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  • Elephants And Coventry – What Is The Story Behind This?

  • How Elephants are linked to Coventry

    An elephant carrying a castle full of armed men takes pride of place in the center of the Coventry Coat of Arms. According to history, the arms were granted in 1345 by King Edward III. In early seals of Coventry (from which the arms are derived) one side shows the combat between a dragon and the dragon slayer, Archangel Michael. On the other side is shown the castle and the elephant. The colors of the shield are red and green, the traditional colors of the city of Coventry dating back to at least 1441. The present coat of arms is identical to the original, with the addition of supporters, and was granted on February 10th, 1959.

    The Meaning of the Symbols

    The elephant on the arms is seen as a mighty beast that is so powerful that it can bear a castle with armed men on its back. The elephant was also the symbol of a dragon slayer in those times. Coventry is thought to be the birthplace of St. George, the original dragon slayer, a tradition now almost forgotten in the present neighborhood of Coventry. In Christianity, the elephant also symbolizes Christ redeeming the human race.

    The Supporters were granted in 1959 and are comprised of the ‘Eagle of Leofric’ (Lady Godiva’s husband), and the Phoenix. The city was heavily bombed during the Second World War and almost completely destroyed. The Black Eagle of Leofric represents ancient Coventry and the new Coventry is represented by the Phoenix reborn from the ashes of old and rising from the flames.
    On the crest is a wildcat, or cat-a-mountain, that generally symbolizes watchfulness, and the helmet with a closed visor (as with all boroughs) is that of an esquire.

    The motto is “Camera Principis” meaning the Prince’s Chamber and refers to Prince Edward, known as the Black Prince. The Manor of Cheylesmore in Coventry was owned by Queen Isabella, Edward’s grandmother, and was eventually passed on to him.

    Modern points on how Elephants are linked to Coventry

    There is something about elephants that make Coventrians uneasy. It may be because they are evident everywhere in Coventry, but no-one really knows the reason. The saying goes that “elephants never forget”, but somewhere along the line, the people of Coventry have forgotten why the elephant features so prominently in their city with buildings, symbols, and songs that frequently hearken back to the magnificence and might of the elephant.

    Some people may not have noticed the many signs of elephants in Coventry, but they are there, nevertheless. There is the Sports Centre situated in Fairfax Street built in the shape of an elephant. Depending on the angle, you can clearly see a rare, but unmistakably urban elephant. Sadly this iconic building will soon be closed, so if you are a student at Coventry University, or just interested in the unusual buildings, get down to the sports center to see this piece of amazing architectural design before it is gone forever.

    The crest of the Coventry Football Club shows an elephant standing on a football and the “Elephant Song by the Coventry band, The Enemy, is an ode to the city. Images of elephants are everywhere to be seen in Coventry if you take the time to look for them.

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