Lathom is an area of West Lancashire which is steeped in history. In the past it was a manor of a man in service of Athelstan, said to be the first king of England. In 1066, it belonged to Uctred, who was an Anglo-Danish landowner. The manor and its lands changed hands a lot during medieval times, however the de Lathoms kept hold of it for a while. After this, it was ruled by the Stanleys who ruled Moor Hall in Aughton and many other homes throughout what is today the West Lancashire area.
The flag of Lathom was one of the easiest to make. The first thing I did was search for the de Lathom family heraldry, and severalwebsites gave me images of a coat of arms containing three circles above jagged spikes, in the colours yellow and blue (and one white and blue).
Many of them looked legitimately from history books, rather than knock-off souvenirs, and so I knew instantly what to do. Going with the more common yellow colour, I decided to use this as the basis of my flag for Lathom.
On Paint.NET I zoomed in on the arms and made the proportions flag sized.
Then I drew over them using shape tools to get this result.
I don’t usually enjoy outlines on flags, but in this instance it looks much better. This isn’t perfect, as my digital art skills are not as honed as they ought to be and the proportions and lines are not well centred, but this is just a draft of what a Lathom flag could look like.
Great Altcar is an incredibly small village of just 213 people according to the 2011 census in Britain. However, that won’t stop me from making them a flag!
As you’d imagine from such a tiny place, there isn’t really very much symbolism to go off. With that being said, it was incredibly easy for me to design a flag for this civil parish.
The Church of Saint Michael and All Angels in Great Altcar (above) is a landmark in the area, and one of the loveliest little buildings in all of Lancashire, I rate. This building was my inspiration for the flag. The black and white Tudor style is fairly distinctive, especially since the church was constructed in the 1800s. Nevertheless there are records of a church being on that plot of land as far back as 1429. I decided to use a black and white stripe pattern for the Great Altcar flag, however that didn’t seem to be enough.
Next I added a wavy blue line across the foreground of the flag. This would be the River Alt, from which the little village gets its name from (‘Altcar’ being Norse for ‘Marsh by the Alt’). To add a bit more colour, and make the blue stand out some more, I added a yellow border to the river design, that would represent Lancashire on both sides of the river.
Presto! A distinctive little flag for a distinctive little village.
The village of Burscough in West Lancashire has its origins as a Viking settlement named Burh Skogr, which means ‘fortress in the woods’. The Norse origins of this civil parish would be the inspiration for many of my flag concepts in this post.
My first idea was to take the colours of the football team, green and white, and use them to make Scandinavian crosses. The etymology of ‘Burscough’ encouraged this, with the green adequately representing the forests that the Norsemen sought to name it after.
For the third one, I decided to include a red cross, to demarcate that this is an English parish, despite its Nordic origins. Nevertheless, I didn’t like the look of it. As a result, I decided to add another feature. The linnet, a bird which appears on both the crest of the Burscough parish council and Burscough FC, seemed fitting, given Burscough’s proximity to Martin Mere bird sanctuary.
Above: The linnet bird appearing on the badges of Burscough council and Burscough FC.
Using this symbolism and adding them to the Scandinavian style flags, this is what I got:
I still wasn’t pleased. After some consideration, I felt that I took the Scandinavian idea a bit too far. Yes it was founded by Vikings, but the village has hardly any Norse elements to it today, nor do many of the population even acknowledge their ancestry or identity as such, unlike places like York or the Shetland Islands.
Consequently, I went in another direction. The linnet stayed, but this time I looked at its location rather than heritage. Burscough is situated on the Leeds-Liverpool canal, as well as being nearby Martin Mere wildfowl reserve. This time, I went with a more aquatic look.
It might seem a bit puzzling as to why the water in the flag is green, but it definitely stands out. Here is an attempt with other colours.
I thought that this definitely looked better.However it seemed a little cheap just lifting the same bird image from the football team’s badge for a flag. So instead, I searched for some other stylised linnets and came across another. I swapped the birds around and this is what I finished with.
Aughton is a civil parish in West Lancashire centred around a village of the same name with a population of approximately eight-thousand people.
