List of arms of the county councils of England

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This is a list of the coats of arms of various county councils (current and former) in England.

Background[edit]

Under heraldic law in England, arms are not granted to places as such, but only to the corporate bodies that govern them. Accordingly, although arms and devices were associated with counties from the eighteenth century onward, there were no official grants until the establishment of county councils in 1889.

History[edit]

First grants[edit]

The first grant was made to West Sussex County Council soon after its establishment in 1889. The cost of the grant was defrayed by the Duke of Norfolk, titular head of the College of Arms, who was also first chairman of the county council. Further grants were made over the years, the number greatly increasing after the passing of the Local Government Act 1929 when county councils gained extra powers. Following the Second World War the majority of non-armigerous county councils obtained grants. When Durham County Council received a grant of arms in 1961 (it had previously been using the arms of the Diocese of Durham) only Hampshire County Council was left without an official grant.

Changes in 1965[edit]

Changes to local government in 1965 meant that several arms became obsolete and new arms had to be granted to Greater London, Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely and Huntingdon and Peterborough.

Changes in 1974[edit]

Local government in England and Wales was completely reorganised in 1974, with all existing county councils abolished. In their place was established a system of metropolitan and non-metropolitan county councils. Some of the non-metropolitan counties were identical or very similar in area to the previous administrative counties, and in their case they could apply for the transfer of the arms of the previous county councils by Order in Council. In some other cases, where substantial alterations were made to the county council's area, the College of Arms granted arms very similar to the previous arms, with a number of changes introduced. In the metropolitan counties, and entirely new non-metropolitan counties such as Avon, Humberside and Cleveland; new arms had to be designed. The arms of two small county councils were transferred to Huntingdon and Rutland district councils.

Changes in 1986[edit]

The six metropolitan county councils (five of which had arms) and the Greater London Council were abolished in 1986 and their arms became obsolete.

Changes after 1996[edit]

By 1995 all the remaining non-metropolitan county councils were using arms (although Dorset has yet to apply for a formal transfer). From 1996 a piecemeal reform of local government meant the abolition of a number of county councils. It also recreated Worcestershire county council, who regained the use of the former county council arms. The unitary authority of Herefordshire, a county for ceremonial purposes, also gained the use of the old county council arms. Among the unitary authorities created was East Riding of Yorkshire. However this had a very different area to the pre 1974 East Riding and so was not allowed to take over the old arms. The council did obtain a grant of new arms. Rutland district became a unitary authority and ceremonial county, retaining the coat of arms that had been transferred from the previous county council.

Use of the arms[edit]

The arms were granted to the councils of the county, and not to the county in general. This means that they can only be used by the council itself, who cannot allow another body or individual the use of their arms. However, many county councils have an additional heraldic badge which they can license organisations associated with the county to use.

The accepted practice is that it is permissible to illustrate the arms of a county council subject to copyright of the illustrator. In this case they should be clearly labelled as the arms of the county council.

Current[edit]

Non-metropolitan county councils[edit]

There are 27 two-tier county councils remaining in England after a series of reforms.

Council Image Granted
Buckinghamshire County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1974
Cambridgeshire County Council Coat of arms Created 1976
Cumbria County Council Coat of arms Created 1974
Derbyshire County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1974; Crest and supporters added 1976
Devon County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1975
Dorset County Council Coat of arms In use since 1974
East Sussex County Council Coat of arms Created 1975
Essex County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1974
Gloucestershire County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1976
Hampshire County Council Coat of arms Created 1992[1]
Hertfordshire County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1974
Kent County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1975
Lancashire County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1974
Leicestershire County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1974
Lincolnshire County Council Coat of arms Created 1977
Norfolk County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1974; Supporters added 1992
Northamptonshire County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1975
North Yorkshire County Council Coat of arms Created 1980
Nottinghamshire County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1977
Oxfordshire County Council Coat of arms Created 1976
Somerset County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1974; Crest and supporters added 2003
Staffordshire County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1975
Suffolk County Council Coat of arms 1978
Surrey County Council Coat of arms Created 1974
Warwickshire County Council Coat of arms Transferred 1975
West Sussex County Council Coat of arms Created 1975
Worcestershire County Council (created 1998) Coat of arms Transferred 1998

