Warwickshire Flag

 WARWICKSHIRE FLAG (2)

The Warwickshire flag was registered on August 15th 2016. The flag is a modern reworking of the county’s traditional emblem of white bear and ragged staff on red background, which originated as the seal and then crest, of the Earl of Warwick and was then adapted for use by Warwickshire County Council. The flag was designed in accordance with stipulations about use of the bear and staff, outlined by Warwickshire County Council and reflects the depiction found on John Speed’s 17th century map of the county.

The precise origins of the bear and ragged staff emblem are lost in the distant past, whilst definitely associated with the Earls of Warwick since at least the 14th century their use seems to extend further back by at least a few centuries. The seventeenth century scholar William Dugdale wrote of the legendary Arthgallus, a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table and apparent early “Earl of Warwick“ believing that his name derived from the Welsh “artos” or bear. Dugdale also suggested that the ragged staff appeared because one Morvidus, another “Earl of Warwick”, killed a giant with the broken branch of a tree.

Whilst such legendary origins cannot be confirmed, the symbol of bear and ragged staff appears to have been used by the de Beaumont family, who first held the title of Earl of Warwick, Henri de Beaumont being created Earl in 1088, for his service to William I in suppressing a rebellion. Another de Beaumont, Guido, became the first Abbot of Lindores Abbey in Fife, Scotland, after its foundation in 1191 and it is believed that he had the family device of bear and ragged staff carved in stone and placed above the door to his residence at the Abbey. Although this was destroyed amidst the sixteenth century Reformation, the stone carving of the de Beaumont family badge, the ’Bear Stone’, was rescued and incorporated into the building of the eponymously named ‘Bear Tavern’ in Newburgh, Fife where it can still be seen today

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Southeast of Lindores Abbey, an image of the ’Bear Stone’ was cut into the turf at nearby Park Hill in 1980

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It is unclear whether the bear and ragged staff emblem was a local Warwickshire tradition, as the above legend suggests, which the de Beaumonts adopted upon the creation of their earldom, or if it was a device that they had brought with them from Normandy but  it became definitively associated with the title of ‘Earl of Warwick’ and bear and staff were unequivocally used, both separately and in combination, by the Beauchamp family, who became Earls of Warwick in 1268, as badges or marks of identity in addition to their own coat of arms.

The bear alone appears on the tomb of the 11th Earl, Thomas Beauchamp I (died 1369),

 BEAUCHAMP TOMB (2)

in the chancel of St Mary’s Church in Warwick. The bed of his son Thomas Beauchamp II, 12th Earl of Warwick from 1369 to 1402, is said to have been covered by black material embroidered with a golden bear and silver staff; dating from 1387, this is the earliest known occurrence of the Beauchamp’s use of the two badges depicted together. His great seal of 1397.GREAT SEAL (2)

depicts the Beauchamp coat of arms between two bears, while a privy (private) seal of the same date is said to have shown a bear on all fours with a ragged staff behind. His son Richard Beauchamp, the 13th Earl of Warwick from 1402 to 1439, used a crest of two bears each holding a ragged staff; the entrance arch to the Beauchamp chapel at Saint Mary’s, appears to illustrate this in a stone carving, where the plain Beauchamp coat of arms (before quartering with the other arms seen in the above illustration of Thomas Beauchamp’s seal) appears between two bear and ragged staff emblems.

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Richard Beauchamp’s tomb, in the centre of the Beauchamp Chapel on the south side of St Mary’s Church, includes an inscription in which the words are separated alternately by bears and ragged staffs!

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Richard is also known to have used banners embroidered with bears or ragged staffs, although these were apparently not combined. A portion of one such example showing the end of a ragged staff, is seen here

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, where the original black banner has been distorted by light filtration.

Richard Beauchamp’s retainers also wore a red livery sporting white ragged staves before and behind. This illustration

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from Ian Heath’s “Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 1”  is based on John Rous’s ‘Pageant of the Birth, Life and Death of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick’ of c. 1485 which contains many pictures of such retainers wearing the Warwick livery.

