Thursday, January 31, 2019

Arms on the Exterior of the Hotel de Ville, Arras, Part 2

Continuing from my last post our clockwise circumambulation (now that's not a word I get to use in everyday conversation!) around the Hotel de Ville in Arras, France, and photographing the coats of arms supported by lions around the edge of the roof, here are the remaining shields, beginning in the rear of the building and ending at about the 7 o'clock position of the front of the edifice in the Place des Héros. As before, you can click on an image to see a bigger picture.

Azure two (boards? rows of dominos?) in saltire between in pale two (caps/hats?) and in fess two (bowls? buckets?)

Azure a woman? statant affronty and a tower masoned in fess.

Arras ancient. (Azure on a fess argent between in chief a bishop’s mitre and in base two croziers in saltire or three rats passant sable.)

Artois (Azure semy-de-lys or a label of three tags gules each tag charged with three towers or.)

Gules a griffin segreant. (The shield with the griffin does not fill the shield on which it is placed.)

Artois (Azure semy-de-lys or a label of three tags gules each tag charged with three towers or.)

? on a fess gules a duck?

? two rows of billets palewise in fess azure gules vert sable? and ?

Azure a bishop statant affronty holding in his dexter hand a hammer and in his sinister a crozier.

Arras ancient. (Azure on a fess argent between in chief a bishop’s mitre and in base two croziers in saltire or three rats passant sable.)

Artois (Azure semy-de-lys or a label of three tags gules each tag charged with three towers or.)

And thus ends the carved lions and heraldry on the Hotel de Ville.

And as before, if you can identify one or another of the shields here, please let us know in the comments.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Arms on the Exterior of the Hotel de Ville, Arras, Part 1

Around the city hall, the Hotel de Ville, in Arras, France there are a row of carved lions supporting shields of arms.

The building is shaped like a squared-off capital U with its base facing the Place des Héros, and the lions encircle most of the building. There are twenty-two lions; six of them bear the arms of the Artois region (formerly a province, before that a county) of France. Four of them bear the older arms of Arras (what I have labeled in this post and the next one as “Arras ancient”), as found in d’Hozier’s Armorial Général de France in 1696 (l’hostel de ville de la Citeé d’Arras), and as described in two other sources dated 1853 and ca. 1910 at Heraldry of the World (

I will post the pictures of the first eleven of the coats of arms and supporting lions by going clockwise around the Hotel de Ville in Arras, beginning in the Place des Héros at about the 7 o’clock position, and ending with the second eleven lions in the next post at about the 4 o’clock position. (You can get an idea of their situation in this general view of the Hotel de Ville; note the lions holding shields along the edge of roof to the left and right of the center section of the building.)

You can click on an image to go to a full-size picture to see the arms in greater detail.

Right to left: Azure two hand axes respectant gules handled argent.

Arras (Gules a lion rampant or an inescutcheon azure semy-de-lys or a label of three tags gules each tag charged with three towers in pale or).

Right to left: Azure seven cow’s legs in orle on an inescutcheon a cow statant and a pig statant in pale.

Gules a griffin segreant (or/argent). (The shield with the griffin does not fill the shield on which it is placed.)

Artois (Azure semy-de-lys or a label of three tags gules each tag charged with three towers or.)

Azure a bishop statant affronty maintaining in his dexter hand a crozier and in his sinister a (baker’s peel?).

Azure three escutcheons.

Arras ancient. (Azure on a fess argent between in chief a bishop’s mitre and in base two croziers in saltire or three rats passant sable.)

Artois (Azure semy-de-lys or a label of three tags gules each tag charged with three towers or.)

Arras ancient. (Azure on a fess argent between in chief a bishop’s mitre and in base two croziers in saltire or three rats passant sable.)

Artois (Azure semy-de-lys or a label of three tags gules each tag charged with three towers or.)

As with my last post, if you can identify any of the arms here which are not identified here, please let us know in the comments.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Few (So Far) Unidentified Arms in Arras

Some of you who follow me on Facebook know that lately I've been having issues with my computer; it will sometimes make a loud whirring noise for from 8 to 13 seconds, and it will occasionally just freeze up on me, accepting no input from either the mouse or the keyboard.

