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Yorkshire (United Kingdom)

Last modified: 2010-01-22 by rob raeside
Keywords: yorkshire | york | rose | dewbury | hull |
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[Flag of Yorkshire] image by Jason Saber, 6 July 2009

See also:

The Yorkshire flag

The Flag Registry describes the flag as "Traditional design, registered by County Organization", the organization presumably being the Yorkshire Riding Society. Both the picture and Graham Bartram's comment about the Lancastrian flag confirm that the orientation of the rose favoured by the YRS has been registered, so the rose sits on a point and three of the lines between petals form a 'Y'.
Jonathan Dixon, 31 July 2008

My understanding was always that the Yorkshire rose 'sat' on two point not one - therefore Ken Bagnall's flag is upside down.
Richard Carter, 20 April 2003

Well, there is certainly some kind of 'urban legend' that a Yorkshire rose rests on one point, so that (some of) the lines between the petals form a letter Y for Yorkshire. I've never been able to trace the origins of this. Certainly, all the roses in the arms of the three Ridings are 'conventional' with the roses resting on two points. However, the roses on the Yorkshire Ridings Society (self-appointed guardians of Yorkshire heritage) do have the roses resting on one point on their home page at
Ian Sumner, 21 April 2003

The Yorkshire Rose traditionally rests on one point, two petals, this can be seen in the Coats of arms of some Yorkshire towns e.g., the Castleford coat of arms clearly shows the rose with one point down.
Matthew Newbould, 3 September 2005

Just another one for the "Which way up is the rose" debate - on the M62, at the border of Yorkshire and Lancashire, there are each counties roses welcoming you into their county. The Yorkshire rose sits on one point, the Lancashire one sits on two.
Richard Webb, 7 January 2006

What is the correct standing of the Yorkshire rose? Matthew Newbould quotes Castleford's arms (rose on point), yet clearly ignores Knottingley's arms (rose on side) and Doncaster's (one in each position). I have never seen anything which states which is historically most correct and have seen many inconsistent stained glass windows, coats of arms, etc.
White and Red roses are nearly always offset when combined in the Tudor rose and the modern Tudor rose is seated on a side (e.g., Queen's Tudor rose on the 20p piece). Hence the contemporary white rose is shown sitting on its point (e.g., Yorkshire tourist board, Yorkshire Regiment) and red rose on its side, agreeing with Richard Webb's M62 report. Just to confuse it, I got this odd picture of a so called "union rose" from Google.
David Clegg, 11 May 2006

I noticed blue pennants being used on the Bridlington lifeboat. I wondered at the time whether they were connected with the fact that the lifeboat was being launched from a carriage - i.e. pulled across the beach and into the sea by a caterpillar-tracked tractor until it was in sufficient depth of water to float away. The pennants could have been some sort of hazard warning, or an indicator of width during the manoeuvre. However, a quick google has revealed the truth: see this image and  this image. They are Yorkshire roses in pennant form!
André Coutanche, 9 December 2006

I have had this explained to me by more than one Yorkshireman, that one of the advantages of the flag as they see it is precisely that it can be flown upside down. It would seem to work either way and that it depends from where in Yorkshire you come from according to which way up it is supposed to be.
Colin Dobson, 1 August 2008

According to,
"In the past this has been a dark blue background but more recently a light blue background has become fairly common.
According to the College of Heralds, the heraldic rose can be used with a petal at the top or with a sepal at the top. In Yorkshire there is a tradition of using the rose with a petal at the top in the North Riding and the West Riding but with a sepal at the top in the East Riding."
Eugene Ipavec, 13 February 2009

The Rose

The White Rose has been a symbol of Yorkshire since the War of the Roses between Lancaster and York in the 1400's. The Yorkists of the time were represented by the white rose.
Patrick Costa, 27 July 2001

On August 1st, 1759, soldiers from Yorkshire regiments who had fought in the battle of Minden, in Germany, picked white roses from bushes near to the battlefields as a tribute to their fallen comrades. Since that time the white rose has become the symbol of Yorkshire and is proudly worn by Yorkshiremen and women on Yorkshire Day (August 1).
David Stretton, 9 July 2001

I have been trying to verify the why, when, and how the White Rose was adopted as a county badge for the county of Yorkshire. I note with interest your proposition that it dates from the battle of Minden 1759, can this be verified in any way please. I had started to wonder if it was actually simply a fable as the heraldic links with the Wars of the Roses never was a real contender for all the reasons I am sure you are well aware of.
Richard Hayton, 20 February 2002