The Beauchamp bear and ragged staff are further depicted, separately but alongside one another, in a stained glass panel in the same Beauchamp chapel in St Mary’s Church, on the east window.

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Although he also employed separate bear and ragged staff badges, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick ( “Warwick the Kingmaker” ) (22 November 1428 – 14 April 1471) who married Richard Beauchamp’s daughter and heir Anne, made use of a seal bearing a combined bear and ragged staff, to authenticate deeds and letters, a modern interpretation of which, is seen here

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As with his predecessor, Richard Beauchamp, Neville’s retainers are recorded in 1458, when he attended the Great Council at Westminster, as wearing red coats with separate silver staffs embroidered front and rear – with as many as 200 men-at-arms and 400 archers so attired. This colour scheme was similarly used on his battle standard which featured a combined bear and staff emblem

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in what may perhaps be the first instance of the combined emblem obtaining a coloured realisation. This has been depicted in paintings of Neville’s famous battles;

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left, “ The First Battle of St Albans” by Graham Turner and right “The Battle of Barnet” by Geoffrey Wheeler . The white bear and ragged staff on red is also seen “carried” by these miniature figures of Neville’s soldiers

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In his Henry VI, Part Two, Act 5, scene 1, where there is much talk of bear baiting, William Shakespeare has Warwick say ‘Now, by my father’s badge, old Nevil’s crest the rampant bear chain’d to the ragged staff, this day I’ll aloft my burgonet.”, the “burgonet” being his helmet.

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, and great-great-great-great-grandson of Richard Beauchamp, is known to have used the combined device of the bear and ragged staff frequently as a badge and seal

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and as the crest on his coat of arms

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It can be seen in many places on the walls of the Leicester Hospital in Warwick

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, which he founded in 1571 and as a decorative item at his castle of Kenilworth in the countyHOSPITAL (2)

 

. Inventories of the furnishings of the castle mention cushions, bedcovers, and bookbindings decorated with the design, and his suit of armour (now in the Royal Armoury) is heavily decorated with ragged staffs

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The actual Earl of Warwick at this time however, was Robert’s older brother Ambrose, who held the title from 1561 to 1590. Ambrose also made use of the bear and staff emblem within a distinct chain denoting “The Order of the Garter”

 

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Another interesting appearance of the bear and ragged staff is in Richard Day’s 1578 “Booke of Christian Prayers” as a decorative feature on page 84,

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presumably in dedication to the Earl Of Warwick. 

The bear and ragged staff subsequently made a notable appearance on John Speed’s 1611 map of the county of Warwickshire, in his The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine‘.

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The Greville family, distantly related to the Beauchamps, had acquired Warwick Castle in 1604 and in 1759, Francis Greville, Earl Brooke of Warwick Castle, was created Earl of Warwick. The following year Francis obtained a grant for himself and his heirs of “the crest anciently used by the Earls of Warwick” that is “a bear erect argent, muzzled gules, supporting a ragged staff of the first” i.e. a white bear. Subsequent Earls of Warwick have continued to use the Bear and Ragged Staff emblem; they sit together as a crest on the arms of the present earl.

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Over the centuries use of the emblem by the Earls of Warwick has led to its association generally with the county of Warwickshire. The 1st Warwickshire Militia regiment (originally raised in 1759, but reorganised under the Earl of Warwick as Lord Lieutenant in 1803) bore the bear and ragged staff as its collar badge

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until attached to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1881. The Warwickshire Constabulary (founded in 1857) also adopted the bear and ragged staff as its badge

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, using a red background with a silver bear and staff. The badge is also seen here proudly displayed on the vests of the winning Warwickshire team at the 1927 “Inter County Cross Country Championship”.

