The first of August is a very special day for Yorkshire. Although we’re pretty good at expounding the glory of Yorkshire all year round, today is the day when we can really let loose, and celebrate all the wonderful things that make up God’s Own Country.
But where did this day come from? How long have we been celebrating, and why?
These questions may only be relevant for our younger readers, as any of the older Yorkshire generation will most likely be able to tell you that the official day traces it’s roots back to 1975, in Beverley. The initial ‘Yorkshire Day’ was less of a celebration, and more of a protest movement proposed by the Ridings Society against the government re-organisation of the county. This was the event that split the original East, West and North Ridings into the four counties of North, South, East and West Yorkshire that are known today.
The Date of the first of August was chosen for two reasons – it alludes to the Battle of Minden, a date that was already celebrated by the Light Infantry (Successors to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) as Minden Day, and also alludes to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire (of which a Yorkshire MP, William Wilberforce, campaigned for). Another fun fact – Minden day is celebrated by six infantry regiments in the British Army, who wear a rose in their cap on the 1st of August. In the case of the Light Infantry, it is a white rose that is worn.
So, Yorkshire Day began as a defiant way to ensure the continuity of our unique heritage and culture, after historic parts of the county had been handed over to Humberside and Lancashire. It is a fantastic way to reflect and preserve the heritage of the UK’s largest historic county, and the legacy of this is evident everywhere that you go across the country. Everyone knows that Yorkshire is exceptionally proud, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Declaration of Integrity
Something that really ties together the ethos of the movement is the ceremonial reading of the Declaration of Integrity. This is a declaration that is read in York four times on Yorkshire Day – once for each riding, and once for the city of York. It follows:
I [your name] being resident in the [East/North/West] Riding of Yorkshire declare:
That Yorkshire is three Ridings & the City of York with these boundaries of 1140 years standing; that the address of all places in these Ridings is Yorkshire;
That all persons born therein or resident therein and loyal to the Ridings are Yorkshire men and women;
That any person or corporate body which deliberately ignores or denies the aforementioned shall forfeit all claim to Yorkshire status.
These declarations made this Yorkshire Day [year]. Yorkshire for ever! God save the Queen!
“The ceremony in York re-states the historic boundaries of the three Ridings, and declares anyone born within them to be a Yorkshireman or woman,” explains Irving.
“This tradition links Yorkshire Day to the foundation of the Viking Kingdom in Jorvik in 875 AD.”
This year, the official celebrations will be held in Whitby.