Last modified: 2006-08-19 by rob raeside
Keywords: cinque ports | dimidiated |
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by Martin Grieve, 8 July 2006
The sailors of the Cinque Ports were granted "special privelages" by the
Crown in return for their steadfast duty to England, and their banner was
"dimidiated" - A heraldic term for a charge that is divided along its
vertical meridian. These "special privelages" entitled the men who fought to basically do what they wanted - they
did not pay tax, and were (legally) entitled to take possession of any flotsam
or plunder any captured enemy vessel.
Martin Grieve, 8 July 2006
by Steve Stringfellow, 20 April 1998
Image based on Flaggenbuch
Here is some information on this flag from Geoffrey Williams, The Heraldry of the Cinque Ports, Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle, 1971.
The Lord Warden has the right to fly his own personal standard, but when such a flag originated is not known. Lord Curzon records that Prime Minister William Pitt reviewed a fleet of vessels from the Cinque Ports in 1803 and that the warden's flag was saluted by the boats anchored in line opposite Walmer Castle. No earlier reference to the flag occurs than this.There is also, as you'll note if you read the above part about the funeral, a banner for the ports themselves. It is essentially an armorial banner with the three demi-lions co-joined to as many ships' hulls.
Two examples of the flag exist, one of them in the council chamber of New Romney town hall. The banner in present use (plate, p135) is in the care of the registrar and solicitor to the Ports, at Dover. It measures 14ft 4in by 7ft 8in and is best described as:Quarterly,When Mr. W. H. Smith was Warden in 1891, he chose to exercise his right to fly the flags when sailing his yacht Pandora. Unfamiliarity with such an ensign led to confusion among local boatmen; so much so that quite a altercation occurred on one occasion when the vessel nearly ran down a small craft which was attempting to come alongside while Pandora was under way, thinking that the strange flag was a request for a pilot.
(i) Azure; three castles, 2 and 1, or;
(ii) Gules; to the dexter a rectangle Or containing an anchor upon its side, flukes to the sinister surmounted by a peer's coronet; to the sinister three demi-lions passant guardant conjoined to as many ships' hulls, or;
(iii) Per pale Or and gules; to the dexter a three-masted vessel, square rigged, sailing to the dexter, gules; to the sinister three lions passant guardant conjoined to as many ships' hulls, or;
(iv) Azure; a castle or.
Because of the reduced frequency with which recent wardens have needed to visit the Ports, the flag is seldom seen nowadays. During the term of office of Sir Winston Churchill, the flag was displayed only on the occasions of his installation and of his visit to Dover to receive the freedom of the town. During Sir Winston's funeral procession in January 1965, a replica of the Cinque Ports' banner preceded the coffin, and when the Port of London Authority launch Havengore bore his body from Tower Pier to Waterloo, the flag of the lord warden was flown from the vessel's jackstaff.
When Sir Robert Menzies is in residence at Walmer Castle the warden's flag is flown at the masthead. On his visits to members of the Confederation a pennon in the form of a miniature warden's banner is borne by his car.
Norie and Hobbs (1848) show this flag with the lower hoist quarter structured like the upper
fly quarter: Red with a yellow field with, in this case, a ship.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2001
The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports is an honorary office. The position is held by the Queen Mother who was appointed in 1978; previous
recent Wardens were Sir Winston Churchill, 1941 to 1965, and former Australian
Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies 1965 to 1978. The original Cinque Ports were Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, Romney and Hastings. Rye
and Winchelsea were added later. They were granted certain privileges in exchange for naval assistance to the King. Origins were pre-Norman possibly
Roman, in what was known as the Defence of the Saxon Shore.
David Prothero, 16 November 2001
The coronet in the flag of the Warden of the Cinque Ports is (?) changed, if
necessary, to reflect the rank of the incumbent Lord Warden; still vacant I
believe. In 1908 the Warden's flag in the Admiralty Flag Book was amended, a
Baron's coronet replacing the Prince of Wales' coronet, when Lord Brassey
replaced the Prince of Wales as Lord Warden.
National Archives (PRO) ADM 116/1072.
David Prothero, 20 July 2004
Sir Winston Churchill held the post at one time. Sir Winston's ducal
connections were, of course, impeccable, but as a knight did the flag under his
Wardenship carry the appropriate heraldic helmet instead of a coronet or crown?
Christopher Southworth, 20 July 2004
It seems that even before 1941 when Churchill became Lord Warden, the coronet
had been made non-specific. In the 1939 edition of FOTW
Wheeler-Holohan, describing the flag wrote,
"... ensigned with a peer's coronet, complete with its scarlet cap and tassel
but the exact rank of the Peer, whether Baron, Marquess, Viscount, Earl or Duke
is not clearly indicated!"
David Prothero, 21 July 2004
The web site of the Confederation
of the Cinque Ports confirms the position is still vacant: "From 1979 until her
death in 2002, the office was held by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen
A successor will be appointed by Her Majesty the Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister, and is expected to be installed, with full pageantry, at a special meeting of the Grand Court of Shepway, to be held in Dover. Further information will be posted on this website as soon as it is available."
It also contains some useful information in the heraldry section, concerning the flying of the Lord Warden's flag when this position was held by Sir Winston Churchill and the flying of the flag at the Coronation of the present Queen of England.
Colin Dobson, 23 July 2004
Admiral the Lord Boyce, former Chief of the Defence Staff, was appointed 29
July 2004, after, according to a newspaper report, the 14 mayors of the Channel
port towns threatened to march in full regalia on the office of John Prescott
(Deputy Prime Minister). Details of appointment at
Confirmation that at one time the coronet in the flag of the Warden of the Cinque Ports was changed to reflect the rank of the incumbent Lord Warden can be found in correspondence between the Registrar of the Cinque Ports, the Home Office and the Admiralty in the early 1900s.
23 November 1905. Wollaston Knocker, Registrar of the Cinque Ports and Town Clerk of Dover to Home Office. Prince of Wales' coronet should be substituted for the earl's coronet. This was repeated in a letter of 30 June 1906, "Yellow badge on the 2nd quarter should bear, above the anchor, the Prince of Wales' coronet." In August 1908 the Home Office wrote to the Admiralty that a baron's coronet should be substituted for Prince of Wales' coronet. It was also pointed out that in the flag "the sinister half of 2nd and 3rd quarters has a field of plain gules (red). In the arms it is patty per pale, gules and azure" (divided vertically red/blue).
National Archives (PRO) HO 45/10461/B24724.
David Prothero, 5 August 2004
by Martin Grieve, 8 July 2006