Jefferton Flag returns to Giffordtown village for one day

The Jefferton Flag which will be at Giffordtown Village Hall for one day on Saturday, March 28.
The Jefferton Flag which will be at Giffordtown Village Hall for one day on Saturday, March 28.

Residents of Giffordtown are preparing for a very special historical event – the return of their village banner dating from the 1830s.

For one day only, on Saturday, March 28, ‘The Jefferton Flag’, as it is known locally, will be displayed again in the village hall.

The banner was last hung in the hall over 20 years ago before it was donated to Fife Museums & Galleries collection for safe keeping. Since then, it has been restored to its original glory and carefully stored in the county archives.

Pat Holland, secretary of Giffordtown Village Hall, said many in the community had never seen the flag.

She said: “We were very keen to have the original on show in the hall to try to bring alive some of the social history of Collessie parish.”

The banner is a large painted textile, measuring 2.6m by 1.7m. It is said that it was carried in front of the procession as parish folk made their way to the annual Jefferton Market and Games.

On route to Giffordtown, there were several stops at local hostelries – maybe explaining the scorch marks visible on the cloth.

But it is the political imagery and text on the flag that arouse special interest.

The flag most likely celebrates the passing of the Great Reform Act in 1832, a Whig triumph. At St Stephen’s Chapel in Westminster, the Lord Chancellor, Henry Brougham and the Prime Minister, Earl Gray are symbolically sweeping out Toryism.

What makes the banner very rare is the forceful image of a sword and gun crossed at the side proclaiming ‘The Last Advocates of Freedom’.

Pat explained that The Jefferton Flag has been a source of speculation but also inspiration for villagers over the years.

“We have faced many adversities in our community and have often recalled the words on the banner:

‘In triumph we raise the flag that we bear, We’ll never be governed by knaves. We’ll jointly defend our rights without fear, And never submit to be slaves.’

The rarity and fineness of The Jefferton Flag has attracted the attention of the People’s History Museum in Manchester where there is the largest collection of political and trade union banners in the UK.

The banner will be on display from 2pm to 4pm on Saturday, March 28, in the village hall. Gavin Grant, of Fife Cultural Trust, will present a brief history of this fascinating banner, as well as others held in the Fife Museums & Galleries collection.