Stars and stripes were raised over the National Trust's Washington Old Hall as part of the annual 4th July celebrations

The US flag has been raised every 4th July for more than 50 years at the hall and this year's ceremony and event had a cultural theme as Sunderland is bidding to become UK City of Culture 2021.

The ancestral home of America's first president hosts the ceremony and events through a partnership between the National Trust, Friends of Washington Old Hall and Sunderland City Council.

This year is also the 40th anniversary of US President Jimmy Carter's visit to the North East and to Washington Old Hall.

Pupils from local schools - George Washington Primary School, John F Kennedy Primary School and Broadway Junior School - gave presentations around the City of Culture Bid themes of light, inventiveness and friendship.

Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Doris MacKnight spoke at the event and said: "As many of you know, Sunderland has had a Friendship Agreement with Washington DC since 2006 and it is an Agreement of which we are very proud.

"It marks the unique historical connection we share, through a link to George Washington and his family, which goes back as far as 1183 (when William de Wessyngton exchanged some land with the Bishop of Durham and moved here from the village of Hertburn near Stockton).

"Our Agreement takes our special connection and sets out to create opportunities which bring real benefits for both of our communities. It also reflects the very important role which American investment has played in regenerating the city's economy over the last 25 years - and which it continues to play today.

"It has been another good year for the partnership, with a range of different activities taking place.

"A new and exciting creative partnership was set up with a theatre company - Company E - from Washington DC, who worked with local dancers and college students to develop a production called 'Ghosts Across the Pond' here at Washington Old Hall. The performance was based on many of the stories they learnt about from the Friends of Washington Old Hall and the local community, linked to the people who have lived and worked here over the centuries.

"Software businesses have also continued to benefit from our partnership with DC, taking the opportunity to explore the potential of the American market.

"I hope this gives you an idea of just some of the very positive things that we have been doing with our friends and colleagues in Washington DC during the last year - the year which actually marks the 40th anniversary of President Jimmy Carter's visit to the North East, and here to Washington, in 1977."

In 2006, Sunderland signed a Friendship Agreement with Washington DC and the two cities share strong cultural and economic links.