ECCLESIASTICAL HERALDRY
Although this web site is about civic heraldry, many civic arms have reference to the heraldry of the church. This is either from the arms of diosceses or by alluding to some saint by inclusion of emblems or arms tradtionally associated with them.

ARMS OF BISHOPRICS

COVENTRY, BISHOPRIC OF
coventry see arms

Gules a Cross potent quadrate within a Bordure Argent charged with eight Torteaux.

The Diocese of Mercia was created by Bishop Diuma in around 656 and the see was settled in Lichfield in 669 by the then bishop, Ceadda. During the 9th century, the diocese was devastated by the Vikings. Lichfield itself was unwalled and had become rather poor, so Bishop Peter moved the see to the fortified and wealthier Chester in 1075. His successor, Robert de Limesey, transferred it to Coventry and the diocese was renamed the Diocese of Coventry and Lichfield. In 1539 the see was transferred back to Lichfield and the name was reversed to become the Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry. In 1837 Coventry was transferred to the Diocese of Worcester. The current diocese was formed in 1918 from part of the Diocese of Worcester and the arms combined the cross potent quadrate of Lichfield with the torteaux of Worcester.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Southam Rural District Council


DURHAM, BISHOPRIC OF
durham see arms

Azure a Cross Or between four Lions rampant Argent.

These arms appears first on the seal of Robert Nevill, Bishop of Durham from 1438 to 1457. The lions are possibly derived from the arms of the great Thomas Hatfield, bishop from 1345 to 1381, whose seal contains his arms, a cheveron between three lions. This shield, with the field red and the cross and lions silver, has been found, it is said, as the ensign of S. Denys, bishop and martyr. It is worthy of note that the Bishop of Durham is the only prelate in England who should use a mitre having a coronet about its rim. This distinction belongs to him, and to him alone, a sign of the palatinate authority which until 1835 was exercised by the occupants of the see.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Durham County Council (former)
Durham County Council


ELY, BISHOPRIC OF
ely see arms

Gules three Ducal Coronets two and one Or.

Bishop William de Luda is found using these arms as early as 1290. They are those assigned to S. Etheldreda, Queen of Northumbria and founder of the Abbey of Ely, in whose honour the cathedral church is dedicated. The reverse, Or three Ducal Coronets two and one Gules, are the arms of St. Osyth, Queen of the East Saxons and founder of a nunnery at Chick in Essex, who was murdered by the Danes about the year 676.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Hatfield Rural District Council
Isle of Ely County Council
Wisbech Rural District Council


HEREFORD, BISHOPRIC OF
hereford see arms

Gules three Leopards' Faces reversed jessant-de-Lis two and one Or.

These are base on the arms of the powerful House of Cantilupe from which came Thomas de Cantilupe, Bishop of Hereford from 1275 to 1282. Adam Orlton, the next bishop but one after him, had two such fleurs-de-lis engraved in his seal, and after his time these arms came to be regarded as the arms of the See. The leopards' heads are usually drawn reversed, but there is good reason for believing that they are nothing more than a decorative elaboration of the ball or knop from which the leaves of the flowers spring. The earliest examples of the arms of Cantilupe show three golden fleurs-de-lis on red, and the seal of a fifteenth-century Bishop of Hereford gives them in the shield of the See with very large plain knops. But usage has decided that the knops shall be leopards' heads reversed, and it is as well, no doubt, to conform to the usual practice.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Ross-on-Wye Town Council
South Herefordshire District Council


LICHFIELD, BISHOPRIC OF
lichfield see arms

Per pale Gules and Argent a Cross potent quadrate between four Crosses formy all counterchanged.

No satisfactory explanation is known of these ancient and remarkable arms, which in the Middle Ages were devised for St. Chad, Bishop of Mercia, and patron of the cathedral. The shield is equally divided by the perpendicular line and coloured red and silver, the red being on the spectator's left hand. The large cross, similarly divided, is coloured red where it rests on the silver, and silver in its other half. The four small crosses are treated in the same way, those in the red half being silver while the two in the silver are red. The central cross is of unusual form. Its arms issue from a square and end in crutch-shaped pieces, whence its name "potent", from the French potence - a crutch.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Cannock Urban District Council
Cannock Chase District Council


ROCHESTER, BISHOPRIC OF
rochester see arms

Argent on a Saltire Gules an Escallop Or.

The earliest Rochester seal in the British Museum collection that displays these arms is that of John Scory, bishop from 1551 to 1554. The red saltire is in allusion to St. An­drew in whose honour the cathedral was originally dedicated. The reason for the golden scallop is lost.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Bromley Borough Council
Bromley, London Borough of


ST ALBANS, BISHOPRIC OF
st albans see arms

Azure a Saltire Or over all a Sword erect in pale proper pomel and hilt of the secondin chief a Celestial Crown Gold.

Here the ancient arms of the Abbey, which bore St Albans golden saltire on blue, are differenced by the martyr's sword and crown to form the arms of the see.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Edmonton Borough Council
Elstree Rural District Council
Harpenden Town Council
Hertford Rural District Council
St Albans City and District Council
St Albans Rural District Council
Watford Borough Council


WINCHESTER, BISHOPRIC OF
winchester see arms

Gules two Keys endorsed and conjoined at the bows in bend wards in chief the uppermost Or the lower Argent a Sword the point in chief interposed between them in bend sinister of the third pomel and hilt Gold.

This is the most usual form of these ancient arms, borne in memory of the saints in whose honour the cathedral is dedicated. The manner in which the charges are arranged has varied from time to time, but the field is consistently coloured red, the keys set back to back with their bows interlaced are always gold and silver, and it is always the golden key which lies over the blade of the sword.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Fareham Borough Council
Surrey County Council


WORCESTER, BISHOPRIC OF
worcester see arms

Argent ten Torteaux four three two one.

