Fig 1 The Lamb and Flag flying on the Town Hall Balcony

The Axbridge Flag

Alan Mortimer of Axbridge Town Trust writes: Last year the Town Trust purchased a new flag with the “Lamb and Flag” logo in black on a white background and asked permission from the Town Council if this could be adopted as the “Axbridge Flag” to be flown on special occasions such as new year (as it was this last new year period) as well as local events in the square including the Pageant. The Town Council has agreed to adopt the flag.

The Trustees have created here a brief history behind the symbol produced by Trustee John Page who was seconded to the Trust by the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society (SANHS) specifically for the historical artefacts owned by the Town Trust.

Recently Axbridge acquired a new flag through the auspices of the Axbridge Town Trust, a charity setup in 1889 to acquire the assets of the Axbridge Corporation, which had been dissolved by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1883. It is now flying on the balcony of the Town Hall alongside the Union Jack (Fig. 1.), with the blessing of the Axbridge Town Council, who have accepted it as the town flag.

Fig 2 Modern Axbridge motif

Displayed on the flag is the motif which Axbridge has used since at least the Tudor period, but probably from even earlier, in the late medieval period (Fig. 2). It features the lamb and flag, or Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), as it is also known (sometimes it is also referred to as the Paschal Lamb). It also contains a legend (the words around the edge), which states “Communitatis Burgi de Axbridge S(iggilum)” (The seal of the Community of the Borough of Axbridge).

That legend is interesting, as, in 1557 Axbridge acquired a royal charter, which turned it into a Corporation. Prior to that time it had no formal corporate status, though Domesday Book did record that it had thirty-two burgesses, who must have been originally formed sometime in the tenth century. Whilst it does appear to have had some form of independence since that time, it was not until the early thirteenth century that it acquired full independence from the royal estate at Cheddar.

King John (1166-1226)

It was in 1204 that King John gave the whole of his Cheddar estate to the Archdeacon of Wells, who then sublet Axbridge to Thomas Wallensis two years later. However, it may well have been the Archdeacon who organised the erection of the first church in Axbridge. That church acquired a dedication to St. John the Baptist, who, when he saw Jesus, is credited with the saying, “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.” This was a time when Axbridge had begun to establish itself as a local centre for the woollen industry. So, it does seem likely that both the dedication of the church, and the emblem adopted by Axbridge, were heavily influenced by that very profitable industry, though no example of the lamb and flag is known to exist from as early as the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries.

Fig 3 1579 seal

One of the earliest known versions of the lamb and flag appears on a seal from a document of 1579 (Fig. 3). Although this is after the charter of 1557, which definitely gave Axbridge the right to use a seal, it is a far less sophisticated version and looks as though it is a medieval design. It may well be an old seal being reused by someone who has no seal of their own. Whether it belonged to the Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which ruled Axbridge until the Charter of Incorporation, is uncertain, but a possibility.
Unfortunately, it is not possible at the moment to check out a deed of 1420, which is listed in the catalogue as having “one pendant seal, lamb and flag,” as the Record Office in Taunton is closed during the pandemic. However that clearly signifies that lamb and flag seals were being used on documents in Axbridge for a long time prior to the 1557 charter.

Fig 4 The foot of an Axbridge Mace

Unfortunately, most of the deeds held in the Axbridge Archive do not have the seal of the Corporation on them. This is because their seal would be on the copy deed held by a lessee, whilst the lessee’s seal would appear on the ones retained by the Corporation. However, there are some clues as to how the lamb and flag motif developed over time, from the crude version (Fig. 3), through two examples engraved on the feet of the Axbridge seals, which were granted to the Corporation in the third royal charter of 1623 (Fig. 4), a 17th century picture, currently in the King John’s Hunting Lodge Museum (Fig. 5), and some more recent versions from the eighteenth and nineteenth century (Figs. 6 and 7).

Fig 5 17th Century Picture

Noticeably, the lamb on the 1579 seal faces in the opposite direction to that of all the remaining versions, the cross differs substantially and the flag is much smaller and rather difficult to see. It also has its leg under its body, supporting the pole.

By 1623 (Fig. 4) the lamb faces to our left and the flag is a bifurcated banner with the lamb holding its pole in an outstretched foot, at the top end of which the cross is of a different style. The lamb is standing on a cross-hatched ground surface and has a rather flattened halo, which cannot be seen in the earlier version.

