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Civic heraldry of the United Kingdom

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Incorporated into : 1974 Tendring

Arms (crest) of Harwich

Official blazon

Arms : Gules a Portcullis chained Or studded and spiked Azure.
Crest : On a Wreath of the Colours upon waves of the Sea proper an Ancient Ship with one mast Or at the bow and stern Turrets and affixed below the top of the mast a Tower Argent the sail furled of the last and flying to the dexter a Pennon Gules.
Motto: 'OMNIA BONA BONIS' - To the good all things are good


The arms were officially granted on December 15, 1943.

The arms are based upon the seal of Harwich which was first incorporated in 1318, by Edward II and the first such use of the portcullis as arms appears to be no earlier than 1669. The portcullis was a favourite badge of the Tudors, and its adoption by the town may have been a way of honouring them, indeed the visit of Henry VIII to Harwich in 1543 is given a place of conspicuous honour on the first page of the oldest extant volume of the records of the borough. Even if this were not the case the portcullis is an appropriate emblem for a town which was once the principal gate of port of entrance into England from Europe, and even today is a thriving port.

The ship may be derived from some ancient seal and as it is not uncommon for a port-town to display some sort of ship on one side or other of its seal this is likely to be the case. The tower affixed to the mast serves to distinguish the ship from other similar crests and perhaps also symbolises the need for vigilance in a place that had an important role in the defence of the realm. It was however unusual in early times for a borough to use a crest at all, and this is further evidence that the arms of Harwich are probably not very ancient, even though derived from a seal of greater antiquity.

The arms are presently used by the town council.

The arms as used in 1916:

Arms (crest) of Harwich
Coat of arms (crest) of Harwich

The arms as used on a JaJa postcard +/- 1905

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Literature : Image and information provided by Laurence Jones.