A Large Antique Royal Navy White Ensign Appliqué Flag; c.1910


Origin: British
Period: Early-Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1910
Height: 48 inches
Width: 92 inches

Double hand stitched in heavy cloth, with linen hoist, this superb wool bunting and linen appliqué Edwardian period white ensign flag with the Union Jack in the upper canton, would have flown from a medium sized ship, possibly a Q-ship, more than a century ago. A one-time owner has labelled the flag with his name ‘CJM Wright-Powell’.

In sound condition with a heavy seafaring fade across the fabric, small holes frequent the flag but there are no tears or rips and the overall condition, considering the age is good. There are two or three repairs but they are very old ones and are well executed. There is a softwood toggle to one end of the hoist.

Q-ships were small merchant vessels fitted with concealed armaments. They were intended as decoy ships, being small enough to tempt a U-boat to attack them on the surface. The Q-ship would then drop the shutters concealing her guns and return fire, having first lowered her merchant ensign and hoisted the White Ensign. The Q-ships were ballasted with timber to keep them afloat should they be torpedoed.

Originating in the 16th century, the White Ensign or St George's Ensign is flown on British Royal Navy ships and shore establishments consisting of a red St George's Cross upon a white field with the Union Flag in the upper canton. The White Ensign is also flown by the Royal Yacht Squadron and ships escorting the Queen.

Now a very popular way to adorn shop fronts, this is a beautiful antique example that proves to be extremely decorative.