How did money from slavery help develop Greater Manchester?

Ceremonial key

Date unknown, sometime between 1842 and 1956
Silver gilt and enamel

Object number 1956.138
Given by the Manchester Town Hall Committee

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Ceremonial key

This ceremonial key, from Manchester Town Hall, shows the city's official coat of arms. Manchester can trace its heraldic routes back to the 1200s, when Roger de Grelley was first issued with a crest. In 1301, when Manchester was granted its first charter giving the townspeople certain rights and privileges, feudal lords the de Grelley family simply applied their own shield. This shield is described as 'Gules three bendlets enhanced or', which translates as 'on a red shield three diagonal stripes in gold'. A popular myth is that the three stripes represent the three rivers, but no historical evidence supports this view.

The crest was further developed when Manchester was granted borough status in 1838. Four years later, in 1842, the city was granted a coat of arms in two stages. A ship in full sail was added above the shield to represent Manchester's trade links to the world. Above this was placed a globe covered by a swarm of bees, which represents industry and the bee has since become the enduring symbol of the city. The motto 'Concilio et Labore', which translates as 'wisdom and effort', was also added. Shortly afterwards, supporting heraldic animals, an antelope and lion were added, although these don't appear on this key. The roses are in reference to the county of Lancashire.

The inclusion of the ship and globe indicate how Manchester was transformed, through the cotton industry, from a small market town into a city of global importance.

This information was provided by curators from Manchester Art Gallery.