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Warwick, Warwickshire (England)

English Town

Last modified: 2021-05-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: warwick | warwickshire |
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[Warwick Town Council Arms] image by Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021
Modern Adaptation of Warwick City Council Arms

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Introduction: Town of Warwick

Warwick is a historic market town and the county town of Warwickshire. It is located between Leamington Spa and Whitnash about 11 miles to the south of Coventry and connected by canal to the River Avon. The name Warwick means "dwellings by the weir," so perhaps the original inhabitants built a low dam across a river or stream. Anyway, the location has been inhabited since the 6th century A.D. and enjoys a long and interesting history. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle tells us that in 914 "Æthelflæd, the lady of Mercia, daughter of king Alfred the Great and sister of king Edward the Elder of Wessex, built a burh or fortified dwelling on the hilltop overlooking the earlier riverside settlement, as one of ten to defend Mercia from the Danes, those pesky Vikings. It was chosen because the local outcrop of sandstone alongside the Avon provided an easily defensible position at a river crossing, and it was a good source of water and building material. In the early 10th century, a shire was founded with Warwick as its county town. During the reign of Æthelstan (924-939) a royal mint was established at Warwick and at Tamworth. Unfortunately in 1016 those un-neighborly Danes invaded Mercia and burned down much of Warwick including a nunnery, which stood on the site of today's St Nicholas Church. In 1068, William the Conqueror ordered Warwick Castle built while passing through on his way to Yorkshire and a new town wall was created close to the old Anglo-Saxon burh ramparts. The prosperity of Warwick would depend completely on its status as an administrative and military centre. It would never become a commercial or industrial centre in Medieval times. The earldom of Warwick was created in 1088 to control the town and build its walls, most of which don't survive today as a fire destroyed much of the town in 1694. It was said that within five hours the fire destroyed 460 buildings and left 250 families homeless.
Under the Beauchamp Earls of Warwick great town walls were built between the 12th and 15th centuries, but only the eastgate and westgate survive today of the three great gates and their gatehouses. A bridge over the Avon acted as a fourth gatehouse and the main entrance to the town. In 1545 Warwick was incorporated as a borough.
During the English Civil War the town and Warwick Castle were tested. They were garrisoned by Parliamentary forces and in 1642 the castle underwent a two-week siege by the Royalists. Luckily the Royalists lacked enough cannons powerful enough to damage the castle and breach the city walls. The siege failed and the attackers withdrew, but the castle would continually be garrisoned until 1659.
In 1793 the Earl of Warwick finished building a new bridge called the Castle Bridge with a single sandstone arch over the Avon replacing the old bridge that had stood since the 14th century. Things were changing. In the mid-17th century the Castle Hill Baptist Church was built and it is now one of the oldest Baptist churches in the world. The Warwick and Birmingham and Warwick and Napton canals were both opened through Warwick in 1800, connecting them to the Grand Union Canal which helped the town's economic growth. The railway arrived in Warwick in 1852, even so Warwick was largely bypassed by the industrial revolution. During the early 19th century, only minor industrial activities had developed in the town, one of the biggest was hat making. By the early 20th century, only some light engineering industry had been established locally. Today, with Warwick Castle located in the middle of the town the tourist and entertainment industry plays an important part in the local economy.
Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021

Warwick Town Council Flag
or lack there of...

I have been on the telephone this morning and afternoon with the Information Officer for the Town Council of Warwick, England. I was informed that Warwick Town does not have a flag as such - the medieval symbol of the town is the Bear and Ragged Staff, and members of the Town Council wear gold reproductions of this emblem as either lapel badges or brooches, which they can keep when their term of office has expired. The Mayor of Warwick has this emblem in gold on a pale green field as the centrepiece of his/her Chain of Office, as does his wife or partner; there is no equivalent badge for the spouse of a Mayoress.
The Town Council and Warwick District Council have been at daggers drawn ever since 1974, I was informed, over the issue of a flag. The District Council will not permit the town to have its own flag but has not been able to agree on a flag design for itself. Furthermore, Warwickshire County Council also wants to have a county-wide flag, and the flag issue has bedevilled relationships between the town, the district, and the county ever since the county boundaries were rejigged in 1974.
Ron Lahav, 20 November 2008

The symbol of the bear and ragged staff is a very old one for Warwick - I know that it was used as an emblem by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick ("Warwick the kingmaker") in the 15th century.
James Dignan, 22 November 2008

[Warwick Town Council Arms] image colored by Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021

Richard Neville (1428-1471) was 16th Earl of Warwick and known as the "Kingmaker." During his life the power struggle known as the "Wars of the Roses" took place. The wars had three parts between 1455-61, 1469-71, and 1483-85. At first Warwick fought on the side of the Duke of York; but circumstances forced him to change sides and seek to install the old King Henry VI, back on Edward IV's throne, thus the legend of "The Kingmaker" was born. The "Bear and Ragged Staff" in white on red colours were Richard Neville's battle standard. He died in battle in 1471 ending the second part of the struggle. Warwick Castle, his home, stood guard over his fortified town of Warwick.
Of course, Warwick's battle standard showing a chained bear drives modern animal rights supporters mad. Because of this modern renditions usually don't include the chains.
Source: "Richard Neville - The Legend and Legacy of the Kingmaker" by David Harpham.
Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021

