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Oxfordshire (United Kingdom)

Last modified: 2006-08-19 by rob raeside
Keywords: oxfordshire |
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[Flag of Oxfordshire County Council] located by Dirk Schoenberger

Source: Newton/Newton Flags

See also:

Description of the County Flag

On a dark blue field, two wavy white lines from upper hoist to lower fly. In the lower hoist a cluster of six gold oak(?) leaves, and in the upper fly, a cluster of 3 gold wheat stalks.

As far as I am aware, this is a banner of the arms and is seen at the HQ of Oxfordshire County Council flying alongside the Union Flag.
Michael Carchrie Campbell, 11 February 2005

Whilst in Oxford on 05 February 2005, I noticed that County Hall, New Road, Oxford (the aforementioned headquarters of Oxfordshire County Council), was indeed flying the flags as described in Michael's email. However, there is no fringe on the banner of arms. Further, County Hall, Oxford usually only flies flags on so- called "Red Letter Days"; it does not make a practice of flying a flag every day and moreover, the other flagpole often flies the European Union flag, instead of the Union Flag or sometimes, the flag of Saint George (Queen's Jubilee 2002). Given the special national nature of the day (anniversary of The Queen's accession to the throne), it can only be assumed that the county council - along with many colleges of the university and even churches of the Church of England situated in the city - were choosing to fly the Union Flag.

The banner of arms flown at County Hall, Oxford is of the same proportion as the Union Flag, which makes it slightly unusual locally, as those of the individual colleges of the university, when they fly their banners of arms, are of different proportions to each other.
Colin Dobson, 13 February 2005

County Hall has been flying both the Union Flag and the County's Banner every day since I got here in September (2004).
Michael Carchrie Campbell, 18 February 2005

Flag with Seal

[Flag of Oxfordshire County Council] located by Dirk Schoenberger

Source: Newton/Newton Flags

Newton Newton flags shows a second flag also labeled "Oxfordshire CC". This appears to be a dark green field with a circular coat of arms in white on it.

This flag is a stylised version of its Coat of Arms contained within the capital letter 'O' for Oxfordshire - in white on a dark green flag. However, I have never seen this flag actually on display anywhere in the county, although this of course, does not mean that it does not exist.
Colin Dobson, 13 February 2005


Oxford itself used a banner of the arms (a red bull on white over wavy blue line - canting on the city name).
James Dignan, 11 February 2005

The situation with the city council, which occupies Oxford Town Hall, (opened 1897, when Oxford was a town and not a city, thus Town Hall) is somewhat different. They have two flags, the first of which it has used for many years and is a banner of arms. It is (please forgive my lack of knowledge of the correct heraldic terms) as James describes, (his memory is very good), except some parts of the oxen (Oxenford, Oxford) particularly its hooves, are coloured yellow, I believe also the tip of his tail, but I will verify this and get a photograph. The second is of the same dimensions, but is a sort of stylised version of the banner of arms in blue and white, akin to the logo of the city council, which can be seen at their web site at the top left. Both of these flags are only ever flown from the flagpole above the main entrance to the Town Hall, the former on occasions of civic importance such as Mayor Making, although being a city, that ceremony involves a Lord Mayor, the ceremony itself dating from the item when Oxford was a town (with a Mayor) and not a city with a Lord Mayor.

Less than 100 metres away, on the corner of a strategic crossroads in the centre of the city, there is another flagpole, above a shop, so it looks as if it belongs to them. In fact, it actually belongs to the city council, and is accessed via the Town Hall roof . This flagpole ordinarily flies the Union Flag, except for a brief interlude circa 1983, when it flew a 'CND' flag. On the diagonal opposite corner, is Carfax Tower, which is the former tower of St Martin's Church, this church having been demolished early in the 20th century, to make way for so-called road improvements. This tower also belongs to the city council and also has a flagpole. You can see a Quick Time movie view from the top of this tower and an overview of the whole area generally here. Fortunately for them, they can thus use these facilities to fly a myriad of flags all at the same time, relating to partisan political causes and also the United Nations flag on United Nations Day, for example. A perfect political compromise, but which is the point of honour?
Colin Dobson, 13 February 2005

