There are some fine Coats of Arms to be seen in London. The correct name is actually ‘achievement of arms’, the coat being just that and worn over a suit of armour to stop it heating up in the sun. Awarded only to an individual, city or corporation, there is no such thing as a ‘family coat of arms’. This page deals with CORPORATIONS.

Thanks to Cynthia Lydiard Cannings for her invaluable inspiration and help on this subject.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Coats of Arms 1 2 3 4

Chatham Railway

This sign of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway still proudly stands at Blackfriars Railway Bridge, dated 1864, some 35 years before it was rolled into the new South East Railway. The Arms (clockwise from top) are Kent, Dover, Rochester and the City of London.

Blackfriars Bridge
Tube: Blackfriars

Chartered Insurance Hall

The Chartered Insurance Institute is based in East London but has this historic hall in the City for meetings. The Arms date to 1933 and show the main classes of insurance: fire (salamander), marine (anchors) and life (wheatsheaf). The chains represent security.

20 Aldermanbury EC2
Tube: Moorgate

College of Arms

This is the first stop for anyone interested in heraldry. The official recorder since 1484 of the coats of arms (and family pedigree) of the UK and Commonwealth, it still grants them to individuals and corporations. Its lovely building dates to the 1670s.

130 Queen Victoria Street EC4
Tel: +44 (0)20 7248 2762
Tube: St Paul’s

City Of London

These arms predate the formation of the College Of Arms, so there is some confusion about their origin. The Cross is St George (who the dragons also allude to)  with the sword of St Paul in one corner. ‘Domine Dirige Nos’ means ‘Lord Direct Us’.

Guildhall EC2
Tel: +44 (0)20 7332 1460
Tube: Bank


‘Juvat Impigros Deus’ (‘God Defends the Diligent’) is the motto on these Arms of 1868. The sheep (and sacks of wool) that made this Yorkshire city’s fortune feature prominently. The Arms decorate the Yorkshire Building Society, formed from a merger of the Huddersfield and West Yorkshire societies.

200 Strand WC2
Tube: Temple


The Adelphi is a rich source of arms for most major British cities. The origins of the Belfast Arms are unknown, although the meaning of bell and the ship may be guessed at in this former ship-building and trading port. Despite the bell pun, though, ‘Belfast’ is from Gaelic ‘Beal Feirste’, ‘mouth of the river’.

Adelphi WC2
Tube: Embankment

London Stock Exchange

‘My Word Is My Bond’ reads the Latin ‘Dictum Meum Pactum’ on these Arms of 1923. The London Stock Exchange started with the selling of shares to finance voyages to the Indies in 1688. The original base in the coffee shops of Change Alley, saw 140 companies selling shares by 1695.

Paternoster Square EC4
Tube: St Paul’s

Trinity House

Trinity House started life as a Guild of Pilots in Deptford in the 14th century. The Latin motto translates as ‘Three In One' – the Holy Trinity from whom its took its name in 1514. The Arms date to Elizabeth I in 1573. It began operating lighthouses in 1566 but built its first only in 1609.

Trinity Square EC3
Tube: Tower Hill


Goodenough College

Not a place where a little work will pass exams, but rooms for foreign graduate students. Set up in 1931 for men from the Empire (“No-One WIll Separate Us’) it now accepts women and even Americans. Trust founder Frederick Goodenough was the then-chairman of Barclays Bank.

Mecklenburgh Square WC1
Tube: Russell Square