Finding pre-existing features for a flag for Aughton was quite difficult. There’s no emblem for their civic council. Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads did have a victory in Aughton during the English Civil War, and there are lanes named after him, but in historical records it’s the Battle of Ormskirk, not the ‘Battle of Aughton’, and on top of that there’s little in the way of historical imagery to play off.
I felt like this was a good place to start. The Stanley of Bickerstaffe heraldry included a trio of golden stags’ heads on a blue diagonal stripe against a white background, which can be seen in the picture below.
From this, I took that imagery and search for a clearer flags head design using Google Images. I got this, which is almost identical to the Stanley stag.
Aughton has two areas in the south-west and south-east called Holt Green and Town Green respectively. This felt almost too perfect. I knew instantly that the flag of Aughton would have to include green as a colour. However to incorporate this, I would have to alter the coat of arms of the Stanleys to fit it into the Aughton flag.
So, by piecing together the three gold stags of Stanley with the blue ribbon, and the green in the South-East and South-West, this was my first attempt.
Not the worst flag ever. But something felt lacking. I tried again, this time as a horizontal tricolour incorporating the white from the arms of the Stanleys.
Not too shabby. But there’s something very republican about tricolours. That being said, the Roundheads did win the Battle of Ormskirk. I decided to try a few more times, using a Lancaster rose.
Still not good enough. I wondered if it was the white that was the problem, and replaced it with the yellow from the Lancashire flag.
It just looked more like a Latin American, African, or an Eastern European flag than anything else. I decided to pass on the tricolour design to find something different.
Etymologically, Aughton means ‘the place where the oak trees grow’. I did another search for oak tree symbols and I found this emblem designed for Recsk in Hungary was the least offensive to my eyes. I decided that I would toy around with this and go in another direction. Maybe I was over-complicating my designs. What I got were these.
I couldn’t finish on a design I actually liked. So, you tell me. Which of my designs do you prefer? Let me know in the comments.
Upholland is a parish of West Lancashire, which has a history that goes back before the Domesday Book was created in 1086. In 2011, Upholland had a population of little under 7500 people.
The parish is noted for its church named for St Thomas the Martyr, otherwise known as Thomas Plantagenet, who was the 2nd Earl of Lancaster (c. 1278 – 22 March 1322). Upon his death, miracles were said to have occurred near his tomb in Pontefract, Yorkshire, and he was canonised after petitions from the commoners. The church was commissioned by the Baron Robert de Holland, whose fief was Upholland at that time, and was also the secretary to Thomas Plantagenet.
St Thomas Plantagenet and the church dedicated to him are central to Upholland’s identity. The church itself appears on the emblem of Upholland Parish Council, which can be seen below.
In the picture above we can see four key features. In the top corner, we see a sketch of the Church of St. Thomas the Martyr. Across the centre in the bend there are three fleurs-de-lis. In the bottom-right, there is a lion rampant guardant Argent (which is heraldic terminology for ‘a silver or white lion on its hind legs facing the viewer’, as opposed to facing left or right). Given that even the Upholland Parish Council website has this icon in black and white, we can only guess the colours, although it is pretty easy to examine.
The origins of this emblem are quite simple to decipher. The church is of course the Church of Saint Thomas the Martyr. The rampant lion comes from the coat of arms of the Holland family which ruled Upholland until the 1500s. The fleurs-de-lis could come from two places. It could be rooted in the arms of Saint Thomas Plantagenet, whose personal arms carried three columns of three fleurs-de-lis. However it could also come from the arms of the de Holland family again, which had a pattern of fleurs-de-lis in the background. It should be noted that both the lion and the fleurs-de-lis appear on the coat of arms of West Lancashire Borough Council (WLBC) in the blue portion. The fourth feature is the text which says “UP HOLLAND PARISH COUNCIL”.
Some coats of arms very easily translate to flags. The most obvious flag with this origin is Amsterdam’s which came from the city’s coat of arms. However Upholland is not quite like the Dutch capital as its name might suggest. As a result a bit of tweaking had to take place to modify this design into an appropriate flag.
