Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Historic county flags flown at Parliament Square for first time

The flags of 50 historic counties have been raised in the heart of Parliament Square in a resplendent celebration of the nation’s heritage on Historic County Flags Day.

Fluttering next to the Union Flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the 50 registered historic county flags of England, Scotland and Wales are flying from today (23 July 2019) to 26 July.

Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry MP, said:

Our history helps to define who we are and where we come from, and we are stronger as a nation when we cherish and champion our local traditions.

I am proud to see fifty iconic historic county flags of our great nation proudly flying in the heart of Westminster on this momentous day for the United Kingdom. I cannot think of a more important and fitting time to celebrate our shared cultural identity and all that binds our communities together.

Graham Bartram, Chief Vexillologist at the Flag Institute, said:

County flags have been an area of great progress over the last 15 years. Being able to display these flags together, as some other countries do, has long been an aspiration for the Flag Institute and we have been pleased to continue our years of support to DCLG and now MHCLG, in order to bring this about. This flag display really exemplifies the colour, depth and variety within the country.

Philip Tibbetts, Honorary Vexillologist at the Court of the Lord Lyon, said:

Scotland has a rich heritage of regional and local identity which can be seen in tartan, heraldry and increasingly with community flags. Shetland was at the forefront of the modern movement for community flags, being officially granted in 2005 but used for decades earlier, so it is good to see it displayed together with Scotland’s subsequent county flags.

The display in Parliament Square for Historic County Flags Day form part of national festivities taking place across the country.

It comes as government has published guidance which helps local authorities recognise historic counties as a way to boost community pride and provide opportunities for families to learn about local traditions. The guidance includes consideration of placing road signs to mark the boundaries of the historic counties, flying county flags whenever possible, designing flags for counties without one and celebrating county days.

Further information

Historic County Flags Day is Tuesday 23rd July 2019, when the people of Great Britain celebrate the nation’s historic counties through the flying of flags.

The government attaches great importance to the history and traditions of this country. Our history helps to define who we are and where we come from, and we are stronger as a nation when we cherish and champion our local traditions. Understanding the past and how we have developed helps us to face the future with confidence and as a shared experience.

In 2012 the government changed Whitehall rules to allow local and county flags to be flown without planning permission, in 2014 planning guidance was issued allowing councils to put up traditional counties boundary signs and the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 allows the signing of historic county boundaries.

County councils and unitary counties have been encouraged to come forward with innovative ideas to bring local communities together around the history and heritage of their areas.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has committed to exploring further work with a range of partners to raise the profile and maximise the impact of celebrating historic counties in the long-term.

Read the guidance issued to councils.

Full list of county flags PDF, 1.74MB, 6 pages

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