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Wiltshire (England)

Ceremonial English County

Last modified: 2022-02-01 by rob raeside
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[Wiltshire Flag] image provided by Helen Pocock, 17 May 2007

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Introduction: The Ceremonial Wiltshire

The ceremonial county of Wiltshire consists of two unitary authority areas, Wiltshire and Swindon, governed respectively by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council. Before 2009 Wiltshire (apart from Swindon) was divided into four local government districts, Kennet, North Wiltshire, Salisbury and West Wiltshire. They existed under the Wiltshire County Council, carrying out more strategic tasks, such as education and county roads. In 2009 these five local authorities were merged into a single unitary authority called the Wiltshire Council. With the abolition of the District of Salisbury, a new Salisbury City Council was created at the same time to carry out several citywide functions and to hold the City's charter.
Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

The Story of the Wiltshire Flag

Like many other counties of England, Wiltshire needs to have its own flag, and we believe it should. The Harper Collins Book of Flags, sees the purpose of flags not just as a form of decoration, but expresses the view that "the main function of flags is still that of symbols for identification and expressions of unity" For our design we have included some elements from the Wiltshire County Council flag, of the green and white bars, which were probably first introduced to represent the green of the downs and escarpments, with the chalk underlay. The use of these two colours in flag symbolism is an added bonus, as white means peace, and green can mean, hope, joy or safety.
As a centre piece on this flag, we have The Great Bustard (Otis tarda). This previously extinct bird (since 1832 in England) is now part of a ten year breeding programme on Salisbury plain, one of only two areas in Great Britain, that it originally lived, and if the programme is a success, it will be a milestone, as this is the first ever attempt to re-introduce a nationally extinct species in the UK, and in addition it is the heaviest flying bird in the world. The construction of the flag, has the male bird reproduced in gold standing on a solid green background, to illustrate the open grassland that is its favoured habitat, surrounded by a circle of six rocks, which in heraldic symbolism expresses "Safety, refuge and protection". This circle has two other functions, acting as an illustration of the two largest stone circles of Wiltshire, at Stonehenge and Avebury, and in addition the relevance of the six stones or rocks is related to the number of counties that are adjoined to Wiltshire, namely (clockwise) Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset.
The technical specification of the flag is that it is a 3:5 ratio, and will be manufactured in Green and Gold onto a white material, (the 2 specific PMS colours are currently being finalised, but will most likely be Green 347 and Gold 873). Ratio 3:5
This information is copyright by 2006 ©:, but provided to FOTW for information.

In a separate article, extracted from "Wiltshire Life", the following can be found:

There are no official county flags, only ones that have been adopted through public acceptance, although once adopted it is unlikely that planners would come down like a tonne of bricks on an innocent flag flyer. If, however, the flag included that complete no-no - the use of any sort of slogan in the design - it will instantly be considered advertising material and therefore subject to a whole new range of regulations.

Undeterred, Mike gave the task of designing a flag for Wiltshire to his daughter Helen Pocock, who works with him in the family print business. She took to heart the basic rules of flag design, which are keep it simple, use relevant symbols, do not exceed three colours, no lettering or seals that will appear as mirror image on the reverse and be distinctive.

Taking the green and white stripes from the county council flag as her inspiration, Helen created a background of formalised curves, representing the green of the downs over their chalk underlay. In flag symbolism, the white stands for peace, while green means hope, joy or safety.

Central to the design is a great bustard, that large bird that was once an indigenous resident of Salisbury Plain but became extinct and is now being reintroduced. The bustard stands against a green circle that represents its preferred grassy habitat, surrounded by a ring of six segments or rocks, which reflect both Wiltshire stone circles and the six counties that abut our borders.

The design was submitted to the ultimate arbitrator, the Flag Institute, which had only a few minor suggestions for amendments, the "golden ratio" set down by 13th century Italian mathematician Fibonacci, which means a lot in flag design. Now the quest for public acclaim and acceptance had to start. Mike contacted the great and good connected with Wiltshire, including the Duchess of Cornwall, the Great Bustard Project and local authorities. He was gratified to receive positive feedback and offers of support from all concerned.

So now the time came to manufacture 250 flags and seek official permission to fly one from his own pole. The latter involved the same process required to build a block of flats, with a formal planning application, notices displayed and letters to all his neighbours soliciting their views on the desirability of flying a green, white and gold flag in Mike and Phyllis's garden. Happily, no one objected, and the official first raising took place on September 24 2006. When seeking public acceptance it is important to let the populace know a new Wiltshire flag exists and this is not easily accomplished when the flag is only flown in a secluded back garden in Trowbridge.

So Mike invited the Marquess of Bath, the mayor of Trowbridge and the Trowbridge town crier in full regalia, plus the local paper and various relations and friends to drum up publicity. In keeping with the Wiltshire theme, the wine served came from Bradford on Avon, the beer from Wadworths of Devizes, and a spread of delicious Wiltshire produce was on offer at this most unusual garden party.

Initial publicity brought about some startling results, including the sale of a flag to an American lawyer who spotted the story on the internet and wanted a present for his aunt, who has a bit of a thing about Wiltshire. With flags and car stickers now on display in the Middle East, America and Italy, Mike is starting to market the notion but the really important thing is to get it seen and accepted by moonrakers. A dinner held by great bustard supporters in Salisbury saw the sale of 11 flags, which is a step in the right direction, but now the onus is on us, the people of Wiltshire, to show our pride in our county.

