Yorkshire Symbols

Coats of Arms

Most of the symbols of Yorkshire are based around the theme of the rose. These are some samples coats of arms. In this case the ones used, at one time or another, for the regions or ridings of East, North and West Yorkshire (left to right).





In all cases the rose is a white rose; as opposed - quite literally - to the red rose of Lancashire. This white rose versus red rose harks back to the Wars of the Roses. These struggles for power between the followers of the Duke of Lancaster and the Duke of York (not the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire) ran from 1455 to 1487. But neither Plantagenet house won in the end since it was the Henry Tudor that eventually became king. His marriage to Elizabeth of York in 1486 united the two families - and created another symbol; the red and white Tudor rose.


However there is a problem when trying to get to grips with Yorkshire’s regional symbols - in that the administration of the largest county has been split for centuries. And these splits have changed over time - especially since 1974. Parts of the east became Humberside; parts of the north became Teesside; parts of the south became South Yorkshire and parts of west even became Lancashire! Now Humberside as gone again - but the current borders still do not line-up with the historic Yorkshire Ridings. As you can see from the map, North Yorkshire (in green) has been given a modern extension all the way south to the River Aire. This extension area plus South Yorkshire (in red) were formerly part of West Yorkshire. However the administrative changes since 1974 are not reflected in some ceremonial offices making the whole thing “a dog’s breakfast”.


YorkshireAll-ArmsIt is much easier to just call it all Yorkshire - and treat York as it’s spiritual heart - ignoring any regional politics.

And this is commonly considered to be the Yorkshire arms - even though there is no obvious body that it represents. There is no Yorkshire equivalent of the Scottish National Party or Plaid Cymru (The Party of Wales) - and no obvious demand for any sort of Northern League. A Yorkshire and Humber Regional Assembly was created under the Labour administration at Westminster in 2002 (?) but that closed in 2009. Now the nearest thing to a county-wide body may well be the Yorkshire Ridings Society (wikipedia). But they are not a political party and there is little enthusiasm for a regional government. [However they have promoted the Yorkshire flag].

A more likely Yorkshire view of politics would be to scrap the regions’s political representation at the EU - a waste o’brass. And for the Westminster lot just to stop interfering and leave well alone - something few politicians can manage.

Old attitudes do change with time - but there is a deep seated distrust of the policies, regulations - and taxes - imposed by the politicians and “foreigners”. Incredibly some say that this distrust goes back hundreds of years - to  the English Civil War, Pilgrimage of Grace, War of the Roses, Harrying of the North - or even further!



Yorkshire Flags

Flying unofficial flags in England can, in theory, result in fines since they can be considered as advertising and so require a licence. But It is quite common to see all types of unofficial flags, often carrying a message, on display in public places without much obvious legal action.

The Yorkshire-wide design registered by the Yorkshire Ridings Society - the single rose on plain blue - is the one commonly available. It is the one used at almost all official events. Despite being registered the colours do seem to vary significantly in shade - probably because exact Pantone references are hard to find (or non existent?).

However there was at least one different design for Yorkshire - a rose and sun on the St George’s cross; shown here as two slight variations. Despite not being officially recognised this flag had more going for it - incorporating both the central design elements of the Yorkshire coat of arms and the flag of England.

Then later this same design of flag became the winning entry in a competition for a new West Riding flag. And was officially registered at the Flag Institute on 23 May 2013. In addition official flags for the North Riding and East Riding were selected and all are now commercially available. South Yorkshire is not a traditional riding and is treated in the same way as regions such as Humberside.

But despite this recent activity and official recognition there are various earlier - and unofficial - designs that appear in shops and on the Internet.





West Riding

North Riding

East Riding

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