Fig 6 Seal on witness statement in 1759

This is very similar, in many respects to the lamb shown in the museum picture (Fig. 5), though the cross here is plain and the banner no longer has the cross of St. George on it, but is now plain. Overall this is a far superior rendition, with a much larger and more pronounced halo. The major difference between the two, however, is what the lamb is standing on. On the foot of the mace it may not have been simple to show anything other than the cross-hatching displayed, but in the picture the lamb is now standing on a large book, which may well be a Bible, which has two prominent clasps across its long opening side. As early books were made of parchment, which had a strong tendency to absorb moisture, it quite often happened that the pages swelled up until it was impossible to close the book properly. To counteract this the clasps were used to hold the book firmly closed so that no moisture could get in and that which was acquired by the book when it was open, would be squeezed out. As parchment fell out of fashion when paper became the dominant material for books, clasps were no longer needed, as paper was not so absorbent. That had largely happened prior to the eighteenth century and this picture has been dated by experts to the seventeenth century.

Fig 7 The Large Axbridge seal

Another version of this lamb and flag can be seen on an octagonal seal, which is attached to a document dated 1759, so is probably quite an old seal by that time. Here the cross is similar to that of the one on the mace (Fig. 4) and the banner does have the cross of St. George upon it. In this case it is the octagonal shape of the seal border which is very rare and the legend around the edge merely states, “Borough of Axbridge,” in English. As it appears on a document which is stated to be a witness statement, is almost certainly the one that is used by the Justices of the Peace, rather than the Corporation itself.

Fig 8 The small Axbridge Seal

Two matrices (a matrix, or die, is the tool used to make the impression) still exist for Corporation seals. The larger one (Fig. 7) shows the lamb standing on a small mound, whilst the smaller one (Fig. 8) shows it standing on a field of grass. Both show the inverse of the seal, but a copy of the large one is available on a document (see Fig. 9). These are closer to the imagery shown on the modern Axbridge flag, except that today the leg of the lamb is draped over the pole, rather than resting on it (or holding it?) as formerly. All of them do have a major difference from all the earlier versions in that they now have the lamb looking over his shoulder, instead of looking forward.

Fig 9 The large Axbridge seal

All of this means that, whilst Axbridge has retained the lamb and flag as its symbol for possibly over eight hundred years, there has been quite a lot of variety over time. So, do have a look on the balcony of the Town Hall and enjoy the Axbridge flag flying alongside the national flag.

John Page

Axbridge Town Trust


The Axbridge Town Trust was created by the Charity Commissioners in 1889, defining its objectives and listing the assets to be held by the Trustees. The Trust manages the remaining assets of the former Incorporated Borough of Axbridge, which was created under Royal Charter in 1557. Prior to that Axbridge had flourished as a busy market town since it became a burh (a fortified place) under King Alfred the Great.

Axbridge lost this corporate status under “The Municipal Corporations Act, 1883,” which sought to eliminate small boroughs from having responsibility for civil and criminal jurisdiction, exclusive rights regarding trading, jury exemptions and various other ancient privileges.


Today the Axbridge Town Trust retains many of the assets it was given over a century ago.
Major assets include The Square, the Town Hall, certain smaller properties and pieces of land and various artefacts. Many of the artefacts are managed by other bodies on behalf of the Trust. These include the local museum (King John’s Hunting Lodge) and the Somerset Record Office, now located in the new Somerset Heritage Centre.

Meetings & Contacts

The Axbridge Town Trust meets on the first Monday of every other month (February, April, June, August, October and December) to manage its properties and to preserve, and facilitate use of, the heritage artefacts it has inherited.

Although meetings are held in private, any matters falling within their scope of responsibilities can be raised directly with any of the Trustees, or through the Clerk.


There are a total of 10 Trustees.  The first four are Co-optative Trustees {C} and the next six Representative Trustees.

Details are shown for the sixth Trustee (the current Trust Chairman), the Town Hall Manager and the Town Trust Clerk.

Five Representative Trustees are elected to office for a term of five years through the Vestry of the Parish of Axbridge.

A sixth is elected through the Archaeological Society of Somerset (ASS).

The Co-optative Trustees must reside in or near Axbridge or carry on business in Axbridge. They are appointed for seven years and are elected by the other Trustees.

Each Trustee can be re-elected by the other Trustees at the end of their Term.

Visit the Town Trust website for further information


Axbridge News: Old Church Road and Meadow Street to be closed for four weeks for repairs to building

Temporary Road Closure: ttro400585SE – Old Church Road, Axbridge
Dear Sir/Madam,
Please follow the link to view the above road closure; and the link for the Notice 2:       
The order becomes effective on 27th October 2020 and will remain in force for eighteen months.

The works are expected to commence on 2nd November 2020 and last for 28 days to enable Mahoney Contracts to carry out urgent roof works on grade 2 listed buildings.

For any further information about this closure please contact Mahoney Contracts on (01253) 313828, quoting reference: ttro400585SE – Old Church Road, Axbridge.

Please note that should you require to view a closure which is more than two weeks ahead you will need to Register for free with www.One.Network

Kind regards

Ellen Flynn
The Road Closure Team
Contact Centre Tel: 0300 123 2224
Traffic Management, Road Safety and Parking Services
Somerset County Council
County Hall


Press Release from the Axbridge Neighbourhood Plan

Axbridge Neighbourhood Plan Reg.14 Press Release 

Axbridge Town Council invites representations on the draft Axbridge Neighbourhood Plan. 

