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The Warwickshire flag was registered on August 15th 2016.The flag is a modern reworking of the county’s traditional emblem of white bear and ragged staff on red background, which originated as the seal and then crest, of the Earl of Warwick and was then adapted for use by Warwickshire County Council.WCC Minutes 1907-8 Page 23 & C.929.6 War(P)) before receiving a formal award of arms on July 7 1931, which included a full depiction of the bear and ragged staff in the white on red colours found on Richard Neville’s battle standard Many other organisations have since followed this lead such as; Warwickshire Scouts Warwickshire County Bowling Association Warwickshire Federation of Women’s’ Institutes Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service Warwickshire Golf Captains Warwickshire Gaelic Athletic Association North Warwickshire Borough Council With a majority of English counties having secured flags, a campaign was started in 2014 seeking to add Warwickshire to their ranks.The theme of white bear and ragged staff, anciently associated with Warwickshire, was self-evidently the only viable option for deployment as the county flag.This originally proposed design received the support of a dozen county bodies; with one of their number, Warwickshire County Hockey Association, submitting a formal request for registration of the proposed design, collating all the background information and detailed support, to the Flag Institute.The Flag Institute accepted the proposal in principal but offered an alternative depiction of the bear and ragged staff with the creature in a dynamic and assertive stance, which was happily accepted; a modern realisation of the traditional county emblem, as presented by John Speed in 1611.Although he also employed separate bear and ragged staff badges, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick ( “Warwick the Kingmaker” ) (22 November 1428 – 14 April 1471) who married Richard Beauchamp’s daughter and heir Anne, made use of a seal bearing a combined bear and ragged staff, to authenticate deeds and letters, a modern interpretation of which, is seen here As with his predecessor, Richard Beauchamp, Neville’s retainers are recorded in 1458, when he attended the Great Council at Westminster, as wearing red coats with separate silver staffs embroidered front and rear – with as many as 200 men-at-arms and 400 archers so attired.
This illustration from Ian Heath’s “Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 1” is based on John Rous’s ‘Pageant of the Birth, Life and Death of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick’ of c.
The council also highlights how its depiction of the bear specifically shows it muzzled and chained to distinguish it from the crest of the Earls of Warwick, where the bear is muzzled but not chained.
A further consideration was that any depiction of the bear and staff should avoid the same colour arrangement of gold, silver and red.
This has been depicted in paintings of Neville’s famous battles; left, “ The First Battle of St Albans” by Graham Turner and right “The Battle of Barnet” by Geoffrey Wheeler .
The white bear and ragged staff on red is also seen “carried” by these miniature figures of Neville’s soldiers In his Henry VI, Part Two, Act 5, scene 1, where there is much talk of bear baiting, William Shakespeare has Warwick say ‘Now, by my father’s badge, old Nevil’s crest the rampant bear chain’d to the ragged staff, this day I’ll aloft my burgonet.”, the “burgonet” being his helmet.The seventeenth century scholar William Dugdale wrote of the legendary Arthgallus, a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table and apparent early “Earl of Warwick“ believing that his name derived from the Welsh “artos” or bear.