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Created in 1889, Warwickshire County Council obtained permission to use the bear and ragged staff as a seal in 1907 before receiving a formal award of arms on July 7th 1931, which included a full depiction of the bear and ragged staff in the white on red colours found on Richard Neville’s battle standard

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Many other organisations have since followed this lead such as;

Warwickshire Scouts

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Warwickshire County Bowling Association

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Warwickshire Federation of Women’s’ Institutes

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Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service

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Warwickshire Golf Captains

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Warwickshire Gaelic Athletic Association

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North Warwickshire Borough Council

NORTH (2) With a majority of English counties having secured flags, a campaign was started in 2014 seeking to add Warwickshire to their ranks. The theme of white bear and ragged staff, anciently associated with Warwickshire, was self-evidently the only viable option for deployment as the county flag. In the words of Warwickshire County Council, on its website, “…the bear and ragged staff is widely used to denote a connection with the county and there is no restriction on its general use…” However, the design of the prospective flag had to comply with several restrictions on the depiction of bear and staff, stipulated by the council. Principally, the council unequivocally asserts that the council’s arms are specific to Warwickshire County Council and may only be used by it, thus precluding any use of its armorial banner, its arms in flag form. The council also highlights how its depiction of the bear specifically shows it muzzled and chained to distinguish it from the crest of the Earls of Warwick, where the bear is muzzled but not chained. A further consideration was that any depiction of the bear and staff should avoid the same colour arrangement of gold, silver and red. Taking all these considerations into account and with the depiction of the bear and staff by John Speed as a precedent, the following initial design was fashioned.

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which dispensed with the gold collar, muzzle and chain, present on the council arms and family crest and thereby, featured only the two colours of red and white, the traditional colour scheme found in the badges of such county bodies as, Warwickshire Constabulary, the county fire service, the golf captains and Gaelic Athletic Association. This simultaneously removed any possible breach of copyright enjoyed by the Earl of Warwick or the County Council.

Such a depiction of bear and ragged staff is in fact typical in the modern era where similar examples include;

The University of Warwick

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Warwickshire County Council’s logo

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Warwickshire Police in various guises

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Warwickshire Scouts

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Warwickshire Law Society

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and a local pub

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Most markedly, a bear free of chain and muzzle, grasping the ragged tree, forms the crest of the arms of the Borough of Warwick

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The design thus matched both the restrictions directed by the county council and modern local practice, whilst retaining the traditional local theme. This originally proposed design received the support of a dozen county bodies;

  • Birmingham City Council Honorary Vexillologist;
  • Warwickshire County Tenpin Bowling Association;
  • Warwickshire Table Tennis Association;
  • Warwickshire Young Farmers
  • Acocks Green History Society;
  • The Warwickshire Beer Company;
  • Aston Cantlow and District Local History Society;
  • Berkswell And District History Group
  • Leek Wootton History Group;
  • Bidford & District History Society;
  • Long Compton Parish Council;

with one of their number, Warwickshire County Hockey Association, submitting a formal request for registration of the proposed design, collating all the background information and detailed support, to the Flag Institute.

The Flag Institute accepted the proposal in principal but offered an alternative depiction of the bear and ragged staff with the creature in a dynamic and assertive stance, which was happily accepted; a modern realisation of the traditional county emblem, as presented by John Speed in 1611.

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The FI also requested that the sanction of a county official such as the High Sheriff or Lord Lieutenant be obtained. Upon consultation both Tim Cox, the Lord Lieutenant and Richard Samuda, the High Sheriff, confirmed their approval and the design was duly registered as the county flag of Warwickshire.

Prior to the registration of the Warwickshire county flag, the armorial banner of Warwickshire County Council,

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its coat of arms in flag form, had been widely sold as ‘the Warwickshire flag’. This description is inaccurate because, as noted, only the council has a right to use of its arms, in any form; a point the council has asserted on its website “These arms are specific to the County Council, and may only be used by it.” Additionally, unlike the registered flag, the council’s banner represents just the council itself, not the county as an entity.

With thanks to Brady Ells for additional research on this account.

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Posted in Warwickshire

Kirkcudbrightshire Flag

 KIRKCUDBRIGHTSHIRE FLAG (2)

The flag of Kirkcudbrightshire is the fourth Scottish county flag; it was registered as the result of consultation with the county’s Lord Lieutenant, Sir Malcolm Ross,

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from late 2015, by the Flag Institute’s Philip Tibbetts. The design is also his creation. The proposed flag was embraced by the county official, who subsequently petitioned Scotland’s highest heraldic authority, the Lord Lyon, for its registration and it was formally unveiled on Saturday, June 11th and duly added to the Flag Registry.

