The lion, known as the king of beasts, has been associated with kings and kingship
and has even been kept by kings as a symbol of royal power. It was first used in
heraldry by Richard I (1189 - 1199) and three lions passant guardant or have ever
since been used in the English royal coat of arms. Monarchs and many of the nobility
used the lion in their coats of arms, where it was a symbol of strength and agility.
The lion has often been carved on thrones and gateposts to act as guardians.
In medieval bestiaries the lion was described as being proud by nature because it
does not mix with other wild animals, and was therefore likened to a king who disdains
the company of the common people. Also in medieval bestiaries the lion was described
as wiping out its tracks behind it with its tail.
The Christian Church have also used the lion as a symbol. Sometimes it represented
St. Mark, the evangelist, and sometimes Jesus.
A lion carved in wood above a shop window in Halesworth in Suffolk.
One of a pair of bronze lions guarding the entrance to City Hall opposite the Market
Place in Norwich that have been much admired. It is the work of Alfred Hardiman,
a London-born sculptor who lived from 1891 to 1949. He trained at the Royal College
of Art and was particularly inspired by Roman, Etruscan and Greek works of art from
the Classical period. Some of his other public sculptures can still be seen in London.
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Left: A pub sign showing a lion rampant after the fashion of coats of arms. It’s
attached to the front wall of Brook Red Lion Hotel, at 43 High Street, Colchester,
in Essex. This is one of the oldest hotels in England, dating back to 1465. The
building is Grade I listed.