AN ancient shield representing the county had an impromptu re-design this week, after a painter’s mistake.

The new town sign installed at a cost of more than £1,550 by Epping Town Council at first showed the three swords on the Essex coat of arms with a semi circle cut out of the top, rather than on the underside, as they appear on the county’s shield.

When the Guardian called the town council about the mistake, clerk Bob Whittome, who was responsible for installing it, said: “I hadn’t noticed.

“I suspect it’s a mistake on the part of the artist. We can get it remedied.”

Fiddlers Hamlet-based artist Jon Gregg, 45, who painted the sign for the council, said: “I’m sure I have seen it both ways, but I sorted it out so the nicks were at the bottom.

“It’s basically an oil painting. I think it was good of the council to go for a sign done in the traditional way, rather than a plastic mould.”

The swords shown on the shield represent seaxe knives, which were carried by the Anglo Saxons more than 1,000 years ago.

They are shown on the county emblem as curved swords, but Mr Gregg’s design is more angular.

Charles Geddes of the Epping Society said: “The sign needs some slight alterations if it’s going to conform, because it’s based on the Essex and City of London arms.

“I do quite appreciate the active depiction of the stag. Before, it was just standing there and now it’s in the air a little.”

Richard Morris, a verderer for Epping Forest and a member of the Loughton Historical Society, said: “Seaxe knives in fact come in several shapes and sizes, and I therefore think the new sign could be considered representative.

“But if the intention is to show the link with Essex by reproducing their shield, ie three Saxon seaxes on a red background, then the town council should have use the same design as approved by the College of Arms for Essex County Council.”

But even after the alteration, he noticed that the sword of St Paul on the City of London shield, which makes up part of the sign, is on the wrong side of the cross of St George and pointing the wrong way.

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