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City of London (England)

Last modified: 2022-07-16 by rob raeside
Keywords: cross: saint george | sword | london | lord mayor | london rowing club | tower bridge | haberdashers |
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[Flag of City of London] image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 3 June 2022

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Description of the flag

This is the flag of the city of London as it appears in Inglefield (1979).
Blas Delgado Ortiz, 26 April 2000

This is the banner of arms of the Corporation of the City of London. Note however that the City of London does not include all of what is commonly known as London, but the ancient city only, from Fleet St eastward ("the Square Mile"), which is now the financial centre of London. Its authority does not extend to the adjacent City of Westminster, nor to the surrounding boroughs, which together constitute Greater London.
Consequently there is a 'Lord Mayor of London' who heads the Corporation, but there will soon be a separate 'Mayor of London' in charge of the whole of Greater London. You can see the full achievement of the coat of arms of the City at the bottom of the page on
Andrew Yong, 26 April 2000

The St. George's Cross, red on white, distinguishes a number of civic flags associated with London. That of the city of London bears in the canton, in red, the sword which beheaded St. Paul. On the shield which forms the badge of the Corporation of Lloyd's the Cross and Sword of London City are placed above a foul anchor in gold.
Jarig Bakker, 21 December 1999

From Brewer's famous Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: "Dagger, in the City arms of London, commemorates Sir William Walworth's dagger, with which he slew Wat Tyler in 1381. Before this time the cognisance of the City was the sword of St. Paul."

Brave Walworth, knight, lord mayor, that slew
Rebellious Tyler in his alarmes;
The king, therefore, did give him in lieu
The dagger to the city armes.
Fourth year of Richard II. (1381), Fishmongers' Hall.
Rob Carter, 18 March 2004

Sounds like "fable" in the title of the source is the operative word. It's invariably blazoned as a sword, and this City of London website  notes that the modern arms were in use several months before the incident mentioned in the poi. This strikes me as similar to the urban legend about the way the head of the eagle on the US Presidential) coat of arms faces. Since it was changed shortly after World War II, people assumed the change was connected with the change from war to peace. Since the London seal changed about the same time as Wat Tyler's rebellion, people assumed the change had something to do with Wat Tyler's rebellion.
Joe McMillan, 18 March 2004

Coat of Arms

[Coat of arms of London] image by Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020

The Arms and symbols of London. The City of London is ancient. Originally Caer Lud named after a mythical Celtic King Lud who is attributed to founding the city in c.130 BC. The city was developed into a wealthy port by the Romans but then destroyed by Queen Boudicca of the Iceni in 60 AD. Rebuilt again with new city walls in 100 AD the city (now known as Londinium) then became the capital of the Roman province of Britannia. The city flourished under the Romans. The Roman legions left Britain in 410 AD. The Bishop of London seemed to hold considerable authority over the city at this time which was almost a city state. London was evacuated in 470 AD when its defence against the marauding Saxons and Jutes from their base in Kent became impossible. The city was the abandoned and desolate for several centuries. It is said that the original tradesmen and burgers of London were allowed to move back into the mainly destroyed walled city of "Lundonwic". In the 1380 the cross of St. George with the red Sword of St. Paul in the canton was adopted as the city's arms are said to have been adopted. The current Arms of the City of London with the dragon supporters are an invention of the 17th Century. In 1899 London County Council was established engulfing half of the County of Middlesex and part of Surrey (Southwark). London continued to expand and in 1965 the Greater London Council was formed which engulfed nearly all of Middlesex (causing the complete abolition of the county), large parts of Surrey, Essex and Kent and a small part of Hertfordshire.
James Frankcom, 13 October 2003

Lord Mayor of the City of London Flag

Lord Mayor of the City of London Flag
Standard, no fringe

[Lord Mayor of City of London] image by Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020

Ceremonial Lord Mayor of the City of London Flag
Ceremonial, with fringe

The Lord Mayor's flag is a variant of the City of London flag, but defaced with his coat of arms of the Lord Mayor. It flies over the Mansion House, which is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London. It can be seen also flown over other city buildings, including the Guild Hall which is the city hall of the city.

[Lord Mayor of City of London - Cermonial] image by Graham Bartram, courtesy of World Flag Database

The indoor version of Lord Mayor's flag has a gold fringe on it used for indoor display as shown here.
Pete Loeser, 24 September 2020

Bridge House Trust, City of London

[Flag of Tower Bridge] image by Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020
based on this photo located by Colin Dobson

