Should Leicestershire have an official flag?

01/03/2020

A campaign has been launched to design and register a flag for the County of Leicestershire based on the historic image of a fox and a  motif once borne by SImon de Montfort.     Leicestershire is the only one of the thirty-nine historic counties in England without a flag registered with the Flag Institute.  

Some counties such as Cornwall have flags with designs dating back to the seventeenth century.   Others, like Sussex and Berkshire, registered designs recently.

The College of Arms is the authority on the flying of flags in England and maintains the only official register of flags.  It was established in 1484 and as part of the Royal Household operates under the authority of The Crown.  A separate private body called the Flag Institute, financed by its own membership, also maintains a registry of United Kingdom flags called 'the UK Flag Registry', though this has no official status under English law.

The red and white divided field was a pattern borne by the de Montfort earls of Leicester, whose family emanated from Normandy.   Simon de Montfort, the sixth earl, came from France to claim lands which had belonged to his ancestors.   He returned to Gascony in 1248 to settle King Henry III's unruly lands, which caused the locals to petition the king against him.   He was tried for misgovernment at Westminster but won his case.

De Montfort and other barons were becoming disaffected with the King's irresponsible rule, they arrived fully armed at a Great Council meeting, where, led by de Montfort, they forced the King to accept reforms, the 'Provisions of Oxford.'   A Parliament was to be called and a permanent council of fifteen, of whom de Montfort was one, was to control the King's actions.

On 14 May 1264, de Montfort conquered the King's army on the South Downs north of Lewes in Sussex to become the de facto ruler of England.   After a rule of just over a year, de Montfort met his death at the hands of forces loyal to the King at the Battle of Evesham.  He is regarded today as one of the progenitors of modern parliamentary democracy.

Link to British County Flags website for more information