Thursday, April 27, 2023

A Non-Heraldic Introduction to Some Local Heraldry Outside Cambridge, England

Today's post doesn't contain any heraldry, I'm sorry to say. It is, however, an introduction to the reason why we traveled to this little village outside of Cambridge, where we did find some heraldry. But I thought it might be best to separate the background from the heraldry. We'll see if I am correct in this assumption or not.

The village of Grantchester, population about 500, lies about two miles/three kilometers outside of Cambridge. Indeed, it's possible, and often even pleasant (i.e., not raining), to walk to there from Cambridge and back again, along the River Cam and through the Grantchester Meadows.

Or so I'm told. We're old, and we don't get around as well as we used to. So we took a taxi each way.

Until we began researching the area for our trip to England last August, we didn't even know that Grantchester was a real place! We were familiar with it from the British ITV detective drama Grantchester, and we just assumed that it was a fictional name, rather like Midsomer of Midsomer Murders, Cobhole of Father Brown, and St. Mary Mead of Miss Marple.

Do we watch a lot of British detective and mystery shows? Why, yes. Yes, we do.

So, of course when we learned that it was a real place, where some of the filming of the series is done (most notably, at the parish Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary, and outside the closed-when-we-were-there-but-now-reopened Green Man pub*), we made our plans to visit it while we were nearby.

Because we just had to, don't you know?

In the Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary was a promotional poster under the heading "Faith. Love. Murder. Filmed at St. Andrew and St. Mary's Church" with a photograph of the three primary stars of the series, which began with Robson Green and James Norton, on the right (2014-2018), and switched to now star Robson Green and Tom Brittney, on the left (2019-present). The poster also has photographs of the principal actors and many of the regular supporting cast members. (The poster is located, as you can see, right behind and slightly to the side of the baptismal font.)

Anyway, there's the background. Next time, we'll take a look at some of the heraldry** to be found in the very-much-real village of Grantchester, England.

* The Red Lion pub is mentioned in the series, but is not a filming location as being a little too modern to be useful - the series is set in the 1950s - but we had a very nice lunch there during our visit.

** I've already shown you the arms of King's College and Eton College found on a grave marker in the churchyard of St. Andrew and St. Mary's. See my post of December 15, 2022, at

Monday, April 24, 2023

Three Grants of Arms

So today I'm going to finish up my review of the heraldry I saw in Cambridge last summer with photographs of three grants of arms (well, two grants and a certification, if you want to be nitpicky about it).

Accompanying the conference we were attending was a room with a display of heraldry of various sorts. (As an example, you can see the edge of an old herald's tabard in the first of the pictures below.) But these letters patent were among those items, and I photographed them because I've long been attracted to grants of arms and library paintings of arms.*

The first is a grant of arms to William Sharpe (1801). (I recommend clicking on any and all of the images below to see a larger, more detailed image of these letters patent.) His arms are blazoned: Per fess or and azure a pheon on a bordure invected four roses and four annulets alternated all counterchanged.

And, of course, as is the standard practice at the College of Arms, the grant also displays the arms of the crown (in this case, King George III), the Duke of Norfolk (who as Earl Marshal is nominally in charge of the College of Arms), and the College of Arms itself.  You will also note the appended seals, containing the arms, impaling the arms of their offices, of Isaac Heard, Garter Principal King of Arms, and Thomas Lock, Clarenceux King of Arms.

To make it a little easier to see, here are close-ups of the two seals:

Next is a  Grant of arms to Alexander Warren Dury Mitton (1973). His arms are blazoned: Per pale gules and azure a double-headed eagle displayed or within a bordure checky or and gules.

Here, the other coats of arms are as above, except that those of the sovereign are the Royal Arms of Queen Elizabeth II. The seals in their skippets have the covers in place, so you cannot see them, but you can see the crowns of the kings of arms embossed into the covers.

