Suffolk Flag


Suffolk’s flag was added to the registry on October 9th 2017. The flag is a banner of the arms

St Ed shield.png

attributed to Saint Edmund, bearing a golden crown “pierced” by two golden arrows against a blue background. Described heraldically as “Azure two Arrows in saltire, points downwards, enfiled with an ancient Crown Or.”


Registration of this acknowledged county emblem was formally requested by twenty-one county organisations, following its display by Suffolk County Council on the inaugural “Suffolk Day” June 21st 2017


Edmund, the last King of East Anglia, was reportedly murdered by the Danes in the year 870. When, at a meeting with the invaders, he refused to share his kingdom, he was scourged, bound to a tree,

shot with arrows

Ed 4

and then decapitated. Edmund’s arms accordingly reflect his kingship and the manner of his death. They appear in “Saints, Signs and Symbols” by W. Ellwood Post, 1964

Several sites lay claim to being the scene of Edmund’s gruesome demise but the oldest appears to be a field, near “Abbey Hill” just outside the village of Hoxne, in the north of the county, which lies just south of the county boundary formed by the River Waveney


A vast oak tree once located here was said to have been the tree to which Edmund was tied. It reportedly collapsed suddenly one night in 1843 and examination determined that it was over a thousand years old! Several iron points were discovered embedded in its trunk suggesting that the claim for the tree may have some credibility. Several years later, in 1849, a monument to the martyred king was erected at the spot where the oak stood


boldly decorated with the saintly monarch’s arms


and accordingly the county flag, the same arms in banner form, has been displayed at the monument

Suffolk flag in front of Saint Edmund’s monument, on the spot where Saint Edmund may have met his death, near Abbey Hill, just outside Hoxne. .jpg

A beautiful depiction of the arms, in stained glass,


is found in a window at the church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, located in the village.

Edmund’s burial site and shrine, is located at Bury Saint Edmunds, eponymously named for the martyred king. With his firm association with the county, his armorial banner is the indisputable flag of Suffolk, several of whose towns include the crown and arrows theme in their own emblems. A great abbey grew up around Saint Edmund’s shrine which used arms

Saint Ed Abbey.png

depicting three of the crown and arrows devices from the attributed arms of King Edmund and a small town developed around the abbey. It is probable that the trio of crowns was based on the three crowns attributed to the ruling East Anglian dynasty, the Wuffingas, of which King Edmund, of course, was a member. In 1535 Henry VIII  ordered the abbey to be dissolved; it was plundered of all its valuables and people of the surrounding town made use of its stone for local buildings. By 1539 the arms of the abbey were no longer in use. In 1663 the town of Bury Saint Edmunds became incorporated, granting it the right to bear arms of its own and in recognition of Saint Edmund and the former abbey, it received a blue shield bearing the same three gold crowns although with distinctive silver arrows

St Ed Town

The trio of crowns and arrows duly featured on Edmund Bowen’s eighteenth century map of the county.

Suffolk Univ Mag 001 copy

They appeared again, in the following century, on Thomas Moule’s Suffolk map


in two distinct, variant forms; once as part of a decorative arrangement of shields at the left of the map,


where each of the three gold crowns is “pierced” by two arrows, which are inverted so that their tips point upwards and also at the bottom right,


where, on a shield held in the hands of a seated figure, all three crowns are pierced with the same two, similarly configured, upwards pointing arrows.

In 1974, the Borough of Bury St Edmunds was combined with adjacent areas into the Borough of St Edmundsbury and a new coat of arms for this borough was created


which features two of the arrow pierced crowns of Saint Edmund. Its council also uses a single Saint Edmund crown and two arrows device as a logologoA new town council was re-established for Bury Saint Edmunds itself in 2004 and in 2006 this was re-granted the arms of the original Bury St Edmunds Town Council


The crown and arrows emblem has been adapted for use as the club badge by the town’s football team Bury Town FC


and the badge of the Bury Saint Edmunds squadron of the Air Training Corps


Further afield in the county, the crown and arrows are used by Framlingham College;


the town of Beccles;


and the coastal town of Southwold


, also seen in the town’s seal which appears on an entrance sign


and here


on this commemorative coin. The combination is also used as a logo by Southwold Sailing Club

and deployed as a pennant


in the actual St Edmund colours of gold on blue

and features as the logo of the local band


A beautiful carved version can be found on the door of Saint Edmund’s church, Fritton


The device further appeared on the arms of the now defunct, West Suffolk Council,

whilst two feature on the arms of Suffolk County Council.


