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Suffolk (England)

Traditional English County

Last modified: 2021-03-20 by rob raeside
Keywords: suffolk | saint edmund |
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[Flag of Suffolk County Council] image by Jason Saber, 9 October 2017

On this page:

See also:


Introduction: Suffolk County

Suffolk is a traditional county bordered by Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and the North Sea. The county town is Ipswich, but other important towns include Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, and the large container shipping port city of Felixstowe.
Suffolk is an archaeologist's and historian's delight. The county is renowned for archaeological finds from the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. Over the years discoveries have also been made dating back to Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval periods.
Some of England's most significant Anglo-Saxon archaeological finds dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries have been discovered in the county. Perhaps one of the best known is in Sutton Hoo where a 7th-century Saxon ship burial site with its collection of artefacts (including a sword, gold and silver bowls, jewellery and a musical lyre) were discovered. In 1939 a local excavator/amateur archaeologist named Basil Brown was asked by Edith Pretty, a rich widowed landowner in Sutton Hoo, to excavate the largest of several Anglo-Saxon burial mounds on her property. It is now considered one of the greatest archaeology discoveries in England, probably only rivaled by the Saxon Hoard discovered in 2009 in a field near the village of Hammerwich in Staffordshire. A fascinating movie titled "The Dig" was made about the 1939 discovery and featured on the Netflix streaming service in 2021.
Since ancient times the people living in area were known as the "south folk", which perhaps explains where the name Suffolk came from. (The lands of the "north folk" became Norfolk, etc.) In Anglo-Saxon times Suffolk was at first part of the Kingdom of East Anglia, later became part of the Kingdom of Mercia and finally part of Wessex. In later days Suffolk saw its share of Viking invasions, and after the Treaty of Wedmore actually became a part of the Danelaw (the part of England ruled by the Danes).
Suffolk was already considered a shire even before the Norman Conquest of 1066 and Suffolk was mentioned as a separate county in the Domesday Book. By the end of the Norman rule castles and strongholds had been built Eye, Clare, Walton and Framlingham. Since then the boundary and size of the county has been little changed except for its total area which has shrunk a bit because of coastal erosion.
In the 14th and 15th centuries Suffolk became deeply involved in textile industry. Prior to that agriculture and fishing provided the bulk of employment. The land had been tilled and harvested for centuries to produce food with a surplus for exporting. The textile industry would make Suffolk one of the richest counties in England. By the end of the 15th century Suffolk was one of the wealthiest, urbanized and industrialized corners of England.
It would remain an economic powerhouse throughout the Industrial Revolution and the years that followed. Today many of its traditional industries have diversified. Now the high tech industries, electronics and the tourist industry have breathed new life into the county's economy.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021


Description of the Suffolk Flag

Suffolk's flag was acknowledged by the Flag Institute in September 2017 and added to the registry on October 9th. The flag is a banner of the arms attributed to Saint Edmund, bearing a golden crown "pierced" by two golden arrows against a blue background. Described heraldically as "Azure two Arrows in saltire, points downwards, enfiled with an ancient Crown Or."
Registration of this acknowledged county emblem was formally requested by twenty-one county organisations, following its display by Suffolk County Council on the inaugural "Suffolk Day" June 21, 2017
Edmund, the last King of East Anglia, was reportedly murdered by the Danes in the year 870, who scourged him and shot him with arrows when, at a meeting with the invaders, he refused to share his kingdom with their chief. Edmund's arms accordingly reflect his kingship and the manner of his death. They appear in "Saints, Signs and Symbols" by W. Ellwood Post, 1964.
More details posted at British County Flags: Suffolk
Jason Saber, 9 October 2017

  • Flag Type: County Flag
  • Flag Date: 9th Century
  • Flag Designer: Traditional
  • Adoption Route: Traditional
  • UK Design Code: UNKG7459
  • Aspect Ratio: 3:5
  • Pantone® Colours: Blue 300, Yellow 116, Gold 125
Source: The Flag Institute/UK Registry: Suffolk
Valentin Poposki, 1 July 2020


Variants of the Suffolk County Flag

There were and are several variants to the registered Suffolk flag still floating around, several are included here.

[Banner of Saint Edmund the Martyr]     [Banner of Saint Edmund the Martyr]
images located by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

The first banner of Saint Edmund the Martyr shown here was a proposed design for a Suffolk flag put forth in 2017 according to British County flags. It is still being sold as can be seen here. The second variant with a darker navy blue field was once reportedly produced but has since disappeared.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

[Banner of Saint Edmund the Martyr 3] image from Wikimedia Commons.

This illustration of the banner of Saint Edmund the Martyr appears on Wikimedia Commons. It is not the design registered with the Flag institute. It's not clear if this version exists elsewhere or has been produced in cloth.
Source: source.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021


Suffolk County Council Flag
The "Sunrise" Flag

[Flag of Suffolk County Council] image by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021
based on this photo displayed outside a Suffolk County building.

