Both the county flag and county day for Hampshire have been recognised by the UK’s Flag Institute following support from organisations across Hampshire. These included Hampshire Hockey Association and was fronted by the Lymington & District Historical Society, through its Chair Caroline Birch.
The county flag is representative of the Hampshire community as a whole rather than for any specific institutions. The flag is copyright free in order to for it to be freely used by all individuals and businesses. It is hoped that the Hampshire public will now be free to emulate the pride shown by other county’s who fly their flag, use it on packaging and see it appear as car stickers, lapel pins and other merchandise.
The flag design is a modified form of the banner of arms granted to Hampshire County Council in 1992, comprising a bi-colour of yellow and red with a rose and crown. Both the colours and emblems have been associated with the county for centuries. In order to make a clear distinction with the council’s banner, and to avoid royal and national symbols, the registered design replaces the Royal Crown and Tudor Rose with variants.
The Royal Crown thus becomes a Saxon Crown in reference to Hampshire’s early English history, with Winchester being the Capital of the Wessex kingdom from which England arose. Many types of rose have been depicted to symbolise Hampshire over the centuries and here a rose of three tiers – red, white and red – is used to reflect this variety (such as red on the council banner of arms, white on Hampshire cricket). As a unique rose in Englisg county vexillography it cannot be mistaken for the other roses used in other county flags.
The Flag Institute also seeks to record flag flying days for flags and St Swithun’s Day – July 15th – was agreed as the obvious date for such a Hampshire County Day. St Swithun is the Patron Saint of Winchester and the County as a whole, with many other county days being dedicated for their patron saints such as Piran in Cornwall.
St Swithun’s Day is already well known nationally for the belief that if there is rain on this day then it will rain for 40 days more. Hampshire County Council have committed to fly the new community flag for the first time on this date – making it even more important that it is a sunny day on July 15th this year!