The ancient parish of Fulham occupied broadly the area covered by the present borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. In 1834 it was split into two parishes, Fulham and Hammersmith, both administered by their respective Vestries but in 1855 they were again combined for civil purposes under the Fulham District Board of Works. In 1885 this was dissolved and their powers returned to two separate reconstituted Vestries.
In 1886 the Fulham Vestry adopted this coat of arms:
This was a quartered shield, with a depiction of a bridge in the first and fourth quarters. The bridge in the first quarter was the original wooden Fulham Bridge, opened in 1729 with its toll houses. Its replacement, the present Putney Bridge, constructed of stone, was shown in the fourth quarter. The new bridge was opened in 1886, the year the arms were designed. The second quarter showed crossed swords, from the arms of the Bishop of London. The manor of Fulham was held by the bishop from 691 and his official residence, Fulham Palace, was built in the area. The third quarter was the arms then associated with the county of Middlesex, in which Fulham lay until 1889.
In 1889 the Vestry was again abolished and the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham was created. It did not initially design a new coat of arms but carried on using the unofficial arms adopted by its predecessor.
However, in 1927 Councillor F. H. Barber, proprietor of Barber’s Department Store, offered to pay the costs of a grant of arms and new civic regalia. Accordingly, an official grant was obtained from the College of Arms on 12 October of that year:
The silver and blue wavy field represented the River Thames, the swords and mitre signified the Bishop of London. The crest rose from a gold mural crown, resembling a city wall, and thus municipal government. The crest itself was a black ship, recalling an expedition to Fulham by the Danes in 879. The main sail was charged with a Tudor rose, recalling the importance of the area in that era, when Fulham Palace was rebuilt. The Latin motto, Pro Civibus et Civitate, was translated as “for citizens and state”.
The coat of arms of the Metropolitan Borough of Hammersmith was granted in 1897.
The cross crosslets come from the arms of Edward Latymer, who founded schools in Hammersmith in the seventeenth century which later evolved into Latymer Upper School and the Godolphin and Latymer School (both feature cross crosslets in their coats of arms). The horseshoes come from the arms of brickmaker Nicholas Crisp, who introduced his technique into Hammersmith and who helped build a chapel, which was to become Hammersmith’s parish church of St Paul. The scallop comes from the arms of George Pring, a surgeon and great supporter of the first Hammersmith Bridge although he died three years before the project was completed in 1827. This suspension bridge contributed greatly to the town’s development: it was replaced by a new suspension bridge at the same site in 1887. The crest was a castle tower surmounted by two hammers, a pun on the name Hammersmith.
Hammersmith & Fulham
In 1965 there was more local government reorganisation and the two metropolitan boroughs were superseded by the London Borough of Hammersmith, renamed the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham on 1 January 1980. The arms were granted on 1 March 1965 and incorporated features from both boroughs. The subsequent change of name to Hammersmith and Fulham did not affect them.
The wavy lines in the main field of the shield are taken from Fulham and is a symbol for the River Thames and its water. The hammers and horseshoe are a pun on the name of Hammersmith and come from the coat of arms of Hammersmith. There were also horseshoes in the arms of Sir Nicholas Crisp, whose works in Hammersmith in the 17th Century contributed significantly to the growth of the town. The crossed swords are taken from the coat of arms of the Diocese of London and the mitre stands for the Bishop of London.
The crest consists of a mural crown, a common heraldic symbol for a town or a city, and the ship brought from the former arms of Fulham. The supporters are male griffins, their gender easily spotted since they are wingless, whereas female griffins, which are more common beasts in heraldry, have wings. The griffins have a cross crosslet and an escallop shell respectively hanging around their necks. The cross is from the coat of arms of Edward Latymer, and the escallop is for George Pring.
Fiona Fowler, volunteer Local History Room and Archives