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A flurry of county flag registrations sees Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, and Surrey flags added to the Flag Institute’s UK Flag Registry.

Whilst the Bedfordshire, Norfolk, and Surrey designs stem from traditional county emblems, the Northamptonshire flag is the result of a competition hosted by Northamptonshire County Council.

Clockwise from top-left, Northamptonshire, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Surrey county flags.
Clockwise from top-left, Northamptonshire, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Surrey county flags.

Brady Ells, who designed the winning flag, chose the gold and claret colours emblematic of the county and used by the county cricket and other sporting teams. The design would of course not be compete without a rose, used as the county symbol for several centuries. A distinct form of the rose was especially created for use on the flag to distinguish Northamptonshire’s rose from that found on many other county flags. Black fimbriation recalls the county’s important leather industry. The flag was unveiled on Thursday September 11th at County Hall, Northampton and raised by the county’s Lord Lieutenant, David Laing.

Designer Brady Ells stands proudly beside the Northamptonshire flag.
Designer Brady Ells stands proudly beside the Northamptonshire flag.
Lord Lieutenant David Laing hoists the Northamptonshire flag at its unveiling.
Lord Lieutenant David Laing hoists the Northamptonshire flag at its unveiling.

The design for the Bedfordshire flag features in the badges, crests, logos and insignia of myriad Bedfordshire organisations, and was most notably used by the defunct county council. The registered version was slightly modified by horizontally mirroring the blue and white wavy lines, thus ensuring that the similarly hued colours do not touch. The blue was also lightened to improve contrast with the black central panel.

The three escallops or shells on a black field are from the arms of the Russells, Dukes of Bedford. The red and yellow (gold) quartered field, derive from the arms of the Beauchamps, the leading family in the county after the Norman Conquest, who constructed Bedford Castle and were granted a barony at Bedford. The blue and white wavy stripes reference the River Ouse, which flows through the county, and are a traditional heraldic representation of a “water course”.

Thus, although a relatively recent creation, composed in 1951, the design subsumes centuries of local tradition, with elements that bespeak the county’s history, heritage and geography. The Friends of Bedfordshire Society, a newly created county group continue to champion Bedfordshire, and will undoubtedly be pleased to hear the news and hear from supporters.

Norfolk’s flag is the armorial banner of the arms attributed to the first Earl of Norfolk Ralph de Gael. This 12th century design has been associated with the county ever since, appearing on maps and books and of course forming the basis of the county council arms awarded in 1904.

Surrey’s chequered flag is again derived from the arms of William de Warenne, the first Earl of Surrey. The pattern of blue and gold checks has been used in the arms of numerous Surrey towns and appears in the badges or sports kits of many county organisations today.

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