Cumberland finally joins the rest of the historic counties that comprise Cumbria with the registration of an official flag, which is soon set to be flown with pride from some of its most iconic locations.
Last year the Historic Counties Trust sought to co-ordinate a flag registration that would celebrate the county and give it the flag it deserved. After agreeing the design the flag was successfully accepted into the UK Flag Registry on 13th December 2012 with the support of: Bridekirk Parish Council, Cockermouth and District Civic Trust, Cumberland Agricultural Society, Cumberland Football Association, Cumberland Geological Society, Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian Society, Cumbria County History Trust, Federation of Cumbrian Amenity Societies, Holme Low Parish Council, Lakeland Dialect Society, Muncaster Parish Council, Penrith Civic Society, Workington and District Civic Trust and the Workington Twinning Association.
Following registration the flag has now started to become commercially available and the Association of British Counties agreed to donate Cumberland flags to a number of parties that are interested in making use of the flag. Plans are to send flags to the parish councils of the historic county but initially flags are being sent to registration supporters and other bodies that have expressed an interest in the flags including Cockermouth Castle, Cumbria Military Museum in Carlisle Castle and Wordsworth House & Garden.
Zoe Gilbert, manager of Wordsworth House and Garden, said: “We are really impressed with the dramatic design, which represents the county perfectly. This is another great way to bring heritage to life.”
Rory Stewart MP, who requested one of the first flags, said: “I think it is absolutely fantastic that the historic county of Cumberland is to have a new flag. I hope Cumbrians will take pride in learning that a Cumbrian flag was raised above Eland House in Westminster last week to celebrate ‘Cumbria Day’, and the new flag draws heavily on these traditional features. A flag is an important symbol of our culture and heritage and it would be great to see the new flag raised all across Cumberland.”
D’ye ken yon flag?
The design is the banner of arms of the former Cumberland County Council. Granted in 1950 the arms symbolise the coast line, mountains, fells and famous lakes with the blue and white wavy lines, whilst the green upper half with Grass-of-Parnassus flowers recalls the marshy up-lands and fertile plains of the county. The green of the flag is the same shade of green as the Welsh flag providing a historical link for the county’s name – first mentioned in 945 – is from “Cymry-land”; land of the Welshmen. New artwork was created for the registration, largely to ensure the county flower, the Grass-of-Parnassus, was as distinctive and iconic as the heraldic rose.
The assistant to the Chief-Vexillologist of the Flag Institute, Philip Tibbetts, lives in Penrith and liaised with the campaign to register the historic county flag. He said: “The registration of a flag helps allow any member of the public to freely fly it, expressing pride in their regional cultural identity, in-line with the flag flying regulations updated by the Department of Communities & Local Government last year. Registration of this design effectively legitimises the many people who already fly the banner of the former Cumberland County Council. It will be great to see the flag around the county and I hope local companies may also adopt it – I can just imagine it adorning Cumberland Sausages in my local butchers!”
The adoption of a county flag for Cumberland comes a year after its neighbouring county, Westmorland, had its flag registered. Modern administrative Cumbria also covers the Furness portion of Lancashire and a small part of Yorkshire around Sedburgh, both these counties already have well established registered flags. Symbolism from all four historic counties can be seen in Cumbria Council coat of arms, including the Grass-of-Parnassus of Cumberland.