So after having the local Geek Squad run some diagnostics on it that didn't find anything wrong, and then having them tell me that they do some more work on it (for a couple of hundred dollars more!), I decided to just bite the bullet and replace my current seven year old computer with a new one that has, among other things, a much larger hard drive and four times as much RAM.

But I know that once it gets here (in about a week from today), I know that it's going to take up all of my time for two or three days just getting it set up, started up, connected to the wifi, updated, installing a bunch of the software I use all the time, uninstalling several of the programs that come preinstalled on it that I don't want, and then making sure that everything is working the way I need it to and fixing it if it doesn't.

What this means for you and me right now, though, is that in dealing with the issues with the current computer, shopping for a new one, and getting everything else done that I need to in preparation for the new one's arrival and installation (e.g., getting all of my files backed up to an external hard drive to transfer to the new PC), I don't have the time to finish researching all of the other photographs I have of heraldry that I took while we were in Arras, France last fall.

And yet, I want to share them with you. So over the next few posts, I'm going to show you the other coats of arms and heraldry I saw, whether or not I've been able to identify it. I hope that you will find them of some interest. And, of course, if you should know to whom they belong, please feel free to share that identification in the comments, so that we can all learn something more about them.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Enjoy!

A pair of arms. Gules a bend between three roundels(?), and Three martlets.

This next one reminds me of the arms of Edinburgh, Scotland, but the shield here is hatched for gules, while Edinburgh's shield is argent.

I had thought that this next coat, Azure on a bend or between an anchor inverted bendwise sinister and a mullet (argent?) three crosses (tincture?), belonging to a duke and a cardinal would be easy to find. I was wrong (and they don't appear in Rietstap's Armorial Général), though I still believe that with a little more time to devote to the research, I could track them down.

A gold field (assuming the dots on the shield are hatching) with a bordure and a bend sinister overall. An unusual arrangement of charges.

These next two coats of arms are on metal plaques in the Hotel de Ville in Arras:

Again, if you know to whom any of these shield belong, please let us all know in the comments.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Look! It's France! Wait a Minute. No It Isn't.

Still wandering about the streets of Arras, France (You can walk down a lot of streets if you just get out there and do it!) I ran across this image shining golden in the sun that I took to be the seal of the French Republic.

Liberty seated, resting her left arm on a ship's rudder and holding a fasces, the symbol of strength in unity, in her right, and surrounded images of the agriculture and industry of the Republic, underscored with the phrase Republique Francaise.

Alas, however, that is not the seal of the French Republic, at least not according this image (from Heraldry of the World):

A detailed explanation of the real seal of the French Republic, and a timeline of the various arms and logos used to represent the nation can be found at

So, the one I found is not France, though it shares some of the same symbols as the official arms/logo/seal which was used unofficially from 1905 and is used officially from 1953.

Proof once again, if further proof was needed, that it pays to do your research and double-check things, because what you see may not necessarily be correct.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Heraldry of an Eatery

There is no shortage of places to eat in downtown Arras, France.

This could be a good thing, or it could be not so good. Personally, when we travel I have a tendency to want to apologize to all of the locals whenever we see a McDonald's (as we ran across in Canterbury, England,* following our week in France), a Burger King (though apparently the Burger King in Helsinki, Finland, has a sauna in it, because of course it does), or, in Arras, a Subway. I want to apologize because I feel that American "culture" seems to be taking over the world, and I just don't think that it's always a Good Thing® when that happens.

Fortunately, there were a lot of other restaurants around the Place des Héros and the Grand' Place, and we tried to make it a point to eat at as many of them as we could during our stay in Arras.

There was one pub and brasserie that we returned to several times, because the food and the drinks were so good there. And it didn't hurt that their logo was heraldic:

The shield with the capital B, supported by two lions rampant regardant all surmounted by an imperial crown, was found on just about everything in the place, from the menu to the napkins to some of the glasswork:

Good food, a nice atmosphere, and an heraldic logo. What more could an heraldist ask for?

* Canterbury has other issues, too. There were at least three different shops there that proudly proclaimed that they sold "American candies." I was sorely tempted to go in and ask them, "Why would you sell American candy here? Compared to most European sweets, American candy is shite!" But I didn't; I manfully resisted that urge. I'm sure that it makes economic sense to them, since they advertise it so prominently. I just don't understand why. I can have American candy anytime, and I was more than happy to be able to bring back a couple of boxes of candies bought in France and to ration them carefully until they were gone. American candy pales in comparison to what I've been able to buy in Europe.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Missed It By That Much!