These arms are not, as is sometimes said, those of Godfrey Giffard, Bishop of Worcester from 1268 to 1302. This shield with the red roundels is found in a fourteenth-century seal of the Hospital of St. Wulstan at Worcester. He was made Bishop of Worcester in the time of Edward the Confessor and lived into the reign of William Rufus. In the Middle Ages his name is found among those of the saints in whose honour the cathedral was dedicated, and the memory of this great-hearted and patriotic bishop was greatly cherished there. The shield was perhaps devised to commemorate some forgotten deed of his. Thomas Peverell (1407-19) is the first Bishop of Worcester whose seal is known to have contained these arms as represent­ing the See.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Clent Parish Council


ARMS ASSOCIATED WITH SAINTS

ST BARTHOLOMEW
st bartholomew arms

Gules three Flaying Knives palewise Argent handles Or.

A large knife, which is the emblem of St. Bartholomew, refers to the legend that he suffered death by being flayed alive and then crucified. Here there are three objects, as they make a better pattern in a shield than one.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council
Runcorn Urban District Council


ST EDMUND, KING AND MARTYR
st edmund arms

Azure two Arrows in saltire points downwards enfiled with an ancient Crown Or.

Edmund, the last King of East Anglia, was murdered by the Danes in the year 870, who scourged him and shot him to death with arrows when at a meeting with the invaders, he refused to share his kingdom with their chief. The charges in the arms, which are blue and gold like those of other Saxon kings, refer to his kingship and his martyrdom. The great abbey at Bury which grew up round St. Edmund's shrine had for its arms three like crowns and pairs of arrows on a blue field.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Beccles Town Council
Bury St Edmunds Town Council
Hunstanston Town Council
St Edmundsbury Borough Council
Suffolk County Council
West Suffolk County Council


ST GILES
st giles arms

Vert a Hind salient Or pierced by an Arrow Argent.

These arms are suggested by the favourite legend of the hermit-saint who is said to have lived in a forest by the Rhone. There he was discovered, so it is related, by the King of France while hunt­ing, who having tracked a wounded hind found that she had taken refuge in the hermit's cell. St. Giles is the patron saint of the wood­land, hence the shield is coloured green.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Bedworth Urban District Council
Camberwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Holborn Metropolitan Borough Council


ST JAMES
st james arms

Azure three Escallops two and one Or.

The scallop shell, the ancient emblem of St. James, seems to have been assigned to him by the Spaniards who revered him as their patron and protector. A scallop was worn as a sign by all pilgrims who had been to Compostela in Galicia where the shrine of the saint was. The Spanish knightly order of St. James was founded in memory of the Battle of Clavijo, where, it is said, the patron of Spain appeared, sword in hand, to fight against the Moors with the trappers of his war-horse powdered with scallops. The badge of that famous order is a red sword with a silver scallop upon the hilt. It is thought that the scallop may have been chosen as St. James's emblem in memory of his having been a fisherman.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Bedworth Urban District Council


ST LEONARD
st leonard arms

Sable a Shackle of four Chains saltirewise the ends terminated in four broken Fetters Or.

Leonard, the patron saint of prisoners and slaves, was a hermit of France who lived in the sixth century. He founded an abbey near Limoges and spent his long life in works of pity, being specially tender towards those who had lost their liberty. The Benedictines claimed him as one of their order, and the black field of these arms is a reminder of the colour of their habit. The golden chain with its broken fetters is intended to typify the freeing of captives which was St. Leonard's dearest form of charity.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Clent Parish Council


ST MARGARET OF ANTIOCH
st margaret arms

Azure a Dragon's Head erect and erased transfixed through the mouth by a Cross fitchy Or.

These arms are suggested by the legend that when St. Margaret, the noble virgin-martyr of Antioch, was imprisoned by her persecutors Satan in the form of a dragon appeared and devoured her. But the power of the cross which she wore grew in the mouth of the dragon and tore him in pieces, so that Margaret came forth unhurt.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

King's Lynn Borough Council
King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council


ST NICOLAS
st nicolas arms

Azure three Bezants two and one.

Nicolas, Bishop of Myra, the patron saint of children, has as his emblem three golden roundels in reference to the legend which tells how he saved three sisters from poverty and shame by throwing secretly three purses of gold into their house. These gifts are represented heraldically by golden roundels in the shield opposite, where the blue field may be allowed to typify the sea, for St. Nicholas is the patron too of seafaring men.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Cranleigh Parish Council


ST THOMAS OF CANTERBURY
st thomas arms

Argent three Cornish Choughs proper two and one.

The birds are black with red legs and beaks. The arms of the City of Canterbury, three choughs and a chief with a leopard of England, are engraved in its fifteenth-century'seal. It is hardly likely that Archbishop Thomas himself actually bore arms, but the choughs were certainly regarded as St. Thomas's birds in the Middle Ages. If there is any legend to account for this it is no longer remembered.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Brentwood Borough Council
Canterbury City Council


ST WILFRED
st wilfred arms

Or seven Mascles conjoined three three one Gules.

This shield has been regarded as St. Wil­frid's since the fifteenth century at least. It is not easy to say why it was assigned, to him, or wherein is its appropriateness. Perhaps, however, it is more than fancy which sees in this reticulated charge some suggestion of a fishing-net. For Wilfrid was not only a great fisher of men. The tale of how in the days of his banishment he showed the starving Sussex folk the plenteous store of food that the sea held for them is well known. Perhaps too in the seven sharp summits of the lozenges of his shield there may be a hint of Wil­frid's devotion to the See of Rome, as if those points referred to the seven hills of the eternal city.

FOUND IN THE ARMS OF

Alford Town Council


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