The solid Suffolk heritage of the Saint Edmund’s arms has also been recognised by the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History whose own emblem includes the arms of Saint Edmund at its centre


Such recognition attests to the emblem’s status as the natural symbol of the county. This recognition is further found in its use by the county’s scout association, seen below in differing realisations, including the actual form of the Saint Edmund’s arms, with a gold crown and arrows against a blue background.




Other examples of its use around the county include its appearance as the logo of famous Suffolk brewery Green King


the badge of the county’s carpet bowls association


its inclusion in the badge of a local football club located in Great Barton


and adaptation as a badge, with the trio of crowns, by a local branch of the Women’s Institute.


A modern form of Saint Edmund’s Arms is used as a badge by the local school’s athletic association

and the body also displays a banner with the device when in competition!

; a clear precedent of the Suffolk emblem deployed in flag form, representing Suffolk.

Another notable use of the Saint Edmund’s arms to represent the county was their appearance on the front cover of his 1930 guide to Norfolk and Suffolk

by celebrated mediaeval scholar and acclaimed writer of ghost stories, M.R. James.

The county emblem was commissioned as a flag

in 2014, by a Suffolk resident, from the manufacturer Mr Flag, whose chief executive, Charles Ashburner, crafted the crown and arrows device that appeared on it.

In 2017, the county held its inaugural ‘Suffolk Day‘, on June 21st, an occasion marked with use of a special logo, which featured the county’s traditional crown and arrows emblem

Saint Edmundsbury Cathedral provided another marked use of the recognised county emblem of gold crown and arrows, against its traditional blue background, to promote the county day


a lamppost adorned with his arms stands next to Bury Saint Edmunds Cathedral

st ed

On the day itself, June 21st, Suffolk County Council flew the armorial banner of Saint Edmund, over its headquarters, Endeavour House, in Ipswich, announcing the fact on its Twitter account

council tweet.png

declaring that it was flying “our…St Edmund flag”, “high for Suffolk”, in an unequivocal expression of its approval for use of the design as the county flag.

Further usage of the St Edmund banner of arms was made by the Ipswich Building Society where a local history talk on the day was decorated with the design

The Saint Edmund banner has also been incorporated by fans of Suffolk amateur club, Stowmarket Town, into their own flag


In light of this widespread usage of the Saint Edmund arms around the county and following its deployment as a flag by the council and others on the county day, an effort was initiated to see the design formally registered as the county flag of Suffolk. In addition to the county council’s demonstrated approval, this move was supported by the following twenty-one county organisations;

Bacton & Cotton Local History Society

Debenham History Society

Suffolk Schools Athletic Association

Woolpit and District Museum

Stoke by Nayland Local History Society

Worlingworth Local History Group

Suffolk Netball

Walberswick Local History Group

Wickhambrook Local History Society

Stowupland Local History Group

Needham Market Society

The Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group

Suffolk Schools and Youth Hockey Association

Clare Historical and Archaeological Society

Little Waldingfield History Society

Glemsford Local History Society

Felixstowe History and Museum Society

The Woolpit History Group

Suffolk Agricultural Association

Nayland with Wissington Conservation Society

Wetherden History Group

with one of their number, Suffolk Schools and Youth Hockey Association, submitting a formal request for registration of the proposed design,

The flag Of Suffolk

which collated all the background information and detailed support, to the Flag Institute, in July 2017. The organisation duly acknowledged the flag, reworking the design upon  registration


and shortly afterwards, it was raised for Saint Edmund’s Day, November 20th 2017.

