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Church of England Diocesan flags

Last modified: 2013-12-21 by rob raeside
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Flags in Anglican Dioceses

Do Anglican Dioceses in Britain have banners of arms or some other armorial flag to go with their (mostly quite stylish) coats of arms??
António Martins-Tuválkin, 18 December 2005

From what I understand, for Anglican dioceses there exists a pattern, namely the flag is white with a St George cross, and in the canton / upper hoist corner the coat of arms of the diocese. This means possibly just the small coat of arms, i.e. the shield. See the Diocese of Chichester site for an example.
Dirk Schönberger, 19 December 2005

In the main, that is right. However, at Diocesan Church House in North Hinksey, Oxford, they fly a St. George's Cross flag defaced in the upper hoist with the logo of the Diocese and not the shield from its arms. This flag is not flown every day, rather on holy days and so on. As far as I recall, the one used on the flag is black, rather than blue. Their coat of arms can be viewed at http://www.oxford.anglican.org/detail.php?id=1242 at the bottom of the page, with a blazon.
Colin Dobson, 19 December 2005

The correct usage is for Anglican churches to fly the St George's Cross with the arms of their diocese in the canton. Many Anglican churches - perhaps depending on the diocese - fly an undefaced St George's Cross. (Here in Bristol diocese, and in the neighbouring diocese of Bath and Wells, I have only seen undefaced St. George's Crosses until a year or so ago, when St. Mary Redcliffe - the grandest parish church in Bristol - started flying a correctly defaced St George's Cross with the shield of the Bristol Diocese in the canton.)

As far as I know, Anglican dioceses don't have banners of arms, but, this being unregulated England, there may be exceptions. As the Diocese of Chichester site says, individual bishops may have arms and may use banners of arms but these would not be the banner of the diocese. It is also debateable whether the defaced St George's Crosses which should be flown (and sometimes are flown) on individual churches could be called the flag of the diocese in a way analogous to a sub-territorial flag (though the Diocese of Chichester site does use this term). I would be surprised if, for instance, such a flag was flown at the relevant Bishop's palace. I would see them rather as locally differenced flags of the Church of England as a whole.
André Coutanche, 20 December 2005

I have spoken to the College of Heralds regarding the question of banners of the diocesan arms, and they say that the arms would have been granted to the dean and chapter (of the cathedral), however, there is nothing in the law of arms which prevents the present bishop from flying a banner of those arms from his palace, or indeed, impaling them with his own personal arms and flying the resulting banner should he so wish. As a matter of courtesy (if not of policy) I would imagine that a bishop would run it past the dean and chapter first, but I cannot imagine any circumstances (or grounds) for them to refuse permission or even object (except those of expense)?
Christopher Southworth, 20 December 2005

I find the College's answer puzzling. The arms of a cathedral itself would be granted to the dean and chapter, but I believe the arms of each diocese were granted (actually confirmed in the case of most old dioceses) to the bishop of the time and to his successors in office. Bishops of the Church of England are corporations sole and, unless I'm mistaken, it is in the capacity of a corporation sole that the bishop applies for and is granted arms. That should mean that the incumbent bishop "owns" the arms of the diocese and could fly a banner of them in his own right. The dean and chapter could fly a banner of the cathedral's own arms, but not those of the diocese (unless, of course, the bishop was actually present at the cathedral). That, at least, is the logic of how I have understood English ecclesiastical heraldry. As I say, that's why the College's answer is surprising.
Joe McMillan, 20 December 2005

Passing by St Mary Redcliffe yesterday, I had a good look at the flag [Diocese of Bristol] and it isn't 3:5 - it's almost certainly 1:2. I'm not suggesting that all C. of E. diocesan flags are 1:2. There was a programme on television last night ("A Passion for Churches", BBC2) about St Mary's, East Raynham, Norfolk, which included a shot of the flag of the Diocese of Norwich flying from the tower. This seems to be 3:5, though it does show the shield taking up more of the height of the canton than we have in [some of] the images [on this page]. This being unregulated England - ratios can vary.
André Coutanche, 2 March 2006


Examples of Diocesan flags

Bradford

located and resized by Colin Dobson, 22 December 2005

The Diocese of Bradford introduced a specific exception on 19 June 2004, as follows: www.bradford.anglican.org (scroll down to "John and Malcolm "raised the flag""). The image of the flag can be found here.

Earlier on the page, it is said: "And we were assured that, though the Earl Marshall said in 1938 that the flag of St George is the one to fly on churches, this was never made compulsory."
Colin Dobson, 22 December 2005


Bristol

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 December 2005 modified by André Coutanche, 2 March 2006

Passing by St Mary Redcliffe yesterday, I had a good look at the flag and its dimensions are almost certainly 1:2.
André Coutanche, 2 March 2006

The flags flying from Anglican Churches in the Provinces of Canterbury and York have been suggested by the Earl Marshal of England. As I understand it this means that the flag from Bristol as given by Andre is correct. The mitre and other parts of a full achievement of arms are not meant to be in the canton, from my reading of the rules.
Michael Carchrie Campbell, 4 March 2006


Canterbury

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 December 2005

The arms of the Province of Canterbury are "Azure an archiepiscopal staff Argent ensigned with a cross formy Or surmounted of a pallium Argent edged and fringed Gold, charged with four crosses formy fitchy Sable".
James Dignan, 22 December 2005

The archbishops of Canterbury fly a banner of arms of their diocese, as shown in the World Flags Database.
Dirk Schönberger, 23 December 2005

See also


Chester

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 December 2005

See also


Chichester

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 23 May 2008

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 23 May 2008

Based on http://www.diochi.org.uk/images/crstdbhi.gif.


