Oxfordshire’s flag was registered in May 2017 following a request delivered in February that year, from a collection of county bodies. Registration was only secured several months after this initial request and the flag did not appear on the registry until October 9th.
A flag bearing a red ox head set against two white wavy stripes, running from the top left to the bottom right corner, all placed against a blue background, with a golden oak tree and wheat sheaf in respective bottom left and top right corners, had been popularly
flown across the county
Originating as the armorial banner of the shield
from the coat of arms
awarded to Oxfordshire County Council in 1949, the design includes the blue of Oxford University while the white wavy stripes represent the River Thames flowing through the county. In combination with the red ox head, the arrangement of an “ox” and a “ford” punningly alludes to the name of the county town of “Oxford”, while the golden wheat sheaf, top right and golden tree, bottom left, represent the agriculture and woods of the wider county which developed around it. Thus the design is a graphic expression of the name “Ox-ford-shire”
The arms being no longer used by any armiger (arms holder) this deployment is comparable to use of the arms in banner form, of the former Middlesex, Cheshire, Westmorland, Bedfordshire and Cumberland councils, as the flags of those respective counties. Dating from 1949, the design also specifically relates to the true boundaries of the county.
This acknowledged Oxfordshire emblem has been used by county organisations such as the local constabulary, whose badges bore the ox head and wavy stripes;
and the county fire brigade;
and attesting to its long established local provenance, it further appeared on souvenir items such as this decorative horse brass
this car badge
and this stitching pattern map of the county
The flag has also been much used by the county’s scouts
both at home and at international gatherings,
to represent their county, as seen below on a 2016 visit to Iceland,
and continues to be proudly used by them in shield shape, as a badge
which also appears on other promotional material
including for example, the 2016 Iceland trip.
Oxfordshire Rugby Football Union’s badge is also the familiar county emblem
whilst the county’s rugby players proudly wear the Oxfordshire flag on their sleeves!
The red ox on white wavy stripes and blue field is also the badge of the Oxfordshire county hockey association
whilst the county’s junior badminton team proudly present the county flag in competition
and the design appears on the sign of the Oxfordshire village of Goring
Demonstrably, to all intents and purposes already established as the flag of Oxfordshire, in late February 2017 Oxfordshire residents contacted the Flag Institute to request that their de facto county flag be added to its registry. The request was presented by the following seventeen local groups
from right across the county
Two versions of the established county emblem had been rendered as flags, one with superior artistry
and a more poorly rendered one
but for the registration request a newly crafted realisation, by Brady Ells, was presented
which better matched the high standard of existing designs of flags on the Flag Institute’s registry and reflected the advice on flag design which the Flag Institute promotes.
Regrettably, however, this initial request to register a county flag for Oxfordshire did not meet with success as in spite of the attempt matching the Flag Institute’s provisions for a community flag, being of long standing local usage and general recognition and the request being a widely supported local initiative, residents were advised that the effort required the sanction of a county official or representative such as the Lord Lieutenant. All efforts to secure this proved fruitless as county officials and representatives expressed no interest in securing a flag for their county and consequently Oxfordshire remained without a registered flag, to the benefit of no one, for several months. Ultimately contact with the regional planning authorities in the county secured confirmation that no prosecutions of people raising this flag would be enacted, in accordance with the 2012 flag flying regulations and the Flag Institute accordingly agreed to register the design. The Flag Institute subsequently required further revision of the design which led to the current version
fashioned by Brady Ells and Charles Ashburner, chief executive of the flag manufacturer, Mr Flag.
Following its registration the Oxfordshire flag began to fly
It is seen here
flying on October 19th, Oxfordshire Day, 2017.
The present council’s own arms in banner form
are commercially available in some outlets, mistakenly marketed as ‘Oxfordshire Flag’. This design derives from the above original form of the arms but was specifically altered to represent the modern authority and accordingly differs markedly from the original design, principally with the absence of the distinctively Oxfordshire element of the red ox head and also on its specific stylisation. This armorial banner and the arms from which it derives, as dictated by the rules of heraldry, represent only Oxfordshire County Council and no one else has any right to use them. This is not the county flag of Oxfordshire but ONLY the banner of arms of the modern day Oxfordshire County Council. Another version of the modern council’s armorial banner
unaccountably using a green background colour, is also sometimes seen but this again, is not the Oxfordshire county flag.
A further design
had been promoted as a potential county flag by the Oxfordshire Association. Named the Saint Frideswide Cross, for the county’s traditional heroine, it features a white cross against a countercharged blue and green background, with the first quarter in green. An attractive design but a novel creation, the proposal could have achieved registration only by winning a competition but no such event was ever organised and given the county’s existing above traditional emblem, this was in any case unnecessary.