Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Changing Coat of Arms on the School Sign

Not many noticed but if you look at the two photos of the school sign (taken 10 years apart) I posted on the welcome page, you'll see, if you zoom in, that the Coventry Coat of Arms appears to have changed during that period. And, a little research reveals that it did actually change!

This photo of the Webb children sat under the sign (Children of the Mr Webb the school Bursar) was taken about 1957. The Coat of arms is the original one.

And here is another view of the school sign from 1957, supplied by Michael Billings - and depicts pupils on their way to church at Neen Savage on a Sunday morning.

The Coventry coat of Arms above the name of the school looked like this close up -

However the Coat of Arms Changed in 1959 to reflect post war rise of the new city from the ashes of the old - 
"In 1959 the coat of arms was enhanced by two supporters; the Black Eagle of Leofric on the left, and the Phoenix on the right - representing the ancient town and Coventry's rise from the ashes respectively. " (Source

And now looked like this - 

"Origin/meaning :
The arms were granted according to history by King Edward III in 1345. The present arms are identical to the old arms, with the addition of the supporters, and were granted on February 10, 1959.

The elephant is seen, not only as a beast so strong that he can carry a tower - Coventry's castle - full of armed men, but also as a symbol of Christ's redemption of the human race. The elephant is also seen as a dragon slayer in Medieval thinking. There is a now forgotten tradition of dragon-slaying in this neighbourhood - and Coventry to be the birthplace of St. George, who slew the dragon. In the early seals of Coventry, from which the arms are derived, are shown, on one side, the combat between another dragon-slayer, the Archangel Michael, and the dragon. On the other is the elephant and castle. The shield is coloured red and green, the traditional colours of the city dating back at least to 1441.

The crest, - a cat-a-mountain, or wild cat, is generally considered to symbolise watchfulness. The helmet is that of an esquire with the visor closed, as with all boroughs. 

The Supporters, granted in 1959, comprise the Eagle of Leofric (husband of Lady Godiva) and the Phoenix. The Black Eagle of Leofric recalls the ancient Coventry and the Phoenix arising from the flames represents the New Coventry reborn out of the ashes of the old. Coventry was heavily bombed and nearly completely destroyed during the second world war. 

The motto "Camera Principis" (the Prince's Chamber) is held to refer to Edward, the Black Prince. The Manor of Cheylesmore at Coventry was at one time owned by his grandmother, Queen Isabella, and eventually passed to him." (Source -

The change can be seen on this 1967 view of the sign featuring ex pupil Charles Joyce with his guitar -

Laurie Lindsay by the school sign taken by Peter "Dickie" Anderson
I think the above photo is from the 1970's - the lettering appears to be thicker than on the 1967 version.

About 1985 the school became the National Centre of British Youth for Christ and the school sign was replaced -

The school is now the Pioneer Activity Centre and the sign now looks like this -

1 comment:

  1. The reason the Coat of Arm were changed is because Coventry was granted a Lord Mayor as previous it was a Mayor.