• Emily Walsh

Greenwich Coat of Arms

Updated: Apr 3

The history of a coat of arms seems like it should be simple, it was once designed and then created. This is not the case; the Royal Borough of Greenwich is now on its third coat of arms in just over 100 years. Each re-design was done to incorporate new features of the borough as they were recognised to have more significance and prominence.


The first coat of arms was created for the Greenwich Metropolitan Borough in 1903 (1).

Appleton, David B. ‘Heraldry in the News!’ Heraldry: Musings on an Esoteric Topic (blog), 8 January 2012. http://blog.appletonstudios.com/2012/01/heraldry-in-news.html.



The second coat of arms was created in 1965 when it became the London Borough of Greenwich (1).

Appleton, David B. ‘Heraldry in the News!’ Heraldry: Musings on an Esoteric Topic (blog), 8 January 2012. http://blog.appletonstudios.com/2012/01/heraldry-in-news.html.

The most recent iteration of the coat of arms was created by the College of Arms in 2012 when it became the Royal Borough of Greenwich to coincide the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. They based it on the previous ones with new additional features that are only available to be used by Royal boroughs such as the Tudor Rose (2). This was the first new Royal borough created in 80 years by Royal Charter signed by the Queen. It was done in recognition of the borough’s global significance; it being the home of Greenwich Mean Time and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also home to some former Royal residences such as Eltham Palace the nursery for Henry VII’s children, and Greenwich Palace birthplace of Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I (3).


Royal Borough of Greenwich. ‘Greenwich’s Royal Coat of Arms’. Royal Borough of Greenwich, 2012. https://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/info/200164/about_the_royal_borough/1053/greenwichs_royal_coat_of_arms.



Here is a break down of the coat of arms meaning: (4)

· 1: The Tudor Rose – Representing the boroughs long association with royalty, had to be given special dispensation for it to be used

· 2: Anchor and Sea – Representing strong maritime traditions of the borough, home of the Old Royal Naval College

· 3: Armorial Helmet – A forward-facing helmet is usually reserved for royal’s coat of arms, also needed special dispensation to be used

· 4: Supporters – Two Roman gods, Jupiter (Sky/Thunder) and Neptune (Water/Sea) to make links to astronomy and maritime. They are both wearing crowns to represent association with Army and Royal Navy

· 5: Shield – Retains elements of the borough shield, has a symbolic representation of the river dividing the upper and lower parts of the shield

· 6: Stars, Hourglass and Cannon – Representational of astronomy, Greenwich being the ‘home’ of time (GMT) and the Royal Arsenal.

· 7: Motto – Remains unchanged (‘We govern by serving’ (1)), made larger to provide a base and support the arms as a whole

What do you think of the current coat of arms?

Do you prefer it to the previous ones?

Does Greenwich deserve to be a Royal Borough?


Bibliography

(1) Powell, Rob. ‘New Coat of Arms for Royal Greenwich Revealed’. Greenwich.co.uk (blog), 10 January 2012. https://www.greenwich.co.uk/news/06902-new-coat-of-arms-for-royal-greenwich-revealed/.

(2) Appleton, David B. ‘Heraldry in the News!’ Heraldry: Musings on an Esoteric Topic (blog), 8 January 2012. http://blog.appletonstudios.com/2012/01/heraldry-in-news.html.

(3) McDermott, Josephine. ‘How Has Greenwich Become Royal?’ BBC News, 3 February 2012, sec. London. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-16839059.

(4) Royal Borough of Greenwich. ‘Greenwich’s Royal Coat of Arms’. Royal Borough of Greenwich, 2012. https://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/info/200164/about_the_royal_borough/1053/greenwichs_royal_coat_of_arms.

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