This Week In Vexillology #289

Well, we're almost at the very end of our tour of the counties of England...  there might be the odd metropolitan county that I've missed, but between this week and next week, we should have covered  just about every corner of England from Cornwall to Cumbria and everything in between. I'm honestly not sure where we're going to go next after this-- maybe some more subnational flags are lurking across the border in Wales or Scotland, or maybe I'll mix it up a bit. But in our second to last stop on our tour of the county of England, we're settling in the middle of the country with the flags of Leicestershire and the West Midlands!

Let's start with Leicestershire! The obvious question we need to start with: where the heck is it? well, if you head north from London on the M1 between (roughly) Northampton and Nottingham-- between them you're going to find the city of Leicester, which is the center of the county. Coventry, Birmingham and Burton Upon Trent and Coventry are to the west and Kettering, Corby and Grantham are to the east. Technically, the county doesn't have a registered flag- so we'll have to settle for the flag of the Leicestershire County Council.
So, this is a banner of the council's arms-- and, as such, there's a lot of history in each of the quarters of the flag. The cinquefoil in the upper left quarter (yes, that five petaled flower is called a 'cinquefoil') and it was the seal of Robert de Beaumont who was the grandson of the First Earl of Leicester- he died in 1206 and the title passed to his sister's husband, Simon de Montfort, who is represented by the forked-tailed lion. He was killed in 1265 after leading a revolt of the barons against King Henry III, who gave the earldom to his son Edmund whose grandson in turn passed it along to John of Gaunt, who is represented the ostrich feather. (The fork-tailed lion can also represent Lord Robert Dudley, who was made Earl of Leicester in 1564.) They ran out of actual earls of Leicester by the end of it, so the black sleeve in the final quarter is taken from the Hastings Family arms, who were the Barons of Loughborough.

Next up, West Midlands!
Less of a county and more a collection of cities, West Midlands includes: Coventry, Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield, Wolverhampton, West Bromwhich, Walsall, Stourbridge and all the cities and towns of varying sizes in between. It's not a county flag- instead, once again, we're settling for a local authority flag. Taken from the arms of the West Midlands, it's got a pretty simple explanation: the lattice interlocks to form a 'W' and an 'M' for West Midlands, which is about all I can find out about this flag... 

Not the most exciting flags, but the next two on our list...  remember until next time- when our tour of the counties of England comes to a close, keep your flags flying- FREAK or otherwise!

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