The county town of Kirkcudbright was named for the saint, Cuthbert. An early rendition of the name of the town was Kilcudbrit, derived from the Scots Gaelic “Cille Chuithbeirt” (Chapel of Cuthbert). The Anglo-Saxon saint’s remains were kept here for seven years between exhumation at Lindisfarne and re-interment at Chester-le-Street. A pectoral cross

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was found on the saint’s body when his tomb was opened in the nineteenth century. Now on display in Durham Cathedral where he was eventually buried, it is depicted on

both the flag of County Durham

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and the flag of Kirkcudbrightshire.

The county also forms the eastern portion of the ancient territory of Galloway whose traditional arms (Lords of Galloway) were a silver (white) lion on blue field with a touch of red on the claws and tongue GALLOWAY ARMS (2)

An amended version of this design was adopted by the former county council

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which featured chequered band of green and white to recall the checked tablecloth used by the Stewards of the Lords of Galloway when collecting taxes and other dues. The colours of the flag are accordingly the distinct green and white of the “Stewartry of Kirkcudbright”, counterchanged to reflect the green and white checks.

Upon the announcement of the new flag, Sir Malcolm Ross commented that “The only other county to receive this honour in recent times is Caithness. “Arrangements will be made shortly so that anyone interested can obtain a Stewartry flag.”

Vice Lord Lieutenant Alexander McCulloch donated one of the new flags flown on June 11th and seen across the county;

in Kirkcudbright

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on the clock tower in Gatehouse of Fleet

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and over Ardwall House

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Kent Day

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The county day of Kent is May 26th, the feast day of Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury. A founder of the English Church, considered the “Apostle to the English” and acknowledged as the patron saint of Kent, he landed on the Isle of Thanet in 597. He proceeded to  Canterbury, the main town of the Kingdom of Kent, where he was received cautiously by its king, Æthelberht. The King allowed the Roman missionaries to preach freely, giving them land to found a monastery outside the city walls. Augustine was consecrated as a bishop and converted many of the King’s subjects within a year, including thousands during a mass baptism on Christmas Day in 597. Æthelberht himself was duly baptised; by 601, Pope Gregory was writing to Æthelberht calling him his son and referring to his baptism. Roman bishops were established at London and Rochester in 604, and a school was founded to train Anglo-Saxon priests and missionaries. The church in England was built upon these early foundations. Augustine died on May 26th, now remembered as his feast day and was soon revered as a saint but the year of his death is uncertain, between 604 and 609. He was buried at what is now called St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury. The date was added to its calendar of flag flying days, by the Flag Institute, in acknowledgement of Augustine’s status as the county’s patron saint and the significant role he had in both the county’s and the nation’s early history.

Posted in Kent

Staffordshire Day

STAFFORDSHIRE FLAG (2)

The county day of Staffordshire is May 1st. This date was chosen in a July 2015 poll organised by the local tourist department “Enjoy Staffordshire” to commemorate the county’s 1,000th birthday in 2016, its first recorded mention being in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the year 1016. Enjoy Staffordshire’s tourism and marketing team leader Graeme Whitehead was inspired by a similar vote in Lancashire,  “We want Staffordshire Day to create the same excitement and pride in our county, on a date which the whole of Staffordshire can get behind.”

Five possible dates reflecting a significant moment in the region’s history were selected as candidates in the poll;

May 1 – the founding of Josiah Wedgwood and Sons which took place in 1759;

July 5 – the anniversary of the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, which was uncovered in 2009;

September 6 – on that day in 1651 King Charles II hid in an oak tree in South Staffordshire;

September 18 – this was the birth date of Doctor Samuel Johnson who was born on this date in Lichfield in 1709;

September 27 – renowned engineer James Brindley, who lived in Leek, passed away on this date in 1772.

with May 1st winning the poll.

