Rapal Flags

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The Rapal Flags of Sussex

Sussex has a set of unique internal territorial divisions named “Rapes”. The origin of the Rapes is unknown however it is strongly believed that four of them predate the Norman Conquest and are possibly Saxon in origin, with the Rape of Bramber being founded by 1086, and the Rape of Chichester being founded by 1275.

sussex map

The six rapes (ancient territorial divisions) of Sussex

Each of these areas are culturally important to the heritage of Sussex, equal to the Ridings of Yorkshire and the Parts of Lincolnshire. In modern times however, the majority of people in Sussex are not consciousness of these unique internal territorial divisions. However, they remain culturally significant.

Vexillographer (flag designer) Brady Ells, on behalf of The Sussex Association, created the following flags for each of the Sussex rapes. All the Rapal flags have a universal look and feel to them to indicate that they  represent the Rapes of Sussex, rather than the individual towns or city from which they take their names. A blue triangle with six gold martlets is placed against the hoist to represent the county and maintains the 3,2,1 pattern of the martlets at all angles.

triangle-martlets

The flags follow, west to east.

The Rape of Chichester

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The Rapal Flag of Chichester is charged with 14 red gouttes (drops of blood). These drops are from the arms of the city of Chichester, granted in 1570.

chichester-arms-1

The story behind the gouttes on the city arms is unknown, however they have since been strong symbols of Chichester, even featuring on the border of the arms of the former Chichester Rural District Council.

chichester-rdc-arms

Most depictions of the city arms display 14 gouttes in the pattern 5,4,3,2, and are therefore displayed like this on the flag.

chichester-arms-2


 

The Rape of Arundel

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The flag of the Rape of Arundel is charged with 3 black martlets. Arundel has long been represented by Martlets. This is a pun on the town’s name, the French name for martlet, hirondelle sounding similar to the town’s name. 3 martlets are chosen as Arundel is represented as such on the arms of Arundel granted in 1939.

arundel-arms-1

It should be noted that the three martlets on the flag bear more of a resemblance to a swift, to contrast more effectively with the Sussex Martlets against the hoist. This stylisation also reflects their appearance on earlier town seals.

arundel-seals

Which today still features as decoration on the town’s Mayoral Chain.

arundel-chains

A swift style martlet features as the crest to the town’s coat of arms and is used on the insignia of Arundel town council

arundel-tc

and as a badge by Arundel Football Club.

arundel-fc


 

The Rape of Bramber

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The Rapal Flag of Bramber is charged with 5 crosslets. These Crosslets derive from the coat of arms of William VII de Braose- 2nd Baron Braose, circa 1298.

de-braose-arms

The de Braose family were ‘Lords of Bramber’ since the rape was established in the late 11th century. Although earlier ancestors and Lords had different coats of arms, it is this coat of arms which stuck and still appears on local insignia, an example being the badge of Beeding & Bramber Cricket Club.

bramber-cricket

The Crosslets appeared on the 13th Century Borough Seal of New Shoreham, highlighting the the de Braose family as Lords of the Rape of Bramber in which Shoreham is situated.

shoreham-seal

An adapted version of the de Braose arms were also used by Shoreham Urban District Council from 1933.

shoreham-udc

Another town which is in the Rape of Bramber is Horsham. A single crosslet appears on the coat of arms and crest of Horsham District Council granted in 1975, displaying the town’s links to the Rape of Bramber and the de Braose family.

horsham

The Crosslets on the flag of the Rape are blue, reversing the colours of the de Braose coat of arms to facilitate deployment against a gold field.


 

The Rape of Lewes

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The flag of the Rape of Lewes is charged with a Tower in Gold & Blue checks. A tower has long been used as a symbol of Lewes representing Lewes Castle and features on the badges of Lewes Football Club

lewes-fc

and Sussex Police, where the town is the location of its headquarters.

sussex-police-lewes

The gold and blue checks are those of the de Warenne family, Barons of Lewes since the Norman Conquest.

warenne

The de Warrene checks feature heavily on the arms of the town of Lewes

lewes-arms

and are used entirely by the town’s swimming club.

Lewes SC

The arms of Hove also include the de Warrene checks to denote the town’s location in the Rape of Lewes,

hove-arms

as does the badges of Longhill High School in Rottingdean,

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and Brighton General Hospital.

brighton-hospital

The coat of arms of Lewes District Council, granted in 1975, makes use of the gold and blue checks as a border, highlighting the District Council’s remit covering part of the Rape of Lewes.

lewes-dc


 

The Rape of Pevensey

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The Rapal Flag of Pevensey is charged with a red spread eagle. The design depicts the ‘Pevensey Eagle’ which originated on the arms of the de Aquila family. ‘Aquila’ is the Latin word for ‘Eagle’. Euguenulf de Aquila came over with William I and was killed at the Battle of Hastings; his descendant, Gilbert de Aquila, was bestowed with the Rape of Pevensey. The area was known between 1106 and 1234 as the ‘Honour of the Eagle’.

pevensey-eagle

This red eagle now appears as the main feature of Pevensey’s new village sign.

pevensey-village-sign

The Red eagle also features on the logos of Pevensey Parish Council

pevensey-pc

and Pevensey Bay Sailing Club.

pevensey-sc

It should also be noted that the sailing pennant of Pevensey Bay Sailing Club is a red spread eagle on a field of gold.

pevensey-sc-flag

Since its very first competitive season in 1937, Eastbourne’s motorcycle speedway team based in Arlington has used the nickname “The Eagles”.

eastbourne-eagles

An eagle also features in the chief of the arms of Seaford Town Council in reference to the Rape of Pevensey and the de Aquila family.

seaford-arms

Which itself is derived from the mid-19th century seal of Seaford.

seaford-seal

The coat of arms of Lewes District Council, granted in 1975, makes use of the de Aquila Eagle as a crest, highlighting the District Council’s remit covering part of the Rape of Pevensey.

lewes-dc


 

The Rape of Hastings

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The Flag of the Rape of Hastings is charged with a vessel which first appeared on the common seal of the Barons of Hastings.

hastings-seal

Boats also appeared on the 12th and 13th century seals of Rye

rye-seal

and Winchelsea.

winchelsea-seals

The vessel is coloured in a bi-colour of Red and Blue in reference to the coat of arms of Hastings.

hastings-arms

These arms derive from the arms of the Cinque Ports, which are also used to represent both Rye and Winchelsea.

cinque-ports-arms

It should also be noted a vessel appears on the top of Winchelsea’s village sign.

winchelsea-sign


The Rapal Flags

Click on the flags to see larger versions.