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Expert solves coat of arms mystery

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An expert called in to examine Shrewsbury's coats of arms, has revealed that the weight of tradition supports leopard's faces.  

The old Shrewsbury town council coat of arms, which was used until 1974An expert called in to examine Shrewsbury's coats of arms, has revealed that the weight of tradition supports leopard's faces.

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Shrewsbury Town Council - which will be created next year when Shropshire becomes a unitary authority - will need a logo but officials have discovered more than one design - one with three lions' faces and one with three "loggerheads", or leopards.

Robert Noel, Lancaster Herald at The College of Arms, who investigated the case using ancient manuscripts, said: "Many, or even most, early heralds did not trouble to distinguish very clearly between lions and leopards.

"Armorists still debate today whether the beasts in the arms of England were originally meant for lions or for leopards.

Shropshire County Council's shield uses the leopards"However, the early tradition in respect of Shrewsbury seems from a scrutiny of the manuscript and printed sources here to be unequivocal.

"A manuscript dating from the reign of William III calls the devices in the arms of Shrewsbury 'leopard's faces' and this description is followed in leading printed works of the 18th and 19th centuries."

Mr Noel said the arms were much older than the reign of William III but the written description is the earliest he can find. He said: "In 1896, Shropshire County Council established arms and these feature leopard's faces, as is well known.

"But in 1975, Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council established arms and these featured lion's faces."

The online poll we recently ran currently shows that 54 per cent of people who voted favoured leopards.

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