The Colours of The East Surrey Regiment
(and its forebears the 31st and 70th of Foot)
One of only a few stands of Volunteer Colours are those of the Newington Surrey Volunteers. This Corps had been one of many formed in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, when invasion was feared. On 4th June 1799, the King reviewed sixty-five volunteer Corps in Hyde Park on his birthday, the Newington Volunteers among them. The Corps consisted of two companies each of 120 men, wore scarlet coats with blue facings and bearskin caps, and were engaged to serve only in their local area. Their Colours were presented in September 1800 at Montpelier Gardens by Mrs Burne, presumably the wife of one of the officers.
The first Colour bore the Bridge House Mark, later to feature in the Colours of the 23rd London Regiment, which was the emblem of the borough of Southwark. The Second Colour bore the Garter star and the royal cipher.
The Bridge House Mark
The Bridge House Mark, referred to in the description of the Regimental Colour the 23rd London Regiment, bears proof of the Southwark origin of the Regiment. The device is of ecclesiastical character and has for ages been the Bridge House Mark, and is emblematical of Southwark. It was used by the Bridge House Committee as shown by the inscription on the pier, at the NE corner at Blackfriers Bridge at the turn of the century. In 1902, the College of Heralds acknowledged that it belonged to Southwark, when special permission was given to include it in the Borough Arms.
The device was probably of greater antiquity than any other held by a Territorial battalion. The device consists of the Greek letter X, the initial letter of Christos, a triangle representing the Trinity, and a circle signifying eternity. In the language of heraldry; An Annulet ensigned with a cross pattée, and interlaced with a Saltire conjoined in base.
A second stand, of one Colour only, was that of the Loyal Southwark Volunteers formed from the parishes of St George the Martyr, St John, and St Mary’s Newington adopted the Colour of the St John’s Association, which had been presented to it by Mrs Thornton, wife of the local MP. This Colour, with those of the Newington Surry Volunteers, later passed to the 7th Surrey Rifles and were still being displayed in the 1870s. Eventually they passed, via various amalgamations, to 6th (T) QUEEN’S. When this battalion was disbanded the remaining fragments were preserved and framed by experts from the Victoria and Albert Museum. They are still in the possession of the Regiment.