In UK heraldry, if I am not mistaken, a "house" (i.e., a family and its retainers and servants and distant relatives and whatnot) has not only various coats of arms but a "badge". For a royal house (or would-be-royal house) the badge can extend to the entire country, such as the Scottish thistle or Irish shamrock, Welsh leek. Somehow the House of York (a subdivision of the British - then English-only - royal house) acquired a white rose as its badge (it does not, I don't think, appear on any coat of arms) and the House of Lancaster had a red rose. Hence their internecine wars were called the "Wars of the Roses". When the dust settled at the end of the wars the badges were merged into the "Tudor rose" which serves as the badge of England 

The two houses, Lancaster and York, no longer exist (do they?). Now the question here, as I understand it, is how the family badge of the house of York became the county badge of Yorkshire. To me the reason is obvious; Yorkshire simply adopted it from the family badge. As to the date and manner of the adoption, indeed whether it was an official act with an actual date or a gradual act over time, is an interesting question.
Al Kirsch, 20 February 2002

The Houses of York and Lancaster still exist in that they are subsumed into the House of Windsor. HM The Queen is Duke of Lancaster and HRH Prince Andrew is Duke of York. The badge of York Herald is a white rose "en soleil" (i.e., with a sunburst behind it).
Graham Bartram, 20 February 2002 


Legality of the Flag

According to the Times Online, it is now legal to fly the flag of Yorkshire [without special planning permission].
Chrystian Kretowicz, 30 July 2008

[Editor's note: this article refers to the inclusion of the flag of Yorkshire in the UK Flag Registry.]

The Yorkshire Ridings Society were the prime mover behind this. However, as the extensive media coverage made clear, it was also endorsed by the Lord Mayor of Hull and Admiral of the Humber and other local representatives. In the media coverage, the YRS cited the case of the Ryedale farmer who was summonsed, but not prosecuted, for flying the Yorkshire flag and that this was one of the reasons why this flag needed to be legalised. However, what was not pointed out by them, nor by the many journalists who covered this issue yesterday was that event occurred in 2003 - a full five years ago, so it was hardly a current example. Moreover, that was when the 1992 regulations applied and not the 2007 regulations, which permitted the flying of county flags, so the council concerned were well within their rights to address the issue. Insofar as I am aware, there hasn't been a testing of the 2007 regulations in England.
Colin Dobson, 31 July 2008

City of York

[Flag of City of York] image by Blas Delgado Ortiz, 7 February 2002

A picture from York shows a shield in a coat of arms high over a gate. So, I theorized that the flag should be a banner of arms and constructed this one out of the England flag. Has anyone see this flag? Is its ratio 2:1? Should the lions be nearer to
each other? 
Blas Delgado Ortiz
, 7 February 2002

This shield is abundantly seen around the City of York - it was visible on the city wall, and on the bridge over the River Ouse.  During the International Vexillogical Congress in York [in 2001] the flag as Blas has drawn it was flying high from the Guild Hall, although I am not sure if it was 2:1 or not.
Rob Raeside, 8 February 2002


[Flag of City of York] image by Daniel Martin

Dewsbury is a town in West Yorkshire, northern England, with around 60,000 inhabitants. Legend has it that St Paulinus, the "Apostle of the North" preached at
Dewsbury in 627 after being sent by the Pope to Christianize the kingdom of Northumbria. A monastery was established and Dewsbury became a the centre of a huge parish stretching over 400 km2. It became a royal manor and stayed that way until the Norman conquest. Legendary outlaw Robin Hood is said to be buried in the grounds of Kirklees Priory, which lay in the parish of Dewsbury.

Dewsbury was a small village until the beginning of the nineteenth century. It built its fortune on the textile industry and following the industrial revolution became the thriving centre of the heavy woollen industry, exporting cloth and blankets throughout the world. One of its most famous wares was "shoddy" cloth, which was made from a mixture of wool and torn-up rags. Much of the clothes it produced were cheap and, some said, of inferior quality: hence the later pejorative meaning of the word "shoddy". The textile industry declined after the first world war. Among famous Dewsburians are Betty Boothroyd, the first female speaker of the UK House of Commons; Patrick Stewart, actor who appeared in Star Trek and the X-Men; Charlotte Bronte, author who based Jayne Eyre on her experiences of teaching in the town; and Tom Kilburn, inventor of the modern computer.

