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Surrey (England)

Traditional English County

Last modified: 2021-04-03 by rob raeside
Keywords: surrey | oak leaf |
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[Flag of Surrey] image by Jason Saber, 13 September 2014

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Introduction: Surrey County

The Traditional Surrey County is a perfect example of how English counties and their sizes change with time, urbanization, and population growth. Today Ceremonial Greater London constitutes nearly all of the historic county of Middlesex, parts of the historic counties of Kent, Essex, and Hertfordshire, and a very large part of the historic county of Surrey. Surrey being one of the counties nearest London has its history closely tied to the growth of its large neighbor.
Surrey is bordered today by Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire, Berkshire, and Greater London. Because of this there are many commuter towns and villages throughout the county, but it still has managed to keep a high proportion of woodlands. Although Guildford is traditionally considered the county town, the Surrey County Council itself has been located since 1893 in Kingston-upon-Thames leaving a rather strange situation. The Surrey County Council's headquarters building has been outside the county since 1965, when Kingston and other areas were gobbled up by Greater London. There is talk of moving it to Reigate in 2021. Currently Surrey is divided into eleven districts.
Historically, before Roman times Surrey was part of the lands of the Atrebates tribe, but in AD 43 a war broke out between them and the Catuvellauni, who lived across the Thames River. The Catuvellauni invaded the lands of King Verica of the Atrebates and captured his capital and lands. Verica fled to Gaul and asked for Roman aid which led to the Roman invasion and conquest of Britain the same year.
During the Roman era, the only important settlement within the historic area of Surrey was London, but there were numerous small Romanized towns and communities in the area.
During the 5th and 6th centuries with the Roman withdrawal Surrey was conquered and settled by Saxons. Surrey and the areas north of the Thames may have been part of a larger Middle Saxon kingdom or confederacy. The name Surrey is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "Suþrige" which means "southern region," and therefore was the southern portion of the Middle Saxon territory.
It wasn't long however before King Egbert of Wessex seized control of Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Essex. They were made a shire of Wessex under the rule of the West Saxon kings, who were destined to later become kings of all of England. While in the 9th Century, Surrey did like the most of England suffer attacks of Scandinavian Vikings, for the most part it remained safe due to its location and to the growing power of the neighboring English kingdoms. It was during this period the shire was divided into its 14 hundreds, which continued until Victorian times. These were the hundreds of Blackheath, Brixton, Copthorne, Effingham Half-Hundred, Elmbridge, Farnham, Godalming, Godley, Kingston, Reigate, Tandridge, Wallington, Woking and Wotton.
After the Battle of Hastings, the Norman army advanced through Kent into Surrey, crossed the Thames at Wallingford and descended on London from the north-west, after which the Anglo-Saxon ruling class of Surrey was virtually eliminated by Norman seizure of their land. Surrey had little political or economic significance in the Middle Ages. Its most important source of income was the production of woollen cloth and eventually some manufacturing of paper. During the serious fighting in the various rebellions and civil wars of the late medieval period Surrey's location saw most of the armies simply marching through without stopping, although the usual medieval plundering of supplies and provisions occurred. Under the early Tudor kings, many magnificent royal palaces were constructed in northeastern Surrey, being conveniently close to London.
During the 17th century the Surrey mills became the main producers of gunpowder in England producing great wealth for some in the county. It also became London's principal entertainment district, since the social control exercised there by the local authorities of Surrey was almost non-existent. It was the golden age of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre. The plays of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and John Webster were performed in the playhouses of Surrey. The second Globe theatre was built there in 1614. Because of this and other factors, Surrey came to play a central role in the history of the radical political movements unleashed by the civil war. In 1647 Sir Thomas Fairfax's New Model Army passed through Surrey on their way to occupy London, and the county saw the billeting of troops in the county causing a great deal of resentment and trouble.
Until the modern era Surrey stayed quite sparsely populated in comparison with many parts of southern England, and managed to remain somewhat rustic despite its proximity to the capital, except for its northeastern corner, which London itself spread across swiftly. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the demise of Surrey's long-standing industries of manufacturing paper and gunpowder. Gunpowder production fell victim to the First World War, which brought about a huge expansion of the British munitions industry, followed by sharp contraction and consolidation when the war ended, leading to the closure of the Surrey powder mills.
Today Surrey lies within the London commuter belt with regular railway services and roadways into Greater London. Three major motorways pass through the county. The average wage in Surrey, because of the high proportion of residents who work in financial and corporate services, is one of the highest in the country. It has more headquarters of organizations, corporations and companies than any other county in the United Kingdom. It has four horse-race courses, and hosts international golf competitions at the Wentworth Country Club. The county has a large entertainment establishment and numerous football teams and other sports clubs.
Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021

Description of the Flag

Surrey's chequered flag is derived from the arms of William de Warenne the first Earl of Surrey. The pattern of blue and gold checks has been used in the arms of numerous Surrey towns and appears in the badges or sports kits of many organisations in the county today. The flag was added to the British Flag Registry in September 2014.
Jason Saber, 13 September 2014

  • Flag Type: County Flag
  • Flag Date: C13th
  • Flag Designer: Traditional
  • Adoption Route: Traditional
  • Aspect Ratio: 3:5
  • Pantone® Colours: Gold 116, Blue 286
Valentin Poposki, 1 July 2020

Surrey County Council Flag

[Flag of Surrey County Council] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 11 August 2008

