1198 to 1340









The very first Royal Coat of Arms was created for Richard I, also known as Richard ‘The Lion Heart’ or Coeur de Lion for his bravery. He chose lions as they were considered to be Kings of the beasts and were known for their great strength, ferocity and majesty. Lions were also symbols of the resurrection, as it was thought that lion cubs were born dead, but brought to life after three days when their father breathed on them.

Richard’s lions were shown as ‘passant’ rather than ‘rampant’, which is the position of the lion supporter.

His Great Seal, depicting the three lions, would have been used to authenticate or protect important documents such as statutes and charters. Following this, the three lions began to appear on the real shields used by kings in battle and later in Heraldic tournaments.

This Coat of Arms was used by Richard’s successors John, Henry III, Edward I, Edward II and Edward III until 1340.

See it with your own eyes

Interior of St James' Church, Cameley, SomersetSt James’ church, Cameley, contains our only surviving example. There is a vivid red shield bearing the three lions on the wall supporting the chancel arch. The outline of the three lions is still very clear: their curling tails and powerful raised front paws are particularly distinct.

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Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

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