Time to have a say about county flag

A CHANGE in planning laws means it is now permitted to fly an English county flag. But is this Huntingdonshire s? That may be for you to decide. To qualify as an official county flag, the design must be accepted by the public and registered with the Flag

A CHANGE in planning laws means it is now permitted to fly an English county flag. But is this Huntingdonshire's? That may be for you to decide.

To qualify as an official county flag, the design must be accepted by the public and registered with the Flag Institute. But to reach that stage it would by now need to have been flown in defiance of planning laws.

The Huntingdonshire Society, which was founded in 1998 to promote the historic county, has adapted the design (above left) from part of the coat of arms of the old county council, which was abolished in 1974.

Its secretary, Rupert Barnes, whose artist wife, Ann-Georgina, designed it at their Hertfordshire home, told The Hunts Post: "Huntingdonshire is an ancient county and one to be proud of. A county flag will let the people of Huntingdonshire show their loyalty. We hope, too, that visitors seeing the county flag will be reminded of a shire too-often forgotten. There is so much to be appreciated here that we do our fellow Britons a disservice if we stay hidden.

"The Huntingdonshire Society is helping to launch the county flag. It belongs to all the people of the historic county though. We hope that the good folk of Huntingdonshire will accept it.

"County flags have been effectively legalized in the last few weeks. The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 say that one no longer needs planning permission to fly an English county flag. Let us grasp the opportunity."

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Mr Barnes said the Cornish flag had been accepted in that county and registered as a result of having been flown - quite unlawfully - on virtually every hotel, guest house, pub and restaurant wherever the writ of the Stannary (Cornwall's ancient parliament) runs.

The change in planning laws flowed from an enforcement notice issued by Richmondshire District Council, in North Yorkshire, on a guest house owner who was flying the white rose Yorkshire flag, which dates from mediaeval times.

"If they can do it in Cornwall, I'm hoping we can get it as widespread in Huntingdonshire," Mr Barnes said. "If we can get a few town councils flying them and residents hanging them from their windows, that would be great.

"But if people loathe the design and someone comes up with a better one, that would be fine.

"It's something that belongs to the people, not the Government. The College of Arms doesn't do county flags."

Fellow society member Derek Norman thought Cromwell's birthday, April 25, might be an appropriate day to fly Huntingdonshire's new device.

# The Huntingdonshire Society's flag is taken from the crest of the former Huntingdonshire County Council's arms (now the district council's arms). Those arms may not lawfully be used by anyone else.

The arms actually have two horns. On the shield is a cornucopia (horn of plenty) to represent the rich agricultural land of Hunts. The flag is in the crest, the part above the helm.

The crest is: "On a Wreath of Argent and Azure a Lion rampant Gules gorged with a Collar flory counter-flory Or and supporting a Staff proper flying therefrom a Banner Vert charged with a Hunting Horn stringed Or."

That means: "On a blue and silver wreath a collared red lion bearing a flagstaff from which flies a green flag with a golden hunting horn strung with ribbons."

The Huntingdonshire Society says it has simply adopted that heraldic flag.

Rupert Barnes explained: "The derivation of hunting horn motif is obvious. It is found elsewhere too. The seal of Huntingdon has a huntsman holding a horn. The former Borough of Huntingdon and Godmanchester had on its shield two strung hunting horns. Even the arms of Cambridgeshire County Council have it; the supporters either side of the shield, great bustards as they are, have badges around their necks: on one cross-keys for Peterborough and on the other a hunting horn for Huntingdonshire. With all this material the horn blared out to be on the flag.

"The red lion represents an earlier connection of the county's," he added. "The Earldom of Huntingdon was held by several Kings of Scots - hence the red rampant lion from the arms of Scotland, with a collar based on the tressure from those arms."

Design a flag for Hunts

If you have any views on either of these designs or would like to submit

one of your own, e-mail editor@huntspost.co.uk or write to The Editor, The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TB.

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