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Feature Our shields

The coats of arms of Linacre College and Green Templeton College continue a centuries-old tradition

Linacre College, 1962

Blazon: ‘Sable an open book proper edged or bound gules the dexter page charged with the Greek letter alpha the sinister page charged with the Greek letter omega both sable the whole between three escallops argent.’ Linacre admits only graduate students. It was the first fully co-educational college at Oxford – now all colleges are coed (one PPH is men only). The coat of arms minus the book is that of the Linacre family, as in the Linacre School coat of arms. The college is named after Oxonian Thomas Linacre, doctor to both Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey and founder of the Royal College of Physicians. The open book is a symbol of education, and the alpha and omega signify God or Christ in the Book of Revelation.

Green Templeton College, 2008

Blazon: ‘Or between two flaunches vert on each a nautilus shell the aperture outwards or a rod of Aesculapius sable the serpent azure.’ Its coat of arms has three grants from the College of Arms behind it. Green College was founded in the year of Margaret Thatcher’s election, 1979. It had a strong focus on medicine and life sciences, so its coat of arms included the rod of Asclepius, the god of medicine, a fine example of an ancient symbol conveying a modern mission. This coat of arms was granted in 1983 by the Richmond Herald (Michael Maclagan, then Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford). Templeton College was based on the arms of its founder, Sir John Templeton, including three golden nautilus shells on a blue background.

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The full achievement of arms includes a demi-horse holding the caduceus, the magic staff of Hermes with two snakes intertwined. York Herald designed the coat of arms for the college in 1989. Green Templeton College, with stunning elegance, combines the three colours (‘tinctures’) of the two merging arms and balances charges from both coats of arms. The new arms retains the Templeton chambered nautilus shell and the rod of Asclepius. In February 2015, I spoke with the Windsor Herald, William George Hunt, at the College of Arms in London, and he confirmed that he devised and granted the arms to Green Templeton.

Past and future Of the ten new colleges we have examined, four opted to represent their educational mission on their coats of arms, three with the symbol of an open book, one also with torches (Harris Manchester), or with the rod of the god of healing (Green Templeton). They embraced the opportunity to symbolise their future. The other six colleges opted to follow ancient practice and use either the arms only of their founder (Wolfson) or the arms or symbol of a revered person (the five new ‘Saint’ colleges). John Tepper Marlin (Trinity, 1962) is a member of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and attends its Heraldry Committee meetings. He has served as an economist for three US government agencies and for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. For 13 years he was Chief Economist for the New York City Comptroller. He blogs and tweets as CityEconomist.

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Oxford Today - Michaelmas Term 2015  

Volume 28 No 1 of the Oxford University alumni magazine sets off on a global voyage beginning with the world’s deepest oceans.

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