Monday, 3 May 2010

The Cinquefoil: Rediscovering Leicester's Ancient Emblem

When you think of British floral emblems examples such as the Tudor rose (merger of the Lancastrian and Yorkshire roses), the Scottish thistle and the Welsh daffodil spring to mind:-

Tudor Rose

Yorkshire Rose

Lancashire Rose

Welsh Daffodil

Scottish Thistle

But how many people know that Leicester's 'Cinquefoil' is one of the oldest of them all?:-

The cinquefoil ("five leaves") is the emblem of the Beaumont family, Norman Earls of Leicester from the 11th century which makes it one of the oldest floral emblems. The cinquefoil can be spotted all over Leicester and is used by many different organisations (most well known of which is the city council.) Here are some examples (click thumbnails to visit the sites or full photos):-

(images clickable - copyrights are with target page owners)

This simple, yet attractive emblem has the flexibility to be worked into modern brand designs yet has a historical continuity that gives it a credibility far beyond the fickle 'reinvention' spasms that cities often go through. The cinquefoil needs to be recognised as more than just the city council logo and many more Leicester organisations should be encouraged to fly the flag by incorporating it into their livery.


  1. Point of order... no such thing as Lancashire and Yorkshire roses despite what the relevant tourist boards would have you believe. They are heraldic symbols of royal houses and not geographically based.

    Agree with the rest of your article. The Cinquefoil should be displayed and celebrated in Leicester far more than it is.

  2. Electricity Sports Cricket Club (based on the historic Aylestone Rd Ground) have embraced it in their crest.