The flag retains the rose and crown pattern used in the county for several centuries in various guises. The county has long been associated with the theme of rose and crown. In the Great Hall in Winchester a round mediaeval table is positioned on a wall
, at its centre is a double, Tudor rose, with inner white petals and outer red ones. The table is a presentation of the famous round table of Arthurian legend, where all the knights of the court sat and is believed to date from around the fourteenth century. There is no firm evidence but it is supposed that originally, the rose would have been gold, an often used royal motif in this era, under King Henry III, who was born in Winchester Castle and often known as Henry of Winchester and his successor Edward I. The symbolism of the legendary round table and the Arthurian age was powerful, perhaps the association between Hampshire and its floral emblem arose from its presence on this revered artefact? People in that era may well have believed that this actually was King Arthur’s round table, allowing for the development of a mystique around the emblem of the rose at its centre and firmly embedding it in popular culture. In the reign of Henry VIII, the bi-colour Tudor rose had become established, the table was repainted to depict the Tudor version, often seen in Hampshire emblems.
Although the rose on the table is bi-coloured, it is mainly red and this is the basic colour of rose with which the county has been associated for several centuries, suggesting a connection with the Lancastrian rose and predating the Tudor variety of course. One plausible theory places the origin with Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, brother of King Edward I, who held estates in Hampshire. In 1283 Edmund brought Somborne Hundred in the county, into the Earldom of Lancaster, establishing a connection between Lancashire and Hampshire. He is believed to have changed his father, Henry III’s, golden rose to a red one. This symbol subsequently passed down through descent and marriage, to Henry of Bolingbroke who took the crown as Henry IV and converted the Duchy of Lancaster into an appendage of the Crown, as the personal fief of the reigning monarch in 1399. The theory holds that this act, symbolised by the adding of the crown to the rose emblem, is the origin of the distinct Hampshire combination.
Another account holds that the rose was granted by King Henry V for bravery at the battle of Agincourt, to a contingent of Hampshire archers and soldiers, There was no such “Hampshire” group however, as fighting men were retained by a noble and deployed by him in obligation to the crown not drawn en masse, from any county. A sketchy alternative idea is that it was awarded to the county by John of Gaunt but whatever its precise origin, it is evident that the red rose, per se or the combination of “rose and crown” are devices of some antiquity, reflected in the widespread use of the name “Hampshire Rose” throughout the county. The seal of the Hampshire “Custos Rotulorum” (Keeper of the records) since the reign of Charles I (1625-49) contains a rose, while the oldest reference of a crown and rose combined seems to be from 1681. The 1686 mace used in the Borough of Petersfield featured a crowned rose and in 1842 a device comprising the rose surmounted by a crown, with a cap surrounded by a wreath of laurel leaves, appeared on official documents. Additionally, the “Hampshire Rose” is widely used in the arms of Hampshire people and places; for example the rose bearing arms of “Winchester College”
and ”New College”, Oxford
derive from the arms of William of Wykeham, a celebrated local bishop and roses appear on the civic arms of Petersfield,
which, incidentally, appear on a heraldic roll from the time of Edward IV, 1461 – 1483, denoted as the arms of ‘Hampton’;
A specifically described ‘Hampshire rose’ is also present on the civic arms of Bournemouth, in the grasp of a lion
to emphasise its status as a Hampshire town, although in a somewhat unorthodox blue shade, as is the lion!
In 1889 Hampshire County Council (HCC) was established, and in 1895 it adopted this recognised county badge of combined rose and crown symbol as a heraldic badge (similar to a company logo)
although without legal sanction, before it received a formal grant of arms in 1992
from the College of Arms, featuring a golden crown and a red rose on its shield. It should be noted however that the rose on the arms clearly includes inner white petals, reflective of the rose on the table in the Great Hall in Winchester. Subsequently, a number of business and other organisations in the county asked to use these arms but of course were declined for potential breach of copyright. Of course, they were entitled to use their own versions of the insignia, resulting in a variety of depictions that include, single red roses, double red roses and Tudor roses. This variety was already evident in the county, as noted the Bournemouth rose is blue, a Tudor rose is found on the civic arms of Rushmoor as seen above and the rose used by the county cricket team is all white!
To present a distinctive Hampshire arrangement the proposed flag features both a distinct form of rose and a distinct crown. The bi-coloured rose draws upon the frequent examples of a Tudor style rose to be found on the insignia of county organisations, including the one on the “Arthurian” table in Winchester hall
and that on the council’s arms
The Tudor rose has also been deployed by the Hampshire Regiment
and appears on this World War Two cloth badge
Notably, the bottom sepal of the rose on the proposed flag points down to represent “SOUTHamptonshire” in contrast to the rose on the flag of Northamptonshire
which points up, to signify NORTHamptonshire. This is the form of rose also found for example on the badge of the Hampshire Regiment Hampshire Volleyball Association
North Hants Golf Club (inner, white rose)
Hampshire Ruby Union
Hampshire Womens Institute
and of course the rose on the arms of Hampshire Council itself, as seen.
and Hampshire County Pool Association
both also display a Tudor rose but without the distinct downwards sepal.
It may be further noted, continuing the observation about the variety of roses used in the county, that whilst a basic red “Lancastrian” rose is present on the badge of the county’s branch of the Air Training Corps
some organisations have actually deployed a reversed Tudor rose, with red inner and white outer petals, such as the Hampshire yeomanry
and Hampshire constabulary
The 1992 award of arms to the Hampshire County Council included a gold royal crown on a red field, use of the “Royal Crown” requires a special warrant, obtained for the council’s arms with a specific remit for this deployment. Such a warrant does not extend to its hoisting by the public, the Royal Crown may only be used with permission, as highlighted in this incident. The proposed flag thus replaces the “Royal Crown” with a specifically Saxon crown as a reference to the county’s association with the era of Alfred the Great and his capital of Winchester. Such a crown also appears in the full achievement of arms used by the council,
symbolising exactly the same Alfredian legacy as intended in the proposed flag.
The flag is promoted here.