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The College Crest and Motto

The College Crest and Motto

The College Crest

The open book is taken from the arms of the University of Oxford, and is both a symbol of learning and of the Bible. The crossed keys are symbols of St. Peter – in full the College’s name is the College of St. Peter at Radley.


The College Motto

The college motto is a reference to an instruction that Jesus gave to his disciples when he sent them out into the world. In Matthew 10:16, he says (KJV translation):

be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

It is a reminder to us of the purpose of a Radley education: to prepare young men to go into the world ready to make a difference and to do so in a way that reflects the Christian qualities and values upon which the college is based.  

William Sewell and Robert Singleton wished to see Radleians develop these qualities during their time here in preparation for the world that awaited them. In many ways that world has changed out of all recognition since their day but, properly understood, the fundamental values of the college motto remain deeply relevant and will serve Radleians well both at the college and beyond it.  

The motto encourages us to develop a character and a purpose that embraces the very best of two principles. We must be ‘wise’: prepared to make the best of ourselves and to embrace the challenges of the world around us. We must be ‘harmless’: not a passive thing but rather always actively thinking of others and seeking to do good.  

It is these qualities - humility, kindness, ambition and courage - that define a Radleian throughout their life.