The Plan can be downloaded at content/uploads/2020/03/Final-plan- content/uploads/2020/03/Final-plan-VERSION-4.pdfVERSION-4.pdf 

Feedback should be sent to Alan Wells, Chair of the Axbridge Neighbourhood Planning Group at Paper submissions should be sent to Alan at 49 West Street, Axbridge, BS26 2AA. 

Please ensure that your feedback is with Alan by 20th June 2020. 

The Plan is wide ranging with sections on Housing and Development, Community and Infrastructure, Historic and Natural Environment, Transport and future aspirations for our town. 

This consultation is part of the pre-submission consultation and publicity under The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012. Specifically regulation 14.

Axbridge Town Council Blog Post, 17th April 2020

The Coronavirus outbreak is clearly having a major impact on residents, businesses and visitors in Axbridge.

During this time the Town Council remains committed to maintaining services and advocacy for townsfolk.  Although we will not be delivering printed copies of OYEZ! during this time, we will be maintaining regular blogs on this website to keep residents informed with Council business and other useful information.

As always – if you would like to contact us to request more information, ask a question or raise a concern please do so through email or post to the Town Clerk. We’d love to hear from you and understand what you’d like us to prioritise or raise any concerns you may have.


  • Full Council Meeting Monday 20th April 2020 will be undertaken on Zoom video conferencing platform and is open to the public and members of press using this link.
  • Online Council Meetings –  We warmly welcome residents to join us at online Council meetings and to enable business to be conducted efficiently we would ask attendees to take on board the following guidance:
    • Agenda – agendas for the meeting are available on this link.  Please familiarise yourself with the agenda ahead of the meeting, in particular noting agenda item for public participation.
    • Public participation – please keep public participation to the allotted agenda item, follow the guidance given to you by the chair and be respectful of others at all times.
    • Use your full name – when joining a Zoom call the system asks participants to provide a name.  Please use your first name and surname, so it is clear to Clerk who is taking part.
    • Unmute only when needed – we politely ask attendees to mute their lines when not speaking, whilst the Chair has the facility to mute the lines of others we would prefer this to be done on a courtesy and voluntary basis.
    • Arrive on time – the Council meeting will commence at 7.30 and we ask participants to arrive on time.  We may choose to lock the meeting to new participants after 15 minutes if appropriate.
    • Bandwidth management – ideally we would like all participants to keep video switched to on so that we can see and converse with each other in as normal a way as possible.  However you may find that if your internet speeds are severely limited this will disrupt the overall call quality – in which case it is recommended that you use the ‘Stop Video’ function to reduce bandwidth required.
    • Bear with us – conducting Council meetings via video link is new to us, so please bear with us if we encounter any technical or user error issues.
  • Updated Information on Coronavirus – our web page for Coronavirus information has been updated and is where you will now find; local authority helpline information, links to grant applications for Coronavirus response & recovery and a lot more.

We appreciate this is a difficult time for all of us as social distancing is set to continue and cases of Coronavirus continue to rise across the UK.  However as we all know Axbridge is built on its strong community spirit and the care we have for one another, which will carry us through this.  Please continue to observe government and NHS advice, wash hands regularly and stay at home.

Cllr Andy Corp – Website Editor.


The Coronavirus outbreak is clearly having a major impact on residents, businesses and visitors in Axbridge.

During this time the Town Council remains committed to maintaining services and advocacy for townsfolk and have had to adapt our procedures in the following way:

  • Council will not meet at the Town Hall for monthly meetings or in committee until the health guidance permits meetings outside of family groups once more.
  • Instead, the Council will replace monthly meetings, committee meetings and advisory groups with online Council conference calls.  Residents are invited to join public meetings online and a link will be provided on the Council Meetings page  alongside agendas and minutes of meetings.
  • We urge residents to communicate with us through email, post to the Town Clark. We’d love to hear from you and understand what you’d like us to prioritise or raise any concerns you may have.
  • Deliveries of printed Oyez! will cease until it is safe to resume. However, residents should rest assured that if we have news we need to get to all residents, we will resort to print and delivery to ensure that everyone gets the information they need.
  • We will keep residents updated through regular blog posts here. Please do share information with friends and neighbours if you are concerned that they do not have access to the internet.
  • We ask all residents to read, listen to and abide by the guidance provided by the Government, NHS and Public Health England and to maintain social distancing at all times.  More advice can be found on the Coronavirus Information page. We know this is particularly difficult for parents, but it is important for all of us in the community to keep each other safe at this time.  If we identify groups of people who are ignoring the regulations they will be reported to the Police and we encourage other residents to do likewise.

At these challenging times, we wish you all the very best – together we will get through this.

Cllr Andy Corp – Website Editor.