Posted in Staffordshire

Staffordshire Flag

STAFFORDSHIRE FLAG (2)

The flag of Staffordshire was registered on March 28th 2016. Categorised as a “traditional” design because of its centuries old association with the county, the flag was also the winner of an online poll of two competing proposals, held by the Flag Institute. This traditional design, which had been submitted for registration by the Staffordshire Heritage Group, was declared the winner of the poll after securing 566 votes, 355 more than its competitor, the armorial banner of Staffordshire County Council.

The design features a large golden Stafford Knot, against a red chevron, on a gold field. The Stafford Knot has been associated with the county for centuries; indeed it appears as decoration on an artifact amongst the “Staffordshire Hoard”,

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the large collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure unearthed in the county in 2009 and estimated to date from the seventh or eighth centuries, demonstrating a linkage with Staffordshire extending back some twelve hundred years!

Another early example of the knot is on the shaft of an Anglo-Saxon stone cross located in the churchyard of Saint Peter Ad Vincula (Stoke Minster)

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There are a number of stories relating to its origin.

The knot was said to symbolically bind three different local areas which joined to form what is now known as Staffordshire when Ethelfleda, eldest daughter of Alfred the Great,

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who defended a stronghold at Stafford, symbolically took off her girdle and said to the local lords: “With this girdle, I bind us all as one”, and the three areas became Staffordshire. The anniversary of this event was celebrated in 1913, a thousand years after it was said to have happened.

Another theory holds that the Knot forms the shape of a double ‘S’ representing ’’Stafford-Shire’’. There is also a popular notion that the Knot originated when a Stafford County Sherriff invented it to hang three criminals at the same time. He only had one piece of rope but could not just hang one of the criminals as it would be unfair to the other two to give precedence to only one of the condemned! He therefore tied his single rope into three loops and dispatched of all three criminals at the same time.

The Stafford Knot later appeared on the seal of Joan Stafford, Lady of Wake, who died childless in 1443. A descendant of Hereward the Wake, she may have inherited the device, described as the “Wake Knot”, from past generations. This artefact, now in the British Museum, passed upon her demise to her nephew, Humphrey, Earl of Stafford. He adopted the knot, henceforward to be known as the Stafford Knot, as his badge, probably just preceding his creation as Duke of Buckingham in 1444 and it appears coloured gold, in abundance on his standard.

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The townsmen of Stafford, “liegemen” of the de Stafford family, also made use of the Stafford Knot badge. As the days of feudalism passed and individual and civic liberties grew, it was gradually adopted by the Citizens, Freemen and Burgesses of the county. Accordingly, by 1611, when John Speed published his Atlas of Great Britain, he included a map of the locality

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which featured the de Stafford family arms, gold with a red chevron

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combined with the family badge, a gold Stafford Knot

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The Stafford Knot has since become the ubiquitous symbol for Staffordshire. It has been used as the badge of the Staffordshire Regiment

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and appeared on the shirts of local nineteenth century football teams, being seen here

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proudly emblazoned in a large and clear depiction across the chests of the 1876 Rushall Rovers team, from a mining village near Walsall – a precedent for a large, simple knot being used to represent the county of Staffordshire – and again on the shirts

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of West Bromwich Albion in season 1881-1882.

The Knot then featured on the caps of the Stoke team which competed in the inaugural football league 1888-1889

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In the modern era local son and popular entertainer Robbie Williams, sports a Stafford Knot tattoo on his hand

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and uses a stylised version of the device as the trademark for his fashion range

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It is found on police uniform buttons

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and is used by the Staffordshire Ruby Union.

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The Stafford Knot appears on logo of the local “community fund grant”

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and a clever stylisation of the traditional knot, where it encompasses birth certificates and such like, also exists as the logo of the Burntwood Family History Group from the county

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A Knot is proudly emblazoned on all the fittings of the council buildings in Martin Street, Stafford, including the drainpipes!

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and a Stafford Knot is the insignia of the organisers of the Staffordshire county show

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and the badge of the county scouts.

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It also appears as a decorative feature on The Meir Tunnel in Stoke

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, is formed from a hedge in a Burton-On-Trent back garden

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and is found on the label of a local dairy, to highlight its Staffordshire location.

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It is the logo of a local firm specialising in bathroom installations,

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and is also seen on this ‘Denbigh’ drilling machine, manufactured in Tipton.

