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Green Templeton College | Oxford

Heralding a new era

GTC’s Coat of Arms

When you stroll along the high street in Oxford, it is hard not to notice the myriad colourful college shields emblazoned on everything from polo shirts to stationery. The coat of arms is a unique and important part of every Oxford college’s identity, so when Green College and Templeton College set about merging, one of the many items to be addressed was the creation of a new visual  identity. In September 2007, the Royal College of Arms was asked to design a new coat of arms for Oxford’s newest college.

The GTC shieldAfter several iterations and a lot of careful consideration about such a significant part of the college’s identity, a new Coat of Arms was agreed. It combines aspects of both Green and Templeton’s existing coats of arms and its symbolic heraldry captures the spirit of each of their histories and character.

The shield incorporates two important symbols: the Rod of Asclepius and the Nautilus shell. The serpent coiled around a staff is a symbol for the healing arts (Asclepius, the son of Apollo, was a practitioner of medicine in Greek mythology) and was at the centre of the Green College coat of arms as the school was founded for students specialising in medicine. The nautilus shell which symbolises evolution and renewal was chosen by Sir John Templeton and adopted by the College in 1984 when it changed its name from the Oxford Centre for Management Studies.

The full Royal CrestIn the full coat of arms, there is a crest featuring a heraldic representation of the sun behind the astronomical symbol for Venus (♀) which is an homage to the historically important transit of Venus across the sun in 1761.

It was this cosmological event, or rather the lack of appropriate facilities in Britain to observe it, that led to the building of the magnificent Radcliffe Observatory, the iconic building at the heart of Green Templeton College.

As artwork for the coat of arms was being developed, the college also commissioned a more contemporary representation of this same Transit of Venus. The logo designed is a familiar feature of much of Green Templeton’s official branding — from coffee mugs to stationery. Fitting for a 21st century college in an ancient university to blend the old and the new.

The transit of Venus