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The history of Yorkshire Day

By Carole Green
BBC York & North Yorkshire

View from Sutton Bank
Celebrating England's largest county, the first Yorkshire Day was held in 1975

Yorkshire is the largest county in the UK, with a population of over five million people; that's almost twice the size of Wales!

The picturesque backdrop of the Dales and the glorious North York Moors; Castle Howard, Mother Shipton's Cave, Brimham Rocks and Harrogate's Valley Gardens; Whitby Abbey, York Minster and the Shambles. These are just a few examples of well-known local landmarks, which attract thousands of visitors to the area every year. These landmarks are also some of the reasons to celebrate Yorkshire Day.

Why Yorkshire Day?

The idea of Yorkshire Day came about during a meeting of the Yorkshire Ridings Society in 1974. They chose a date for the event, 1 August, and in 1975 the first ever Yorkshire Day took place.

Yorkshire Day celebrates everything Yorkshire, but especially the integrity of the historic county and every year, on that day, members of the society read a declaration of the integrity of Yorkshire at each of the four Bars of York; the gates into the old walled city. The declaration is read facing into each of the three ridings and into the city.

The 1 August is also the anniversary of the Battle of Minden.

The Battle of Minden

In 1759, during the Seven Years War, two French armies worked their way across Western Germany, capturing important towns on their way. Both French armies commanded by Marquis de Contades and The Duc de Broglie lay at the town of Minden, threatened to invade.

The 51st Foot, The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at the battle of Minden

An allied force made up of Prussian, Hanoverian and British forces, of which the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was one, under the command of Prince Ferdinand lay to the North West of the town.

On 1 August 1759, on their way to battle, British forces passed through gardens in Minden which were blooming with roses. The soldiers picked white roses and placed them in their headdresses and coats.

The allied army defeated the French and Minden Day is celebrated on 1st August. In all battalions of the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, now part of the Yorkshire Regiment, a white rose is worn in their caps to commemorate those who fell during battle.

The Yorkshire Flag
The Yorkshire Flag
The official Yorkshire Flag was first unfurled in 2008

The official Yorkshire flag was unfurled in Hull on 29 July 2008. The white rose on a blue background has been used across the county since 1965 (although it could be earlier), but was not recognised by the Flag Institute as the official flag for Yorkshire.

The flag's new status has now been agreed by the Flag Institute after a request was entered by the Yorkshire Ridings Society.

Ryedale's Napoleonic connection
28 Jul 09 |  History


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