College Arms and Symbols

The first symbol of St Hilda's Hall was the ammonite. This fossil, consisting of whorled chambered shells, was once supposed to be coiled snakes petrified. The early seventeenth-century Lives of Women Saints of our Contrie of England explains their association with St Hilda:

'In that monasterie of Whitbye, there were such aboundance of serpents, what throughe the thicknes of bushes, and the wildernesse of the woods, that the virgins durst not peepe out of their Cells, or goe to draw water: but by her prayers she obtayned of god, that they might be tourned into stones; yet so as the shape of serpents still remayned; which to this day, the stones of that place do declare, as eye-witnesses haue testified.'

The use of the ammonite with the motto “non frustra vixi” or 'I lived not in vain' has continued throughout St Hilda's history.

When the College was incorporated in 1926 it could not afford a coat of arms, but a common seal was designed by Edmund New, with a bookplate, note paper and blazer badge based upon it. This remained the emblem of the College until the coat of arms was granted in 1960. The motto was not included in the grant of arms, although it is occasionally used.

Our coat of arms commemorates Dorothea Beale with its use of estoiles (stars with wavy points) and unicorns. Although no evidence could be found that the family was armigerous, all Beale families seemed to have used arms with estoiles and a unicorn's head for their crest.

The silver coiled snake at the base of the coat of arms represents the name and reputation of St Hilda.

Ammonite - first symbol of St Hilda's Hall