And finally, we have the Irish Certification of arms to John Paul Rylands (1875). His arms are blazoned: Quarterly: 1 and 4; Per fess indented or and gules; 2 and 3, Ermine, in the first quarter two fleur-de-lis in chief azure; overall an inescutcheon, Or a griffin passant vert. These arms were certified by Sir John Bernard Burke, Ulster King of Arms.

The other arms on this document are the Royal Arms of Queen Victoria, and the arms of Ulster King of Arms impaling those of Sir John Bernard Burke.

On a genealogical note, the Certification gives three generations of John P. Rylands descent, from his father Thomas Glazebrook Rylands, grandfather John Rylands, and great-grandfather, also John Rylands, as well as his great-grandfather's wife, Martha née Booth.

Anyway, it was a pleasure to see these grants/certification. It's not that often that you get to see a grant of arms "in the flesh", as it were.

* A library painting of a coat of arms is basically a certification from a granting authority that the coat of arms painted on the page was recorded by that authority. So it's basically a confirmation of a grant, etc., painted by a herald painter and signed by a herald. I have in my office a library painting of a coat of arms and crest I rescued from an antique store that was in a pretty shabby frame. The arms and crest are those of John Christian, Esq. "as established and recorded to him 13 May 1788". The document is dated at the College of Arms 19 September 1910 and signed by Richmond Herald Charles H. Athill.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

It actually isn't all that frequent, even in England, that you run across a statue of a Tudor man, dressed in his finery, along with a depiction of his coat of arms and crest. But that is in fact one of the displays of heraldry that I ran across in Cambridge.

The statue is that of Sir Thomas Gresham (1518/19-1579), an English merchant and financier who acted on behalf of King Edward VI and Edward's half-sisters, Queens Mary and Elizabeth. Gresham was educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, whose arms we have reviewed recently. He later trained as a lawyer. And in 1565 he founded the Royal Exchange in the City of London. All in all, a man of means and influence.

And below his statue we find his arms and crest:

The Gresham arms are blazoned: Argent a chevron ermines* between three mullets pierced sable. The crest is: On a mount of grass vert a grasshopper or.

There are also, apparently, two statues of him in London which I discovered in researching his life, but this is the only of the three that I can find that also includes his coat of arms and crest.

* Sometimes, more especially in continental Europe, we find ermines, that is, a black field with white ermine spots, blazoned as counter-ermine, because (1) it is simply a counterchange or reversal of the usual tinctures of ermine, and (2) because it is very easy to mistake the word ermines for the word ermine, or even, sometimes, erminites. (Erminites is the same as ermine, but with two red hairs in each ermine spot. After all, how much fun can it be if you can't multiply minor variations of an heraldic fur and give each of these variants their very own, but also similar, names? Asking for a friend.)

Monday, April 17, 2023

Impaled and Impaling

"Impaled/impaling. Transitive verb. ... 2. to join (coats of arms) on a heraldic shield divided vertically by a pale." (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Well, close, but not quite close enough. A pale is a specific charge, and frankly would hide a fair bit of the two coats of arms on an impaled shield. They could have shortened it just a bit, and been more accurate:

"2. to join (coats of arms) on a heraldic shield divided vertically."

There. Fixed it for 'em.

Anyhow, and getting back to heraldry found in the wild in Cambridge, England, over at Trinity Hall (whose arms we have seen before in my post entitled "The Arms of the 'Other' Trinity" ( I found this gate with not one but two impaled coats of arms, both with the arms of Trinity Hall, in one case impaled by, and in the other impaling, another coat of arms. (As ever, you can click on one or the other of the images below to see a larger, more detailed photo of these impaled arms.)

On the left side of the gate, we have the arms of the Diocese of Norwich (Azure three bishop’s mitres or) impaling the arms of Trinity Hall (Sable a crescent within a bordure ermine). (I discussed the origin of the Trinity Hall arms in that earlier post.)

And on the right side, we see the arms of Trinity Hall impaling Geldart (Azure a lion rampant reguardant ducally crowned between three arrows all or.)

