Thursday, January 31, 2013

Heraldry in Frankfurt, Germany

After the Congress in Maastricht had finished up, Jo Ann and I hopped the train for Heidelberg, Germany.  (My great-grandfather was born there, and I'd had a genealogist trace the family as far back as possible there, and we were going to see what we could find that related to these ancestors.  But more on that later.)  We had to change trains in the Frankfurt main train station, and I had a little time to look around and see what heraldry was available there.  Not surprisingly, there were a few really great coats of arms there.

First and foremost was this deeply carved eagle (on a stone above it were the dates 1883 - 87; I'm assuming these are the dates of the construction of the station).  I'm pretty sure it's the arms of the city of Frankfurt, though the arms I've seen for the city do not have the scepter and orb.  See, for example, this depiction from the Heraldry of the World website.

Over a couple of other of the massive doorways in the station were these two coats of arms.

Based on the mural crowns surmounting each coat, these are clearly civic arms of some sort.  But just try looking up "a lion rampant" or "a bend" (possibly gules, if the hatching is correct), and you get more entries than I have the time or patience to sort through.  (The lion is not Heidelberg, whose arms have the lion crowned and atop a trimount, neither of which appear in the coat here.)  Possibilities include Brauschweig (Brunswick) for the lion and Strasbourg for the bend (again, assuming it is red), but I feel certain there are other, possibly even more likely, candidates.

I also find myself very impressed by the the carving of the laurel/oak wreaths surrounding the bases of the shields.  (As I am with all of the carving, really.  It was all very impressive.)

(Oh, yeah, and the little spiky things you can see on the ledge below the shield with the bend and atop the crown above the shield with the eagle?  Just a little something to keep the pigeons from alighting there and doing what pigeons all over the world do: crapping on the art.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Heraldry in the Blogosphere

Puttering about on the internet as I do sometimes, I occasionally run across a blog post in one place or another that relates to heraldry.  And just such a serendipitous find occurred today, when I ran across an old (April 2010, so nearly three years old now) post at Gordon Napier History on the coats of arms of the Grand Masters of the Knights Templar.

Yes, I believe that some of these arms may be somewhat speculative, and the history of the order is not without its own controversies.  Still, the author of the post included a bit of history of the order, a listing of its grand masters and some of their duties, and a nice graphic of their coats of arms, which I thought worth sharing with you.

The post, "Grand Masters of the Knights Templar," can be found on-line at:

Some Real, Not Reel, Heraldry

Well, this was fun!  For those of us here in the States, the third season of the British series Downton Abbey has finally begun to air here.  And as part of the run-up to the broadcast of the first episode of this season (which has already ended its run in Britain, I believe), the Public Broadcasting Service aired a BBC special about the real-life home which plays the role of Downton Abbey, entitled Secrets of Highclere Castle.  While I was able to watch the special when it aired, I was not, alas, able to get any screen shots of some of the heraldry to be found in this home to George Herbert, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, and his wife Fiona Herbert, the Countess of Carnarvon.  (For those of you who think that you might recognize the name, yes, the current Earl's great-grandfather was the Lord Carnarvon, the 5th Earl, who financed Howard Carter and the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen early in the last century.)  Fortunately for me, and thus for you, PBS uploaded the entire episode so that it could be viewed from the internet, and I managed to grab the following screen shots for this post here, which I have mentally subtitled "Some of the Heraldry of Highclere Castle."

The arms of the Herberts, Earls of Carnarvon, are blazoned as Per pale Azure and Gules three lions rampant Argent (sometimes, armed and langued Or).  The crest is A wyvern, wings elevated Vert, holding in the mouth a sinister hand couped at the wrist Gules.  The supporters are:  Dexter: A panther guardant Argent semy of torteaux and hurts, flames issuant from the mouth and ears Proper.  Sinister: A lion Argent.  Each supporter ducally gorged per pale Azure and Gules and chained Or, and charged on the shoulder with an ermine spot Sable.  The family's motto is: Ung je servirai (I will serve one).

And here is a nicely carved wooden image of the arms, properly hatched, surmounted by the coronet of an earl:

Next are three shots from different viewpoints of the main hall in the castle, a three-story atrium with a minstrels gallery decorated with coats of arms from the current and former residents.

And here are close ups of three of the coats of arms from the gallery.

This first one is, of course, arms of Herbert, Per pale Azure and Gules three lions rampant Argent.

This second one is Azure a fess compony Or and Sable between three seapies Argent (Sawyer, co. Cambridge or Causton, co. Norfolk) marshalled with Sable a fess nebuly Argent goutty de sang between three elephant’s heads Or (Suckling, London).  (The identifications are from Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials.) Nothing I could find in my copy of Burke's Peerage (I have the 1938 edition) gave me any clue as to what relationship any of these families may have had with the Herberts.

