Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms

The Brewers’ Company received its first Grant of Arms in 1468. This was replaced by a new Grant of Arms in 1544, which remains in use today.

The Brewers' Company’s arms are made up of the coat of arms or shield, the helmet, crest, mantling, wreath and motto, also collectively known as the ‘full achievement’. Increasingly, for everyday business, only the coat of arms is used.

coat of arms

The description of the Company’s coat of arms, as granted in 1544, and shown here, is:

Gules on a chevron engrailed argent three kilderkins sable hooped or between three pairs of barley garbs in saltire of the same.

The kilderkins (also sometimes referred to as tuns) and the barley garbs (or sheaves) represent the Brewers’ Company’s trade: the barrels of beer and one of its main ingredients.

The full achievement is shown and described here:

Upon the helm on a torse argent and azure a demi morien in her proper colour vested azure fretted argent the hair or holding in either hand three barley ears of the same mantled sable doubled argent

full achievment

As some of the terms are somewhat technical it is worth noting that in heraldry colours are:

gules = red

sable = black

azure = blue

and metals are:

or = gold

argent = silver

The silver lines on the chevron on the shield are not straight, this particular type of wavy line is known as engrailed.

The torse refers to the silver and blue wreath on which the demi morien is placed. 

These, current, arms are the Company's second, dating from 1544 when the Company took the decision to remove the coat of arms of Thomas Becket, their patron saint, which were impaled (placed side by side) with those of the Company on the original shield of 1468. The Reformation caused Thomas Becket to fall out of favour, and it was considered wise to introduce a more subtle reference to the (Catholic) patron saint.

The connection to Becket in the Company’s current arms is far from obvious, represented by the demi morien (the woman atop the helm), who, according to legend, married Thomas' father, Gilbert, a prominent London merchant. The story is that Gilbert was taken prisoner off the North African coast while on a trading expedition. She helped Gilbert escape, followed after him to London where they were reunited and later married, and she became Thomas' stepmother. This is the story as recorded in the Brewers’ Company’s history, though many versions of this legend exist.