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City of Canterbury (NSW, Australia)

Last modified: 2002-07-13 by
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[City of Canterbury] by Jonathan Dixon, 31 August 2001

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Description of the Flag

Canterbury City is located in not-quite-inner-Sydney, on the Cooks River between Marrickville and Bankstown. Its flag is blue, with a white diagonal stripe going upwards towards the fly in the lower part of the flag, containing the word "CANTERBURY" in blue san serif font. Above the stripe in smaller white lettering are the words "CITY OF". In the upper hoist is a white disk containing Canterbury's Coat of Arms, which are described on the council website as follows:

Granted by Letters of the King of Arms, H.M. College of Arms, London, dated 23 April, 1979

BLAZON

Arms: Argent a bar wavy azure between three choughs proper, each holding in the dexter foot a cross formy fitchy sable, on a chief gules a lion couchant guardant or.
Crest: On a wreath of the colours, within a circlet of six mullets each of eight points or, a mount vert issuant therefrom a cross formy fitchy sable entwined with a rose argent, barbed, seeded, stalked, leaved and slipped proper.
Supporters: On either side a sea-horse argent gorged with a collar wavy azure charged with two Polar Stars or, one being manifest, and holding in the mouth a sprig of Canterbury Bell proper with five flowers azure.
Motto: MAGNUM NOMEN HABEMUS - "We bear a great name"

BADGE

Perched upon two sprigs of Canterbury Bell in saltire proper each with three flowers azure a chough proper holding in the dexter foot a cross formy fitchy sable.

INTERPRETATION

The Shield identifies the situation of Canterbury and the source of its name, being based on the pattern of the ancient shield of Canterbury, Kent, England, which displays a gold lion on red above the three choughs (black crow-like birds with red beaks and legs), attributed as the arms of St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury 1162-1170. To the choughs is added a blue wave for Cook's River, and each holds a distinctive black cross from the arms of the Archbishop of Canterbury. On the red 'chief' at the top is the gold lion taken from the former Council seal.

The Crest, set on the usual helmet with its twisted wreath and decorative cloak in the livery colours of the arms, white and blue, which are also those of the State, refers to the foundation and naming of Canterbury by the Reverend Richard Johnson from Yorkshire, appointed as the State's first chaplain in 1786. A ring of gold stars from the State arms encloses a grassy mound representing Johnson's grant of Brickfield Hill in which is fixed the Canterbury cross to denote his foundation of the Church in the place named Canterbury Vale, an act which he clearly saw as a parallel to the pioneer work of St. Augustine at Canterbury, England, in 597 A.D. His Yorkshire origins are indicated by the White Rose of York, which appeared in the previous device.

The Supporters are a marine version of the White Horse of Kent, England, of which the City of Canterbury is the capital, said to have been borne on the standards of the Jutes who settled in Kent in the 5th century, and perpetuated in the arms of the Kent County Council. These 'sea-horses' denote coastal or river traffic, here identified by the blue wave from the shield denoting Cook's River, charged with the Polar Star from Cook's arms. In their mouths are sprays of the Canterbury Bell flower, a perfect heraldic reference to the name, taken from the former seal.

The Badge is a separate emblem, never placed on a shield, used by itself for purposes for which the entire Coat of Arms would be unsuitable. A prime function is as the only part of the Armorial Bearings which may be allowed for use by local organisations. The Badge combines very simply the essential Canterbury symbolism, with the chough and cross from the shield set upon two crossed sprigs of the Canterbury Bell.

The Motto, adapted from Cicero, means 'We bear a great name' in reference to Canterbury's illustrious 'ancestry'.

The Armorial Bearings were designed by H. Ellis Tomlinson, M.A., F.H.S., of Thornton Cleveleys, England.

The colours blue and white are also those of the local Rugby League team, the Canterbury(-Bankstown) Bulldogs.

The flag was observed outside concil chambers, Beamish St, Campsie.
The image was made using the Coat of Arms on the council website, and from memory is a good representation of the font used on the flag.
Jonathan Dixon, 31 August 2001

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