First ‘Hampshire Day’ celebrated in Winchester

Eastleigh Council Leader Keith House blasts county celebration as "a total waste of money".

The new Hampshire Flag with: L-R Lord Lieutenant Nigel Atkinson, Deputy Leader HCC Cllr Rob Humby, Dean of Winchester Cathedral The Very Rev Catherine Ogle, Chair HCC Cllr Charles Chowdary. Pic: Stephen Slominski

A flag-raising ceremony to mark the first ever ‘Hampshire Day’ was held at the Castle in Winchester today, St Swithun’s Day (July 15) – but the Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith House blasted the event as a “total waste of money.”

An audience of around 100 guests – including County Councillors from all parties – watched as the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire Nigel Atkinson and the Chair of Hampshire County Council Councillor Charles Choudhary, accompanied by an ensemble of student musicians from the Hampshire Music Service, marked the occasion with a series of speeches, poems and songs which emphasised the uniqueness of the county of Hampshire.

Following a blessing by the Dean of Winchester Cathedral, The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, the Lord-Lieutenant raised the brand new Hampshire County flag at Castle Yard.

The Dean of Winchester Cathedral blesses the new Hampshire Flag Pic: Stephen Slominski

The creation of the new flag – designed by the charity the Flag institute – and the new day of celebration is part of government campaign to celebrate historic counties of England. The flag is not owned by any one organisation but signifies the whole of Hampshire and any resident or business in Hampshire can fly it without seeking permission.

Like the County Council’s banner of arms, the Hampshire Flag comprises a bi-colour of yellow and red. Its design includes a Tudor rose and a Saxon crown in reference to Hampshire’s ancient history, including the fact that Winchester was once the capital of England.

In his speech The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire described how the County of Hampshire is older than England itself and summed up his hopes for the day:

“Hampshire day about celebrating everything that makes Hampshire great, its heritage, its world-famous historic sites, its diverse mix of towns and villages, the beautiful natural landscapes and above all the people of Hampshire both past and present. This is why I hope communities across the county will embrace Hampshire day in years to come by holding their own activities and celebrations so that over time this day will go from strength to strength in fostering a shared pride in Hampshire and all that it represents.”

Councillor Judith Grajewski – who represents Chandler’s Ford on both the County and Borough Council – told Eastleigh News:

“I think to have a day a year where we remember in our history and celebrate everything that’s good about Hampshire as it’s a diverse county, I think that’s a really good idea”

Councillor Keith House didn’t share the sentiment. Although the Lord Lieutenant had expressed the hope that Hampshire Day would, in future be celebrated throughout the county, the Eastleigh Council Leader – who wasn’t in attendance – told Eastleigh News:

“Eastleigh Borough Council won’t be spending any money on it.”

An HCC spokesperson explained to Eastleigh News that Hampshire Day was not a County Council initiative and that any costs incurred by the council in connection with it had been minimal but in an email, Cllr House said HCC was pursuing the “wrong priorities.”

“This exercise to create a Hampshire brand is a total waste of money and is a kick in the teeth for vulnerable residents who have had their care charges increased, bus services axed and face fees to take DIY waste to Hampshire tips.  The County Conservatives have the wrong priorities for Hampshire and I look forward to residents being able to boot the Conservatives out in 2021.”

Hampshire Flag Bunting at Castle Yard. Pic: Stephen Slominski