The page on the East Anglian Daily Times shows this flag used by the County Council of Suffolk (the official flag of the County authority, as explained by Michael Faul in the "Have Your Say" section of the article), which is yellow with a red shield charged with a sun rising over waves and surmounted by two crown-and-arrows.
Ivan Sache, 22 November 2006

Suffolk County Council Banner of Arms

[Suffolk County Council Banner of Arms] image located by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

This banner of arms is credited to the Suffolk County Council by British County Flags, but other than that I was unable to find out much about it.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021


Suffolk County Council Logos

[Suffolk County Council Logo 1]      [Suffolk County Council Logo 2]
images located by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

The Suffolk County Council, county agencies, and businesses use a variety of logos on their websites and publications. The common denominator seems to be the stylized rendition of their arms.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

[Suffolk County Council Logo 3] image located by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021


Suffolk Coat of Arms

[Suffolk Coat of Arms] Coat of Arms   [Suffolk Crest] Suffolk Crest
images located by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

The Suffolk Coat of Arms were officially granted in 1978. "The main charge in the arms is the sun rising over the sea. Suffolk is the most easterly county in England and thus the first to see the sun rise. The sun also refers to a poem by Michael Drayton written in 1627. The sun was also used as the badge of Suffolk at the battle of Agincourt. The open crowns and crossed arrows refer to St. Edmunds and have been widely used in the arms of Suffolk towns and districts. The crest features a Viking dragon ship, symbolizing the Norse associations of the County."

Official Blazon

  • Arms: Gules a Base barry wavy enarched Argent and Azure issuant therefrom a Sunburst in chief two Ancient Crowns enfiled by a pair of Arrows in saltire points downwards all Or.
  • Crest: Within an Ancient Crown Or upon Water barry wavy Azure and Argent a Viking Ship sail set Or.
  • Motto: "Guide Our Endeavours"
Source: Heraldry of the World: Suffolk.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021


Saint Edmund Flag
Proposed Saint Edmund Design

[St. Edmund flag - commericial #1] image by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021
based on this photo located by Ivan Sache, 22 November 2006 (source)

In East Anglia Daily Times on-line (EADT 24), 21 November 2006, Will Graham Clarke reported that "a petition calling for St Edmund's reinstatement as the nation's patron saint was delivered to 10 Downing Street with aplomb" on 20 November 2006 [the Saint's Day]. The petition was delivered by the self-proclaimed "St. Edmund Champion" Marc Murphy from BBC Radio Suffolk and MP David Ruffley.
The rationale for the proposed change in the national saint is: "He is a uniquely English saint who unlike St George is part of a long and unbroken history and tradition in East Anglia." Moreover, the proposed new national saint already has a flag: "Framlingham trader Bill Bulstrode has created a St Edmund flag which the ardent campaigners could fly.
There was even a small version of the flag put into the stack of signatures presented to the Prime Minister and maybe it will adorn his office."
Since EADT is an "ardent campaigner" for the flag, I am not able to guess how popular the petition is out of Suffolk and East Anglia. The saint's champion said: "If nothing else comes of our petition then we will have at least raised the profile of Suffolk and St Edmund". (source)
Ivan Sache, 22 November 2006

The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that St. Edmund the Martyr (840 AD) was crowned King of East Anglia in 855. He was a model ruler who retired for a year to a tower to learn the whole Psalter by heart. In 870, he repelled the first attack by the Danish warlords Hinguar and Hubba. They came back with a lot of soldiers so that Edmund disbanded his troops and retired to Framlingham in order to avert a massacre. The King was captured and martyred on 20 November 870 at Hoxne, Suffolk. His relics were later transferred to the St. Edmundsbury abbey. The saint is represented in Christian art with sword and arrow, alluding to his martyrdom.
The flag designed by Bill Bulstrode is presented on the BBC Suffolk website. It is white with the Saint George cross with a blue shield charged with St. Edmund's crown and arrows. The same page shows the flag used by the County Council of Suffolk (the official flag of the County authority, as explained by Michael Faul in the "Have Your Say" section of the article), which is yellow with a red shield charged with a sun rising over waves and surmounted by two crown-and-arrows.
In the "Have Your Say" section of the article, there are several comments on St. Edmund-related flags: "There is already a banner of Saint Edmund which was carried by Roger Bigod at the battle of Fornham in 1173. It is reproduced in John Gage Rokewodes' 1840 Chronica Jocelini de Brakelond: de rebus gestis Samsonis abbatis monasterii Sancti Edmundi." (by "KOSE")
"St Edmund already has a flag (three gold crowns on a blue field). Anyone visiting The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham (Norfolk) in August would have seen the Banner of St. Edmund proudly flying as our pilgrimage processed from the Slipper Chapel to the Abbey ruins. (by "David")
"Bill Bulstrode's flag is similar to the design for an East Anglian flag made by the East Anglian Society in 1904 - except that flag simply had the three crowns or on a field azure of the Kingdom of East Anglia. It has recently appeared again on certain local produce being sold in supermarkets." (by Francis Young)
Ivan Sache, 22 November 2006

Registered Saint Edmund Flag

[ St. Edmund Flag variant] image by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021
Based on this image.

