University Of Bristol Crest

University of Bristol logo

University Of Bristol Crest

Arms of University of Bristol

Official blazon

Arms : Argent, on a cross quadrate gules, a representation of the Arms of the City of Bristol, between in pale a sun in splendour and an open.book proper, leaved and clasped Or, and inscribed with the words “Nisi quia Dominus”, and in the fesse to the dexter a dolphin embowed and to the sinister a horse courant, both of the third.
Motto: Vim promovet insitam.

Origin/meaning

The arms were officially granted on December 4, 1909.

The University of Bristol crest is derived from the coat of arms of University College, Bristol. This depicted a golden ship sailing from  a silver castle. It had a central shield with  a helmet above surmounted by two arms,  one grasping a serpent, signifying wisdom and the other holding a pair of scales, symbolising justice. There were two golden unicorns as ‘supporters’.

The ship and castle are retained in the crest and are joined by the following elements:

The open book of learning with the  words meaning ‘nothing is achieved  without the Lord’. The motto ‘Vim Promovet Insitam’ means ‘learning promotes one’s innate power’.

The sun represents the Wills family. From 1908 to 1958 the Wills family made a series of gifts of property and new buildings that would now be worth well over £400 million. H.O. Wills was the first Chancellor of the University of Bristol.

The dolphin represents Colston.

University College Colston Society (subsequently Colston Research Society)  was named after Edward Colston (16361721) and was founded in 1899. It raised money for, among other things, ‘the endowment of Colston Chairs in connection with University College, Bristol’.

The horse represents Fry. Joseph Storrs Fry (1826-1913) built up the chocolate business he inherited from his father. His brother Albert Fry (1830-1903) was Chairman of University College from 1882 to 1903. Another brother, the Right Honourable Lewis Fry (1832-1921), was Chairman of Council of University College from 1903 to 1909 and of the University Council from 1909 to 1914. He was also  Pro Chancellor from 1909 to 1921.