Warwick Town Council Coats of Arms

[Warwick Town Council Coat of Arms] Granted 1964    [Warwick Town Council Coat of Arms] As used on website 2020
images located by Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021

Borough of Warwick Town Council 1964

"The arms are based on the seal of the Borough, dating back to the 14th century, which was recorded at the Visitations of Warwickshire in 1619 and 1682. The design showed a walled town, within the outer wall of which appeared a gateway flanked by two towers each manned by a watchman blowing a horn. Between these towers rose two spires, and in the middle was a high tower on which hung a shield charged with a ragged staff. The flanking towers were enclosed by a six pointed star on the dexter and a crescent on the sinister. Versions of this design were used as the device of the Borough of Warwick up to the time when arms were granted.
The crest of a demi-bear supporting a ragged staff is based on the old Warwickshire emblem of the bear and ragged staff, a description of which is to be found under Warwickshire CC."

  • ARMS: Sable a Walled Town with three Towers Argent issuing from each of the flanking Towers a demi Figure representing a Nightwatchman respectant winding a Horn Argent habited and capped Gules the central Tower charged with an Escutcheon Gules thereon a ragged Staff bendwise between in chief a Mullet of six points and an Increscent Silver.
  • CREST: On a Wreath of the Colours a demi Bear supporting a ragged Staff Sable.
  • MOTTO: Antiquum Obtinens - Possessing antiquity or Holding fast to tradition.
  • GRANTED: 10th April 1964, to the Warwick Borough Council.

Modern Adaptation used on Website 2021

This coat of arms are those of the Borough of Warwick Town Council with a modern twist.

Sources of both images: Civil Heraldry: Warwick Town Council and Warwick Town Council website.
Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021

Warwick Castle

[Warwickshire Castle] image by Pete Loeser, 3 May 2021
This drawing based on the flag shown in this photo.

Warwick Castle began as a wooden motte-and-bailey fort built by William the Conqueror during 1068. It was rebuilt into a stone structure in the 12th century. By the 14th Century it had became the recognizable example of military architecture it is today. It served that purpose until the early 17th century when Sir Fulke Greville converted it to a country house. The Grevilles became the Earls of Warwick in 1759 and the castle remained in the family until 1978 when it was sold to a investment group. Since then it has been operated as a historic tourist attraction open to the public. This flag is one of those used to decorate the site today.
Pete Loeser, 3 May 2021

Warwick District Council

[Warwick Town Council Arms] image by Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021

Warwick is a local government district of central Warwickshire. The District was formed in 1975 by merging the Borough of Royal Leamington Spa, the Borough of Warwick, the Kenilworth Urban District and the Warwick Rural District. The district is bordered to the south and west by Stratford-on-Avon district, to the north-east by Rugby borough, and to the north by the metropolitan boroughs of Coventry and Solihull (both in the county of West Midlands). The district council headquarters are in Leamington Spa.
Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021

Warwick District Council Logo

[Warwick District Council Logo] image located by Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021

This seems to be the favorite logo of the Warwick District Council.
Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021

Warwick District Council Arms

[Warwick Town Council Coat of Arms] image by Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021

"The red cross crosslet are from the arms of the Beauchamp Earls of Warwick and appear in the Warwickshire CC arms. Here, they are restored to their original colour, gold on red, and their number increased to four to signify the four former Warwickshire authorities. The three-towered castle encircled by a wall, is derived from the arms of the former Borough of Warwick, which lends its name to the new District.
The wreath and mantling are in the main colours of the shield, red and gold. The fleurs de lys and pierced mullets are emblems of the Clinton family seen respectively in the arms of the Borough of Royal Leamington Spa and Kenilworth UDC. The green double-tailed lion is from the arms of the Dudleys, and was also common to both these arms. He supports the Esculapian rod, symbol of healing, which in the Leamington crest alludes to the properties of the Spa.
The combined bear and ragged staff is the time-honoured device of the Earls of Warwick, long associated with the County and Warwick itself, and seen in various forms in many of the County's civic arms. It was the crest of the former Borough of Warwick and the device of the Warwick RDC, as well as being the main charge in the County arms. Here it is depicted without the muzzle, collar and chain which usually accompany them, to emphasise the freedom of the inhabitants to speak and act. The oak wreath collars were suggested by the tree in the Warick RDC device, and are an allusion to the Forest of Arden."

  • ARMS: Or on a Cross quadrate Gules a Castle of three Towers within a circular Wall in perspective pierced by a Port with Portcullis Argent between four Cross crosslets Or.
  • CREST: On a Wreath of the Colours within a Circlet of four Fleurs de Lys and four Mullets Or pierced Gules alternately a demi Lion queue-fourchee Vert supporting a Rod of Esculapius proper.
  • SUPPORTERS: On either side a Bear supporting a ragged Staff Argent and gorged with a Wreath of Oak fructed proper.
  • GRANTED: 13th November 1975.
Source: Civil Heraldry: Warwick District.
Pete Loeser, 14 May 2021