Helen Pocock, 17 May 2007

The Wiltshire County flag with the great bustard depicted in the centre can now be seen on a daily basis flying on the flagpole outside County Hall in Trowbridge. It was accepted by the County Council on June 5th this year, the chairman and leader of the council raised the flag.
Mike Prior, 10 July 2007

The Wiltshire County flag with the Great Bustard was officially accepted by the entire Wiltshire Council councilors on  December 1st 2009.
Mike Prior, 1 January 2010

The Wiltshire flag has been registered on the Flag Institute Registry (1 December 2009).
Jason Saber, 2 August 2010

From the Flag Institute Registry:

  • Flag Type: County Flag
  • Flag Date: 1st December 2009
  • Flag Designer: Mike Prior
  • Adoption Route: Local Council
  • UK Design Code: UNKG7419
  • Aspect Ratio: 3:5
  • Pantone© Colours: White, Green 347, Gold 873
Source: The Flag Institute Registry: Wiltshire
Valentin Poposki, 2 July 2020

Other Wiltshire Flags
Commercial Variants

[Wiltshire Commerical #2]     [Wiltshire Commerical #3]
images by Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

During the period of time before the Wiltshire Council registered the county flag with the Flag Institute there was not a shortage of proposed flags or commercially manufactured flags to attempt to fill the gap. Here are a couple of those on the market.
Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

Wiltshire Coat of Arms

[Wiltshire proposal] image by Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

The arms were granted in 1937. The green and white colours of the arms echo the county's pasture-lands and chalk downs. The striped field also recalls the arms of the city of Salisbury. The canton bears the dragon badge of Wessex. The crest has the great bustard which is now extinct in England. It is claimed that Wiltshire was its last refuge.
James Frankcom, 13 October 2003

"The arms were officially granted on April 5, 1937. The green and white colours of the arms echo the county's pasture-lands and chalk downs. The stripy field also recalls the arms of the city of Salisbury. The canton bears the dragon badge of Wessex. The crest has the great bustard which is now extinct in England. It is claimed that Wiltshire was its last refuge, but this disputed heraldically by Cambridgeshire."

Official Blazon:

  • Arms: Barry of eight Argent and Vert on a Canton of the first a Dragon rampant Gules.
  • Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours a Bustard wings elevated and addorsed proper.
Source: Heraldry of the World: Wiltshire.
Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

Wiltshire Council Logos

[Wiltshire Council Logos]     [Wiltshire Council Logos] images located by Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

The Wiltshire Council doesn't seem to use their Coat of Arms on any flags, only these logos on their website headers.
Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

Wiltshire Constabulary
Wiltshire Police

[Wiltshire Constabulary Sheild] Wiltshire Constabulary shield (old)    [Wiltshire Police Flag] images located by Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

The Wiltshire Police, formerly known as Wiltshire Constabulary, are the territorial police force responsible for policing Wiltshire. It is the third smallest force in the United Kingdom (after the City of London Police and Warwickshire) but has the 20th largest geographic area to police of all 45 territorial police forces of the United Kingdom. (source).
Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

[Wiltshire Police Flag]     [Wiltshire Police Pride Flag ] images by Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020
Images based on this photo and this photo

The first flag was flown at half-mast in memory of PC Andrew Harper and the second flag was flown for the 2017 Gay Pride Week.
Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service
Wiltshire and Dorset Fire and Rescue Service

[Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service]     [Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service] images by Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020
Images based on this photo and this photo

The Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, first established in 1948, was the county-wide emergency fire and rescue service for the county between 1948 and 2016.
In 2016 they merged into the new Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. Their headquarters and training center is at Manor House, Potterne.
Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

[Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service]     [Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service] images by Pete Loeser, 11 November 2020

The Royal Welsh Regiment Flag

[Royal Welsh Regiment, Wales] image located by Pete Loeser, 5 November 2020

The 1st Battalion of the Royal Welsh is a Regular Army armored infantry battalion based at Tidworth Camp. It is part of the 12th Armored Infantry Brigade whose headquarters are at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire. This flag is not their colors, but a commercially sold flag for those supporting the Regiment.
Pete Loeser, 5 November 2020

Proposed Wiltshire Regional Flag

[Wiltshire flag] António Martins-Tuválkin, 17 May 2007

Another design is being produced and sold as the Wiltshire "Regional Flag", consisting of the arms, offset towards the hoist, on a 1x2 white field.
Ned Smith, 25 April 2007

Blazon: Barry of eight argent and vert on a canton of the first a dragon rampant gules, and for the crest on a wreath of the colours a Great Bustard (Otis tarda) wings elevated and addorsed proper.
The green and white represent green fields and the chalk hills of the Downs; the dragon represents the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. The bustard was once common in the area, but became extinct in the UK in the 1840s. There is currently a project to reintroduce the species back into the UK.
Ian Sumner, 18 May 2007

Proposed Wiltshire White Horse Flag

[Wiltshire horse flag] image by Chrys Fear, 9 September 2008

I believe the White Horse remains the natural flag of the county - simple, striking, iconic, and free from copyright, it is everything Wiltshire should have in a flag. An article is soon to appear in the White Horse News, a local newspaper based in Westbury with a circulation of 10,000 copies a fortnight. This should raise the county flag profile quite a lot.
Chrys Fear, 9 September 2008