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ABC Flag Blog

All about county flags from the Association of British Counties

Welcome the the ABC Flag Blog.

As part of our efforts to strengthen the identity and recognition of the nation’s counties, the county flag is a highly effective weapon in our arsenal. A flag often seems synonymous with the entity it conveys, its very existence can reinforce the notion and status of that entity; a bright eye-catching design rippling in the breeze will attract attention of itself and invariably lead to an enquiry about what or where it represents.

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The proposed flag was devised by Jason Saber and realised by Philip Tibbetts. It combines charges found in the county’s armorial history. The kingdom of Brycheiniog was established in the 5th century by a revered Welsh patriarch named Brychan and survived until its subjugation in the Middle-Ages. In the later Mediaeval period arms were assigned to Brychan,

Brychan arms


his quartered shield featuring the purported arms of his father Anlach in the first and fourth quarters, black with a gold bar across the centre and two smaller bars above and beneath that (a cotised bar) with silver sword at top and bottom with the arms attributed to his mother Marchell, gold with three blue bats, thus;


Upon its establishment in 1889 the Brecknockshire County Council adopted the attributed arms of Brychan but never obtained an official grant of armorial bearings. In adopting these legendary arms, albeit informally, the County Council asserted a linkage between the early kingdom and the later county and highlighted the historical significance of the founding father Brychan. The symbols used clearly being felt to be appropriate and locally meaningful. Accordingly, the proposed flag reworks the essential and more distinctive elements found in the arms.

The flag therefore features three main colours of black, gold and “cerulean” blue. The black features as the main field colour, upon this is a cotised gold stripe i.e. a stripe with two smaller ones above and beneath, as found in the arms of Brychan, which is felt to be a particularly elegant and pleasing arrangement. Across the cotised gold stripe is placed the silhouette of a bat with outstretched wings in the blue shade.

The proposed flag is locally meaningful with historically relevant symbols and colours, presented in a simple but unusual and visually interesting arrangement. Additionally bats are an uncommon charge on flags so the design is generally rare and would certainly be unique amongst British county flags.


There are several suggested designs for a Leicestershire flag. Several bear similar charges which are used in the county but as there is no anciently defined arrangement a competition will likely be necessary to secure it a flag.

Leicestershire RB

The first shown has been devised by Rupert Barnes. It retains the colours of red and white which feature prominently in the arms of the Leicestershire County Council

L CC Coat of Arms

and includes an ermine cinquefoil (essentially white with minimal black detailing) as found in the arms but enlarged and placed at the fly end, on a red field The same serrated edging as found on the council arms dividing the four quarters horizontally, here divides the flag at roughly the first third of the flag’s length to produce a white hoist section.

Leicestershire PT2

Philip Tibbetts’s proposal also retains the quartered pattern of the council’s arms along with its red and white colour scheme and distinctive serrated field division. Four foxes are countercharged in red and white in each of the four quarters. As seen above, a fox is used as a crest in the council arms being a traditional symbol of the county, notably also used as the emblem of the cricket team which additionally are even named the “Leicestershire Foxes”

L Cricket

The head of a fox also appears on the badge of Leicester City football team

Leicester City Football Club

Leicestershire JS

The third design, conceived by Jason Saber, selects several of the above themes in a different arrangement. The red and white colours of the council arms, the distinctive serration and a running fox. The cinquefoil is also something of a local motif, in addition to its appearance on the council arms it can also be seen on the arms of Hinckley and Bosworth

Hinckley and Bosworth

; Oadby and Wigston

Oadby and Wigston

and the city of Leicester itself

Leicester City coat of arms

. It originated in the arms Robert De Bellomonte, first Earl of Leicester and has a clear association with the county. Accordingly the cinquefoil, realised in pure white to keep things simple, appears on the upper red section of the proposed design. The flag thus features several distinctly Leicestershire elements.

