The Christ Church coat of arms was originally that of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the founder of the first college on this site. It was granted to Cardinal College by Thomas Wryothesley, the Garter King of Arms, and Thomas Benolt, Clarenceux King of Arms, on 4 August 1525.
Derived from Wolsey’s Suffolk background, the elements are a silver cross from the Ufford earls of Suffolk, four blue leopards from the de la Pole earls and dukes of Suffolk, two Cornish choughs from the arms of his namesake, Thomas à Becket, a red lion of Wolsey’s patron, Pope Leo X who had made Wolsey a Cardinal, and the Tudor rose of his king.
The shape of the shield is not important, and many variants have been used over the centuries. The crest, which is the red cardinal’s hat and tassels, does not form part of the arms, but has become synonymous with Christ Church. Wolsey’s hat is preserved in the Upper Library, in a Victorian Gothic case specially made for it.
The arms are prominent on all the buildings, along with Wolsey’s other emblems of office, both inside and out.
Registered Charity Number: 1143423