Oxford University colleges

Kellogg College

[Flag of Kellogg College] image by Jonathan Dixon, 25 April 2006

Kellogg College, which is closely associated with the Department for Continuing Education, is responsible for part time postgraduate students of the University. The college was first incorporated as a Society of Entitlement as Rewley House, the name of the building in which the department is based, and took its current name in 1994. The flag is a banner of arms. My blazoning is terrible, but the flag has a red border and the field is divided vertically with a zigzag line, white to the hoist and blue to the fly. In the white half is an red inverted chevron above a blue open book. In the red half is an ear of some sort of grain.
As well as flying from Rewley House, the flag is mentioned at, where it mentions that a flag was presented to the W K Kellogg Foundation Trustees, "to fly from the Foundation flagpole in Battle Creek on appropriate occasions".
Flag observed flying over the entrance to Rewley House, 3-4 March 2006.
Other source:
Jonathan Dixon, 25 April 2006

Somerville College

[Flag of Somerville College] image by Jonathan Dixon, 25 April 2006

Somerville College was founded as Somerville Hall in 1879 as an educational institution for women, without any religious connections. Its name and arms were taken from the family of the scientist Mary Somerville. It became a mixed college in 1992.
The flag has the shield from the arms (featuring three five pointed stars and 6 crosslets) in black on a yellow background.
Flag observed flying over the main entrance to the college, 26 April 2004 and 11 April 2005.
Other source:
Jonathan Dixon, 25 April 2006

Oxford University boating flags

In general, most of the college boat clubs fly a banner of arms of the college concerned. The best time to see these flags are during Eights Week, in 5th Week of Trinity term in late May and during Torpids in Hilary term, in February. These are regattas held on the River Thames, featuring crews from most of the colleges and private halls, plus a few other organisations (medical schools & so on) connected with the University. The majority of the college boat houses are located on the Thames in Christ Church Meadow and this is where and when you can see the most colourful display of flags in Oxford, as each boat houses flies at least one flag during Eights Week and Torpids. Many fly more than one as the boat houses are shared between colleges. It is possible that some of the college boat clubs have their own individual flags. You can also see college flags at their own premises elsewhere in the City on other occasions, mainly associated with the University, the death of college Fellows and so on. They tend to fly the Union Flag on national occasions. However, the greatest concentration in a small area is during Torpids and Eights Week.
Colin Dobson, 16 June 2005

We have two sheets of drawing of Oxford and Cambridge club flags amongst a donation at the Library, but there is no source. Further, they have all been redrawn in coloured pencil, so the precise shades are not always apparent. I have corrected some using more general sources on the colleges. The flags are all drawn as 3:2.

  • Balliol: five horizontal stripes magenta (a deep pink), white, dark blue, white, magenta
  • Brasenose: black with a yellow border [the width of the border is one-sixth of the length]
  • Christ Church: blue with a red bishop's mitre [I am not sure that this is correct. Christ Church College was founded by a cardinal, and a cardinal's red hat appears on the college tie, so it may be a mistake by the artist or in the original source]
  • Corpus Christi: three horizontal stripes red, navy, red
  • Exeter: black with a magenta border
  • Jesus: light green with a white border
  • Magdalen: divided vertically black (hoist) and white
  • Merton: blue with a red cross and a white border
  • New: five horizontal stripes brown, white, brown, white, brown
  • Oriel: divided vertically navy (hoist) and white
  • Pembroke: three horizontal stripes cerise, white, cerise
  • Queen's: seven horizontal stripes red, white, blue, white, blue, white, red 1:1:1:2:1:1:1
  • St. John's: three horizontal stripes yellow, black, scarlet
  • Trinity: navy with a white border
  • University: navy with a gold border
  • Wadham: light blue
  • Worcester: five horizontal stripes blue, white, red, white, blue

This is not all the colleges, obviously. Some might not have a rowing club - this would be true of the all-women's colleges in times gone by. I have found this extra college colours which I include for completeness, rather than saying they actually have rowing flags.