Leicestershire BE

The fourth design is the creation of Brady Ells. It is inspired by the colours of the Leicester Tigers Rugby team

Rugby Shirt

and Leicestershire County Cricket Club

Cricket Shirt

At the hoist is a fox head, as found in the badge of Leicester Football club and as seen, a fox is also used by the cricket club.


Paul Lindsay’s suggestion, illustrated by Daniel Raudulv, combines the ideas of Philip Tibbetts and Jason Saber.


PT Herefordshire1 PT Herefordshire 2

The two above proposals for Herefordshire are the work of Philip Tibbetts. The red fields represent the red earth of the county as found in the arms of the county council

H CC Arms

The Y shaped white “pall” on both designs is a pun on the name of the River Wye which flows through the heart of the country and is a charge also found on the arms of South Herefordshire District CouncilS H D C Arms

At the hoist is a Herefordshire bull’s head, placed between the arms of the pall to symbolise the fording of the confluence of the rivers Wye and Lugg, an allusion to the River Wye crossing recalled in the county’s name with the element “ford”. In the second version the hoist triangle is blue which may have greater local appeal. The Y shaped pall charge is preferred over a more traditional “wavy stripe” representation of water, as it lends the design greater distinction.

JS Herefordshire

The third proposal comes from Jason Saber and again, is a reworking of the more distinctive elements found in the coat of arms awarded to Herefordshire County Council in 1946

H CC Arms

As with those arms, the basic colour of the flag is red to reflect the famed red earth of the county; however, the shade used here is considerably darker than that found in the general depictions of the council arms, to emphasise the distinctive dark rich soil that is so typical of the terrain, as is evident in these photos of Herefordshire fields

Herefields3  Herefields2ajpg  Herefields1

As with the council arms, the flag features a depiction of a bull’s head, of the famous Herefordshire breed, which originated in the county before spreading Worldwide and whose colour is also typically a dark reddish brown, with a wide white face. The Herefordshire bull is a typical county theme being used for example as the badge of Hereford United Football Club

Hereford United

and appearing in the insignia of the Hereford Police Choir (left below) and combined Hereford and Worcester fire service (right below)

Hereford Badges

As on the council arms, three wavy stripes, a blue one between two white ones, represent the River Wye which flows through the county, this arrangement being a typical depiction of a water course on flags and emblems. The juxtaposition of the wavy stripes and bull’s head is different from that found on the arms; here the bull’s head is a large eye catching charge, placed in a prominent spot at the upper centre of the flag. The stripes are located nearer to the bottom of the flag allowing more space for the larger bull’s head to occupy comfortably. This arrangement is also felt to be generally more balanced and aesthetically pleasing. The three elements of dark red field, Herefordshire bull and River Wye are felt to be a concise graphic expression of the county.



This new flag for the county of Oxfordshire is the proposal of The Oxfordshire Association http://oxfordshire-association.org.uk/index.php?page=home whose chairman, Edward Keen, is seen below holding the flag

Keen St Fri

The proposal is named the ‘St Frideswide Cross’ after a local saint. The green ground represents the fields and woodlands of Oxfordshire, and the blue field represents the Thames. The Oxfordshire Association successfully raised this flag at the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2011


In 2013 the Oxfordshire Association was contacted by the local Salle fencing club who advised that they had chosen the Saint Frideswide cross for their club badge


Sara Williams of the club said, “I’d read about the Oxfordshire Flag in the local paper and liked the design a lot; it had the simplicity we needed and was colourful enough to stand out well against the white of fencing jackets.”

Presently the flag remains a prime contender in any prospective county flag competition.

