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Durham, England

Last modified: 2008-12-20 by
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County Durham

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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/juanj/467284210/ or http://www.flickr.com/photos/mmyang/1121589823/. 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

Here 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


Durham City

[Durham] by Marcus Schmöger, 24 September 2001

Durham is a city about 30 km south of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; it has a really magnificent church (a striking Norman cathedral). The flag is a banner-of-arms and shows a red cross (fimbriated white) on black.
Marcus Schmöger, 24 September 2001

The City of Durham has a simple and attractive shield which is widely seen on official notices, sign-posts, litter bins and other street furniture, etc. It is a red cross on a black field, fimbriated white. There is at least one place where this appears as a flag, in the market place outside the Council offices. The flag is severely tattered, being little more than half its original length, but it looks as though it is 1:2.

Note that Durham also gives its name to the county of which it is the 'capital'. The county has a coat of arms which incorporates what is known as the 'St Cuthbert's Cross'. This also appears in other coats of arms, but not in any flags or banners of arms which I have seen, with the possible exception of a rather unsatisfactory flag which was flying at Durham Castle, which is now part of the University of Durham. It was a maroon field with a coat of arms, including separate a motto, stuck in the middle of it - not at all heraldic.
André Coutanche, 29 October 2004


Washington

The small town of Washington lies 6.5 miles (10 km) west of Sunderland, 8 miles (13 km) south of Newcastle, and 10 miles (16 km) north of Durham. It is the place where the Washington family with all its branches (including the one leading to George W.) lived for several hundred years (ca. 1180-1452). I visited the "Washington Old Hall" there which is, however, mostly originating from the 17th century. Of course there are many memorabilia of George Washington (and the USA) there:

Marcus E.V. Schmöger 24 September 2001

The word molet (more usually spelled mullet) means a star, and in Britain usually a five-pointed star. (Any other number of points is specified.) A mullet with a hole in the middle (pierced) is called a spur rowel, so the explanation in brackets is incorrect, since the mullets in both the Washington family arms and the District of Columbia flag are whole, not pierced.

Mike Oettle, 13 January 2002


Durham University

The University of Durham pages about arms and mottos of the various colleges is at http://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/university.calendar/volumei/2004.2005/colleges/arms.pdf and of the University itself is at http://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/university.calendar/volumeii/2001.2002/introduction.pdf. This has to do a photo showing a square green flag with a cross, a lion and an x on it.
Jan Mertens, 20 November 2008

The flag which appears on the Flicker link is generally to be seen hanging vertically and indoors rather than outdoors. There is a large version of the flag in Durham Cathedral; this is the first time I have seen it flying outdoors and horizontally.
Ron Lahav, 21 November 2008

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