The earliest record of the borough arms occurs in the Charter, granted to the borough of Colchester by Henry V on 7 July 1413.
This Charter, preserved in the borough archives, has an initial letter illuminated with the arms and figures of Saint Helena holding a cross and her son, Constantine. Around the illumination is a scroll with a Latin inscription which states that Saint Helena was born in Colchester and that she was the mother of Constantine and found the Holy Cross. The Common Seal of the borough (early 15 century) also depicts Saint Helena with the cross.
It is evident therefore that at this date Saint Helena was regarded as the patron saint of the borough and that the arms can be considered in direct relation to her story.
The True Cross is shown as a green living tree and is divided into four equal parts by a fylfot (swastika) which is a very ancient symbol of good fortune, since it is the same whichever way up it falls. The cross bears three iron nails and is surmounted by the crowns of three kings, whilst the background (field) is red for the Blood of Christ.
Gules a cross raguly, couped proper, the arms joined in fylfot, between two ducal coronets in chief or the bottom part of the cross ensiled with a ducal coronet of the last, beneath each coronet a nail of the first, that in base piercing the cross.
Please note that the Arms were granted by the College of Arms to Colchester Borough Council. The Council is not in a position to give permission to other organisations or individuals to use the Arms, as this grant of Arms was made solely to the Council for its own use.
You may be interested to learn more about coats of arms and heraldry why not try the Heraldry Society website or pay a visit to the Town Hall, how many borough arms can you spot in and around the building?