The University's coat of arms
The arms of the University of Reading were granted on 7 August 1896 when the newly incorporated University Extension College at Reading was still part of Oxford University. This was thirty years before it was granted a Royal charter and became a university in its own right.
On the lower portion of the shield is the Lancaster Rose that forms part of the arms of the Royal County of Berkshire. This is set on an engrailed cross (indented along the edge with small curves) derived from the arms of Christ Church Oxford, to whose initiative the Extension College owed its foundation. The arms of Christ Church were those of Cardinal Wolsey who in 1525 founded Cardinal College, later renamed as Christ Church by Henry VIII in 1546.
The three scallop shells on the upper part of the shield had been the arms of Reading Abbey founded in 1121 and their presence serves as a reminder that the first college was once part of the Abbey.
It is also possible that the scallop shells, a symbol of a pilgrim or 'palmer' might allude to the arms of the local family, the Palmers. Walter Palmer, son of the co-founder of the Huntley and Palmers biscuit firm that came to Reading in the 1840s, was the first President of Reading University Extension College and the family has been and remain benefactors of the University today.