The third one is Herbert marshalled with Or a pheon Sable (Sharpe or Sidney/Sydney, according to Papworth).

Another really nice bit of heraldic decoration in the castle were a couple of embroidered firescreens.

Unfortunately, while the Herbert arms can be made out on the dexter (to the left as you look at them) side of the firescreens, neither of the images I was able to capture is clear enough to be able to adequately identify the arms on the sinister side (to the right).

In this (short) look at some of the heraldry of Highclere Castle, I did save what I consider to be the best for last.  This is the achievement of arms over the main entrance to the castle itself, with the arms surmounted by the coronet of an Earl, the supporters on either side, and the motto below.  It also looks to me like there is a circular recess above that coronet that may once have held the crest.

The arms are Herbert marshalled with Molyneux Howard: Quarterly, 1 and 4, Azure a cross moline quarter-pierced Or, 2 and 3, Gules on a bend between six crosses crosslet fitchy Argent an escutcheon Or charged with a demi-lion rampant pierced through the mouth by an arrow within a double tressure flory counter-flory Gules.

Henry John George Herbert, 3rd Earl of Carnarvon, married 1830 Henrietta Anna, eldest daughter of Lord Henry Thomas Molyneux Howard and niece of Bernard Edward Howard, 12th Duke of Norfolk.

All in all, an impressive display of several hundred years' worth of the heraldry of a family!  If you wish to see the special itself, I found it on-line at

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Heraldry in the News!

There was a nice little article last month (December 25, 2012) about Sir William Strickland, the man who is believed to have introduced that New World bird, the turkey, into England, which included a photograph of the lectern in the village church where he is buried which bears his coat of arms and a carved representation of his crest, which was (wait for it!) ... a turkey.

And here are more images of his arms (and crest) found on the internet.

The full article can be found on-line at:  But don't you just love that lectern?

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Castle With Heraldry

Another place we visited and got to spend some good time wandering through was the Kasteel Hoensbroek near Hoensbroek, a town in the municipality of Heerlen, The Netherlands.

It's a bit of a tourist trap now, as you can see from the banners flying outside the castle.  And though the oldest parts of the buildings date to about 1360 (especially the round tower), a number of major additions were made in the 17th and 18th Centuries, long past the time of the armored knights on horseback shown (with the lion facing to sinister on the shield!) on the banners.

Still, there was some good heraldry to see and photograph there; the following two pictures are the Hoensbroeck family coat of arms (Quarterly, one and four, four bars overall a lion rampant crowned, 2 tow and three, quarterly; marshalled with Quarterly, one and four, a closed barnacle or breys, and two and three, a rabbit rampant) over the main entrance to the castle (with the date 1643) and over another doorway in the courtyard (with the date 1640).

The castle was sold in 1927 to the present owner, the foundation Ave Rex Christe.  The foundation's logo-style "arms" appear in this achievement, along with a shield of the unquartered Hoensbroek arms and another shield with crossed battleaxes, and with dates indicating the year of purchase (1927) and the date of another major restoration effort (1988).

Finally, one of the nicest artifacts (heraldically speaking, of course!) they had on display in the castle was this old seal matrix on a red velvet pillow in a glass case, along with a seal impression (in something white; perhaps plaster?) next to it so you could see what it would look like.  It bore, of course, the unquartered Hoensbroek arms, blazoned in Rietstap's Armorial Général as: D'arg. à quatre fasces de gu. (Haren); au lion de sa., arm., lamp. et cour. d'or br. sur le tout (Howen van den Broeck).  [Argent, four bars Gules (for Haren); overall a lion rampant Sable, armed, langued and crowned Or (for Hoen van den Broek.]

Interestingly enough, the coat of arms of the town of Hoensbroek is a blue shield charged with a gold angel who is holding the family arms of Hoensbroek.  (Image from Wikipedia.)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Unexpected Heraldry in Aachen, Germany

On Wednesday, September 26, 2012, those attendees of the International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences (attendance at which is the reason we were in Maastricht then) who desired had the opportunity to take a day trip to Aachen, Germany and a couple of other places.  I always try to go on one of the offered daytrips at the Congresses; you can see and learn so much.

One of things that I learned on this trip was that there isn't a whole lot of heraldry at the cathedral in Aachen.  There's some, along with a whole lot of really impressive mosaics, and of course, Charlemagne's throne, which looks really uncomfortable to sit on.  (They don't let you sit on it to find out for yourself, but its made of stone and all sharp corners internally, so how comfortable do you think that would be to have to sit on?)

I did, however, run across a coat of arms that I had no idea I might see there.  Indeed, I'm still (months later) not sure why it's there.  It was on the facade of a Uhren Schmuck store (they sell watches and jewelry).  Here's the relevant portion of the facade.

