Wycombe Wanderers Football Club, originally called North Town Wanderers, was founded around 1884 by a group of young furniture trade workers, who called a meeting at the Steam Engine public house to form a football club and enter junior football. The suffix Wanderers was adopted in honour of the famous FA Cup winners, The Wanderers, who had visited the town in 1877 for a tie with the original High Wycombe club.
Wycombe Wanderers attained senior status ten years after their foundation. After short spells at various venues, like The Rye, Spring Meadow and Daws Hill Park, the club finally settled at Loakes Park in 1895. After Loakes Park had been sold to developers Adams Park, named after patron Frank Adams, hosted its first game in 1990.
Wycombe Wanderers have played in their Oxford and Cambridge blue quartered shirts from the beginning, with short intervals at the turn of 20th century, the early Thirties and in the 1960’s which saw light blue shirts and dark blue shorts. They have the nickname Chairboys because of High Wycombe’s tradition of furniture making.
The Swan has played a significant role in the history of the county of Buckinghamshire, so it therefore comes as no surprise that a swan with a silver chain round its neck is depicted in the crest of Wycombe Wanderers and appeared on shirts as early as the 1898-99 season. It has probably been associated with High Wycombe and the county and the ancient borough towns of the county since the time of Humphrey, 6th Earl of Stafford. He became the first Duke of Buckingham in 1444 and bore the Swan as his personal badge or crest. The association of a Swan with the county of Buckinghamshire had probably become well established by the time of his death in 1460.
Great, but why a swan? The story goes back further than this and is ultimately lost in the mists of antiquity. The family of Humphrey had inherited the Swan badge from one of the three daughters of another Humphrey, the son of Thomas of Woodstock. This Thomas was the youngest son of Edward III and he in turn had inherited the Swan badge from the family of his wife, Alianora de Bohun, one of two daughters who in 1372 had been the only children of the last male member of the Bohun family.
Are you still with me? Good. We’re almost there. There’s still the chain to be explained. The de Bohuns used the badge because they claimed descent from the mythical “Knight of the Swan” who figures in French Medieval romance. This bloke was the son of a king called Oryant, who had seven children, each with a silver chain round its neck. Each child turned into a swan with one exception, Helyas, the Knight of the Swan.
But hang on. The de Bohun’s ancestors in turn had inherited the Swan from the Mandeville family in 1277. The Mandevilles had inherited the badge in 1210 from the descendants of the family of Henry of Essex, a late 12th century Sheriff of Buckingham. To complete the story, Henry inherited the Swan from an ancestor with the Danish name of Sweyn. The word “swan” would be what is called a rebus. A pun on the words Sweyn and Swan. Punning on names in this fashion was common in an age when people could not read or write.
Until recently the chained swan was depicted upon a traditional shield with the “WWFC” scroll below. Before that, already in the 1890’s, it adorned the shirts without the inscription. Today, the shield has been replaced by a roundel, incorporating the light and dark blue colours. WWFC were advised was that because the club had always used the Bucks swan in its logo it would need to be registered with a “device” such as the scroll or as now a roundel device with the separately traded mark name of “Wycombe Wanderers” contained therein.
The professional advice of a European Patent Attorney was spot on and all the registrations sailed through. The reason Wycombe Wanderers registered its trade marks was as a relatively “new” professional club (having had amateur status 1884-1993) it was keen to learn from the mistakes of other English professional football Clubs who had not registered their intellectual property rights and opened the door to rogue traders etc.
By adopting a new more modern crest, still incorporating the history of the club by not changing the design of the Buckinghamshire Swan, it allowed for a whole new range of branded and fashionable merchandise to be produced. Speaking of fashion. The next time you buy a replica shirt of Wycombe Wanderers, please make sure to ask: “Tell me, why is there a swan in the crest?”………