The Arms of the City of London in the 21st century
The City of London is a place entirely at ease being both spectacularly ancient and ultra modern. It throws away nothing it finds to be useful while at the same time being at the vanguard of innovation in fields as diverse as government, law, finance, professional services, trade and education. This constant blending of the ancient and the modern makes the City a unique and special place with global standing and influence far greater than the sum of all its parts.
The emerging fields of Fintech and Blockchains are today developing in a City that boasts the world's oldest system of local government and has at its head a Mayor elected by members of medieval and modern guilds. Where else could coats of arms and displays of heraldry sit so comfortably alongside chrome and glass in high-rise office blocks?
Displays of heraldry are one of the most visible, and indeed omnipresent, ways in which the City embraces and celebrates the past in the present. One cannot enter the Square Mile without being met by the City's coat of arms on every road sign and traffic bollard. Look closer and you will see the City's arms are also to be found on litter bins, information boards, civic buildings, police cars, blocks of flats and even the corporation dust carts! The City's arms are such a common part of the street scene in the Square Mile that one knows immediately when one has left the City for one of the surrounding boroughs.
|Waste collection vehicle in the Square Mile. Notice the City's arms on the cab door.|
The City's arms have become so much a part of the street furniture of the City that they are part of the every day experience of living and working in the Square Mile - not consigned to a stained glass window in a medieval church (though you will find them there as well). The City's arms are also incorporated in the arms of other City institutions, notably Lloyd's of London, The Stock Exchange, The Honourable Artillery Company, City University London, The Honourable The Irish Society and beyond the City of London they feature in the arms of the City of Londonderry.
Variations on the City's arms may be seen in the arms of City University London, The London Stock Exchange, The Honourable Artillery Company Lloyd's of London and many other City institutions. They also appear in chief (that is the upper third) of the arms of the City of Londonderry - testimony to that cities links with London.
The City's arms are a masterpiece of simple, striking and effective design that mark the Lord Mayor's fiefdom. They are based upon the simple cross of St George, known in heraldic terms at the first honourable ordinary, and incorporate the sword of St Paul in the canton, St Paul being the patron saint of the City of London.
|Interpretation of the City's arms is very much in the gift of the artist and tend to vary in style if not substance|
There are a number of artistic interpretations of the City's arms and few are precisely correct in their depiction of the blazon (that is the written description of the arms) in particular the helmet atop the shield should always be depicted with a golden grille indicating that the City has noble status reflecting the fact that the Lord Mayor ranks with the nobility among the Earls.
|The City of London's arms correctly depicted with a golden grille in the helm © Paul D Jagger|
|The Lord Mayor's Dragon Awards (Image Copyright City of London Corporation)|
|The City's ancient and noble arms in stained glass in IT hall © Paul D Jagger|
Want to learn more about the Heraldry of the City of London and its Livery Companies?
The City of London Freeman's Guide is the definitive concise guide to the City of London and its ancient and modern Livery Companies. Available in full colour hardback and eBook formats and now in its third or Lord Mayor's edition featuring a Foreword from the Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of London.
Available online from Apple (as an eBook), Amazon (in hardback or eBook) or Etsy (in hardback or hardback with the author's seal attached)