Saint Edmund_s Day 2017.

The county flag is seen here


flying domestically and adorns the wall of Ickworth House below

Ickworth House, Suffolk

It is seen here


caught in a gust at Felixstowe Museum.

Below, the flag

Southfolk Brewing Getting ready for the Suffolk Day brew ( June 21st )

decorates the wall of Southfolk Brewery, “Getting ready for the Suffolk Day brew”.

The Suffolk flag was much in evidence on June 21st 2018, “Suffolk Day”; it was raised by the Mayor of Felixstowe (video available here)


flew in the village of Tattingstone;

Tattingstone Village

and was hoisted at its Sudbury works, by Anglia Water;


The Women’s Institute in Ipswich also celebrated the county day, improvising, for lack of a flagpole!

WI Ipswich

One county resident made her feelings clear, with a poster expressing county pride;


and the same design was displayed on a commemorative tea towel


The following year the county flag was raised at the Ipswich Waterfront,

Ipswich Water Front

, lined the streets of Brandon


and decorated the sands of Lowestoft.

Lowestoft Sands

A splendid evocation of the county flag was created at the Orwell Hotel, Felixstowe, by pastry chef Nick Miles

Pastry Chef Nick Miles's fabulous #SuffolkDay creation at the Orwell Hotel, Felixstowe and the Suffolk County flag2Pastry Chef Nick Miles's fabulous #SuffolkDay creation at the Orwell Hotel, Felixstowe and the Suffolk County flag1

and the town’s Mayor, Nick Barber and Deputy Mayor, Mark Jepson, raised the Suffolk flag at Felixstowe museum


The flag bedecked a county cottage in the form of bunting

Neil Boast's cottage for #SuffolkDay2The Suffolk County flag decorating Neil Boast's cottage.

and flew proudly over Elmswell Church


The Suffolk flag is seen below at left,

Looking west over the River Waveney, , marked by respective county flags and the flag of East Anglia in the centre..jpg

looking west at the bridge over the River Waveney, just north of Hoxne, which forms the county boundary, marked with the respective county flags of Suffolk and Norfolk and the flag of East Anglia in the centre.


East of Gasthorpe and Knettishall, over Little Ouse, marked by respective ocunty flags..png

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. In the below two photos



the Suffolk and Cambridgeshire flags mark a footbridge at Isleham Marina, spanning the river Larkh, which forms the mutual county boundary.

Use of the Saint Edmund arms on a flag for the county was first suggested by local resident Bill Bulstrode,


who proposed a design with the Saint Edmund arms as a shield on the cross of Saint George, laudably highlighting the county’s lack of a recognised flag of its own.

Bullstrode flag

This design, however, is almost identical to the flag of the region of East Anglia as a whole




which is over a century old and was amongst the first flags included on the Flag Institute’s registry; indeed the design is actually based on the flag of East Anglia. This proposed flag was therefore not eligible for registration, both for lack of distinction and, because the design was a registered trademark, as indicated by the circled letter “R” below


, the design was automatically ineligible as all registered flags must be in the public domain, although it appears that the copyright was later removed.

Additionally, the arms of Saint Edmund were eminently suitable for registration as the county flag, further detail was unnecessary. In this context the cross of Saint George conveys nothing specific about the county of Suffolk; the Saint Edmund arms themselves are evidently representative of the county, inclusion of the Saint George’s cross is superfluous. And, whilst variations of red crosses are legion, the Saint Edmund arms are distinctive, eye-catching and present a flag uniquely Suffolk in character.

Two other designs are associated with the county; an armorial banner

suff cc

of the Suffolk County Council arms


which it seems is actually not used and a flag which places the shield from its coat of arms, on a yellow cloth

, in contravention of standard heraldic practice (page 10). Neither of these represents the county but just the council which runs it, as an administrative body.

The county flag flew over Parliament Square, Westminster


along with other county flags


on July 23rd 2019, Historic County Flags Day #countyflagsday


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