The flag of Northamptonshire was the winning entry in a competition held in 2014 by the local county council, in conjunction with the Flag Institute, to select a flag for the county. The winning design was unveiled at a ceremony held at County Hall in Northampton, on September 11th 2014 and duly registered by the Flag Institute.
The ceremony was attended by a selection of local dignitaries
including the Lord Lieutenant, David Laing, seen here
raising the new county flag.
This winning design was deemed to be a joint submission by two separate entrants, Brady Ells, seen here with his winning design
and Ian Chadwick
who had independently contrived designs that were so similar, that the judging panel declared them to be a joint submission. Information on the background of the flag was presented at the unveiling ceremony
The genesis of the design submitted by Brady Ells had appeared several years previously
a creation which he amended for the competition with the addition of a black fimbriation and a more detailed rose, in the Tudor style.
A red rose is a long recognised and ubiquitous county emblem, indeed the county’s soubriquet is “The Rose of the Shires”. This link with the red rose emblem extends back to at least 1665, when, heraldic historian C.W Scott-Giles reports, it appeared on a seal used by the county magistrates in Quarter Sessions, although no illustration of this device appears to be available. The emblem recalls an historic association with the house of Lancaster: Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Lancastrian King Edward IV (reigned 1461– 1483) and ancestor of every English monarch since Henry VIII and every Scottish monarch since James V, was born at Grafton Regis in the county.
A great many organisations in the county, especially sporting bodies, consequently feature a rose in their insignia, including; the county police service, both as a traditional badge
and in modern logo style
A similar badge, featuring the county’s rose emblem was also used by the police service serving the liberty of Peterborough
, attesting to the Northamptonshire status of this autonomous part of the county, and a rose appears on the badge of the Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service groupA rose is further used by, from left to right below, Northamptonshire Football Association; Northamptonshire Women’s and Girls Football League and Northamptonshire Combination Football League
Northamptonshire County Cricket Club has had two versions of a club badge featuring the rose; the former version, a resplendent gold, against a maroon background, at left below and the current one at right, notably dark red or maroon in colour with gold detailing
Three golfing institutions in the county have a rose for their badge; from left to right, below, Northamptonshire Golf Union, Northamptonshire Ladies County Golf Association and Northamptonshire County Golf Club
Other sports associations that use the rose as a logo include from left to right below, Northamptonshire Table Tennis Association; Northamptonshire Amateur Swimming Association; Northamptonshire Hockey; Northamptonshire County Archery Society and Northamptonshire Bowling Association.
The rose also appears in the club badges of two professional sports teams in the county; Northampton Town Football Club, at the base of the badge
and Northampton Saints rugby club, in the centre of the badge.
And the badge of the Northamptonshire Federation Of Women’s Institutes includes a rose
It may be noted that every one of these rose depictions has an upwards pointing central sepal at the top, so this seems to be something of a standard form. However, before its official grant of arms in 1939, Northamptonshire County Council also used a rose as its seal
where the central sepal is unequivocally oriented straight up.
The rose that appears on the council’s arms is clearly a definite red, symbolising the aforementioned link with the House of Lancaster, while two smaller white roses in the chief (at the top) recall linkage with the House of York. However, in several of the above modern examples, the rose depicted is actually a Tudor Rose, a symbol which famously combined the floral symbols of these opposing factions in the internecine 15th century conflicts. Use of a Tudor rose therefore rather fails to signify the specific Lancastrian association that the red rose is intended to convey! This usage may have arisen simply because of its general national ubiquity – although it is certainly formed from the combination of a red flower with a white one, upon first gaze, it is still an essentially red rose and being the most obvious example of such a device, was likely duly utilised in the above instances through natural familiarity and common usage.
The competition’s judging panel however, decided to ensure that the county would have a unique rose to avoid misidentification with the rose emblems of other counties. Consequently, a distinct Northamptonshire rose, the creation of Emma Rayif, was formed through the combination of elements appearing in the various roses that have been used to represent the county, including; the cinquefoil shape from the centre of the council logo; the maroon or dark red colour of the county cricket club rose; the gold inner petals of the Northamptonshire Golf Union rose, the upwards orientation of the central sepal and the inclusion of two tiers of petals. The resultant charge, the unique and attractive “Northamptonshire rose”,
replaced the originally submitted depiction. The top sepal of the rose points up, to represent “NORTHamptonshire” in contrast to the rose on the flag of HAMPSHIRE (SOUTHAMPTONSHIRE)
which points down!
This new splendid Northamptonshire rose thus sits at the centre of a broad, edged cross, a form that has proven popular with many recently conceived English county flags, which recalls the national cross of Saint George. The broad dimensions of the cross allow the rose to stand out well and as with the flag of Nottinghamshire, the cross shape represents the position of the county as a crossroads at the centre of England. The dark red and gold hues used to form the rose are repeated in the gold colour of the cross and the dark red or maroon background against which it is placed. These are the club colours of Northamptonshire County Cricket Club
Northamptonshire County Bowling Association
Northamptonshire Basketball Club
Northamptonshire Golf Union
and Northampton Town Football Club;
Evidently the definitive sporting colours of the county, this combination of dark red ( maroon) and gold consequently became emblematic of the county generally and was the obvious scheme to assign to the county flag.
The gold cross is edged in black, recalling the county’s leather boot and shoe industry, the importance of which is demonstrated by the leather hides appearing on the logo of Northamptonshire County Table Tennis Association, at left below and the Coat of Arms of Kettering Borough Council, at right.
Northampton Town Football club is also nicknamed “The Cobblers” in honour of this local industry.
The maroon hue and rose had also featured amongst the other finalists in the competition.
Following its registration Northamptonshire’s flag has been raised across the county,
it is seen below,
flying at Helmdon, appeared at a Northamptonshire showcase at Parliament
The flag also appeared on the local television news report for the day!
Northamptonshire Helix, the county’s touch rugby team has adopted a team kit based on the county flag
that also includes the flag itself on the shirt
While the Northamptonshire County Council’s armorial banner
is available commercially it represents only that body and only the council may legally use it; it is not the county flag. Additionally, the following design is also marketed as a Northamptonshire flag,
An inelegant fabrication combining the cross of Saint George with the supporters and motto from the full achievement of the council arms and oddly, a Tudor rose rather than that found on the council’s arms, this is also, most definitely, not the county flag of Northamptonshire.
The county flag flew over Parliament Square, Westminster
along with other county flags
on July 23rd 2019, Historic County Flags Day #countyflagsday