Emblematically Speaking - Eccleshall
Tue 13th March 2018 | Eccleshall | By Stewart Taylor
Here we have a representation of an eagle and the name of a football club within a fairly conventional shield.
Nothing much to say about this one we may think but some extensive research has revealed a fascinating tale of local history.
Jim Tunney, Secretary of Eccleshall FC, takes up the story.
“When it was announced that this season the League website would feature a series of articles looking into the emblems of member clubs and their origins, initial enquiries among club members revealed that no-one seemed to have an idea of where the ‘Eagles’ emblem and nickname came from!
"Accordingly, greater research was required to determine the ‘eagle link’ with both the club and the town itself. I’m grateful to Chris Marshall, Chairman of Eccleshall Cricket Club, Lester Stuart of the Eccleshall Historical Society and the potted history of Eccleshall from the 2011 Eccleshall Guide for the information.
“The Eccleshall Guide information suggests that Eccleshall and its surrounding area was mainly forested in Anglo Saxon times, though the name of ‘Ecles-halh’ (meadow by the church) indicates that there was already a church from Romanic, pre Anglo Saxon times.
"However, detail from the Eccleshall Historical Society suggests that during the 1800’s the name was said to come from the Saxon Eccle Shelle, supposedly meaning ‘church by the water’.
"This was then corrected by language scholars and the current accepted origin is from the Saxon Eccles and Helle – ‘church in a hollow’.”
“Whatever the real origin of the town name, the ‘eagle link’ to our club badge appears to be far more clear cut, based on information from Eccleshall Historical Society. Chris Marshall pointed out that all the sports clubs feature an eagle in their emblem – indeed, this is true of the cricket club, rugby club and ourselves.
"The junior football club is also known as Eccleshall Eagles Junior Football Club and play at Eagles Park. Chris also pointed out that Eagle House was the farmhouse for Eagle Farm, there is ‘The Eagle’ pub in the town and, for many years, a golden eagle statue stood on the top of the old market hall (which is now a wine shop on the High Street).
"Chris also said that it was once thought that the town name came from Eagles Hall – there may once have been an Eagles Hall in Eccleshall but the heritage is uncertain. I’m also given to understand from our chairman that a new housing development will have an eagle statue near to it.”
“Based on information from Lester Stuart, the Romans are responsible for our team name. The Eccleshall eagle is believed to come from the Roman emperor Vespasian setting up camp on a mound believed to be the site of Eccleshall Castle, an event that is referenced by Roman Diarist, Tacitus – the eagle being the emblem of the Roman Empire. This was in AD 60 when Vespasian was en-route from Chester to the south to deal with Boudica (Pershall Park is on Chester Road).
"Stuart also refers to the early 1800’s when it was thought that the name Eccleshall derived from Eagle’s Hall again due to the Roman Eagle. He then refers to the Saxon link as outlined above.”
“After 32 years with the club, and with no knowledge as to the origin of our nickname, it has been interesting to delve a little deeper and actually find out!”
And there we have it, quite a story and, as a result of this research, the club has something significant to add to its history to the benefit of future generations and, of course, to have the immediate answer should someone come along in the years to come with any questions about the origin of the emblem.
We are indebted to Chris Marshall, Lester Stuart and Jim Tunney for their invaluable contribution to this article.