Monday, December 8, 2014

Lunch With Heraldry (or Vice Versa)

While wandering about Westminster in London, we found ourselves feeling a “might peckish” around lunchtime, and were looking for a place to eat when we ran across the following:

Did we have lunch there?  Well, of course we did!  I mean, what heraldry enthusiast could possibly resist?  Certainly not me!  (For the record, it was a pretty decent lunch, too.)

Burke’s General Armory gives us two entries with this coat of arms on it:

Grafton (Shrewsbury, Little Missenden, co. Bucks, co. Chester, and London), Per saltire sable and ermine a lion rampant or.

Grafton (Grafton Flyford, co. Worcester and co. Stafford; Richard Grafton, of Grafton Flyford, “had many possessions in the cos. of Worcester, Stafford, and Salop.”  Robert Grafton, grandson of the above, was “Bayley of ye Citty of Worcester,” temp. Edward IV.)   Per saltire sable and ermine a lion rampant or, armed and langued gules.

I assume that it is the first, with the connection with London, which is the source of the Grafton Arms’ sign with the arms of Grafton.


  1. I have located the exact source of this design: the bucket shops strike again. The style of the mantling's tassels and the replacement of the motto with the "family name" (as well as the font) are dead giveaways, and it took me two minutes to find the particular iteration. The design as a whole may have been painted by a professional, and looks a bit less cartoonish than in the web original, but the lion also looks rather red instead of gold.

    It is the same, all-too-familiar pattern as countless pages of "The ancient arms of [surname]", which purport to assign each family a history and a "family crest". Although I haven't encountered any such arms in real life (living in Greece), I keep stumbling on them on-line, but it's a phenomenon that pre-dates the Internet; bucket shops have been preying for many years on the pretensions or innocent interest of people with little heraldic knowledge (the vast majority). They make their money perpetuating the myth of the "family arms" which anyone with a name can use, and spreading heraldic misinformation. I like seeing heraldry used in the modern age, but not like this.

    At least the publican does not appear to be using a living person's arms, which may be the most responsible thing one can credit the shop with...

  2. Now that I'm calmer, I note that the image I've linked to shows per saltire ermine and sable rather than the reverse. The two blazons you mention, Mr Appleton, are almost identical; could it be that one has the black per pale and the other per fess?

  3. While, as in any other general work on heraldry like Burke's, it is possible, but I do not think it is likely in this instance. I think it most likely that this is either two branches of the same family, or people who thought they were, using the same coat of arms. The only difference between the two blazons in Burke is the arming and languing, which is in the expected default (red) here and therefore often not blazoned at all, and which would be considered to be insufficient by itself to differentiate branches of a family.

  4. It is strange, isn't it, that the difference between the blazons is no difference at all. But control over heraldry wasn't always as strict, so all kinds of strange grants can be found.