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Glastonbury shield of arms 'a device of cruelty and intolerance'

By Central Somerset Gazette  |  Posted: March 21, 2013

  • The current shield of arms

  • The suggested new shield of arms

Comments (7)

Glastonbury’s historic shield of arms is “a device of cruelty and intolerance”.

This is the claim from campaigners who want to see the coat of arms of mythical hero King Arthur replace the 300-year-old heraldic symbol.

Councillor Jon Cousins says the current seal may breach equality legislation and that Arthur’s shield would be acceptable to Christians, Goddess and Pagan groups alike.

The existing seal, which has been in place since around 1705, includes a red shield with two crossed croziers in gold, beneath the coat-of-arms of Queen Anne and above the motto Floreat Ecclesia Anglicana – Let the Church of England Flourish.

But councillor Jon Cousins said it had strong anti-Catholic sentiment and pin-points a puritanical time in the town’s history.

He urged them to consider changing the coat of arms to something more representative of the town.

He wants to replace it with a the coat-of-arms of the legendary King Arthur – a green shield, with a silver cross, and the image of the virgin and child on the right hand side.

He has suggested that the shield should be placed beneath an image of the sun rising behind Glastonbury Tor and the motto Unitate Per Diversitas – Unity Through Diversity.

He said the image of the virgin was considered acceptable to Christian faiths, and pagan faiths, some of which believe Christians drew inspiration for her from the pagan mother goddess.

She is also recognised by those in search of the divine feminine.

“The current heraldic device is supposed to be representative of our town,” he said. “But was clearly designed with one faith in mind. It is entirely inappropriate.

“Can you imagine how you would feel looking at this image if you were a member of the Roman Catholic Church, or one of the pagan religions?

“It clearly says there is no room in our town for you.”

He said he believed the crossed croziers and red background were a reminder of the treatment of the last abbot of Glastonbury, who was hung, drawn and quartered on the Tor following the dissolution of the Abbey.

“The coat of arms at the top of the device puts the monarchy above Glastonbury,” he said.

“To me, this is a device of cruelty and intolerance.”

The deputy mayor, Susan Thurgood, said she was fond of the existing coat-of-arms.

“It is my belief that you cannot erase history,” she said.

“You have to face up to it. This shield has been associated with our town for many years, you can still see bullet holes in the wall of the Abbey Ruins, from where it was used for target practice during the civil war.

“We need to accept our history.”

Councillor Denise Michell said she would welcome a new shield, which would represent “all faiths, and none.”

The Mayor of Glastonbury, Ian Tucker agreed for a group of representatives from various faiths in the town, and town historians to consider if the current shield should be changed.

What do you think? Is the current emblem cruel and intolerant, or should it be kept for the sake of tradition?

Write to us at Central Somerset Gazette, Southover, Wells, Somerset BA5 1UH or email editor@midsomnews.co.uk

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7 comments

  • pnewest  |  June 11 2013, 10:43AM

    Let face it all religion was made up as a governing, income generating , abuse ratifying and sectarian tool, by less, lets say , scientific, ancestors. Perhaps a non-religious Shield and Motto would be more in keeping with our current culture. A Virgin? ... oh come on.

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  • whirly  |  June 11 2013, 2:03AM

    aye, why not, things change and move, at one time it was one flag, at another it was different... perhaps there should be new flag more representative of today Glastonbury, rather than always going back to the past? remember at one point those "old falgs" were once "the new flag." its new symbols have being reflective and inspiring for all those people at that time, what they were proud of (physical and spiritual etc)......' but then again, from this argument, (and throughout the world) we can see that no matter what, flags seem to divide us.

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  • whirly  |  June 11 2013, 1:55AM

    aye, why not, things change and move, at one time it was one flag, at another it was different... perhaps there should be new flag more representative of today Glastonbury, rather than always going back to the past? remember at one point those "old falgs" were once "the new flag." its new symbols have being reflective and inspiring for all those people at that time, what they were proud of (physical and spiritual etc)......' but then again, from this argument, (and throughout the world) we can see that no matter what, flags seem to divide us.

