This endearing little creature is our School griffin, and he comes with quite some history.
A griffin in heraldry means protection and bravery. It has the head, wings and talons of an eagle and the body of a lion. The griffin on Highgate’s coat of arms is adapted from the arms of Sir William Cordell, Speaker of the House of Commons and an earlier benefactor of the School. The shield first appears in the Governors’ minutes of 26 August 1576: ‘Gules a sword in fesse proper between a helmet and a griffin’s head argent’.
Sir William’s support, together with that of Edwin Sandys, the Bishop of London, allowed the School’s original timber buildings to be replaced in 1578 by a brick schoolhouse and a square steeple chapel.
We have named the Griffin after Kyffin, the famous artist Sir Kyffin Williams who taught at Highgate School from 1944-73. Kyffin treasured 250 pictures created by pupils in his home in Pwllfanogl on the shores of the Menai Straits. Although it might look as though the name Kyffin rhymes with Griffin, Kyffin is pronounced ‘kuffin’ and rhymes with puffin!