Using the crown and arrows of Saint Edmund on a flag was first introduced in 1954 for a royal visit, but the idea to make it a Suffolk county flag was the suggestion of Suffolk resident Bill Bulstrode, who was first to propose a design with the Saint Edmund arms as a shield on the cross of Saint George. In 2007 a campaign was launched to make St Edmund the county's patron saint with the result of this flag being registered with the Flag Institute not as the Suffolk flag, but as the "St Edmund" flag. The final design features a simplified outline of the crown and arrows in yellow on the blue shield.
Source: British County Flags: Suffolk.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021


St. Edmund's Day Flag

[St. Edmund Day Flag] image by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021
Based on this image.

The Feast Day of Saint Edmund is November 20th. The first abbey in Bury St Edmunds (Beodricsworth) was built by the Saxons around 633. It rose to prominence in 903 when the remains of St Edmund were brought there. Since that time its been celebrated both on Saint Edmund's Day and on Suffolk Day (June 21). This flag celebrates both.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021


Suffolk Constabulary
Norfolk Constabulary

[Suffolk Constabulary flag] SC Flag     [Suffolk Constabulary badge] SC Badge
images by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021
badge image is based on this photo.

The Suffolk Constabulary, who can trace their beginnings back to 1869, are now the territorial police force responsible for policing Suffolk. They were formed in a merger of the West Suffolk Constabulary and East Suffolk Constabulary in 1969. Interesting enough this is the second time these two forces merged. They had been previously combined between 1869-1899. The modern merger added the Ipswich Borough Police to the mix.
In 2006 there was talk of merging the neighbouring forces of Suffolk and Norfolk together, with the Cambridgeshire Constabulary, to form a strategic police force for East Anglia, but the merger never happened. This makes the logo shown below interesting.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

Suffolk Constabulary Logos

[Suffolk Constabulary logo 1] NC/SC logo     [Suffolk Constabulary logo 2] SC Logo
images located by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

Suffolk Constabulary Pride Day Flag

[Suffolk Constabulary Pride Flag] image by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021
based on this photo.

The Suffolk Police flew this special rainbow flag in 2012 at its headquarters in Martlesham to mark "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month". The flag was also flown at stations in Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft. It was also seen previously in the Suffolk Pride in 2010 in Christchurch Park.
Source: This BBC Article and this photo.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021


Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service

[Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service flag] SFRS Flag     [Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service badge] SFRS Badge
image by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

The Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is the fire and rescue service covering the whole county of Suffolk and other parts of East Anglia. It was formed in 1948 as the Suffolk & Ipswich Fire Service. Its name was changed as its responsibilities increased to indicate it also served the other major towns of Lowestoft, Bury St-Edmunds, Felixstowe, Newmarket and the outlying areas.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

SFRS Vehicle Emblem

[ flag] image located by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021

The vehicles used by the Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service are red but decorated with gold and red checkered designs with this emblem placed within the patterns.
Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021


The Suffolk Regiment Flag

[The Suffolk Regiment Flag] image by Pete Loeser, 14 March 2021
Based on this commercial image.

The Suffolk Regiment was an infantry regiment in the British Army dating back to 1685 formed as the "Duke of Norfolk's Regiment of Foot" (or 12th Foot). It saw service for three hundred years. It received early honour in the Monmouth Rebellion (1689-1691), served in Jamaica during the War of the Spanish Succession, and served in Flanders in 1742 during the War of the Austrian Succession. During the 1756-1763 Seven Years War, it fought in the critical Battle of Minden, and was active during the Napoleonic Wars between 1794-1810, during the Victorian era they were involved with the Eureka Rebellion, and the Battle of Singapore (1942). The "Old Dozen"* served in the First and Second World Wars, before being moved to become part of the Royal Norfolk Regiment as the 1st East Anglian Regiment (Royal Norfolk and Suffolk) in 1959, and in 1964 was to the 2nd East Anglian Regiment (Duchess of Gloucester's Own Royal Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire), as the 3rd East Anglian Regiment and lastly to the Royal Leicestershire Regiment to create the present Royal Anglian Regiment. There is a Suffolk Regiment Museum at the Gibraltar Barracks in Bury St Edmunds.
This commercial flag honours the regiment, it is not colours or an official unit flag.
Pete Loeser
, 14 March 2021

* "The Suffolk Regiment is descended from the 12th Foot - hence their nickname, 'The Old Dozen' - they played a distinguished part in the Battle of Minden in Germany in 1759, during the Seven Years War. This has been celebrated ever after by the wearing of red and yellow roses in their headdresses and on their colours and drums on 1st August, which became their regimental day." (Source: Minden Day and 'The Old Dozen').