You may (or may not) have noticed that the area around Limpsfield has a recurring motif – the grasshopper. This chirpy little critter has given its name to The Grasshopper Inn and Grasshopper on the Green in Westerham and to the local youth team of the Limpsfield and Oxted Cricket Club. It also features as the emblem of Titsey Manor (The Titsey Crest), Botley Hill Farmhouse, The Limpsfield Chart Golf Club and the Limpsfield Decorative Fine Arts Society!
So what’s the significance of the grasshopper?
As the Limpsfield Decorative Fine Arts Society (LDFAS) explains, “The grasshopper or “Gresham Grasshopper” as it’s known, is featured on the coat of arms of Sir John Gresham, who owned Titsey Place (and most of Limpsfield!) from 1534. It appears on a number of institutions associated with the Gresham family, including Gresham School, Gresham College and the golden weather vane at The Royal Exchange.”
Sir Thomas Gresham, the nephew of Sir John Gresham was a Tudor financier and royal agent, who founded the Royal Exchange and later became Sheriff of London.
His business office was 68 Lombard Street, where, even today, hangs a metre-long golden grasshopper. That site subsequently became Martin’s Bank and they used the grasshopper as their sign until the bank was taken over by Barclays in 1969. Sir Thomas is buried in St Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate, but the Gresham family legacy lives on in Limpsfield, Westerham and Titsey.
Why did the Greshams choose the grasshopper?
Legend has it that the founder of the family, Roger de Gresham was found in long grass in Norfolk by a woman who heard the noise of a grasshopper. The more likely explanation though is that it is a heraldic representation of the Gresham name as ‘gres’ is the middle English form of grass.