The flag of Norfolk was registered on September 11th 2014 as a traditional county flag, following a campaign by Norfolk native Dominic Victor Maverick Smith
to secure recognition of the historic emblem of the county. The design is a banner of the arms
attributed to Ralph (Ranulp) de Gael (de Guader), first Earl of Norfolk (1071-1075)
The simple, bold design was widely known throughout the county, owing to its inclusion in the arms borne by the local county council,
as described in the publication “Heraldica Miscellanea”
and their consequent appearance across the territory on council vehicles, sites and projects.
The council arms were awarded in 1904, as celebrated on this postcard
from the time, depicting the official grant of this specific design, to the “County Council of Norfolk” by the College Of Arms, on behalf of the then King, Edward VII. As with all such civic arms, they were intended solely for use by and to represent only, the council as an administrative body and have never been available for general public use. A further consideration regarding this design is that it includes a golden lion, in a pose heraldically termed ‘passant guardant’. This specific gold lion is a ‘Royal Lion’, a charge found on the royal banner of England, whose use is much restricted by the Crown. Use of this charge, without explicit permission from the Queen, in itself is actually unlawful and the grant of arms to the council includes no such provision for its usage beyond the County Council.
Deployment of the De Gael arms, which were no longer borne by an extant armiger or arms-holder, as the basis for the council arms, highlighted their status as the traditional Norfolk symbol, the design being the obvious foundation on which to form the council’s own arms. It is thought that the ermine bend (the diagonal stripe from top left to bottom right) found in the design may well have been a reference to Brittany, where Ralph was Lord of Gael and ermine is a common local emblem, which also features on the Breton flag. This ermine pattern has had differing realisations but for the campaign a precise form was perfected by Dominic Smith in consultation with the Flag Institute and a flag bearing this design was commissioned by the Association of British Counties to fly
on Historic County Flags Day, July 23rd, 2014. This pattern was duly registered.
The De Gael arms have been linked with Norfolk across the centuries. They were included for example on the map of Norfolk produced by John Speed in 1610 (in a variant ermine representation) as part of his renowned atlas of Great Britain ;
and appeared again on John Blaeu’s map of 1650
The De Gael arms also made an appearance on the front cover of “The Siege of Norwich Castle” by M.M.Blake,
And were further depicted in two illustrations elsewhere in the novel
They also featured at a 1929 mediaeval pageant
The county emblem further appears as a decorative feature, on these souvenirs, from the village of South Creake
, alongside an image of the local church in the town of Wroxham
and was also present on the badge
of the Caston Bowling Club in the county, in the 1950s and 1960s.
The De Gael/De Gauder Arms have also been adapted for its own arms, by the Norfolk Heraldry Society
but above all, are actually used as a flag by the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club
and in a “swallow tail” form,
Examples of both versions flying follow
Such usage of the De Gael design by so prominent a county organisation further demonstrated the long established association with and recognition of the design as the county emblem. Along with the express support received by a number of local groups and companies, this facilitated its registration as the county flag of Norfolk.
The first commercial outlet to fly the newly registered flag was Munchies cafe at Great Yarmouth.
Since registration the Norfolk flag has been flown across the county at homes and businesses
It flies here
over St. Helen’s church, Ranworth; “the Cathedral of the Broads” and is raised here
by the county scouts. The flag appears on this local product
alongside a similarly coloured bee (!) and is used to promote a Norfolk product on this poster
The Norfolk flag has also been incorporated into the logo of the county team competing in the recently developed sport of footgolf
In 2018, in the build up to the county’s inaugural county day, July 27th, the Norfolk flag was seen on local television,
heralding a report on the forthcoming celebration and in anticipation of the day, the staff at Whitelodge Care Home Norwich created this fabulous Norfolk Flag cake!
Which kicked off a theme repeated elsewhere
and again the following year!
The flag was much in evidence on the day, at the showground of the Royal Norfolk Show;
over the John Lewis store in Norwich
and over a vessel on the Broads.
It was seen at a caravan park in Great Yarmouth;
and outside a residence in the county.
A splendid evocation of arguably Norfolk’s most famous son, Horatio Nelson, alongside the county flag was also presented!
The Norfolk flag was raised by the Breckland Town Council;
fluttered over the church tower in South Reps;
flew at Norwich City Hall;
in a Swaffham High Street;
and in splendid abundance at Potter Heigham!
The flag was also flying in Australia!
A splendid Norfolk flag has also been raised by the mayor of Great Yarmouth
and it is seen below at right,
marking the bridge over the River Waveney, just north of the Suffolk village of Hoxne, which forms the county boundary, looking west, along with the county flag of Suffolk and the flag of East Anglia in the centre.
the Norfolk and Suffolk flags are seen marking the bridge, east of Gasthorpe and Knettishall, over the Little Ouse, which forms their county boundary at this spot.
Prior to the registration of Norfolk’s flag
, a banner formed from Norfolk County Council’s coat of arms
had been commercially available, erroneously described as the county flag of Norfolk. Whilst incorporating the De Gael design, as detailed, these council arms represent that body alone. They include a specific ornamentation from King Edward VII in recognition of the royal residence at Sandringham in the county – a red bar, heraldically termed a “chief”, placed across the De Gael arms and featuring elements typically borne by the Prince of Wales, a title which the king had previously borne for many decades. This very specific design, accordingly, very clearly represents only the council rather than the county as an entity in its own right – the banner of these arms, was not and is not, the county flag of Norfolk.
The county flag flew over Parliament Square, Westminster
along with other county flags,
on July 23rd 2019, Historic County Flags Day #countyflagsday
The Norfolk flag is promoted here.