Recognize those arms on the right?

Yes, the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in use since the accession of Queen Victoria.  (Except that the unicorn supporter seems to be missing its horn.)  And why are these arms on the front of a store in Aachen, Germany?  I don't have a clue.  Even if Uhren Schmuck were purveyors of watches or jewelry to one of the British royal family, this is not the way that such a status is normally displayed. (The expected version would be a colored rendition of the Royal Arms along with the text "By appointment to," in this case, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.)  Was the store formerly something English and just left up when it changed owners?  Is it just a pretty design that Uhren Schmuck is using there?  Or is there some other reason for it?  I don't know.  But there it was, surprising me on my walk from the tour bus to the cathedral.  Surprise!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Heraldry in Maastricht, Part Twenty (and Finis)

In this, the final, installment of some of the heraldry seen in Maastricht, The Netherlands, we have the heraldry that you are most likely to see when you enter the town and again on your way out when you leave.    I am referring, of course, to the wonderful armorial stained glass windows in the main hall of the local train station there.  (Have I mentioned how much I enjoy traveling by train in Europe?  It's quick, it's economical, and it will take you just about anywhere you want to go, comfortably and with reasonable efficiency.  I really wish we could convince some of our bureaucrats here in the States to develop a similar system, but I fear that will never be.  But I digress.)

So, right!  Maastricht train station.  Armorial stained glass panels.  With the arms of the City of Maastricht, several regional entities, and a few personal coats of arms.  (I've identified most of the regional arms already, as they appear in the armorial panels on the GE Artesia Bank building in Maastricht which I shared with you earlier here:  The entire set was too large to get into a single photograph, so I've had to put them here in sections, basically in order from left to right; you'll be able to notice where a couple of the photos overlap.

All in all, though, it's a very impressive display, both of civic pride and of heraldry.  So without further ado, here's what we saw on our way out of the city.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Heraldry in Maastricht, Part Nineteen

So in this next to last post about the heraldry in Maastricht, I know this should come as no surprise to you, but they seem to drink a lot of beer in the Low Countries.  And, as a consequence, they advertise a lot of beer in the Low Countries.  And, a bunch of this advertising appears on beer coasters.

What follows is a selection of armorial beer coasters I ran across in the many restaurants in Maastricht at which we ate.  (Have I mentioned before that, given the number of restaurants in the city, I think their town motto must be the Latin for "You ain't gonna starve here"?  Or perhaps, "If you starve here, it's your own fault.")

(Hey, I didn't say they were all really good heraldry!)

And finally, the following are both sides of the coasters they used for the Congress reception at the Stadhuis; each side has a depiction of the arms of the city of Maastricht ("gemeente" on the reverse translates literally as "commune," but a more accurate translation into English of "Gemeente Maastricht" would probably be "Community of Maastricht"); the reverse has a relatively minimalist interpretation of the angel supporter holding the arms, while the obverse is a larger version of the shield with the angel's hands holding it.

Whew, I'm parched.  Anyone up for a ... Dr. Pepper?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Heraldry in Maastricht, Part Eighteen

For our antepenultimate heraldic stop in Maastricht, we have the stone memorials lined up the outside of St. Mathias church (just around the corner from the State House and Market Square).  The memorials are within an area that is now a car park that can be closed off at night by the residents there.  I assume that the car park now covers what used to be a graveyard.  (This seems to happen a fair bit in Europe: John Knox is buried in Edinburgh under what is now a car park, and the body of Richard III was recently identified after being found under a car park in England.)

Be that as it may, the church was closed when I was there so I was unable to see inside, but here's a good sampling of the heraldic stones that I found alongside the church while I was there.

As you can see from many of these pictures, they have placed a protective fence in front of the memorials.  That's good for the memorials, but tougher on the photographer trying to get a clean shot of them.

The next two photographs are details of the shields to the left and right (dexter and sinister), respectively, of the shield with the two fish in the center.

The following three photographs are of the helm and crest, coat of arms, and inscription, respectively, of the stone above.

Finally, these last two pictures are of stones set into a brick wall at the back of the car park, and not along the exterior wall of St. Mathias church.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Faux Heraldry in Maastricht

One of the, well, not "pleasures" exactly, of seeking out heraldry when I travel is the imitation or fake heraldry that I run across.  And this even in cities that are chock full of the real thing.  So, that said, you have been warned.  Here are a few of the imitations of heraldry that I ran across during my stay in Maastricht.

The above is the, well, I hesitate to use the term "coat of arms" since heraldically is it a very poor design, so let's just call it the logo of the Onafhankelijk Maastrichts Studenten Genootschap Plutarchus, the  Independent Student Association Maastricht Plutarch.