THE SCHOOL BADGE
By Alex Bateman
Heraldry has been used since very early times, often to denote courage, bravery or Royalty, and such emblems were often seen engraved on shields, or banners. The term 'Coat of Arms' comes from the custom of embroidering them on the coats worn over the arm. Most Coats of arms consist of a shield (ground) upon which is depicted arms or symbols.
The badge worn by all those pupils who passed through the doors of Harrow County and Gayton High Schools, became a familiar sight to those in Harrow. However, it had something of an uncertain start. Before the School opened, an application was made to the College of Heralds for a design, but the reply came back that to do so would cost £76 10s 6d, a sum way beyond the means then available. After some debate, it was realised that if the School was to have its own emblem, they would have to design it themselves. Although the originator is not certain, it was probably Mr E F Beckett, who later designed many other items seen around the school including some of the stained glass windows, the war memorial, and the illuminated roll of honour.
The school badge comprises the shield, in the school colour green, and the symbols of a crown, three notched sabres and an oak tree in gold, all with a pale blue outline. The crown is often used by Royalty to show their sovereign authority and that chosen for the school badge is of the style worn by Saxon kings and signifies triumph over all hindrances. The three sabres are the arms of the County of Middlesex, of which Harrow is a part, while the oak tree denotes not strength or growth as might be imagined, but refers to the fact that Harrow was once covered with forest. Oak trees are sometimes used to show a link to a town name, for example 'Acton', which supposedly comes from 'Oak town'. Harrow was once covered by forests of oak trees, and one suggested meaning of its name was 'Sacred Grove'.
The motto was chosen by Sir Alexander Carlyon, a Governor of the school for the first ten years, and was in Latin, 'Virtus Non Stemma'. The original translation of this was noted in 1911 as being 'Merit not Ancestry'. As noted at the time, a school without history or tradition must rely on its own exertions for success, or put simply it is what you make of yourself, not where you come from that is important. The literal change of the meaning to the more well known 'Worth not Birth', probably came about when the School Song was composed. The same meaning, but easier to sing!
The original intake to the school did not wear blazers but all were expected to purchase a School Cap (at a cost of 1s 9d!), which bore the badge. Although the basic emblem has remained the same, variations have appeared over the years around the school, and on blazers, sport kit and Cadet uniform. For example, the Harrow County blazer was green, which changed to black after the alteration to Gayton High. The badge therefore had a different background colour. The early soccer shirts sported the badge, without the motto, in green on pale blue, while the Cadet Force, wore, for a time, a miniature on each sleeve, again without motto, on a maroon background.
The school colours were chosen as green and pale blue.