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.


  1. The 1665 visitation of Yorkshire gives the arms of Geldart of Wigginthorpe as "Vert , a lion rampant regardant between three arrows in pale Or".
    Berry's Encyclopedia Heraldica lists a grant to Gildart of Liverpool of "Vert , a lion rampant regardant crowned Or between three arrows of the last"
    I'm not sure if/how Dr Geldart is connected to either of these, but they do lend support to vert as the tincture of the field

    1. Philip, Thank you for those extra instances of the Geldart arms having a Vert field! That makes it much more likely that the person who did the most recent repainting of the arms on the gate misunderstood the color the field was supposed to be. (Either that, or he/she didn't have any green paint, and went with the lighter blue!)