Valerie reflects on the Crest of St Lawrence College

St Lawrence CrestJohn and Valerie attended the Old Lawrentian Reunion in Sydney on 24 October. John Barrow is an alumni of St Lawrence College, Ramsgate, and gave one talk. Valerie also gave a small talk – sharing her reflections about the School Crest with its surprising Templar associations.

Valerie reflects on The Crest of St Lawrence School

Another short talk was given about the St. Lawrence College Crest and our personal observations.

When John and I set off for our stay in France for 6 months – John had already said he would like to research the “Knights Templar”

We had exchanged our house with a delightful Frenchman who lived in Montignac – near Angouleme. His beautiful house was on the corner of one of many Roads to Santiago de Compostela. (This is called “Walking the Camino” by many.) This is the Pilgrim Route – which is still frequented by pilgrims – to Saint James’ burial place in North of Spain.

You can see these ‘markers’ guiding the pilgrims along the route. In particular the stylised shell symbol caught our eye as it is on the St. Lawrence College Crest.

one of the many marker posts on the Santiago de Compostela

one of the many marker posts on the Santiago de Compostela;
the stylised shell on the top depicts the “Six ways of Walking the Camino”
the same kind of shell is on the top of the St Lawrence School Crest

Pictures drawn on rocks or caves, by the Australian Aborigine are not just ‘pictures’ there is a story that goes with the picture. Similarly symbols are not just pictures, they also have stories that go with them. It is virtually a secret language.

This stylised image of a shell has been in existence since the 9th to 10th century France and is a symbol of the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela in north of Spain.

Looking at the Crest again one wonders about the story of the inter-twined serpents above the shell. It could well represent Alchemy … such as The Alchemical Caduceus or dragons. It could also link to the Knights Hospitallers.

St Lawrence Crest - a caduceus atop helmet with chivalry symbols

St Lawrence Crest – a caduceus atop helmet with royalty and chivalry symbols

Immediately beneath the Shell is an image of a metal helmet with face cover similarly worn by the Chevaliers, or Knights Templars during the Crusades.

Again, the The Knights Templars existed to give safe passage to Pilgrims not only travelling to Santiago de Compostela but to the Holy Christian Sites of Jesus in Jerusalem. The Knights Templars were formed first in France, at the bequest of the Pope of that time, to protect the Holy Sites in Jerusalem and in Spain.

Hugh de Payens founded the Order in France – in 1099. The order of Knights Templar was given a huge boost when Saint Bernard of Clairvaux preached for the Second Crusade and taking the cross at Vezelay in France, in 1095. Unlike the First Crusade, the new venture attracted royalty, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, then Queen of France.

Returning to the Crest again, we see two equal sided red crosses with a circle in the middle.

two equal sided red crosses with a circle in the middle

Knights Templar on tomb

In our research of Templar Churches we discovered these were everywhere in France. Simply placed on the walls of huge or small churches, the crosses were either white or red. Black equal sided crosses were, we believe, related to the Knights Hospitallers.

Red or White equal sided crosses were worn on the chest of the Templars in early days linking to (Henry II or Richard the Lionheart) of France and England.

When we visited the centre of London – the city of London, we found 5 pointed stars were around as symbols. The Crown on the College crest perhaps relates to the Royals. And of course most surely the open book is the Christian Bible.

Then the school motto In Bono VinceConquer with Good. Most surely the motto of ancient times when the Knights Templar pledged “To Take up the Crux.” (Cross)

John & Valerie Barrow.