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13 November 2014

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You are in: Manchester > History > History features > The antelope, the lion and the bees

The Manchester coat of arms on the side of Victoria Baths

The coat of arms on Victoria Baths

The antelope, the lion and the bees

With Manchester City Council's announcement that the city's creative director Peter Saville is looking at new designs for their corporate identity, there's a chance to take a closer look at their existing emblem, the official Manchester coat of arms.

Design a Manchester motif

- If you had to come up with a new Manchester logo, what would it be?
- Have a go and send us the results to
- Remember, this isn't about replacing the crest, it's about creating something new that says Manchester to you

In short, the coat of arms is packed with information, so much so that the Council say there is absolutely no suggestion that any new design will replace it as the official badge of the city (the idea is to simply help identify the Council on things like letterheads and business cards, much like the 'In Salford' brand does on the other side of the Irwell).

Manchester's coat of arms was granted to the city in 1842 and is a classic heraldic design, showing a shield of red and gold, bearing the image of a ship, supported by an antelope and a lion and crowned by a globe covered in bees.

And as it is heraldic, each part of it signifies or suggests an aspect of the city’s past and present 167 years ago.

The Manchester coat of arms

The Manchester coat of arms

• The red shield with gold stripes is taken from the lords of Manchester, who ruled the city prior to 1301
• The ship in full sail is a reference to the city's growing trade and enterprise
• Either side of the shield are an antelope and a lion, derived from the arms of King Henry IV, which can be seen from the red Lancaster rose on their shoulders
• The lion is a symbol of bravery and strength, while the antelope (referring to a mythical beast, not an actual antelope) means peace and harmony, extreme courage and discipline
• At the foot is the city's motto, Concilio Et Labore, which means 'by counsel and work', a phrase derived from the Biblical book of Ecclesiasticus
• Above all this is probably the most famous part, a globe covered with bees, a symbol of industriousness

All that considered, the coat of arms proclaims Manchester as a city of global trade and industry, built on extreme courage, bravery, strength and discipline and filled with peace and harmony.

That's quite a statement and one which means Peter Saville is probably grateful that the Council aren't asking him for a replacement motif that goes into that level of detail.

last updated: 11/02/2009 at 15:31
created: 11/02/2009

You are in: Manchester > History > History features > The antelope, the lion and the bees


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