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 Introduction 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.
Continuing our heraldic tour of the Bute Museum in the Royal Burgh of Rothesay, we found this nice heraldic display of the full achievement of arms of John Crichton-Stuart, the 5th Marquess of Bute.
John Crichton-Stuart (1907-1956), 5th Marquess of Bute, was the son of John Crichton-Stuart, the 4th Marquess, and Augusta Bellingham. On his father's side, the 5th Marquess was a direct male-line descendant of Robert II of Scotland through John Stewart, his illegitimate son by Moira Leitch. On his mother's side, the 5th Marquess was a descendant of William IV of the United Kingdom through Elizabeth Hay, Countess of Erroll, one of his illegitimate daughters by his mistress, Dorothea Jordan.
The Marquess was an expert ornithologist; in 1931 he bought the islands of St. Kilda to preserve them as a bird sanctuary, leaving them to the National Trust for Scotland in 1956.
The family is an old and noble one, taking up five full pages in my 1938 copy of Burke's Peerage, Baronetage, & Knightage, with the Crichton line going back to 1484 and the Stuart line back 100 years before that in the records.
The arms are: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Or a fess checky azure and argent within a double-tressure flory counterflory gules (Stewart); 2 and 3, Argent a lion rampant azure (Crichton); in dexter chief the badge of a baronet of Nova Scotia. The shield is surmounted by the coronet of a marquess. The supporters are Dexter: A horse rampant argent bridled gules; Sinister: A stag rampant proper gorged with the coronet of a marquess and chained or. The crest atop the barred helm of a peer is A demi-lion erect gules. The secondary crests are: A wyvern sejant vert breathing flames proper (Crichton) and A wyvern sejant vert holding in its mouth a sinister hand gules (Herbert). (You may have seen this last at times in the television series Downton Abbey, filmed at Highclere Castle, home of the Herbert Earls of Carnarvon.) The motto above the shield is Nobilis est ira leonis (The lion's anger is noble); the motto below the shield is Avito viret honore (He flourishes by ancestral honors). Also below the shield is appended the badge of a baronet of Nova Scotia.
I assume that the key (whose checky azure and argent portion is taken from the Stuart checky fess) is indicative of the Marquess' office of Hereditary Sheriff of County Bute, and that the rod with the tower (also with a checky fess about its base) indicates his office as Hereditary Keeper of Rothesay Castle.
I don't know what else I can say about this beautifully worked achievement of arms. It was wonderful, though, to see it prominently displayed there in Rothesay.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.