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  • richnfamous  |  June 10 2013, 11:47PM

    there's a poll at the top right: the results will be entirely invalid as a) the voters are self-selecting and don't have to be logged in, so they could be anywhere in the world, and b) with a little bit of (easily accessible) technical knowledge, anyone could vote several times

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  • EarlBH  |  April 08 2013, 3:25PM

    And I might add that the motto "Unity through Diversity" was first proposed by Conservative Mayor Bill Knight and used when the Glastonbury Candle was taken around the Town's various faith centres at the end of his term as Mayor. Perhaps you might pay more attention to recent 'History' before telling us what a total contradiction it is. Glastonbury has over 70 faiths, spiritual paths and 'groups'. Glastonbury already *is* a diverse community.

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  • EarlBH  |  April 08 2013, 12:21PM

    Dykeward, you may perhaps be unaware that Glastonbury's original and correctly 'Historical' coat of arms was actually Arthur's shield. This was registered with the college of arms and still is... but the later Bishop's Mitre shield was not registered and still isn't. Thus Arthur's shield is actually still the official one as far as the college of arms is concerned. Odd that you choose to ignore that 'historical' fact. As for comments about what is and is not 'Green', I'm afraid that Scruton is never likely to accept or recognise the fundamentals of Green social policy. This is the man who wrote: A Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism. Let's not try to suggest that he would be an 'expert' on all things Green. However, it is also true that the Green Party originally started as a party called 'People!' which later became the 'Ecology Party, and this was formed from a group of disgruntled ex-Conservatives. Many of the issues covered by Greens today, used to be conservation issues and most old-school Conservatives understood the basic philosophy of protecting the environment, 'waste not want not', fix and make do, and all those fine attitudes which came as second-nature to our grandparents. Sadly the neo-Conservative Right wing is as much of an abomination to old school Conservatism, as its 'new' Labour counterpart is to old Labour working class attitudes... and neither modern version have any real understanding of what Green Party Policy is actually about (which can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/6vse342 ) As for your highly amusing - but totally misleading - suggestion that Cllr Cousins is a 'Watermelon Green'... I think you'll find that whilst Green party social policies are second to none, the fact remains that Green policy is not based on 'socialism' per se but rather on a humanist, non-violent form of social inclusion and bottom up 'empowerment ' of local people to have real involvement in the governance of their community and where the well being of human beings is seen as inexorably linked to the well being of our environment. (not just some rhetoric about a 'Big Society'). In my view Cllr Cousins, whilst being a 'Deep Green' old school 'Ecologist', is also somewhat 'conservative' with a small 'c' in many respects, and your rather poorly thought out attempt to 'name-call' has made your comment look rather silly I'm afraid.

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  • Dykeward  |  March 31 2013, 2:18PM

    A perfect example of how abstract principles (such as diversity or equality) can be used as a tool to uproot hundreds of years of tradition and overwrite our historical inheritance with some latter day banality that will not be felt to represent the majority of locals and would be destined to become quickly forgotten. As for the idea that "unity in diversity", the idea itself is a total contradiction. Has Jon ever spent time living in a very diverse area? Value pluralism does not hold together either. Further, to suggest removing an Anglican symbol and replacing it with something devised around King Arthur - usually considered as a Christian - would itself leave it wide open to attack under the same principles. I am sure very few Catholics locally feels particularly strongly about this issue and can separate ancient from modern history. It does though come as little surprise that watermelon Green activism is pushing for this change. Which is why, given their political proclivities, I would not be at all surprised at the enforced disestablishment of the Church of England, and a wide range of levelling activity under the banner of diversity and equality, should they ever get near any real level of power. Green issues are best left as an arm of right-wing traditional politics, as so ably described by Roger Scruton in a recent book, and well away from socialists in green.

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