The Norfolk flag originated as the armorial banner of Ralph (Ranulph) de Gael (de Guader) the first Earl of Norfolk (1071-1075) whose attributed arms
were divided yellow and black with a diagonal ermine stripe running from the top left to bottom right corners. The ermine may well have been a reference to Brittany, where ermine is a local emblem, where Ralph was Lord of Gael. The flag is simple, bold and anciently linked with the county.
The De Guader/Gael arms appeared on a map of Norfolk produced by John Speed in 1610 (in a variant ermine representation);
and again on John Blaeu’s map from 1650
The De Guader/Gael arms are depicted on the front cover of “The Siege of Norwich Castle” by M.M.Blake
appearing again in the novel, in two further illustrations
These ancient arms were also adapted by the Norfolk Heraldry Society
and actually used as a flag by the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club
both as a pennant, a flag in triangular form typically flown on such a vessel,
and in a “swallow tail” form, where the fly end of the flag has a ‘v’ shaped notch cut out from it
Here are examples of both versions flying
further demonstrating the long established association with and recognition of the design, as the county emblem.
In 1904 these traditional arms formed the basis of a new coat of arms awarded to the Norfolk County Council. A red bar (heraldically a chief) was added across the top of the pattern which itself bore a lion, two ostrich plumes, coronets and mottoes.
The award of this chief was a specific gift from King Edward VII to the newly created county council in recognition of the long royal association with the county at the royal Sandringham residence. As such the the newly created design very specifically represented the Norfolk County Council, not the county which it represents.
However, the historic association of the county of Norfolk with the arms of Ralph De Guader and their continued in county usage highlighted the design’s obvious potential for deployment and registration as the county flag.
In 2014 a flag of this design was commissoned by ABC from mrflag.com for use in the campaign to see it registered as the Norfolk county flag, which was run by county resident and ABC member Dominic Victor Maverick Smith. Dominic perfected the exact appearance of the flag with the Flag Institute prior to its commission.
The flag was duly raised on #HistoricCountyFlagsDay and gained the support for registration from a number of local county organisations inclduing the Norfolk Broads Authority and the Norfolk Family History Society. The flag was duly registered by the Flag Institute on September 11th 2014.