To celebrate the important place counties play in the nation’s cultural heritage Secretary of State Eric Pickles has asked that English county standards be flown alongside the Union Flag outside DCLG’s Eland House headquarters in Victoria.
Mr Pickles raised the first flag - for his adopted home county of Essex - in a ceremony also attended in September by celebrity astrologer and long-time English county campaigner Russell Grant.
Flags are being flown for a week at a time 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.
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 1 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.
The Leader of Northumberland County Council said:
The Northumberland flag has perhaps the longest history of any flag in the country and is still flown locally with great pride today.
Northumberland is one of England’s most rural and northerly counties so we are delighted that the flag is being flown down in London. This is an imaginative way of celebrating the unique and rich heritage of both our country and county.
The Venerable Bede, an early English historian, talks about a flag of purple and gold which hung over the tomb of St Oswald, the 7th century king of Northumbria. Later, in medieval times the colours of gold and red were adopted by the first Earl of Northumberland and these have remained the county colours ever since.
The department is obliged to fly the European Union flag during Europe Week (week beginning 9 May) under Article 7(2) of EC Regulation 1828/2006.
The Northumberland flag has been kindly loaned by the Association of British Counties at no charge.
Photographs of the county flags will be added to the DCLG Flickr channel