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The categorical status of the Knot as the definitive county emblem is demonstrated on the county war memorial in Stafford.

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Unequivocally the county emblem, the Stafford Knot has also appeared extensively in the same colour scheme as that found on the Speed map, namely a gold knot on a red background. An early example was the logo of North Staffordshire Railways, formed in 1845

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which was affectionately known as “The Knotty”. The rail company’s adoption of the Knot seemingly reflects a general acceptance of its status as the county emblem, as described by heraldic historian Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, in his 1894 work “The Book of Public Arms” (page 744)

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The county town of Stafford acquired formal arms in the twentieth century which again featured two gold Stafford Knots against a red background

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and a gold knot on a red background subsequently appeared on several of the arms of towns in the county; from left to right below, Stoke-on-Trent, Cosely, Tipton and Eccleshall.

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It also appears today on the club badges of the football team from Lichfield and the rugby team from Willenhall

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The same device in gold on red, was further used by the Staffordshire Yeomanry

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and 14th Staffs & Shropshire Batallion Mobile Defence Corps

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and today appears on the arms of Keel University

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and the logo of Staffordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes

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A gold knot on red is further found on the labels and logos of the Staffordshire brewery, Marston’s, based in Burton-on-Trent

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The county emblem in gold, on red, is also the logo of the Stafford Morris Men

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and local newspaper, the Staffordshire Guardian

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It appears on the badge of the Stoke-On-Trent, South Division, Girl Guides troupe.

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and on the badge of the Stafford and District, Richard III Society

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Further examples are the usage of gold Stafford Knots on red by two Staffordshire based Twitter sources, distributing local news and information;

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As one might expect, the knot is on the sign of the “Staffordshire Knot” pub in Darlaston

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again, depicted in gold against a red background.

The preponderance of depictions of gold knots on red backgrounds suggested that such a design

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might be registrable as a county flag, on the basis of traditional local usage; indeed a large bold Stafford Knot on a flag, is part of the pub sign of the “Knot and Plough” carvery in Stafford

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; it has also been used as a decorative feature, to display the origins of a county coach firm

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and such a flag, in the form of a pennant, is already used by the South Staffordshire Sailing Club

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The Association of British Counties consulted with the Flag Institute, who agreed that this broad evidence presented a firm basis for registration of a gold knot on a red field, as the county flag of Staffordshire, if sufficient local support for the idea could be secured. Despite consultation with numerous local groups – civic and historic societies, the necessary support for this proposal proved unobtainable.

In late 2015 Staffordshire County Council passed a resolution to release its armorial banner,

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the shield from its coat of arms, in flag form, for general public use and subsequently applied to the Flag Institute to register this design as the county flag of Staffordshire. A campaign to make the public aware of this intention, entitled “Knot in my name”was begun by the Association of British Counties and upon learning of the plan, numerous residents and county groups in Staffordshire declared their opposition to this suggestion. There were three principle reasons for discontent with the council’s banner.

  • The inclusion of the lion, specifically intended to represent the council and symbolising its authority, which was not relevant on a flag for the county as a whole – such a charge also had no local tradition, the county of Staffordshire as an entity had never been associated with or represented by a lion symbol, it was neither representative of Staffordshire nor remotely unique, being an extremely common charge on flags and arms across the country and the world.
  • By contrast, the unquestionable county emblem, the unique Stafford Knot, is minuscule, barely visible on the council’s armorial banner and overshadowed by the lion charge

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, it effectively disappeared from view when the flag was in motion.

  • Staffordshire County Council actually only administered about 40% of the population of the county. Great swathes of the historic county such as Wolverhampton, Stoke, Walsall and West Bromwich fell under the remit of other local authorities, the armorial banner of Staffordshire county council was therefore an inappropriate design to represent the entirety of the county.

Additionally, although early examples seen on the Staffordshire Hoard and the de Stafford standard depicted the opposite, a local tradition had been established regarding the orientation of the Knot, summed up in the phrase “there are no leftovers in Staffordshire”. The knot on the council’s arms contravened this tradition.

