More in hope than expectation, I've just submitted the following to the Flag Institute:
The Flag of The County of Sussex – Proposed Amendment
Initially, I was pleased to see the traditional ‘six gold martlets on a blue field’ flag adopted by the Flag Institute as the official registered flag for the county of Sussex There had previously been one or two terrible proposals for a county flag as well as the confusion of having two County Councils (East Sussex and West Sussex) which had their own flags, the WSCC one was advertised by some flag makers as the flag of Sussex.
However, it wasn’t long before something started nagging at me about the ‘official’ flag. The martlets. The ‘official’ flag has six rather dumpy looking birds with quite erect heads. I’ve lived in Sussex for all but the last six years of my life and worked for East Sussex County Council for twenty years, so I’ve got very familiar with the martlet – and these birds don’t look like martlets!
In the 1959 booklet, “The Arms of The County Councils of East and West Sussex and The Diocese of Chichester” issued jointly by the Clerks to the County Councils of both East Sussex and West Sussex (of which I have a copy) it states:
"Lastly, the martlets should be long, graceful birds like swallows, and not stumpy, rotund objects as they are frequently shown".
Now, the example of a martlet illustrated in the booklet is indeed long and graceful. However, it is not really recognisable as the martlet that has been commonly used by local councils and many other organisations throughout Sussex. The martlet which I feel the majority of the people of Sussex would recognise is a bird which has both length and grace and a proud, puffed up breast (even though it may look a little ‘rotund!’).
I, therefore, propose that a minor but important amendment be made to the ‘official’ flag of Sussex which would restore the martlet’s pride and thus the pride of our ancient county. This would consist of the changing of the martlets from the existing dumpy, erect birds to the proud and graceful alternative birds of my proposal.
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