History and Traditions

Banbury's Coat of Arms

The base of the shield is the Council’s seal – a Sun resplendent above the motto Dominus Nobis Sol et Scutum “The Lord is our sun and shield”. The upper part of royal ermine commemorates the royal charters granted to the town and the castle recalls the important part played by Banbury Castle in the Civil War when two great sieges were laid against it in 1644 and 1646. The two towers represent “Two wards”. The crossed swords commemorate the Civil War sieges and the Roses battle in 1469.

On the crest above the shield is the closed helmet in profile surrounded by the conventional flowing “mantling” or slashed cloak, worn in tournaments to protect the helmet from the weather and to smother the opponent’s thrusts. This is bound to the helmet by the twisted wreath of silk in blue and gold, the Corporation’s official colours. On the crest sits a “fine lady upon a white horse” from the traditional nursery rhyme. She wears a Tudor costume to commemorate Mary Tudor who granted the town’s first charter.

The supporters are only granted to a borough or county council. The red oxen refer to the County of Oxford and also to the important agricultural market of Banbury.

banbury coat of arms

Banbury's Civic Traditions

banbury market

Banbury's Charters

In 1553 Banbury town began to press its claim to be granted legal incorporation and a Charter of Incorporation was indeed granted on 26 January 1554 by Queen Mary Tudor. This charter granted Banbury a corporate borough – a manorial area bounded by the ancient bars of Bridge Bar, West Bar, South Bar and Cole Bar. The borough’s corporation consisted of a bailiff, 12 aldermen and 12 capital burgesses some of whom were elected to represent Banbury in Parliament. Also granted by this charter was the right to organise a weekly market on a Thursday and to hold two fairs on the Feast of St Peter ad Vincula (August 1) and the Feast of St Luke (October 18).

A second charter was granted in 1608 by James I. This gave Banbury its first Mayor and Town Clerk plus two sergeants-at-mace for ceremonial occasions.

Banbury's Mayoral Insignia

King Charles I Mace 1628: Silver gilt mace with orb and Maltese cross finial, engraved with the Royal Arms. Body impressed with CR – Charles Reign – and embossed with a Tudor Rose, fleur de lys, thistle and harp. Stem embossed and engraved with an oak and acorn trailing design. Measures 37 inches long and weighs 78 ounces. A ceremonial weapon.

George II Mace - Approx 1750: Silver gilt mace also with orb and Maltese cross finial, engraved with the Royal Arms. Body impressed with GR – George’s Reign – and embossed with thistle, fleur de lys and Irish harp. Measures 38 inches long and weighs 76 ounces. Also a ceremonial weapon.

Mayoral Chain of Office and Badge Present: Victorian 18ct gold, links embossed with oval florettes. Badge also 18ct with Coat of Arms in centre.

Mayoral Robe: Donated in 1948 and refurbished with faux fur.

mayors chain