Ely

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 December 2005

See also


Diocese in Europe

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 January 2006


Ireland

Some churches in the Church of Ireland, fly a St. Patrick's Cross Flag with the shield of the Diocesan arms in chief above the centre of the Cross. The one such flag that I had the pleasure of hoisting and lowering regularly was in the ratio 1:2
Michael Carchrie Campbell, 4 March 2006


Norwich

image by André Coutanche, 2 March 2006

There was a programme on television last night ("A Passion for Churches", BBC2) about St Mary's, East Raynham, Norfolk, which included this shot of the flag of the Diocese of Norwich flying from the tower. This seems to be 3:5, though it does show the shield taking up more of the height of the canton than we have in our other images on this page. (The indistinguishable shield can be seen on the diocesan website at www.norwich.anglican.org/the_diocese.htm.
André Coutanche, 2 March 2006


Oxford

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 20 December 2005

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 20 December 2005

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 20 December 2005

At Diocesan Church House in North Hinksey, Oxford, they fly a St. George's Cross flag defaced in the upper hoist with the logo of the Diocese [top flag] and not the shield from its arms [middle image]. This flag is not flown every day, rather on holy days and so on. As far as I recall, the one used on the flag is black. Their coat of arms can be viewed at http://www.oxford.anglican.org/detail.php?id=1242 at the bottom of the page, with a blazon.
Colin Dobson, 19 December 2005

Oxford is a unique case, in that Christ Church Cathedral is the only church in the Church of England or the world, as the college web site states - which is both a cathedral and a college chapel. The Dean of Christ Church is simultaneously the head of Christ Church College, one of the largest in the University of Oxford and the Dean of the Cathedral. There is a coat of arms for the Cathedral: http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/modules/standard/viewpage.asp?id=479 and a separate arms for the Diocese of Oxford http://www.oxford.anglican.org/images/logos/arms.jpg, but note that it is stated on the Diocese's web site that this is "not official".

There is no provision for flying a flag in the Cathedral buildings themselves, rather there is a flagpole at the front of the college, facing on to St Aldates Street, where there is ordinarily flown a banner of the college arms, which can be seen on the college's home page here: http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk but only on certain days connected with the college or the university, such as when a graduation ceremony is held.
Colin Dobson, 21 December 2005

See also


Rochester

[Flag of Diocese of Rochester] by Mike Oettle and António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 January 2006

The flag to be flown in the diocese of Rochester is the flag of St George with, in the canton, a shield of the arms: Argent on a saltire gules an escallop or.

Mike Oettle, 17 January 2002

See also


St. Albans

[Flag of Diocese of St. Albans] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 August 2008

It is a white flag with a red St. George cross. In the upper hoist is the coat of arms of the diocese. The diocese of St. Albans is the one north of London.
Source: I spotted this flag on top of St. Johns in Lemsford, near Welwyn Garden, on 3 May 2007
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 August 2008

[Shield of Diocese of St. Albans] image located by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 August 2008

Description of coat of arms:
The blue shield is divided by a golden (=yellow) saltire. The whole is superimposed by a sword in natural colour pointing to the top. The sword is topped by a golden coronet, maybe one of a count, with pearls on its tops .The shield is topped by a golden mitre and flanked by two yellow ribbons.
Source: I shot this photo on 5 May 2007 in Harpenden.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 August 2008

See also:


Worcester

[Flag of Diocese of Worcester] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 August 2008

It is a white flag with a red St. George cross. In the upper hoist are ten red balls in Pythagorean tetraktys-formation, i.e. 10 balls triangular 4 over 3 over 2 over 1.
Source: I spotted this flag on top of Worcester cathedral in August 1999.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 August 2008

[Shield of Diocese of Worcester] image located by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 August 2008

Description of coat of arms:
The 10 red balls are placed in a silver shield topped by a silver mitre.
Source: website of diocese of Worcester
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 August 2008


York

The diocese of York flies a banner of arms, shown at World Flags Database.
Dirk Schönberger, 23 December 2005


Chart Showing all Diocesan Arms

There is a chart which purports to show all the diocesan arms at http://whitelionsociety.org.uk/WLS_Dioces_of_England_arms.jpg. However, I count only 43 arms on it, and according to several sites, including Wikipedia and the Church of England website there are 44 dioceses [not counting the diocese of Europe]. The actual chart is available from the White Lion Society, an organization formed to support the College of Arms.
Ned Smith, 21 December 2005