  • Hertford: red, maroon & white
  • Keble: navy, scarlet and white
  • Lady Margaret Hall: navy, gold & white
  • St. Anne's: navy & gold
  • St. Catherine's: maroon & light blue
  • St. Edmund's Hall: maroon & amber
  • St. Hilda's: navy & white
  • St. Hugh's: navy, gold & white
  • St. Peter's: green & gold
  • Somerville: scarlet & black

See also:

Ian Sumner, 20 June 2005

The flags you describe are radically different from the flags that are seen nowadays, which are heraldic banners of the college arms or incorporate simple heraldic devices. For example, Christ Church now uses navy blue a cross white. In the lithograph I saw this was the same, except with a swallow tail. From memory, some of the other non-banners now in use are:

  • Merton: white a crimson cross couped
  • St John's: white on a navy blue cross the Lamb of God white (see this image for the current St John's BC flag flying over the college banner of arms)
  • Magdalen: red three lilies in fess proper
  • Worcester: black a Maltese cross pink

Andrew Yong, 20 June 2005

I have three old postcards which have the flags of the Oxford University colleges pictured. They may be of the college boat clubs rather than the colleges themselves:

Card 1: Jesus, Wadham, Pembroke, Worcester, St. Edmund Hall, Hertford, Keble, St. Catherine's
Card 2: University, Marton, Balliol, Exeter, Oriel, Queen's
Card 3: New, Lincoln, Madgalen, Brasenose, Corpus Christi, Christ Church, Trinity, St. John's

Peter Andrew Henry, 11 July 2006

I'm not sure of the provenance of that document - it looks quite old. At least one of them - Merton - does not reflect current usage, I'll try to research this on the occasion of the next regatta, when most of the flags should be displayed, however this will have to wait until the start of the next academic year, which is many months off. Most, but not all, of the Oxford colleges have boat houses, usually shared with one other college or institution, on the River Thames, where it runs through Christ Church Meadow in Oxford. Most of the boathouses have two flag poles, one for each college and they usually fly a flag when regattas are being held. See this photograph, from the University College Boat Club web site:, wherein may be seen (third from right) the St John's Boat Club flag above the St John's College flag on the same flagpole:

The colleges themselves, mostly located in the city centre, have their own range of flag flying days and would typically fly a banner of arms on a day associated with the University, such as Degree Day, and the Union Flag on a national flag flying day. There are 39 colleges and 7 permanent private halls - a total of 46, although not all have boat clubs and there are also a number of other boat clubs associated with the University coming out of institutions such as the medical school.

As pointed out above, some college boat clubs, such as St John's - not in these post card files - have their own flag, which is different from the college flag. Also, there are numerous other eccentricities, such as Christ Church College, which flies a banner of arms of its founder. Ian Sumner wrote about a sheet of Oxford and Cambridge college club flags in the collection of the Flag Institute, which differs from this latest source. Without being able to compare that source with this source fully, it would seem to me that the drawings referred to therein are taking the actual colours of the boat crews - as worn on their clothing - and transposing them to flags, for some reason.

In the third card there is (probably) an error where the Corpus boat flag is shown as a crimson pelican on a blue background, when in fact, it is a yellow or gold pelican on a blue background, as depicted on the link at Sixth flagpole from the left and also the arms shown on the College web site, from whence it comes: and can also be seen atop the sundial in the middle of the quad. Note also its unusual ratio. It is a very large flag when flown on the flagpole above the Porters Lodge at the entrance to the College.

In summary, some of these flags are quite complex and I would suggest further research is required.
Colin Dobson, 11 July 2006

On eBay at is the same card set but from a different year. It's difficult to tell whether it's older or newer, but there are some differences. I have noticed that the arms of St Catherine's College were incorrect on the other cards, where the arms of St Catherine's Cambridge were actually depicted. This version has the arms of St Catherine's before it became collegiate. That could be an indicator of the year.
Colin Dobson, 30 July 2006