe across the narrowest section of the English Channel, where invasions have historically threatened and against which the cliffs form a symbolic guard. Before air travel, crossing from Dover was the primary route to the continent, so the cliffs also formed the first or last sight of England for those making the journey.
The Maypole is a feature in many towns and villages in England. Maypole dances and celebrations occur around May Day which celebrates the coming summer. People dress up and sometimes wear flower crowns, the maypole is decorated with ribbons and a wreath.
A Fête takes place across the country regularly in spring and summer. These are outdoor events usually organised by a volunteer committee, possibly the local church which features bunting ribbons and marquees which have different attractions, and serve food such as tea and cake.
^"When asked if Nelson was a symbol of British or English identity there was a clear
division of opinion, with most saying English" (Watson, Sheila (November 2006). "'England expects': Nelson as a symbol of local and national identity within the Norfolk Nelson Museum". Museum and Society. 4 (3): 129–151. ISSN1479-8360.).
^Yorke, B. A. E. (2001), "Alfred, king of Wessex (871-899)", in Michael Lapidge; et al. (eds.), The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 27–28, ISBN978-0-631-15565-2