It is generally understood that buildings, particularly sketches of buildings, are not pleasant features on a flag. There are a couple of exceptions, such as Gibraltar’s flag, but that is stylised heavily. We’ve already learned that St. Thomas Plantagenet’s church is a crucial element of Upholland’s local identity, however, and thus it would be in poor taste to erase any element of it from this hypothetical flag. Text however, must never ever (ever) appear on a flag – just look at all those ghastly American state flags – and thus writing should never, and will never, appear on any flags or emblems that I design. The lion, however, will stay, although it will have to stand out a wee bit more than it has in the past.
So it is already decided that the church will have to go. This is sad, because like I said, it is quintessential to Upholland’s heritage. However, it can very easily be substituted and tributes to St Thomas the Martyr can take its place. The most obvious of this is the symbol of his household, the Plantagenet dynasty, which ruled as the House of Lancaster in English history. That symbol is the red rose of Lancaster, which now appears as the central element of the Lancashire county flag, and was made famous by the Wars of the Roses, named for such symbols. As a result including the red rose has a double effect – representing both the sainted Thomas, Earl of Lancaster as well as Upholland’s location in Lancashire.
So let’s get to work.
The lion on the arms of the de Holland family frankly looks awful, from any representation that I can see. Thankfully, I was able to find an appropriate substitute on Google Images by simply searching for ‘Lion rampant guardant‘. What I found was this ferocious looking beast (right).
It looks heraldic enough, although he needs to be silver. Fear not. I have Paint.NET to hand to change this into a more appropriate lion worthy of the Parish of Upholland.
Whilst the house of Holland had this lion as silver in its arms, in heraldic terminology the term ‘Argent’ can mean either white or silver. WLBC decided to go with white when they formed their coat of arms, and I applaud them. On flags, white is always a much better option than silver, which frankly just comes off as looking grey.
I experimented with several designs using the parish council coat of arms as a template, and I ended up narrowing it down to these two:
The blue came from the Holland coat of arms, and is the same shade of blue that is on the WLBC emblem. The yellow is from the flag of Lancashire. A major problem with these flags is that they are exceptionally busy. The three fleurs-de-lis, the lion and the rose make it hard for your eye to centre on just one place. Also, the three colours of the background are unpleasant for ones eyes. I pondered if this was a problem with the diagonal design itself, and so I attempted some alternatives. Well, many alternatives.
I concluded that a larger lion was better, since it drew focus and was big enough to be seen far away with and be recognisable. I wanted all the elements (Lancaster rose, Holland lion, and three fleurs-de-lis) to be represented. Three colours, rather than two, made it more distinctive as well. As a result I decided to go with a rather unconventional, asymmetrical design. First, I put the yellow and rose on the hoist, to demonstrate that this is a flag from WEST Lancashire. Next, I put a pale of black across it to separate the butter-coloured Lancastrian flag from the blue field of the de Holland portion of the flag. Then, I made the lion much bigger than it had been prior. Consequently, what I got was this:
Much better, yes?
What do you think? Could it have been done better? Please leave your comments below.
Thank you very much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my post.
Welcome to my blog, the West Lancashire Flags Project. This post is a brief introduction to what I will be doing on this page for the foreseeable future.
On this blog, I will be posting my designs for flags for the towns, villages and whatever else, from my home West Lancashire, seen in the red above. West Lancashire is a non-metropolitan district in the historic county of Lancashire in the North-West of England. It has twenty-one civil parishes, and two small towns.
I am an amateur vexilologist (flag designer) with no experience doing anything like this except when playing around on my photo editor software on my laptop. However, what I can tell you is that the imagery of this county is, well, a tad unpleasant.
This image below is the coat of arms for West Lancashire Borough Council.
There is a lot of symbolism in this coat of arms, and a lot of potential. However, it pains me to say that it is not very pleasing to the eye. Yes, the church on the hill in the market town of Ormskirk, famous for its unusual coupling of both a tower and steeple, is a notable feature of the area. But that mixed in with Lancashire roses, fleurs de Lis and rampant lion from Upholland, the wheat from Skelmesdale, and everything else make it all so busy. Whilst this is not a flag, it is an example of just how messy these things can be.
I hope my niche little project entertains you. Please get in touch with any questions, and enjoy my posts and designs.