Responding to the evident opposition the Flag Institute agreed that if it received a formal registration request for an alternative design from an eminent county body, it would be given serious consideration.

Further research regarding Staffordshire symbolism was conducted by Brady Ells on behalf of the Association of British Counties and an alternative design was duly proposed with a prominent depiction of the county’s unique emblem, the Stafford Knot, which would properly announce Staffordshire to the world when flying. The arrangement of a Stafford Knot, upon a red chevron, against a yellow background, first seen on the Speed map, had become an accepted Staffordshire pattern by the twentieth century, being informally adopted by the county council, created in 1889, as the focal point of its seal.

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The same combination can be found today above the main entrance of Bridgewood House, Earl Street, Stafford

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built in 1896 and now student accommodation for nearby Stafford College. An extension on the back of this building was built in 1905 which again features the Chevron & Knot.

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As noted, the pattern is a combination of the Stafford Knot and the arms of the de Stafford family, a red chevron on gold. Like the Stafford Knot, these arms have also been an integral part of Staffordshire symbolism. They took prominent positions on both John Speed’s 1611 map of Staffordshire

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and Joan Blaeu’s 1648 map

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The De Stafford arms appear in a repeated pattern on the city arms of Lichfield,

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and are found again in an elaborate variation on the arms of Stafford Borough Council

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and as seen, the red chevron is present on the arms of Coseley and Keel University.
These examples underline the entrenched Staffordshire symbolism of the county flag, a  combination of two long established county emblems, the Stafford Knot and the de Stafford arms.
The arms formally awarded to Staffordshire County Council in 1931

STAFFS COUNTY COUNCIL (2)

by the College of Arms, featured the county’s celebrated Stafford Knot in a markedly small depiction and basically amended the traditional county pattern, the combined chevron and knot, with the addition of a blue “chief” bearing a golden lion. This distinguishing charge specifically designated the county council; the lion, taken from the royal Banner of England, symbolising the authority wielded by the council and handed down from the crown. Such an arrangement being something of a template for arms awarded to local authorities, as found on the arms of

Herefordshire

 HEREFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL (2)

and Norfolk

NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL (2)

county councils.

The cause for the original, traditional, design was taken up by Staffordshire groups who had expressed their opposition to the council’s banner, and a formal request from the Staffordshire Heritage Group (SHG), bearing declarations of support from a near twenty local bodies, was submitted to the Flag Institute for registration of this design

 ORIGINAL SUBMISSION (2)

The list of Staffordshire organisations declaring their support for the SHG design

  • the Staffordshire Heritage Group
  • Stafford Burgesses Guild
  • Stafford Morris Men
  • Staffordshire Parish Registers Society
  • The Stafford Historical & Civic Society
  • Wombourne History Group
  • Ingestre and Tixall Local History Group
  • Cannock Chase Green Party
  • Penkridge Local History Group
  • The Penkridge Town Crier
  • Stafford and Mid-Staffs Archaeological Society
  • Codsall and Bilbrook History Group
  • Landor (Local History) Group
  • Staffordshire Industrial Archaeological Society
  • National Trust Staffordshire Centre
  • Ridware History Society
  • Stafford Freeman’s Allotments
  • The Haywood Society

 SHG 1 (2)

With receipt of this second registration request for Staffordshire, the Flag Institute, in an unprecedented move, decided to hold an online poll to allow residents of Staffordshire, including those living outside the territorial remit of the county council but within the historic boundaries of the county, to express their preference from the two designs. The Flag Institute liaised with the Staffordshire Heritage Group to perfect the realisation of the chevron and knot flag so that it matched the latter’s preferences and accorded more closely with traditional local depictions, including the appearance of the rope, and the size and orientation of the Knot.

 POLL IMAGE (2)

The poll was announced in a press release,

“The Flag Institute has received two applications for a County Flag for Staffordshire, one from Staffordshire County Council (SCC) and the other from the Staffordshire Heritage Group (SHG), an umbrella organisation for many cultural groups in Staffordshire. Both applications meet the Flag Institute’s published criteria for applying, and both designs meet the Institute’s design guidelines, so the Flag Institute has decided that the only fair way to choose between them is to give the people of Staffordshire an opportunity to vote for the design they like best.”

