Did king really scorn the town?

The Wareham Arms, as reproduced on the Corporation Seal, are Gules, a crescent surmounted by a star between three fleur de lis reversed or, the whole surrounded by the words ‘Villae & Burgi de Wareham’.
Harry Broughton in an excerpt from ‘Mayors and Mayor Making in Wareham’ wrote that in 1950 he called at the College of Arms in London and saw the Lancaster Herald and paid a fee for searching the records about the seal of Wareham.
In March 1951 he had the following reply from the Lancaster Herald: “I promised to let you have a note on the Arms used, but not yet registered to, the Corporation of Wareham, viz: Gules a crescent surmounted by a star (or estoile) between three fleur de lis reversed or.
“I have been unable to trace earlier usage than the 18th century seal in the British Museum. The device of a crescent surmounted by an estoile is found in the ancient arms of Portsmouth. It appears in the Common seal of the town as early as the 13th century, in combination with a single-masted vessel on waves.
“It may possibly have been, in its origin, a marine trading device, perhaps suggesting traffic with the East.
“The local legend that the fleur de lis were reversed as a mark of royal displeasure may, I think, be regarded as without foundation. The use of inverted charges has other parallels in heraldry and carries with it no such implication.”
However, locally the device of the star and crescent is thought to have had some connection with the Crusades.
Certainly the idea of the reversed fleur de lis being a mark of royal displeasure has a strong local belief. The story that has been handed down was that King John entered Wareham on his way from Bere Regis to Corfe Castle.
When he entered the town, he was very displeased that the bells were not rung in his honour. He called for the mayor who told him the bellringers were working in the fields.
“Send for them,” thundered the King, who then got tired of waiting and was on his way out of town when the bells began to peal. John is said to have hurried back angrier than ever at what he considered this second insult, and told the mayor that as a sign of his displeasure the royal flower must henceforth be inverted on the town’s device.
Manager, Wareham
Town Museum

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *