Secretary of State Eric Pickles today (24 October 2013) hoisted the county flag above the department to celebrate the important place English counties have in the nation’s cultural heritage.
Mr Pickles today raised the flag for his adopted home county of Essex - in a ceremony also attended by Essex MPs Simon Burns MP, Stephen Metcalfe MP and Rebecca Harris MP - to coincide later this week with St Cedd’s Day, the patron saint of Essex, on Saturday 26 October.
The flag of Essex is ancient in origin and features 3 Saxon seaxes on a red field. The 3 seaxes show the links between the historic county of Essex and its derivation of ‘East Saxons’. These 3 seaxes are the coat of arms for the ancient kingdom of the East Saxons and mean that Essex has Germanic origins.
Eric Pickles said:
I’m delighted to see that the only way is Essex at my department today as we recognise my adopted home county on its official day.
Flags have the power to unite communities and inspire a sense of pride and belonging to an area and I hope to see residents across the county flying their flags. England’s historic 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.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said:
The 3 seaxes are a really important symbol of Essex culture and history so it’s wonderful that our flag is flying over Westminster today. As one of the biggest counties in England with a focus on growth, prosperity and innovation, I’m delighted that Essex is being recognised by government.
Mr Pickles is encouraging local residents to continue to champion such local identities, irrespective of current tiers of local administration. Working with the independent Flag Institute, the government is also encouraging more local communities to create their own local flags.
Last year, Mr Pickles relaxed the rules relating to the flying of flags to make it easier for the public to fly a wider range of flags without the need for express consent which could cost up to £335. The changes will increase the number of flags that people can fly, promoting integration and community spirit.
See Flying flags: a plain English guide - a guide to the flags that can be flown without permission from your local planning authority.
The Flag Institute guide to community flags aims to help communities design their own flags or organise a competition to design one.
See the Association of British Counties website for more information on the history of Essex.
See the previous announcement for further information on historic counties.