Despite being found all over the borough, it’s quite likely that you’ve never paid a great deal of attention to Richmond’s coat of arms. But when you look closely (and have some help from the internet) you can see that it represents much of the rich history of the borough.
The arms have been updated over the years, and the associations adjusted – for example in the current version the explanation is that it represents the coming together of Barnes, Richmond and Twickenham to create the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames:
- The portcullis was taken from the arms of the Municipal Borough of Richmond
- The swan crest originates from the arms of the Municipal Borough of Twickenham
- The griffin supporters and oars are from the arms of the Municipal Borough of Barnes.
But if we go back to the original version
- The swan represents the River Thames
- The oars are from the Oxford University Boat Club and the Cambridge University Boat Club, reflecting the fact that the Boat Race between the two universities ends at Mortlake.
- The original motto ‘A DEO ET REGE’ means ‘From God and the King’. This seems to have been dropped from the more modern version.
- The roses, portcullis and lion allude to Richmond’s royal associations. As does the red, gold and ermine which are the royal livery colours. King Henry’s chapel in Westminster Abbey is decorated with crowned portcullises and roses.
Like all of history, it’s open to interpretation. If you can shed more light on our heraldic history, let us know!