The flag of Dewsbury is based on the town's coat of arms, which were granted following Dewsbury's incorporation as a municipal borough in 1862. The blue and yellow checks are from the coat of arms of the de Warenne family. The Warennes came over with William the Conqueror after the Normans defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. They were created earls of Sussex and were granted patches of land throughout the country, including the manor of Dewsbury. The two owls are taken from the coat of arms of the Savile family. The Saviles have owned a great deal of land in the town since the middle ages: their hall was at Thornhill in the south of the town until the civil war, when it was blown up by accident. They are still major landowners. The cross is from the arms of the Copley family, another large landowner in the area. The head of the family is the Earl of Wilton.
Daniel Martin, 9 November 2004


A blue and gold flag (three gold crowns above each other on a blue field) based on the coat of arms for the city was seen flying in Queen's Gardens, Hull. This design was first seen on a seal dated 1331. The crowns have variously been described as 'royal crowns' or 'ducal coronets' and 'crest crowns'. The present blazon describes the arms as 'three crowns or in a field of azure'. There are a number of traditions as to why there are three crowns. One tradition suggests it's because of the three English monarchs involved in the founding and development of the early town. (Edward I, Edward II and Henry VI). Another suggests is to do with the three great lords responsible for the development of the city. There is even tradition that links it to the Three Kings who acme to visit the baby Jesus at his birth. Generally however it is accepted now that it is most likely due to the town's devotion to the Holy Trinity. (For example, the main church of the mediaeval town was ascribed to the Trinity.)
Paul Leaver, 6 September 2005

According to my copy of The Colours of the Fleet (created & compiled by Malcolm Farrow OBE, FCMI and edited by David Prothero), Hull City Council has a flag meriting "further research but when the council is sitting a red ensign defaced with a shield (azure bearing three coronets in pale or) in the fly, is flown above the city hall.
Keir Heath, 24 December 2009

When I saw this flag, it was flying on the flagpole on the Alfred Gelder Street side of the Guildhall, rather than over the main entrance (which normally flies two banners of arms). Such a flag has certainly been in use for over thirty years, because the Flag Institute did a survey of British local government flags in the late 1960s/early 1970s (not sure of the date - it was certainly before the big reorganisation in 1973-74), and Hull City Council reported using a defaced Red Ensign then.
Ian Sumner, 31 December 2009

An Alternative Yorkshire Flag

[Flag of Yorkshire] image by Michael Faul

This new flag for the English region of Yorkshire was designed by Michael Faul, Editor of Flagmaster, the journal of the Flag Institute.  It shows the cross of St. George, the historic symbol of England, with the vertical band off-centre to the left, in the format adopted by most Scandinavian countries. This reflects the fact that Yorkshire is part of England, but also that it has close ties with Scandinavia, having been settled and ruled by Norwegians and Danes in the eighth and ninth centuries. The white rose is shown on a blazing sun, called "rose-en-soleil" in heraldry, which is the Royal badge of the Royal house of York, the last member of which to rule England was Richard III (1483-1485). The new flag has been adopted by the Campaign for Yorkshire which is campaigning for a Yorkshire parliament.

Michael Paraskos, 20 September 2002

You may be interested to know that the Yorkshire Dialect Society has adopted this flag and uses it as the masthead on its website. The Campaign for Yorkshire has also expressed interest in "officially" adopting it as the flag for the whole of historic Yorkshire (but has not yet actually done so). The centre of the rose is yellow, for the pollen stamens.

Michael Faul, 11 October 2002

Another Yorkshire flag

[Flag of Yorkshire] image located by Chrystian Kretowicz, 13 February 2009


Based on a story in the Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express:

"South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council designed and commissioned the flag to include the Yorkshire Rose and three coats of arms representing North, East and West Riding – the areas which made up Yorkshire before it was made into four divisions.
The flag has the three coats of arms from North, East and West Riding. "We designed it in a Y shape with the Yorkshire rose in the middle. Red, white and blue were chosen as the colours because they represent Britain. I see this as the proper Yorkshire flag – I wouldn't walk behind the other one."
Chrystian Kretowicz, 13 February 2009

South Yorkshire

[Flag of Yorkshire] image located by JerrytheGerman, 18 May 2008


The flag shown here is marketed by a camping equipment and adventure travel company, and its status as an official flag of the region is uncertain.
Rob Raeside, 18 May 2008