East Anglia’s flag was included on the registry from its inception. The flag combines the Saint George’s cross of England, with a shield bearing the arms ascribed by mediaeval heralds to the Anglo Saxon Kingdom of East Anglia and the Wuffingas dynasty which ruled it, three golden crowns on a blue background. The arms are effectively identical to the small arms of Swedenfrom where the Wuffingas are held to have originated. The archaeological discoveries at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk closely resemble those in southern Sweden both in general form and in details of equipment that the burial contains. It has therefore been suggested that the mediaeval choice of three gold crowns as the ascribed arms of the ancient kingdom was a purposeful reference to the ancient Scandinavian origin of the ruling East Anglian dynasty and that therefore the arms may have rather an ancient origin. The earliest record of the Swedish arms was in the fourteenth century however, so nothing can be definitively asserted.
In East Anglia, the emblem of the three crowns appears on the baptismal font of the parish church of Saxmundham, Suffolk, dating from approximately 1400
which is a notable record of their local recognition and usage. Their appearance in this church predates their inclusion in the 1611 atlas of Great Britain produced by John Speed where, as with the arms of other one-time Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Essex, Kent and Sussex they appear on the map of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy
The crowns then featured as the emblem of the Kingdom of East Anglia in “Divi Britannici”
published in 1675.
One might have expected a modern East Anglian flag to be a simple banner of these early arms
but perhaps because, unlike Sussex, Essex and Kent, East Anglia did not continue as a single entity but subsumed several counties itself, the arms used to represent it do not appear to have had a continued history of use in the manner of the seaxes of its southern neighbour, Kent’s rampant steed or the graceful martlets of Sussex. Their development as a flag, as transpired in these sister “kingdoms”, was therefore unlikely. However, these arms clearly remained in the consciousness of its inhabitants because an association of displaced East Anglians, resident in London, naturally selected the shield as the central element in their design of a flag for their “homeland” at the start of the twentieth century. George Hanry Langham, a member of this group, the “London Society of East Anglians”, is believed to have been the creator of the East Anglian flag. All references state that it was first mentioned in print in 1900 and was flown locally in various places in Norfolk although it is not clear in what publication the flag was first reported. Lord Kitchener was perhaps the society’s most illustrious member, a memorial to him in St. Mary the Virgin Church in Lakenheath, Suffolk, erected by the society, includes an image of the East Anglia flag at its base
The flag was also to be found, in shield shape, in a stained glass window at the former East Suffolk County Council’s County Hall, in Ipswich, now derelict.
In the century since its apparent creation the flag has been rarely seen in standard reference works on British flags and symbols although it was known amongst enthusiasts and accordingly, as one of the first specifically created local flags in the country, it was naturally automatically included in the registry as its first “regional” flag. Unfortunately it has been seldom seen in the region that it represents, where arguably loyalties to town or county and local rivalries, may overshadow interest in the wider region and its flag. Notably, however, the East Anglian flag was deployed as an emblem in the 1950s and 1960s
by the ‘Eastern District Licensed Trade Association’ a regional branch of a national organisation, formed in 1888, as the ‘National Trade Defence Fund’, to campaign on behalf of the breweries and licensed trade against the temperance movement and measures to stifle their trade. Use of the flag by this body, whose remit covered the four recognised East Anglian counties, was particularly apt.
The design of the flag, in shield form, is also present on several buildings in Norwich
It appears to feature here
although the evident colours of this device are difficult to determine; what might have been a blue shield at the centre seems sadly much faded by the elements, whilst the surrounding colour does seems to be red but may conceivably be a rusty patina.
Another example of the flag’s use was in 2004 where it was raised by a supporter of the Cambridge University boat crew during the famous race along the River Thames, Cambridge University lying within the bounds of East Anglia. Here it is seen wielded alongside the flag of Wessex, in which regional territory, some hold, Oxford University is situated.
The three crown have also been adapted for use in the logo of the Rugby League east division
and the borough of Bury Saint Edmunds
and are seen in the arms of Colchester
and the University of East Anglia
The same three crowns are also present on the flag of Cambridgeshire which of course, as stated, lies within East Anglia.
Although comparatvely rare, in recent years this regional flag has enjoyed a boost in popularity and has begun to be seen more often
It is seen at right below with the East Anglia junior orienteering team.