Thomas Charles Geldart, LL.D. (1797-1877) was a lawyer and academic. He was born at Kirk Deighton* and educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1818 and M.A. in 1821. He was Fellow of Trinity Hall from 1821 to 1836. He was called to the bar (Lincoln's Inn) in 1823. He was Master of Trinity Hall from 1852 until his death. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1853 to 1854.

So far, so good. But Burke's General Armory, under "Geldart (Dr. Geldart, co. Cambridge)", blazons his arms as Vert a lion rampant reguardant ducally crowned between three arrows or

Are Dr. Geldart's arms mis-colored here on the gate? Or are they mis-blazoned in Burke's? I can't find enough information to be able to determine which with any confidence. Clearly they can't both be correct, but I am currently unable to state where the error lies.

* Proof once more that "it's a small world after all". Kirk Deighton, where Dr. Geldart was born, is a town of less than 500 located just a little west of York, England. It is also the town from which my wife's paternal line originates before emigrating to colonial Virginia and eventually moving south to North Carolina and spreading out to other parts of the American South. We visited All Saints Church in Kirk Deighton last year where several of her ancestors were baptized, and like so many English parish churches, it contains heraldry! So you'll be seeing the heraldry of All Saints Kirk Deighton in some posts further down the road.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

A Very Special Coat of Arms

I'd seen this coat of arms in my meanderings through Cambridge, but it wasn't until I got home and sat down to research it that I learned anything about what it was or its history.

The arms, found inset into the exterior wall of this building, are those of the Regius Professorship of Civil Law at Cambridge. Purpure a cross moline or on a chief gules a lion passant guardant or charged on the body with the letter L sable. Crest: A bee volant [en arriere] or.

The Regius Professorship of Civil Law is one of the oldest and most prestigious of the professorships at the University of Cambridge. The chair was founded by Henry VIII in 1540 with a stipend of £40 per year, and the holder is still chosen by the Crown. The Regius Professorships are "royal" professorships, being created by the reigning monarch. The first five Regius Professorships (Divinity, Law, Physic, Hebrew, and Greek), sometimes referred to as the Henrician Regius Professors, were established in 1540 in the reign of King Henry VIII (hence the term Henricius Regius Professors), and granted arms and crests in 1590. Other Regius Professorships at Cambridge are those of: History (1724), Botany (1724/2009),* and Engineering (2011).

In any event, with only eight Regius Professorships out of everything else at Cambridge University, I'd say that this coat of arms (along with the arms of the other Regius Professorships) qualifies as some "very special" heraldry.

* The two dates for the Regius Professor of Botany is because the chair of the Professor of Botany at the University of Cambridge was founded by the university in 1724. In 2009 the chair was renamed the Regius Professor of Botany.

Monday, April 10, 2023

The Arms of Trinity College, et alia

The gates of the various colleges at Cambridge are sufficiently diverse that a study of them would be worthwhile all on its own.

Alas, in this little blog I lack the time to devote to such a study, which in any case would necessitate a return to Cambridge for a more thorough and comprehensive set of photographs, plus.

So for today, we're just going to visit an armorial gate into Trinity College to see what we can learn about it, containing as it does not only the arms of the College, but several other coats of arms as well.

At the top of the gate, in prime position, we find this coat of arms:

While Trinity College was founded by King Henry VIII by uniting two earlier foundations -- Michaelhouse and King's Hall -- the arms here are plainly those of the Stuart Kings of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

The other arms are as follows:

On the left-hand side of the gate, we have, first, the arms of Trinity College (Argent a chevron between three roses gules barbed and seeded proper on a chief gules a lion passant guardant between two closed books or) impaling Neville (Gules on a saltire argent a rose proper); and second, Neville.

On the right-hand side of the gate, we have, first, Noel, formerly Neville (Or fretty gules a canton ermine), and second, Magdalen College (Quarterly per pale indented or and azure on a bend azure between between two eagles displayed or, a fret between two martlets or) [these are the arms of the founder, Thomas, Lord Audley of Walden], impaling Neville (Gules on a saltire argent a rose proper).

