Last modified: 2014-07-16 by rob raeside
Keywords: royal windermere yacht club | red ensign |
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The Windermere Sailing Club was established in the early 19th century, and
re-named the Windermere Yacht Club in 1860. In 1887 the club, which then had 104
members, owning 33 sailing yachts and 9 steam yachts, wrote to the Home Office
requesting a "Royal Warrant". The Home Office replied that a royal warrant was
for tradesmen who supplied the royal households. If a royal title was being
requested the club should submit full details to the Home Office and the matter
would be considered, adding, "The procedure by way of 'warrant' occurs when a
petition is sent to the Admiralty for authority to fly the Blue Ensign." The
club submitted details to the Home Office, and on 5 July 1887 was granted
permission to call itself the Royal Windermere Yacht Club.
The club had appeared in the Yacht and Sailing Club section of Lloyd's Register of Yachts since 1881. Its flag was a Red Ensign defaced with a shield; three yellow lions passant in pale on red, surrounded by a border of white fleur-de-lis on blue. In 1889 this changed to a royal crown. Rule II in the club's Rule Book read, "The Club Flags shall be Red Ensign with gold crown in fly and Red Burgee with gold crown in centre." No warrant had been issued for either ensign, but since the club was based on Lake Windermere, which has no navigable access to the sea, the Admiralty were not concerned. A letter written to the Home Office in 1902, asking if their royal title could continue under the new sovereign, included the information that the club flag was, "red ensign with crown in fly."
On 12 May 1914 the club wrote to the Home Office asking for permission for Mr.R.H. Edmonson to fly the Royal Windermere Yacht Club flags on the Steam Yacht 'Sabine', which was being chartered by him for the season. The Home Office replied to the Commodore of the club; "There appears to be some misunderstanding. The Home Office letter of 18 July 1902, as you are aware, gave permission for the use of the title Royal Windermere Yacht Club, and was not a warrant. Questions relating to the flying of club flags do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State and would be glad to know what is meant by the letter." The club apparently thought that the right to call itself 'Royal' also entitled it to add a crown to the Red Ensign, and to its burgee. The Commodore wrote back that Edmonson had applied to the Admiralty who had answered that permission could be granted only to clubs that had a general warrant. A Home Office minute observed that, "Admiralty has no jurisdiction over flags flown on inland waters though they do their best to secure observance of the proper rules on such waters. If steam yacht went to sea, Admiralty would have jurisdiction, otherwise could only bluff." [National Archives (PRO) HO 144/957/B1447]
The club continued to feature in the Yacht and Sailing Club section of Lloyd's Register of Yachts until 1932, but was then omitted until re-appearing 1956. It is unlikely that a warrant has ever been issued by the Admiralty since it is not a legal requirement, but for some reason the club has appeared in the Navy List of 'Yacht Clubs Using a Special Ensign' since 2001.
David Prothero, 13 December 2005
The Windermere ensign also once served the
Royal St George Yacht Club in
Clay Moss, 23 February 2006
I phoned the Royal Windermere Yacht Club and happened to catch the Commodore at
the club. We discussed the RWYC's ensign. He informed me that the crown, fully
coloured, belongs in the lower fly quarter. He went on to say that it has never
been placed in the center of the fly. When I mentioned to him that I had seen a
photograph of an RWYC ensign with the crown centered, he said; "It was no ensign
that we had made".
Clay Moss, 5 October 2007
image by Clay Moss, 21 May 2007