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County Durham, England

Last modified: 2022-06-25 by rob raeside
Keywords: durham | county durham | st cuthbert’s cross |
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[unofficial Flag of County Durham] image by Charles Ashburner

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County Durham

The newly registered flag of County Durham was unfurled today:

The County Durham flag was designed by Katie, Holly and James Moffatt from Chilton, County Durham. It was registered on the UK Flag Registry on Thursday 21 November 2013 after the unfurling at Durham Cathedral. The unfurling was attended by Susan Snowden the Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, Councillor Pauline Charlton the Chairman of Durham County Council, the Mayors of Darlington and Hartlepool and Michael Sadgrove, the Dean of Durham.

The flag is based on the St Cuthbert’s cross, with the whole design counter-changed horizontally between the County Durham colours of blue and yellow. The flag was chosen by a public vote, following a competition to design a flag for County Durham which was launched on Monday 1 July 2013. Six designs were selected from numerous entries, by a panel of judges, for everyone to vote for their favourite design. The County Durham flag is a free, public symbol for all to use, especially on 20th March each year which is not only County Durham Day but also St Cuthbert’s birthday.
Jason Saber, 21 November 2013

Flag Type: County Flag
Flag Date: 21st November 2013
Flag Designer: James, Katie and Holly Moffatt
Adoption Route: Public Vote
UK Design Code: UNKG7439
Aspect Ratio: 3:5
Pantone® Colours: Blue 286, Yellow 109
Valentin Poposki, 28 June 2020

Unofficial flag, formerly in use

[unofficial Flag of County Durham] image by Charles Ashburner

The flag of County Durham is a yellow 'cross' on a blue field with lions in each quarter, the centre of the cross is broken with a white rose on the standard background. There is also a black diamond on each bit of the cross.
Craig Tallentire, 20 September 2007

This flag is a banner of the county's arms, blazoned at the Civic Heraldry of England and Wales site as "Azure Or a Cross Or square pierced of the field between four Lions rampant Argent each ducally crowned Gold and grasping in the dexter claw a Sword in bend sinister proper pommel and hilt also Gold as many Lozenges Sable in the fess point a Rose Argent barbed and seeded proper; the Shield ensigned with a Mural Crown Gold."

As explained there, the arms are that complicated because in 1961, to difference the arms from the previous arms (gold cross on blue with four white lions) which were the arms of the Bishopric of Durham, the lions have been given crowns and swords (emphasising the civil authority of the former palatine Bishops) and the five diamonds were added to represent coal and associated industries. The central diamond was changed to the white rose of Yorkshire on a blue square in 1974, to recognise the addition to the county of the Startforth Rural District, formerly part of the North Riding of Yorkshire.

A banner of the plainer arms of the Bishopric is used at Durham Cathedral: or However, I would like to know whether/to what extent, the banner of arms is used as a county flag. It is definitely available from many online flag sellers, but this does not necessarily indicate use, let alone official use.

The Durham County Council website has quite a few pages concerning the county's flagship, HMS Bulwark. It is quite often mentioned that the ship flies a "Durham County flag" whenever not restricted by Navy regulations. The Flagship Role page includes pictures of the flag, which is red with a badge consisting of a gold wreath(?) around a grey lion rampant (with gold crown and red tongue/claws) on a background of three wavy blue bars on white. I could believe that this flag has more to do with the navy than Durham, but it is described as a Durham County flag, and the ship is said to be flying Durham's colours. What's the story here? Does the Council headquarter fly either of these flags?
Jonathan Dixon, 21 September 2007

The device on the flag is the heraldic badge of the County Council: A Roundel Argent charged with three Bars wavy Azure overall a Lion rampant as in the Arms the whole environed by a Chaplet of Wheat Or and debruising a Cross flory Gold. This flag is either something new, or something just done for HMS Bulwark, because when I asked the council what their flag was as part of a more general survey in 2003, I was told the flag was blue with the arms in the centre.
Ian Sumner, 21 September 2007

So there is evidence of the council itself using two different flags, one in 2003 and one in 2005, but neither is the banner of arms that appears on so many flagseller's websites.
Jonathan Dixon, 21 September 2007

A coat of arms of the former Palatine Bishopric of Durham is shown on the English county flags website. It is close to the modern version, but the white lions do not have swords or crowns. This could have been the arms of the Palatine Bishopric of Durham (which existed 1071-1836).
Ben Cahoon, 17 July 2010