The Hereford Coat of Arms conforms to standard British Heraldic practice in that it consists of four main elements in correct juxta position. The arms central, flanked by supporters, with a crest at the top and a motto at the bottom. Central to the design is a red shield bearing three lions passant guardant. This device was the personal arms of King Richard l, Sovereign of England. He gave this city its first Royal Charter in 1189 and the City of Hereford shares with the City of London, the unique distinction that they are the only two places in the realm allowed to wear a Sovereign’s Coat of Arms within their own.
The entire remainder of the design dates from much later to 1645 at which time England was in a state of civil war. The City of Hereford stood for the King and at the time in question was garrisoned by Royalist troops; the garrison, however, was very small – no more than 150 or 200 men at the most. A large force of Scottish troops – 14,000 men – under the command of Leslie, Earl of Leven, arrived in Hereford. These were mercenary troops fighting for Cromwell. On gaining intelligence as to the size of the garrison within the City, they promptly surrounded it with the intention of capturing it. However, the citizens of Hereford joined with the soldiers and did the duties of soldiers so nobly that they kept the Cromwellian troops at bay for approximately five weeks. There was no penetration of the city defenses at any time by the Scottish troops whose sole achievement was destroying one span of the old bridge over the Wye and dislodging a few stones from the city walls.