The title of this post is a quote from the old spy spoof TV series Get Smart, and was used by the often bumbling protagonist whenever he almost, but not quite, accomplished his mission, said while holding up his hand with a small gap between his thumb and forefinger to show how close he had come.

After reviewing some of the blank shields and cartouches in Arras that I shared in my last post, today I want to share a shield that could have been heraldry, but they "missed it by that much."

It was up on the side a lovely old building in the city center:

But of course, it was the oval shield shape and bright colors that caught my eye.

It's a cunningly done mosaic surface, surrounded by decorative and heraldic elements, with the monogram CJF on it.

It could have been a coat of arms, but they ...

Thursday, January 10, 2019

What a Shame!

It's always fun on our travels, to see the local heraldry on display.

But equally, it's sad to see some perfectly good opportunities for heraldic display that have been passed up.

That is, shield and/or cartouches, often with other heraldic or quasi-heraldic decorative elements, that display only a blank surface. I swear, sometimes it's enough to make me want to get a ladder and some cans of paint, and paint coats of arms on their surfaces.

Be that as it may, doing so is usually considered to be vandalism, and so I restrain myself. But still, wouldn't you want to do something to put some heraldry on the shields below, all found in the City of Arras, France?

They all just seem to be crying out to have their blank faces covered with heraldry, don't they?

Monday, January 7, 2019

A Totally Unexpected Coat of Arms in France

Going back to our hotel in Arras, France at the end of day circumambulating (I hardly ever get to use that word in everyday conversation!) a couple of the nearby squares, I noticed an unexpected addition to the large diamond that marked the Hotel Diamant, our "headquarters" during our time there:

See the white rectangle with the black shield shape on it there?

I have to assume that someone, probably someone fairly tall, had jumped up pretty high to place that sticker there, or they had borrowed a chair from a nearby café to stand on to do it.

In any event, looking closer to see what arms had been placed there, I was very much surprised to discover that it was from England!

It is the arms (well, okay, arms-like logo) of the Maidstone United Football Club of Maidstone, Kent, UK.

If I had to blazon the logo (which is also found at the top of the team's website at, I'd make it: Sable a fess wavy between three footballs* or on a chief sable a lion passant also or, the whole surmounted by the letters M U F C in gold on a black background.

Whatever the arguments that may be made as to how well - or not - the design follows good heraldic practice, it was most certainly not something that I would have expected to see in northeastern France.

* Over here in a America we would call these "soccer balls," since American "footballs" aren't round, but more like a pointed oval. Indeed, some have suggested that we in the U.S. should change the name of the sport to better align some of these differences with reality:

Thursday, January 3, 2019

A School and Its Heraldry

Continuing our wandering about the city of Arras, France, we came across the Saint Joseph École et Collège.

(My wife, Jo, particularly liked its logo which was also displayed on the front of the building; she decided it was about time that someone recognized her as a saint.)

The school celebrated its 150th anniversary just a few years ago, so it's been around for quite a while.

But once again, it was the school's heraldry, carved in a prominent position on its facade, that really caught my eye.

I have, alas, been unable to discover anything about this coat of arms. The St. Jo website ( is great if you are interested in enrolling a child there, or wish to see pictures from its 150 year history, but has no information about its heraldry. (Although in one of those historical photographs at you can see another carved rendition of the school's coat of arms over a doorway behind the fencing team.)

A guess at a blazon (in English) would be: Azure a Paschal lamb passant argent distilling blood from its neck gules into a goblet (or?) in chief three roses (argent?), a chief per pale Gules a cross formy (argent?) and Barry gules and (argent?).

It's an interesting coat of arms, and probably has a story behind its design; I just wish I knew what it was.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Beginning the New Year With a Little Heraldic Humor

Hurrah! We have officially survived 2018!

To celebrate the issuing in of a new year, here are a few heraldic cartoons about coats of arms I have collected over the years, just to get 2019 off to a good start.

Wishing you all a happy, heraldry-filled New Year!