Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, raised the flag of Dorset today (2 June 2014) outside the Department for Communities and Local Government headquarters to celebrate the important role counties play in the nation’s cultural heritage.
The government is championing local communities continuing to cherish and celebrate such traditional ties and community spirit. Ministers have previously changed the law to make it easier to fly flags without a permit from the council - these new freedoms include flying the Dorset flag.
Eric Pickles said:
I’m delighted for Her Majesty’s Government to recognise and celebrate Dorset by flying its flag in Whitehall. England’s 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. This sense of pride and shared identity is one of the things that binds communities together.
The historic English counties are one of the oldest forms of local government in Western Europe. Their roots run deep.
John Wilson, Chairman of Dorset County Council, said:
I am proud that the Dorset flag is being flown outside the Department for Communities and Local Government. It symbolises the important working connection between the department and the historic counties of England.
Dorset is an ancient county with a proud historical heritage. Its history is written across its landscape and along the beautiful Jurassic Coast and it is no surprise that Dorset folk have a distinctive pride in their identity and an instinctive love for their county.
Here are 7 little known facts about Dorset :
- the Celtic name ‘Dorseteschire’ means the place of fisticuffs
- the first Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) ever seen in British skies was recorded on 8 December 1733 in Fleet, Dorset; this preceded the term UFO by more than 200 years
- the body of Dorset’s most famous literary son, Thomas Hardy, might have been interred in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey - but he had his heart buried in Dorset beside first wife Emma
- the first-ever radio station was set up in the Haven Hotel in Poole, by the British Telecoms company, Marconi, back in 1899
- Enid Blyton’s Famous Five adventure stories were inspired by the Dorset countryside around the Isle of Purbeck
- the Boy Scout movement was founded in 1907 and held its first camp in Dorset
- the Dorset Naga is one of the hottest chilli peppers in the World - grown in Dorset and at least 3 times hotter than the scotch bonnet, the chilli is so fiery that you must wear gloves to handle it
This is part of a series of steps to champion England’s local and national identities. Last month, the department launched a new initiative to support the ‘tapestry’ of traditional English counties being displayed on street and road signs. The government also published a new online interactive map of England’s county boundaries.
Planning rules have been changed to allow for councils to put up boundary signs marking traditional English counties - including the likes of Cumberland, Huntingdonshire, Westmorland and Middlesex. The government has also proposed changes to highways regulations to allow traditional county names to appear on boundary road signs.
The government has previously changed Whitehall rules to allow local and county flags to be flown without planning permission, and supported the Flag Institute in encouraging a new wave of county and community flags to be designed and flown by local communities.