Thursday, February 22, 2018

What Is This Ship's Badge Doing Here?

There was one final ship's badge that I saw at the Bute Museum, but though I keep asking myself the question in the title of this post, I have not yet come up with an answer.

The reason for the inquiry is this:

Yes, it is, indeed, the badge of the second of the two Bismark-class German battleships of World War II, the Tirpitz. (You can see the badge right near the point of her bow in this photograph taken at the launch of her hull.)

Launched in 1939, her primary role in WWII ended up just being a threat from her station in Norway, tying up a portion of the Royal Navy in case she ever broke out into the North Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. After suffering some comparatively slight damage in several attacks by aircraft and miniature submarines, on November 12, 1944 an attack by RAF Lancaster bombers carrying 12,000 pound "Tallboy" bombs scored two direct hits and a near miss which caused her to capsize and sink. From 1948 through 1957 the ship was cut up into pieces in a joint German-Norwegian company salvage operation.

All that said, what is this ship's badge doing in a museum on the Isle of Bute, Scotland? Were one (or more) of the Royal Navy and/or Royal Air Force attacks on the Tirpitz launched from Rothesay? Is it a souvenir from a sailor? Is there some other reason?

I have no idea. But it was a bit startling to run across this ship's badge there, which of course only made it the more memorable for being totally unexpected.

Monday, February 19, 2018

I'd Live Here!

Well, I'd live here if I could afford it! It is, alas, priced more than a little outside my max budget.

Still, if it were close, it would be well worth it.

What is "it," you ask? Well, "it" is the Reeves building, a Grade II listed timber frame home which is one of the oldest buildings in Wymondham, Norfolk.

And during the course of recent renovations, they found 41 (count 'em, 41) historic Tudor-era heraldic shields painted on the interior walls.

And this building is now fully renovated and is coming up for sale with an asking price of a mere £450,000. Of course, if you (or I, should I suddenly come into a small fortune between now and next month) purchase the property, you will not be able to remove or cover up the coats of arms, which have been placed behind glass to preserve and protect them.

Not that that restriction would be considered a hardship by me or any of my many heraldist friends!

Anyway, there's an article on-line with more photographs of the building and its surrounding development, a note that the oldest parts were "a 14th-century timber-framed house of high status," and a possible link to John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and his first wife, Dorothy, between 1536 and 1548.

You can read all that, and more (including a link to the sales agent, TW Gaze, should you decide that you really need to buy this house), on the website of the Eastern Daily Press at

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ships' Badges at the Bute Museum

Further adorning one of the walls at the Bute Museum in Rothesay were a number of Royal Navy ships' badges:

HMS Adamant (A164) was a submarine tender launched in 1940 and broken up in 1970. In October 1954 she was commissioned as a depot ship to the 3rd Submarine Squadron at Rothesay, where she was based until October 1957. Her badge is a sword of five tongues of flame. The plaque notes that it was "Presented to the Royal Burgh of Rothesay by the [I can't quite make out this word; it might be Third] Submarine Squadron."

HMS Forth (FO4, later A187) was a submarine depot ship launched in 1938. She was renamed HMS Defiance between 1972 and 1978, and was sold for scrapping in 1985. She served at Holy Loch on the River Clyde (Argyll and Bute) for a period during WWII. Her badge is of the famous bridge over the Firth of Forth.

HMS Cyclops (F31) was repair ship, launched in 1905 as the merchant ship Indrabarah. She was used as a fleet storage ship and then as a submarine depot ship for the Royal Navy's 7th Submarine Flotilla based at Rothesay. (I think I'm beginning to see a pattern in the service of the ships whose badges are in this museum, as well as what their connection to Rothesay might be! How about you?) HMS Cyclops was scrapped in 1947. Her badge is appropriate to her name, a single eye (it's either "enflamed gules" or "on a sun gules") of the one-eyed giant from The Odyssey.

HMS Montclare (F85) was originally a passenger ship built in 1922 on Clydebank (on the north shore of the River Clyde) for the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company of Montreal. In 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser, and sold to the Admiralty in 1942 and converted to a Destroyer Depot Ship, sailing from the Clyde in early 1945 for Sidney, Australia, and the Pacific. Decommissioned in 1954, she was sold for scrapping in 1958. Her badge clearly emphasizes her Canadian heritage, A fountain proper (symbolizing the waves of the sea, or perhaps the River Clyde) charged with on a roundel per fess argent and gules a pale counterchanged a maple leaf vert.

What a great heritage of naval history and heraldry, all on the walls of a little museum on the Isle of Bute.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Naval Badge at the Bute Museum

The Bute Museum, just behind and across the street from Rothesay Castle, is a great little place to visit, with a very eclectic collection, including (as we have already shared) a fair bit of heraldry.

Among this heraldry are a number of ships' badges (more on the others next time), at least one of which was mounted on a plaque with even more information about what it represented:

The inscription reads:

Presented to the citizens of Rothesay
on the occasion of the closure of
the Submarine Attack Teacher, Bute,
to commemorate the long association
of the Burgh with the Submarine
Command and to mark the strong
link which has been forged between
us over so many years.
November 1975

The Submarine Attack Teacher was an elaborate training device at Port Bannatyne, a suburb of Rothesay, was a part of the Royal Navy's submarine commanding officers' course.

I'm not sure where the "Rat" comes from; I can find no ship (or submarine) in the Royal Navy by that name. It may be an acronym, but it's one letter off for Submarine Attack Teacher (which would be SAT).

Still, it's clearly "Rat", as the badge shows (in part) a rat wearing academic dress (cap and gown), so there you go.

