Secretary of State Eric Pickles today (13 September 2010) hoisted the first county flag above the department to celebrate the important place English counties have in the nation’s cultural heritage.
Mr Pickles has asked that flags representing the historic counties of England be flown alongside the Union Flag outside the department’s Eland House headquarters in Victoria.
Each flag - including the Red Rose of Lancashire and the White Horse of Kent - will fly for a week at a time throughout the year, with the exception of a week when the European Union flag is required to be flown.
Mr Pickles today raised the first of these flags - for his adopted home county of Essex - in a ceremony also attended by celebrity astrologer and long-time English county campaigner Russell Grant.
Following Essex, the county flags will be flown in alphabetical order or - in cases such as Cornwall and Yorkshire - to coincide with particular county days.
Eric Pickles said:
The Union Flag rightly has pride of place outside the department but I’m delighted it will now be flown alongside our traditional and ceremonial county flags. English counties continue to form an important part of our cultural and local identity in this country and many people remain deeply attached to their home county - both the traditional ‘cricket’ counties and in some cases their more modern administrative successors. This sense of pride and shared identity is one of the things that binds communities together and it’s right that the government department responsible for communities and local government should be actively recognising the important role they play.
Celebrity astrologer and historian Russell Grant said:
Our counties are over a thousand years old and are steeped in history. They give us a sense of identity, of community, and great pride in where we live. I am delighted that they are being recognised in this way.
Peter Martin, Leader of Essex County Council said:
It is a wonderful honour for the Essex flag to be the first raised at the Department for Communities and Local Government headquarters. We are extremely proud of our cultural heritage and individual identity in Essex, and promoting strong local communities is one of our top priorities. I am delighted to see that the importance of English counties is being recognised in this way.