Bridge House Trust is a registered charity, which dates back to 1097. It was named after Bridge House, from where it was once administered. The Trust owns and maintains the five bridges over the River Thames in the City of London, for which it is solely responsible. In chronological order, these are: London Bridge (built), Blackfriars Bridge (built), Southwark Bridge (purchased), Tower Bridge (built), Millennium Bridge (pedestrian only, "took over ownership" 2002). The sole trustee of the charity is the Corporation of London, the local authority for the City of London. From 1995, the objects of the charity were widened to allow it to spend some of the profits on grants, currently in excess of £17 million a year, to charitable projects benefiting the inhabitants of Greater London.
The flag features a large version of "The Bridge Mark", in white on a mid blue background. The mark is a circle over a saltire with the base two points of the saltire joined to form a base. At the top of the circle is a cross, making the circle resemble a ceremonial orb. The Trust web site states that the mark was most likely designed by a famous seventeenth century surveyor, William Leybourn, who used it to mark plots of land owned by the Trust, (from which the Trust derives its rental income) on maps and plans.
As of September 2005, the flag is only used on Tower Bridge, where there are four of these flags. At the bottom of either side of each tower, on the level of the road, there are four small buildings, atop of which are the flags. The mark also appears on plaques on the bridge, in the modern form on the north (City of London) side of the bridge and in an older form on the south (Southwark) side of the bridge. Additionally, there are two flags on the side of the western walkway at the top of the bridge, facing upstream. These are the Union Flag and the City of London flag. When facing these flags, the Union Flag is on the left and the City of London flag on the right.

Colin Dobson, 22 September 2005

This emblem is known as the "Southwark Cross" or "Bridge House Mark". The cross was incorporated in the arms granted to the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark in 1902, a fact that the City Corporation took exception to. The arms can be seen at Civic Heraldry. The cross was also allowed for inclusion on the colours of the 23rd London Regiment, and there is some information on the emblem at the Queens Royal Surreys.
Laurence Jones, 9 October 2005

It is interesting that the Civic Heraldry web site refers to the Bridge Mark as the "Southwark Cross". However, it does not quote an original source for this assertion, although it dates the grant of arms as 14 June 1902, which is later than the date quoted on The Bridge House Trust web site. The cross, of course, no longer appears on the coat of arms of the present London Borough of Southwark, as referenced on the same site.
Colin Dobson, 14 October 2005

City of London Police Department

[Flag of Tower Bridge] image by Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020
based on this photo.

The City of London Police Department, founded in 1839, is responsible for law enforcement within the City of London. It is classified as a territorial police force. A territorial police force is a police service that is responsible for an area defined by sub-national boundaries. The police force responsible for law enforcement in the remainder of the London region is the much larger Metropolitan Police Service, a separate organization. The City of London is now primarily a financial business district with a large commuting workforce, but with very few residents. It is the administrative district for the historic downtown of London.
Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020

London Diocese Flag

[London Diocese] image by Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020
Drawing is based this image, but presented in a standard 3x5 ratio.

The Diocese of London is the group of Church of England parishes located in and around the City of London. The London Diocese is overseen by the Bishop of London. Its main cathedral is Saint Paul's and the activities of the Church are many and varied including: weddings, children and youth activities, christening, confirmations and funerals, to name a few. The flag is the traditional flag of England with the canton defaced with the shield and crossed swords of the church.
Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020

The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers

[The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers flag] House Flag     [The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers flag] Hall Flag
images located by Jan Mertens, 26 December 2005

The banner of arms of the London-based Haberdashers' Company is found on the webpage above, captioned "Flag flying before the Haberdashers' Hall, West Smithfield, City of London". In flag terms, a field of blue-white fur is traversed by a rising red diagonal stripe (lower hoist to upper fly) bearing a yellow lion passant guardant, armed and langued azure.
The arms of this corporation are shown on its website. Quote: "The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers has its origins in medieval times. Throughout six and a half centuries it has moved away from its historical involvement in the trade of haberdashery and developed into a significant supporter of schools and education in England and Wales." (There is much more, of course, on the site's History pages.)
The problem with the attached banner of arms (even if the photo were mirrored) as compared to the arms themselves is that the lion seems to be gliding downwards! So the flag is not quite the banner of arms after all - the diagonal ('bend' is the proper term) is in a different position.
Jan Mertens, 26 December 2005

I would have thought the field represented a heraldic fur, too (probably countervair), but according to the blazon it is just "Barry wavy of six Argent and Azure"
Ned Smith, 27 December 2005

[The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers Arms] Haberdashers' Shield  [The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers Coat of Arms] Haberdashers' Coat of Arms
images by Pete Loeser, 27 September 2020

Official Blazon

  • Arms: Barry nebuly of six argent and azure, on a bend gules a lion passant [guardant] Or.
  • Crest: On a wreath of the colours. Issuing from clouds two naked arms embowed holding a laurel wreath, all proper.
  • Supporters: On either side a goat of India argent. flecked gules, membered Or.
  • Motto: Serve and obey.

These arms were used as early as 1446, but were officially granted in 1503, and confirmed again in 1570. The name Haberdasher probably comes from the word "hapertas", meaning an type of thick cloth worn under armour. As time pasted the term was later used for craftsmen making hats, caps, purses etc. The first arms granted in 1446 showed a cheveron with three Catherine wheels and three brushes above and below the chevron. The brushes are probably a symbol for the trade, St. Catherine was the patron saint of the guild.
Source: Heraldry of the World.
Pete Loeser, 27 September 2020

Civic Flags of London
Unofficial Commercial Flags

[London Union Jack]     [I love London flag]
images by Pete Loeser, 28 September 2020

These flags are representative of the many flags being sold to unofficially represent the City of London. The flags see use around the city and the area in a variety of ways, including in sports and other non-official activities. Consider them "fan" flags for the city.
Pete Loeser, 28 September 2020

[London Union Jack]     [I love London flag]
images by Pete Loeser, 28 September 2020