In 2003, I enquired of the County Council if they used a flag, and received this reply from the council's Brand Manager:
"The County Council has a flag carrying the coat of arms of the Chairman of the County Council. This flag is only flown when the County Council sits. The coat of arms used is the arms of the Chairman and not the county and can only be used if permission is given by the Chairman. The flag is a large oblong with the coloured coat of arms positioned in the centre. The surrounding area/background that is not filled with the coat of arms is a creamy white."
So the banner of arms was certainly not used by the Council themselves at that time (although things could have changed in the past five years).
Ian Sumner, 23 April 2008

Surrey County Council Flag Variant

[Surrey County Council variant] image by Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021

When Surrey County Council is represented at an outdoor function [their logo] is also used as a flag. The colour is green and the design of oak leaves reflects the fact that the county of Surrey contains much woodland."
Francisco Santos, 19 June 2003

Surrey County Council Banner of Arms

[Banner of arms of Surrey County] image by Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021

A camping equipment and adventure travel company offers a flag for sale, based on this coat of arms, as a "county flag".
CJC King and António Martins-Tuválkin, 22-23 April 2008

The Surrey County Council Banner of Arms seems now well established and available from multiple sources.
Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021

Surrey County Council Logos

[Logo and Flag of Surrey County Council] image located by António Martins-Tuválkin, 11 August 2008

According to the Surrey History Centre web page, "The the current logo for Surrey County Council which appears on all stationery and publications."
Francisco Santos, 19 June 2003

This quote was interpreted by Francisco Santos as a ~7:9 very dark green flag with the logo and lettering in very light pastel aqua. The logo shows two oak leaves intertwined to form a circle in Escher-like fashion, above "Surrey County Council" composed in two lines with variable-stroke sans-serif capitals, the upper line (Surrey) much larger; all centered to a vertical axis in the middle of the flag area.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 11 August 2008

Other County Logos

[Surrey County Logo #2]     [Surrey County Logo #3] images located by Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021
Based partly on this sign.

Surrey County Arms

[Coat of arms of Surrey County] 1934 Arms    [Coat of arms of Surrey County] 1974 Arms
images by António Martins-Tuválkin, 10 August 2008

The county of Surrey has had two coats of arms. The original one uses colours taken from the personal arms of the ancient Earls of Surrey. A later one was designed after 1965 when a large portion of the county was absorbed into Greater London. The later design does not include the Saxon Crown (which represents Kingston-on-Thames where an ancient stone is kept on which 10th Century English kings were crowned and before that was used by the sub-kings of Surrey) nor does it include the ermine.
James Frankcom, 7 October 2003

Older arms (granted 1934): Per pale azure and sable a fess per pale ermine and or, in chief a representation of the crown of King Edgar proper and a sprig of oak fructed argent [from Briggs, 1971].
Ian Sumner, 11 August 2008

The later coat of arms consists of a shield divided into halves, blue and black. The blue, and also the gold colour in the design are taken from the arms of the Warrennes, the first Earls of Surrey The black derives from the Arms of the towns of Guildford and Godalming. The interlaced gold keys which lie across the shield diagonally represent the power of the ancient Abbey of St Peter at Chertsey which once held extensive lands in Surrey. The keys form part of the Arms of the Diocese of Winchester - which used to include much of Surrey - and have also been retained in the Arms of the Diocese of Guildford. The sprig of oak symbolises Surrey's extensive rural areas and is drawn from the Badge of the FitzAlans, former Earls of Surrey. It also appears, incidentally, in the mouth of the Supporters of the Arms of the Duke of Norfolk, the present Earl of Surrey. The woolpack recalls the importance of the wool trade in medieval Surrey and acts as a reminder of the ancient wealth of the County.
Laurence Jones and James Frankcom, 13 October 2003

Current arms (granted 1974): Per pale Azure and Sable two Keys in bend wards upwards and outwards bows interlaced Or between in dexter base a Woolpack and in sinister chief a Sprig of Oak fructed Argent.
Source: Civic Heraldry of England: Surrey County Council.
Ian Sumner, 11 August 2008

Surrey Police
Surrey Constabulary

[Surrey County Logo #2] Surrey Police Flag [Surrey County Logo #3] Surrey Police Badge
images located by Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021

The Surrey Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the county of Surrey. Its headquarters are located in Mount Browne in Guildford. It has three main area divisions - the Northern, Eastern, and Western Divisions. Within the three divisions are multiple borough teams and a specialist crime/operations divisions.
The Surrey Constabulary was first establish in 1851. Originally Guildford, Reigate and Godalming had separate borough police forces, but Reigate and Guildford forces were merged into the Surrey Constabulary in 1943. The Constabulary modernized its name into simply the Surrey Police around 2000 when it added a part of the London Metropolitan Police District to its current composition.
Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021

Surrey Police Logos

[Surrey County Logo #2]     [Surrey County Logo #3] (badge images based on this poster)

[Surrey County Logo #2]     [Surrey County Logo #3]
All 4 logo images and SP badge located by Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021

These logos and badge are used on publications, documents, posters and websites for the Surrey Police department.
Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021

Surrey Fire & Rescue Service

[Flag of Surrey ] SFRS Flag     [Flag of Surrey ] SFRS Badge
images by Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021 - Badge based on this image.

The Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) provides emergency response service throughout Surrey. A total of 25 fire stations are strategically located to cover the county including several large urban areas such as Guildford, Redhill and Woking, including the London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports. The Surrey County Council acts as the Fire Authority for the SFRS.
Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021

Surrey County Flag
Commercial Variant

[Flag of Surrey ] image by Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021
Drawing based on this photo.

This manufacturer's variant combines the chequered design from the arms of William de Warenne defaced with the crest/arms of the Surrey County Council to make a busy looking Surrey option.
Pete Loeser, 2 April 2021