An uncle of mine by marriage, who was a very distinguished historian, once asked me, when I was a young man, whether I was interested in Heraldry. I said that I was not. ‘I'm glad of that,” he said, “heraldry strikes me as being for a historian about on the same level of interest as stamp collecting.” – Maurice Keen, in the Preface to Origins of the English Gentleman
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
The tour organizers took us into the Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow, which had a lot of heraldry in various media. I hope to share with you some of the heraldry in the choir stalls, but it may take a little while to get the coats of arms identified; we'll see if my time will allow that in the near future.
But, of course, the Chapel has a display of the Royal Arms, in this instance, carved in stone:
It is a depiction in a modern style (as, indeed, many of the other sculptures and carvings are) of the Royal Arms as used in Scotland, with the collar of the Order of the Thistle (of thistles and rue, get it? "And-rew") with an image of St. Andrew bearing his cross before him pendent from it.
I might wish that the lion supporter looked a little less primitively carved, but all in all there's something about this depiction of the Royal Arms that I really like.
There are times that I just love living in this day and age. Occasionally, I think that living maybe fifty years from now might be even better, but still, what's happening now just amazes me.
In this specific case of "Wow!", I ran across a link on Facebook that led me to a page in England that showed me, among other things, this:
It seems that the Leicester Cathedral has digitized and uploaded the Book of Hours of Richard III (1482-1485). In addition, they have included in this high resolution .pdf file (yes, it's downloadable. Yes, I have a copy of it saved to my computer already, for more detailed review later) a copy of The Hours of Richard III by Anne F. Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs, published in 1990, a scholarly review of this Book of Hours. Key points in the original Book of Hours are linked to the interpretative text, so that the reader can move easily from one to the other.
A quick review of the Book did not show me any heraldry in it at all, but still, what a great thing to run across while cruising about the internet, just sitting here in my home (in one of my heraldic tee shirts - a version of the arms of the United States - and a pair of sweatpants. Or is that too much information?).
Walking around the exterior of one of the buildings at the University of Glasgow, we passed an impressive stairway "guarded" by a pair of the supporters from the Royal Arms as used in Scotland: a unicorn and a lion.
I must say, I wouldn't mind having a pair of heraldic beasts to flank the entrance to my house!
Though I suppose it's like that old saying, "If you have to ask how much it would cost, you can't afford it."
Still, it's nice to dream.
(And you've got to love that face between the lion's paws, don't you?)
The day after the International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Glasgow ended the last of the lecture series, there was a day-long tour of the City of Glasgow and environs. Not surprisingly, given the makeup of the participants, there was much heraldry to be seen.
They started us off at the University of Glasgow, whose arms could be found both carved into the portico of one of the buildings ....
and also applied to the side of one of the University's vans parked nearby.
It is easy to see that the arms are based on those of the City, with the tree, bird, bell, fish, and ring, with the addition of the University's mace as an emblem of its corporate dignity and an open book as an emblem of its mission of learning.
One of the very interesting activities in which we were able to play the part of spectators was a session of the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.
Since it was being held "on the road," as it were, and not in Edinburgh, the City of Glasgow provided the use of the Burgh Court (right behind the City offices). As a courtroom, there was, of course, a carved coat of arms to lend dignity and no little majesty to the court.
Being a city court, the arms are, unsurprisingly, the arms of the City of Glasgow, complete with St. Mungo as the crest, fish supporters, and motto: Let Glasgow Flourish. (Once again, and unlike the usual practice in Scotland, the motto is placed below the shield.)
It's a beautifully carved coat of arms, as I think you will agree!
Leaving the entryway of the Trades Hall in Glasgow and walking just a couple of blocks over to one side of St. George's Square, we find the building that houses the offices of the City of Glasgow and is it's face to the world.
So of course you just know that they're going to have something pretty spectacular to greet people when they enter the building.
This is, of course, a mosaic of the achievement of arms of the City, complete with supporters, crest, and motto. (If you click on the image, you should see the full-size photo, which will let you see a lot more of the detail in it.)
The only real quibbles I have about it is that the more usual practice in Scotland is for the motto to be placed above the crest rather than beneath the shield, and I personally have never really cared for those "gas bracket"-style compartments (which the fish supporters are not really standing on in any case). Still, though, it's an amazing display of heraldry.
Every time I look at this picture, I wonder what it might cost to have someone do something like this for the entryway to my house. I suspect, however, that it's one of those things that: "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." Curses, foiled again!
Still, I can always look at this one and enjoy the fact that someone has an entry this grand!
As I noted in my post of Januarhy 23, inside the front entrance of the Trades Hall in Glasgow is a long row of carved wooden benches.
These oak benches run the full length of the passageway, stretching over ten meters (32 feet). They are believed to have been made by Belgian woodcarvers who were refugees in Glasgow during the First World War. Alexander Walker, a former Deacon of the Cordiners, gifted the benches to the Trades House in 1937.
In addition to the carved armrests, you can see that the backs are also carved, having coats of arms in relief. From the left (the far end) to the right (nearest the entrance), these arms are as follows. (You should be able to click on each image to see the full size one. I recommend doing that to get the full effect of all the detail of these armorial carvings.)
L-R: The Coopers, Fleshers, Masons, Gardeners, Barbers, and (Bonnetmakers and) Dyers.
The Weavers, Bakers, Skinners, and Wrights.
The Hammermen, Tailors, Cordiners, and Maltmen.
The Merchants House, the Trades House, the Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow, the Physicians, the University of Glasgow, and the Clyde Trust.
Bruges (Belgium), Mons (Belgium), Kirkaldy, and Liege (Belgium).
Glasgow, Edinburgh, Scotland (the Royal Arms), Belgium, Brussels, and Antwerp.
And finally, Namur, Hasselt, Ghent, and Arlon.
You can find additional pictures of these benches and the arms carved into them, taken by a professional photographer with better lighting that shows the carvings more clearly than my poor efforts here, on-line at http://www.tradeshousemuseum.org/oak-benches.html
All in all, it's an amazing collection of hand-carved heraldry, a tribute to the craftsmen of Glasgow by other craftsmen fleeing the horrors of war.
The dome, the chair, and the stained glass window were not the only displays of trades/guild heraldry in the Trades Hall in Glasgow. The following are some of the depictions of the arms of the guilds that can be found in the various rooms there.
Each one has the trade named in the scroll above the shield, and the motto of that trade in the scroll beneath the shield.
(I apologize that a couple of the pictures are slightly out of focus. I was shooting indoors without a flash, and the auto-focus didn't always quite catch the image as sharply as it is supposed to. Still, I'm happy that so many did turn out so well.)