Two further ideas regarding Oxfordshire both aim to realise the name of the county graphically. The first proposal from Brady Ells

Oxon Brady

depicts a red ox’s head at the centre of an unsual white cross, comprised of one straight and one wavy arm. These respectively symbolise a straight road crossing a flowing river, the centre point being the crossing, where the “ox”, “fords” the river! The ox is red to match the scarlet bovine supporter in the coat of arms of the Oxfordshire County Council

Oxfordshire CC Arms

and the red ox found in the arms of the city of Oxford

Oxford Arms

The second idea from Jason Saber

Oxon JS

again features an ox and an aquatic reference. The base of the flag features four wavy stripes of blue and white, a traditional heraldic representation of water. Over this a wide green band reflects the county’s verdant and well watered land. Against the green, a stylised representation of an ox, silhouetted in white, in a dynamic, leaping pose – the white colour standing out well against the green background. In combination, the elements portray a leaping “ox”, “fording” a stream, that flows through a fertile land – a graphic statement of the county’s name, origin and terrain.



The flag is the armorial banner of the arms attributed to the local Dark Age ruler, Edwin of Tegeingl, a former kingdom that covered much of the territory of Flintshire.


The arms bore a black engrailed cross, i.e. a cross with scalloped edges and floral ends – heraldically described as “flory”, on a white field between four choughs, a bird once likely to have been widespread in the vicinity, in black and red.

One of the earliest known appearances of the arms of Edwin Tegeingl is in a window at Llanrhos church, probably erected by, or commemorating Richard ap Hywel of Mostyn (d.1540).

One of the earliest known appearances of the arms of Edwin Tegeingl in a window at Llanrhos church, probably erected by, or commemorating Richard ap Hywel of Mostyn (d.1540).


They are also seen on this plaque dated c.1550 bearing Thomas Mostyn’s initials


and they can be found above the entrance to the great hall at Mostyn, dated 1623.

Above the entrance to the great hall at Mostyn - dated 1623

and on a garden wall, uncovered by staff following removal of ivy. This stone once formed part of the 16th century lintel over the great hall fireplace.

Mostyn Hall 2

Another early version is seen here in a late-16th century Welsh pedigree roll, probably by the poet Simwnt Fychan

Early version

The arms are also found on the historic Flintshire house “Fferm”, thought to have been built in 1607


are at Saint James Church Hollywell

St. James' Church, Holywell.

and are seen here carved into a 17th century oak draw-leaf table.

carved into an oak draw-leaf table over 400 years ago!




The Tegeingl arms have also been used by the Flintshire county scouts as their badge

Flintshire county scouts badge

as proudly sported by this troupe of St. Asaph Scouts in 1947

St. Asaph Scouts, 1947, proudly wearing their Flintshire badges.

In the 1920s, before receiving a formal award of arms, Flintshire County Council, created in 1889, adopted a rather grand depiction of the Edwin Tegeingl arms as its seal, incorporating both the name Tegeingl and the year of its inception, between two Welsh dragons

The seal of the old Flintshire County Council

This seal subsequently appeared on a certificate of thanks, presented on behalf of all the people of Flintshire every Flintshire man who served and the families of those who died, in World War One.



On the 12th of May 1938 the council was formally granted a coat of arms which augmented the original Edwin design with silver circles on each arm and a voided diamond at the centre of the cross

Flintshire CC

The council’s augmented version of the arms appears on the front cover


of the ‘Guide to the Flintshire Record Office’, published by the county’s first archivist M. Bevan-Evans in 1955 and can be seen on this plaque celebrating the county golf union

Flintshire Golf

and on the prize awarded to the winners of the “Flintshire Knockout Shield”

Flintshire Knockout Shield

a county cricket competition.

It is also the insignia on this Flintshire Service vehcile from 1960

Flints Fire


and appears on this image from 1958


depicting representatives from the county at the Festival of Wales Pageant in Cardiff. An early example of usage as a quasi flag!

Following the successful registration of flags for Caernarfonshire, Meirionnydd and Anglesey, several local people in the county sought to establish a flag for Flintshire too, identifying the above arms as the indisputable county emblem. A campaign to see this design registered was conducted based on a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Flintshire-Flag/209333945862298 . A formal registration request was submitted to the Flag Institute and the proposal was duly registered on the basis of the extensive local support it received from county organisations and politicians and its historical association  with the county stretching back centuries.

With thanks to Shaun Evans and Brady Ells for their research in this post.


M Fielding Design

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