SHG 2 (2)

Staffordshire County Council subsequently chose to withdraw its registration request but having formally relinquished control over use of its armorial banner, the design’s inclusion in the online poll was maintained by the Flag Institute to enhance the legitimacy and democratic credentials of the winning design.

Prior to the registration, Staffordshire Council’s banner was sold commercially but inaccurately described as the flag of Staffordshire – it was not, it represented and continues to represent, just the body which administers a part of the county of Staffordshire and should only be flown by that body.

The county flag was seen across Staffordshire on the inaugural county day, May 1st 2016. A Co-op store in Burntwood was decorated in county flags for the occasion

CO-OP (2)

The flag flew over Saint Lawrence church in the village of Gnosall,

St Lawrence Gnosall 2 (2)

was displayed with pride on the Trent & Mersey canal

A magnificent photo of the Staffordshire flag on the Trent & Mersey canal (2)

and it was seen with county Morris Men in Cannock Chase

CANNOCK (2)

by the Shropshire Union Canal

CANAL (2)

and at Moseley Old Hall, Wolverhampton

MOSSLEY (2)

where John Edwards, of the Staffordshire Heritage Group, who finalised the design of the flag with the Flag Institute, proudly wielded the county flag.

EDWARDS (2)

Useful Links

Staffordshire

English County Flags

Posted in Staffordshire

Staffordshire County Flag Vote

British County Flags is delighted to announce that the Flag Institute has today declared the design submitted by the Staffordshire Heritage Group as the winner of the online poll to decide the Staffordshire county flag, with 72.84% of the vote. This design will now be added to the flag registry. Congratulations Staffordshire Heritage Group.

Flag 4 (2)

Posted in Staffordshire

Mercia Day

Mercia Day is June 22nd , the feast day of Saint Alban.
Mercia Flag
Saint Alban is the first recorded British Christian martyr, believed to have been beheaded in the Roman city of Verulamium, modern day St. Alban’s in Hertfordshire, sometime during the 3rd or 4th century, His cult has been celebrated there since ancient times. It is estimated that he died between  209 – 305 A.D. depending on interpretations (!) although the date of his death is listed as June 22nd, which is also recognised as his feast day. The saint was attributed the arms of a gold diagonal cross on a blue field by mediaeval scholars, later assigned to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia by the cartographer John Speed, so recognition of the saint’s feast day as Mercia Day was a natural next step!
Posted in Mercia

Northumbria Day

Northumbria Day is August 31st, the feast day of Saint Aidan.

Northumberland Flag

Aidan of Lindisfarne was an Irish monk and missionary credited with restoring Christianity to Northumbria. He founded a monastic cathedral on the island of Lindisfarne, served as its first bishop, and travelled ceaselessly throughout the countryside, spreading the gospel to both the Anglo-Saxon nobility and to the socially disenfranchised, including children and slaves. He is known as the Apostle of Northumbria and is recognised as a saint by the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion and others. His date of death is recorded as August 31st, also recognised as his feast day and subsequently as Northumbria Day.

Posted in Northumberland

Buckinghamshire Day

Buckinghamshire Day is July 28th , the date in 1948 when the first Paralympics were held in Buckinghamshire.

Bucks Flag

Buckinghamshire Day is 28th July. It was on this date in 1948 that the Stoke Mandeville Games in Buckinghamshire were held for servicemen who had suffered injuries. It was organised by a German doctor who had escaped Germany during the Second World War. These games then led to the Paralympic Games which have since developed into a major international event. Recognition of this date as Buckinghamshire Day celebrates the county’s worthy role in its establishment.

Posted in Buckinghamshire

East Anglia Day

East Anglia Day is March 8th, the feast day of Saint Felix.

East Anglia Flag

Felix was the first bishop of the East Angles and is credited as introducing Christianity to the kingdom of East Anglia. He travelled from his homeland of Burgandy in about 630  and was given a See, possibly Dunwich in Suffolk, by King Sigeberht of East Anglia. His feast day of March 8th has now been recognised as (East) Anglia Day.

Posted in East Anglia