Flags and military colours

There are many options for flying flags and for laying up military standards, guidons and colours.

We can help you understand your choices and care for your historic flags and banners.

Military colours layed up inside a church Anna Campen

Flying flags from churches

Flying flags from churches in England is controlled by law.

You can only fly the flag of St George with the diocesan arm in the top corner nearest to the mast. Of course, you don’t have to fly a flag.

Find out more about flying flags

When to fly a flag

There are no set days for flying a flag from a church.

Some churches will fly them on the main Church festivals. This is a custom and not because of any rules.

Government buildings, however, do have designated days for flying flags.

Conservation of flags and historic banners

There are simple things you can do to help your flags and historic banners stay in a better condition for longer:

  • Keep them in the hanging position, but make sure the edge that suspends them is strong with no weak areas or visible damage
  • Do not hang them above radiators or heating vents
  • Do not hang them above a direct draught
  • Keep them as straight as possible on their poles as creases catch more dust
  • Check them on a regular basis to make sure they are stable
  • Check the cords and tassels are stable

If the material is fragile, you may need to apply conservation treatment to keep your flags and historic banners from decaying (but not military colours – see below).

Hire a trained conservator. Do not try this yourself.

Do you need permission?

You don’t need a faculty to introduce, remove or dispose of a flag flying from your church.

You also don’t need a faculty to repair, maintain, remove, dispose of or replace a flagpole as long as you only use non-corroding fixings. This work is on List A of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2018.

Contact your diocese for advice

Military standards, guidons and colours

You may have military standards, guidons and colours laid up in your church. They belong to the state and you cannot dispose of them without Ministry of Defence sanction and a faculty.

Once colours are laid up, they should stay where they are until they have completely disintegrated. Then, bury the remains with the staff and lion and crown colour pole mount in consecrated ground without any markings.

You are forbidden from replacing or conserving laid up standards, guidons and colours. Contact the Ministry of Defence for advice:

Ministry of Defence, Ceremonial and plans PS12, Main building 6-C-14. Whitehall, London, SW1A 2HB

Laying up Royal British Legion standards

The rules for laying up Royal British Legion standards are different from those for military standards:

  • You cannot remove a standard, once laid up
  • You can conserve a Royal British Legion standard
  • The Legion unit involved should meet the cost of laying up a standard

Find out more about British Legion standards