Chairman of the Council
2. Coat of Arms
This is an explanation of the Arms as described in the report of the Special Committee on the design for a County Coat of Arms.
Submitted to the County Council on 27 November, 1947.
The shield has been used as our County badge. The effigy of a swan, having a Duke's coronet round his neck, to which is attached a heavy gold chain. In heraldic language, he is 'Ducally crowned and gorged, or'.
The swan was a badge of the ancient family of De Bohn, and of the Giffards who were Earls of Buckingham. It was then of the Staffords who were the first Dukes of Buckingham. These two last-named families owned an important castle at Buckingham, it was destroyed, and the Parish Church stands on its site.
The Boroughs of Buckingham and High Wycombe adopted this swan for their badges, and it also became the badge of the County. It was decided that it should be the main feature on the shield of the County Council.
There is only one conspicuous prehistoric feature in the County, the Whiteleaf Cross. The look of which, standing out from its background of green grass, we are all familiar.
This has been introduced on the shield. No tradition attaches to it, but it is a cross of the form known as the Latin Cross, which is intimately bound up with Christianity. It may be conjectured that it commemorates some early victory of Christian over Pagan forces. There are many forms of the cross in heraldry, but this particular form of cross is not among them, and its pyramidal base seems to be a unique feature. It is shown on the upper part of the shield, on a green ground, suggesting the setting of grass which is the background of the cross as we see it on the hill.
The shield has supporters on each side. It is proposed that these should be a buck on the dexter side and a swan proper, i.e. not having the gold coronet or chain, on the sinister side.
The buck makes a punning allusion to the name of the County, such as is frequent in heraldry. The animal has no connection with the name Buckingham, which is derived from that of a Saxon family.
The swan is a free wild swan, such as may be seen on the Thames; he is free from the restraint of the gold coronet and chain.
We thus have the supporters representing North and South Bucks, while the cross represents Mid Bucks.
It is not easy to find a motto appropriate for the County, but we could hardly do better than adopt the motto of our Buckinghamshire patriot John Hampden. It is in Latin, 'Vestigia nulla retrorsum', which means 'No retreat' or 'We never go backward', and it is still the motto of the Earl of Buckinghamshire. This motto is not inappropriate to a County which holds its own in a progressive age.
The only feature of the arms remaining undescribed is the crest, a beech tree. The beeches of the Chiltern Hills are perhaps the best known feature of the County, the beech woods of which are famous. The crown surrounding the trunk of the tree is a distinctively Saxon crown, and alludes to the fact that it was the Saxons who were the first settlers in the greater part of the County.
Print entire guide
Last updated: 12 March 2019