The History and Meaning of The County College’s Shield

As a member of the JCR, something has been bothering me for a very long time. Ever since we received our hoodies, apart from being dazzled and honoured by having my name and position emblazoned on the garment, my attention began to shift to The County College shield. The County College shield is the heraldic symbol of our great college, and I’ve taken it upon myself to figure out what each element represents for this week’s Pendragon blog entry.

county coat of arms (2)

The County College Shield

The armorial description of the crest is as follows:

“Gules on three Piles, two from the Chief, and one from the base Or three Roses Gules barbed and seeded proper over all a Chevron Azure and on a Chief Azure a Lion passant Or And for the Crest on a Wreath Or and Gules Issuant from an Ancient Crown Azure a Bezant between two Oak Leaves proper Mantled Gules doubled, Or.”

In other words, working upwards, you have three roses with thorns and seeds (the administrative county of Lancaster), a lion passant (referring to the learned activities of the university), and an ancient crown that holds up a gold bezant (the disk) between the two oak leaves.  (Gules is red, Or is gold, and Azure is blue).

This is what else I could deduce on my own, with the generous help of university archivist Marion McClintock:

The arms were granted on 17 September 1969 to Brian James Duke, Gentleman, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy and hold significant ties to the origins of the college. The County College is the only college to be titled after it’s benefactors rather than the area it was established. This is due to the support the Lancashire County Council gave the college during it’s initial years. As well as the generous donations towards the construction of the college, the council promised to donate £50,000 a year for 10 years towards the universities running costs. In order to commemorate their substantial contribution,  a plaque is situated in County Main (near the study room!). Linking this back to County’s shield, the three Roses and piles (triangles) were clearly inherited from the Council’s coat of arms. This is of course also reflected in the College’s motto, also on the crest:

“Sine Consilio Nihil”

Which I think translates to “nothing without council”. “Consilio” – the Latin word for Council (glad my E in GCSE Latin finally came in handy!) can be interpreted as a direct name drop of Lancashire County Council. It could also refer to “planning” and “design” and may mean to say that things are of little use without planning.

The coat of arms is clearly and properly derivative from the parent organisation of The University of Lancaster, and is much simpler than the one for the university, with less symbolism. The lion passant, positioned at the top of the logo is to represent Lancaster University, which in turn takes the lion from the coat of arms of the Dutchy of Lancaster. The blue chevron in the base area is something I couldn’t find an answer for, but must surely relate to water in some way. Likewise, the university’s crest, the centrally positioned, horizontal, wavy blue line refers to the River Lune, a prominent geographic landmark of the city of Lancaster.

lancaster university shield

The shield of Lancaster University

lancaster county council coat of arms

The Lancashire County Council Coat of Arms







So that’s that! I hope you enjoyed this brief little deconstruction of our college’s coat of arms! Special thanks to Marion McClintock for finding the time to help with this blog post!

I should probably get round to revising or something.

– Sam, Media and Comms