Latimer Neville, 6th Baron Braybrooke, was Master of Magdalene College for over 50 years, from 1853–1904 (a record unlikely ever to be surpassed). He was described as "a good but dull man lacking intellectual powers", according to Alex Samuels, Magdalene Association Essay Prize 2005-2006. Latimer, Baron Braybrooke also served as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1859–61.

The Baron Braybrooke currently bears quartered arms: in the first and fourth quarters, Neville, as above; in the second and third quarters, Noel/Neville as above but instead of an ermine canton, a golden canton charged with a black lymphad (a type of single-masted ship).

That's a lot of history to be seen on this one, comparatively little, gate. Yet it seems to be bearing up well under the weight of it all.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Well, They're Sorta Heraldic, I Suppose

Not the arms of one of the Cambridge colleges, nor personal arms, the, well, I guess I have to call it a logo, of the Stafford House, Cambridge, is something that I believe I would have to classify as "heraldry adjacent".

As you can see from these two different signs for Stafford House, their logo consists of a lion passant.

Clearly, there is no tincture (heraldic color or metal) to be found for this lion, consisting as it does of a lion-shaped cutout in the sheet metal of the signs, through which you can see whatever is behind them.

Stafford House's full name is The Stafford House Cambridge English School. It is a part of Stafford House International, and teaches General English, Cambridge Exam preparation, Professional (i.e., business) English, and has programs for young learners of English.

Anyway, as something "heraldic", these signs caught my eye, and so I photographed them as I wandered about the town while I was there.


Monday, April 3, 2023

Some Personal Arms at Clare College Memorial Court

The sessions of the conference we attended in Cambridge were held at Clare College Memorial Court. It wasn't until I was researching the two coats of arms covered today that I learned that the full name of the court was Clare College - World War I Memorial Court. (If you should "learn something new every day", I guess that's going to be mine, and possibly yours, for today!)

Anyway, I had noticed, and photographed two personal coats of arms in the Memorial Court.

The first, seen here over the doorway to one of the buildings:

Look like this in close-up:

As the scroll at the bottom indicates, they are the arms of Richard de Badew, Chancellor of Cambridge University and original Founder of Clare College. The forerunner of Clare College was University Hall, established in 1326 (hence the date beneath the shield) by Richard de Badew. In April 1338 Badew, as “Founder, Patron and Advocate” of University Hall formally placed the college under the new patronage of Elizabeth, Lady of Clare, leading to the new name Clare College.

His arms are blazoned: Argent on a bend cotised sable three eagles displayed argent (sometimes, or).

The other personal coat of arms are similarly located over a doorway:

Getting closer, we see:

Our first clue to the identity of this achievement of arms (including the crest and motto) is that it is located over the entrance to the Barham Block, Memorial Court, Clare College.

They are the arms of Barham (Stains, co. Middlesex, and Canterbury, co. Kent): Argent on a fess gules between three bears passant sable muzzled or a fleur-de-lis between two martlets or. Crest: A stork among bullrushes all proper. (I know; at first glance I thought it was a coronet, too. Proof that one should always look closely at heraldic displays!) Motto: Fortis et Patiens (Strong and patient).

Capt. Wilfrid Saxby Barham, a student at Clare College, died October 10, 1915 of wounds suffered in Ypres, Belgium. His father, Col. Arthur Barham, was devastated by his eldest son’s death and donated £9,000 – the equivalent of £1 million today – to Clare College, Cambridge, where his son was studying, and the money was used to build this Memorial Court.

It is a touching story, and I think a fitting memorial to a young man who died at a young age in a conflict that took the lives of so many young men.

On a side note, I had the opportunity some years ago to visit the Menin Gate at Ypres, a monument to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient and whose graves are unknown. I found it very moving, and very sad.