What a neat (and heraldic) way to commemorate the long relationship between the Royal Burgh of Rothesay and the Royal Navy.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

More Royal Burgh Heraldry

Incorporating elements from the arms of the Royal Burgh of Rothesay, we ran across the following three items, two inside and one outside of the Bute Museum.

First was a carved heraldic plaque from HMS Rothesay (F107), launched 1957, decommissioned and scrapped 1988. This ship's badge contains the castle, crescent, and mullet (as opposed the "estoile of five rays") from the arms of the Burgh. HMS Rothesay was the lead ship and namesake of the Type 12M class of anti-submarine frigates.

This second ship's badge presumably came from an earlier HMS Rothesay (J19), a Bangor-class minesweeper, launched 1941, decommissioned and broken up 1950.

The other heraldic item was a decorated lamppost, bearing the castle and lymphad from the arms of the Burgh on it.

It is always a pleasure to see something as utilitarian as lamppost spruced up with some of the local heraldry. It turns such things into more of a work of art.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Burgh Arms

In my post of January 25, I promised that I would share more depictions of the arms of the Royal Burgh of Rothesay that we saw in the Bute Museum (right across the street from Rothesay Castle). Here they are: stamped into leather; carved in wood; painted on fabric, on panel, and on glass; and even displayed on a grant of arms from Lord Lyon King of Arms to the Bute Community Council.

Personally, I'd simplify the blazon of the arms a bit from that given by Lyon Blair (you can read his blazon by clicking on the picture here of the grant), making it: Per pale: Argent a castle sable between a crescent, an estoile of five rays tenné, and a lymphad sails furled sable flagged gules; and Or a fess checky argent and azure. (I tend not to blazon the specific placement of three charges around a central charge, as the default placement for them would generally be one in dexter chief, one in sinister chief, and one in base, sometimes blazoned as two and one if all three charges are the same.)

 But all this is what I would certainly call "a display of heraldry!"

Thursday, February 1, 2018

New and Used Heraldry Books

I try to generally keep away from advertising myself too much on this blog, but periodically I feel it incumbent on me to mention to those who may not know it that I actually do sell some new and remaindered/lightly used heraldry books on my website.

I've even tried to make it easy: check the left-hand column of this blog, and you'll see a section entitled "Buy My Books," with separate links to "My Books" and "Used/Remaindered Books."

Feel free to drop by those pages any time to see what we have on offer.

Or do it now by clicking on these links:

For new books:

For used/remaindered books:

We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog posts.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Ancient and New Royal Heraldry at Rothesay Castle

In addition to the explanatory signs at Rothesay Castle with their display of heraldry, there were also a couple of Royal coats of arms which had been incorporated into the fabric of the building itself.

The older of the two is a very weather-worn carving of the Royal Arms of Scotland.

Indeed, it is so very weather-worn that it is very difficult to make out most of the elements. The real clues to its identification are the unicorn supporters on each side of the shield and the crown above it.

The other Royal heraldry was a lot easier to make out.

It is, of course, the arms for use in Scotland of His Royal Highness, Charles, the Prince of Wales and Duke of Rothesay, consisting of the Royal Arms of Scotland with a label (as the heir of the Sovereign): Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory gules, in chief a label of three tags azure for difference.

It was a wonderful display of the continuity of arms over the centuries in a single historic site.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Royal and Burgh Arms at Rothesay Castle

The final day of our heraldic tour of western and central Scotland took us to the Isle of Bute, where our first stop was the (remains of) Rothesay Castle.

As you can see from the picture above, it isn't quite the edifice that it once was, and the seagulls of Scotland seem to have no more regard for castles than do the pigeons of, say, New York City or Florence, Italy, for the statuary in those metropolises.

Still, at one time it was a major fortress, and a key in the defense of western Scotland. And, of course, there was some heraldry.

The first that we saw was on an explanatory sign which touched on the history of the castle, and had a depiction of the Royal Arms of Scotland.

It's an unusual depiction of the arms, as the unicorn supporters have been reduced to but one, and that one lying underneath the arms, while instead of mantling there are two Scottish thistles issuing from the upper corners of the shield. An uncommon depiction, then, but with a bit of whimsy to it which I found refreshing.

The other explanatory sign had a discussion about the city which grew up around it the castle, the Royal Burgh of Rothesay, with another depiction of the Royal Arms of Scotland and of the Burgh.

The Royal Arms are on the left, and the arms of the Royal Burgh are on the right. (We will see more of these arms soon, in some of my pictures from the Bute Museum, directly across the street from the Castle.)

I am always somewhat gratified to see the use of heraldry on signs which are erected to give some context to visitors to a site, especially as most tourists have little knowledge of (or, to be honest, much interest in, our busload of heraldists notwithstanding) the heraldry related to that site.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Final Coat of Arms Near Linlithgow Palace

Walking back down the street from Linlithgow Palace to return to our tour bus, I ran across (and thus simply had to photograph) the following coat of arms:

Carved with a date of 1675 and surmounted by a thistle, it appears to be a piece that was rescued from an older building and incorporated into the wall of a new building, probably the one that replaced the older one.

The arms appear to be those of Crawford, Dean of Guild in Linlithgow, as cited in An Ordinary of Scottish Arms from Original Pre-1672 Manuscripts. Crawford is blazoned as Gules a fess ermine between two mullets argent in chief and in base a stag's head cabossed or antlered sable. The arms are cited as 1672.

Not only is this a really nice display of heraldry, but I think it's great to see an historical artifact of this type rescued from demolition and recycled into the fabric of new construction as a way of retaining the history of a building or place when making repairs or replacements. Don't you agree?