History of the Ascham crest

The birth and evolution of our Ascham crest is intriguing.

Here, our Archivist Ms Marguerite Gillezeau, explains how the wings, dolphins and acorns came to symbolise our School over a century ago.

Before it was the substantial book that it is today, the Ascham yearbook, Charivari, began in 1903 as a small newsletter. Soon it grew and needed a cover. A cover in turn needed a crest. At the same time, the members of the 1sts Tennis team were lobbying Ascham’s principal Mr Carter for blazers (he resisted, thinking it would make them look like suffragettes). Needless to say, he eventually relented and realised that blazers need pockets and pockets need crests! The Ascham Archives holds two of the original four pockets worn by the first four girls to have the privilege to wear the blazer with the Ascham School crest in 1911.

The search for a suitable crest began in 1907 when Mr Carter travelled to England and discovered three different crests from families by the name of Ascham, although none could be definitely traced to the renowned Elizabethan scholar, Roger Ascham (after whom our School is named).

Our crest, designed in 1911 by Ascham art teacher Albert Collins, combines elements of the three English crests with some additions. In the December 1911 Charivari, the symbols in the new crest were explained to readers. The dolphins denoted energy and persistence and the ability to swim against, as well as with, the tide; the wings suggested aspiration and ambition; the lamp [and book] represented learning; and the combination of acorn and eucalyptus seed symbolised the union of Britain and Australia.

The motto Vi et Animo—with heart and soul—was taken from the McCulloch crest on the door of the old Ascham site (‘Delamere’ where the School moved in 1893 before moving to Glenrock) in Darling Point.

In the September 1911 edition of Charivari, there is the following report, most likely written by students:

We beg to call attention to our new “cover” to the Charivari, designed by Mr. Collins, with the school crest. The new design used both for a prize label and the cover to the Charivari, has, together with the crest, been designed by Mr. Albert Collins, our clever drawing master. The use of the acorn and eucalyptus seed in the design, is symbolical of our land and the Empire. In the crest, the wings suggest aspiration, the lamp and book represent learning, the dolphins symbolise struggle against elements, while the motto may be freely translated, “With Heart and Soul,” and is the embodiment in Latin of that noble text, ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”

 The crest has evolved over the years, with the dolphins and wings changing subtly. It will no doubt continue to change with the times but has symbolised Ascham School for over a century.

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