Yorkshire Day 2023: The history of Yorkshire’s White Rose of York that dates back to the 14th century

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With Yorkshire Day approaching, we are all looking forward to celebrating the region - the symbol White Rose of York that is prominently displayed on the Yorkshire flag has a history that dates back more than 700 years.

The White Rose of York is a white heraldic rose which was adopted in the 14th century as a badge of the royal House of York.

In modern times, the white rose is one of the most frequent designs found around the streets of York; the rose’s links with the name ‘York’ dates back to the mediaeval times when it was one of the badges worn by the followers of the ‘House of York’.

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In Christianity, the flower is traditionally meant to symbolise purity and innocence.

Flags displayed at the White Rose Hotel in Askrigg. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)Flags displayed at the White Rose Hotel in Askrigg. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)
Flags displayed at the White Rose Hotel in Askrigg. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)

History of Yorkshire’s symbol White Rose of York

While it is not certain at which point the white rose officially became Yorkshire’s official emblem, it was thought to be used for the first time by the first Duke of York, Edmund, the fourth surviving son of King Edward III of England, in the 14th century.

A red rose was used by one of his elder brothers, John Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, as a heraldic badge, the red rose of Lancaster and their respective descendants fought for control of the throne of England during many decades of civil warfare, later known as the Wars of the Roses, after the badges of the two competing cadet royal houses.

The wars ceased by King Henry VII of England who, when marrying Elizabeth of York, iconically united the White and Red Roses to form the Tudor Rose, the symbol of the English Monarchy.

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The Jacobites took the White Rose of York as their emblem in the late 17th century, celebrating ‘White Rose Day’ on June 10, the anniversary of the birth of The Old Pretender in 1688.

During the Battle of Minden in Prussia on August 1, 1759, Yorkshiremen of the 51st Regiment (predecessor of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) picked white roses from bushes near the battlefields and stuck them in their coats as a tribute to their fallen comrades. Yorkshire Day is held on this date every year.

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