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The Seal & Badge of the Guildable Manor
The Seal represents the five Parishes that are mentioned in the Charter of 23 April 1550; St Saviour’s, St George’s, St Olave’s, St Thomas the Martyr and St Mary-Newington. The three charter manors borders do not precisely coincide with those of the parish boundaries and only a small part of St Saviour’s and (at that time) of St Mary’s are included within them. This Charter confirms, to the City, the rights and privileges in the previous grant of 1327 in the Guildable Manor, increasing and extending them over the King’s Manor and the Great Liberty. The iconography on the Seal is quite secular and does not incorporate any of the devices used by these Parishes subsequently. It can be described as follows:-
“Five Spheres or Globes separated by Five Arrow Tails encircled within the title:
VILLA ET BVRGVS DE SOVTHWARKE ”
However, this title, the “town and borough of Southwark”, is the Charter name for only the Guildable Manor, whereas the Charter describes the three manors together as “burgus et villa de Southwarke” ie the “borough and town of Southwark”. The Charter names, or rather the descriptive titles used to define them, for each of the Manors bear a close resemblance to each other in the terminology used, at that time transcribed into legal Latin, so that this solecism was probably unavoidable. The King’s Manor was “our lordship and manor of Southwark” and the Great Liberty was “our manor and borough of Southwark”. The possessive was that of the King; previous to these two properties being acquired by the Crown there had been references to the Mayor’s (Guildable), the Archbishop’s (of Canterbury ie Great Liberty) and the Abbot’s (of Bermondsey ie King’s) manors. The name ‘Guildable’ was first recorded in 1377, the other two only from 1550; ‘Great Liberty’ indicated this was the largest manor and ‘King’s’ probably derives the style from the mansion on the High Street which had been the Duke of Suffolk’s, acquired by Henry VIII in 1538, retained by Edward VI in 1550 hence ‘the king’s’. This confusing similarity of titles explains the preference for their common names.
Impression of Seal on document of 1664
The Seal, probably in use from the 1550s, was not used exclusively and alternative City Seals, those of the Alderman, the Steward, Bridge Masters or other officials acting in their Southwark capacity, were used to sanction authority and these often displaced it on documents. The original, having been overlooked, fell into disuse. This was compounded when the Corporation took to conferring the appointments of Steward and Bailiff on the Recorder and Under Sheriff. The latter, as senior official at the Old Bailey, had a Coat of Arms/ Seal for that role which is used on the Summons to the Court Leet jurors unto this day and has the Hanoverian Royal Coat of Arms impaling those of the City.
The Badge, used by the Officers of the Manor, copies the Seal and overlays it with a Pentagon, or Gable-End, which fills in the rather crude intersection of the original devices. This can be thought of as both continuing the principal theme of five elements and as representing either the seat of the City’s authority in the old Town Hall/ Borough Compter on the High Street, or that of the Bridge House. The latter’s Mark has been placed on this. So close has been the association of the Mark with the ‘Borough’ that it was often referred to as the ‘Southwark Cross’, it being used on the boundary stones, other properties and by extension St George’s which is still under the Bridge House Estates ecclesiastic patronage. It is surely no coincidence that the increasing use of the Mark in the late Stuart period coincides with the decline in use of the Seal. When the City Magistrates sat at the old Town Hall they issued warrants with a representation of the City arms next to a shield bearing the Mark, both supported by the City dragons with a motto scroll ‘Town & Borough of Southwark’ below. The Guildable Manor’s Foreman’s chain is constituted of links of alternate ‘SS’ and Marks. The Bridge Masters undertook the duties of Bailiff and Steward for centuries simply because the Yard was on Tooley Street within the Guildable Manor and it was the money held in trust for the Bridge that the City used to acquire the Manors from the Crown; a financial arrangement which would not pass scrutiny in later times.
The Seal and Badge of The Guildable Manor
The Guildable Manor of Southwark
Guildable Manor, Colechurch House, London Bridge Walk, London. SE1 2SX
Telephone - 020 7394 1271 Email - firstname.lastname@example.org