Unitary authorities of ceremonial counties[edit]

Council Granted Notes
Bristol Transferred 1974 District council, became unitary in 1996
Cornwall Transferred 1975 County council, became unitary in 2009
County Durham 1974 County council, became unitary in 2009
Herefordshire Transferred 1998 County council abolished in 1974, revived unitary in 1998
Isle of Wight Transferred 1975 County council, became unitary in 1995
Northumberland Transferred 1974 County council, became unitary in 2009
Rutland Transferred 1974 District council, became unitary in 1997
Shropshire Transferred 1974 County council, became unitary in 2009
Wiltshire Transferred 1976 County council, became unitary in 2009

Obsolete[edit]

County councils 1889-1974[edit]

Council Granted
Bedfordshire 1951
Berkshire 1947 and 1961
Buckinghamshire 1948
Cambridgeshire (abolished 1965) 1914
Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely (created 1965) 1965
Cheshire 1938
Cornwall 1939
Cumberland 1951
Derbyshire 1937
Devon 1926 and 1962
Dorset 1950
County Durham 1961
Essex 1932
Gloucestershire 1935
Hampshire None
Herefordshire 1946
Hertfordshire 1926
Huntingdonshire (abolished 1965) 1937
Huntingdon and Peterborough (created 1965) 1965
Isle of Ely (abolished 1965) 1931
Isle of Wight 1938
Kent 1933
Lancashire 1903
Leicestershire 1930
Lincolnshire, Parts of Holland 1954
Lincolnshire, Parts of Kesteven 1950
Lincolnshire, Parts of Lindsey 1935
London (abolished 1965) 1914
Middlesex (abolished 1965) 1910
Norfolk 1904
Northamptonshire 1939
Northumberland 1951
Nottinghamshire 1937
Oxfordshire 1949
Rutland 1950
Shropshire 1896
Soke of Peterborough (abolished 1965) 1950
Somerset 1911
Staffordshire 1931
East Suffolk 1935
West Suffolk 1959
Surrey 1934
East Sussex 1937
West Sussex 1889
Warwickshire 1931[2]
Westmorland 1926
Wiltshire 1937
Worcestershire 1947
Yorkshire, East Riding 1945
Yorkshire, North Riding 1928
Yorkshire, West Riding 1927

Greater London Council 1965-1986[edit]

Council Granted
Greater London Council 1965

Non-Metropolitan County Councils[edit]

Council Granted
Avon (abolished 1996) 1976
Bedfordshire (abolished 2009) Transferred 1975
Berkshire (abolished 1998) New Arms 1974
Cheshire (abolished 2009) Transferred 1976
Cleveland (abolished 1996) 1974
Hereford and Worcester (abolished 1998) 1978
Humberside (abolished 1996) 1976

Metropolitan County Councils 1974 - 1986[edit]

Council Granted Article
Greater Manchester 1974 Coat of arms of Greater Manchester
Merseyside
South Yorkshire 1978
Tyne and Wear
West Midlands
West Yorkshire 1975 Coat of arms of West Yorkshire

Sources[edit]

  • A. C. Fox-Davies, The Book of Public Arms, 1915
  • C. W. Scott-Giles, Civic Heraldry of England and Wales, 1953
  • G. Briggs, Civic and Corporate Heraldry, 1971
  • The Local Authorities (Armorial Bearings) Order 1974
  • The Local Authorities (Armorial Bearings) Order 1975
  • The Local Authorities (Armorial Bearings) Order 1976
  • The Local Authorities (Armorial Bearings) Order 1977
  • The Local Authorities (Armorial Bearings) (No. 2) Order 1997[3]

References[edit]