The Arms of Cirencester

A note on the Armorial Bearings which illustrate the Letters Patent.

The Armorial Bearings are based upon a medallion which is attached to the Mayor's Chain. This, in turn, is based upon a capital from a column in the Abbey Grounds now in the Corinium Museum.

This capital shows a female figure holding a mirror; the figure being the upper half of the woman and appearing as it were out of a panache of acanthus leaves. On the medallion on the Mayor's Chain is the Phoenix above this design.

Accordingly, the shield has been rendered with a gold field - or principal part - against the capital. Across the top of the shield is a green band known in heraldry as Chief. This contains a Phoenix rising from flames. The embattled edge of the Chief is a possible allusion to the Roman origin of the town which was an administrative centre within the Roman empire.

The Crest consists of a circular Roman Wall with battlements. This may be taken as a further allusion to the Roman foundation of Cirencester. This is topped by a crown - designed in the antique manner - as a possible allusion to the fact that the town is described in as early a document as Ethelred's Charter to the Abingdon monks. From this combination rises an embowed (bent at the elbow) arm clothed in red, in order to achieve a good heraldic contrast, the hand of which holds a scythe - an allusion to the agricultural importance of the area and also the international fame of Cirencester through the Royal Agricultural College located there. The scythe has been chosen as a distinctive yet simple and traditional implement in reference to agriculture.

On the Letters Patent the Crest is placed upon a helm appropriate to a corporation, that is to say steel, facing the viewer's left, the vizor closed. From beneath the crest and down either side of the helm flows the mantling which is green-lined gold. The colours are by way of allusion to the rich agricultural area and activities that Cirencester served and the gold as the wealth both spiritual as well as material produced by the activity of the citizens of Cirencester.

The Badge consists of an echo of the Arms in that it comprises the Phoenix rising from the flames enclosed within two acanthus leaves -the latter being inspired by the acanthus leaves of the column in the arms.

This article is re-produced by kind permission of the Cirencester Town Council from the book, Cirencester - The Official Town Guide

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