Monday, May 29, 2023

More Heraldry in the News!

So here I was, all set to move on to the next place we visited in England and its heraldry, when this news item popped up on my feed.

This article in Varsity student independent newspaper for the University of Cambridge, by Meg Byrom, dated May 21, 2023, had the headline:

Cock up? KFC branch told to remove spoof Cambridge logo

and was subtitled:

The ‘chicken crest’ poster kicked the bargain bucket after a trademark complaint was made by the University

"Spoof logo"? "Chicken crest"? So of course I had to go and see what it was about.

It turns out that a local Cambridge, England KFC branch had created and placed in their store a number of Cambridge-themed posters, with such things as chickens punting on the River Cam or cycling through the city.

The trouble arose when one of the prominently placed posters consisted of a modified version of the arms of Cambridge University. (The University's arms can be seen in a prior post on this blog, dated September 12, 2022, at The University, not unnaturally, wishing to protect its reputation and its copyright of the arms, and asked KFC to remove the poster.

You can see why they may have made that request by comparing the image below with the arms of the University at the blog post linked above.

Basically, it's the arms of the University with golden chickens replacing the lions and a KFC bucket replacing the book on the cross, which cross is no longer ermine but rather argent semy of string ties sable.

A University spokesperson commented that: “The University appreciated the retail strategy’s creativity, but like all organisations we need to ensure our trademark is used correctly so that it means as much to future generations as it does today. KFC gladly complied with our request to use alternative decorative elements.”

If you'd like to read more, the full article can be found on the website of Varsity at

Thursday, May 25, 2023

A Final Armorial Memorial in Grantchester Church

Our final stop in the little Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary in Grantchester, England, is a carved armorial stone slab to Mary Robson.

The inscription in its entirety reads:

Here Lies ye Body of
Daughter of Mr. JAMES ROBSON
(Late ALDERMAN of Cambridge)
Who lived, and died,
like a good Christian,
on the 23d. day of Decemr.
Aged 53 Years.

But of course, the main attraction to me was the nicely carved coat of arms at the top of the slab.

A blazon of what the arms look like: On a fess between two chevrons three billets. (No hatching, so no guessing at the colors of the field or any of the charges.)*

So I went hunting.

In Burke’s General Armorial I found:

Robson (co. Essex). Or a fess counter-componée gules and sable between two chevrons sable.
Robson. Or a fess paly gules and sable between two chevrons sable.

The Dictionary of British Arms, Vol. 3, p. 386, gave me:

Robson, William, of Essex. Argent a fess compony gules and sable between two chevron sable; and
Robsun, William, of Essex, Or a fess compony or and sable between two chevrons sable.

(Note the differences in the tinctures of the field and of the fess.)

My best guess at this point is that the stonecarver (or the surviving family, or both) didn't know the difference between a fess paly and a fess charged with three billets.

Fairbairn’s Crests gives no Robsons with this crest. The closest is: Robson: Out of a mural coronet azure a boar’s head erminois crined azure. Mural coronet? Check! Demi-lion rampant? Uh, no.

Is this a legitimately borne coat of arms? Well, maybe. It is very similar to Robson of Essex, and Essex abuts Cambridgeshire to the north.

But the inability to find the crest, and the potential issue of whether the fess is paly or charged with three billets, leaves me wondering whether it was simply adopted by James Robson (or one of his forbears) on the assumption that because the surname is the same, therefore the arms must be also.

That is not the case. As American heraldic author William H. Whitmore pointed out more than a century and a half ago: "Identity of surname raises no presumption of identity of origin." But it is a common misconception, one that heralds and heraldic authors have been fighting for several centuries now, in England, in America, and elsewhere.

Nonetheless, that issue should not distract us from the fact that this is a nice heraldic memorial to a lady who lived and died over three centuries ago.

* And in all of the discussion here, I am going to ignore the fact that, since this is a memorial to a woman, the coat of arms should by all rights, especially given the time, be displayed on a lozenge, and that without helmet, crest, and mantling.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Heraldry in the News!

Well, there has been quite a kerfuffle* recently, at least in the on-line world of heraldry, about the announcement that Canada had created a new crown to go with its coat of arms, in conjunction with the coronation of its titular head, King Charles III.

The crown has been changed from the representation of St. Edward's crown used for many years to a different, more uniquely Canadian one, based on the Tudor crown which the new King prefers, and changing out some of the symbols on it (e.g., replacing the crosses paty and fleurs-de-lis on the rim with maple leaves, replacing the orb at the top with a snowflake, etc.).

Here is a copy of one of the announcements with a comparison between the previous and new crowns:

Reaction amongst the denizens of the internet has been immediate and varied, with opinions ranging from "A new crown for the Dominion of Canada has just been unveiled. Perfectly hideous in my humble opinion" to "This is just more woke madness" and "It's more appropriate for the weak minded today... it's topped with a snowflake!" to "This move isn’t about making the crown look more Canadian. That’s a red herring. It’s actually an attack on religion" to "I must say, that I am in total disagreement with the new design of the 'Canadian Crown' by the Government." One headline to a newspaper story on the crown went so far as to say: "Trudeau’s culture war on Canada’s symbols erases history."

Others, somewhat less negative, have pointed out that "the King personally approved the new design for Canada" and that "In place of the orb and cross at the top of the crown is a stylized snowflake, a reference to Canada being a northern realm. It was inspired by the Canadian Diadem, a coronet of maple leaves and snowflakes designed as a heraldic symbol in 2008 and used for honours insignia. The stylized snowflake makes a direct connection with the insignia of the Order of Canada,** one of our country’s highest honours, of which The King is the sovereign."

While there certainly may be some legitimate concerns about the crown ("there was no public consultation — as there was for our flag in the early 60s; that’s principally what I object to. (On the other hand, we all know what a horse designed by a committee looks like!)", it certainly looks to me like many, or even most, of the complaints are coming from people who are not, in fact, Canadians, and hence "have no dog in this fight".

That said, far be it from me to tell people they can't, or shouldn't, express their opinions of the new Canadian crown. However, it seems to me that those opinions can be stated without resorting to inflammatory language: "perfectly hideous" (Really? Have you seen some of the actual crowns that have been used in history? Ask me about the one the Venetians created for the Ottoman Emperor sometime); "woke madness" (can someone please give me a decent definition of "woke"? I've heard the term used to apply to too many different things to be able to comprehend what it is actually supposed to mean, beyond being a "dog whistle"); "more appropriate for the weak minded" (truly?); "an attack on religion" (How? Whose religious liberties are being attacked by this change?); and, of course, it "erases history" (what history is being "erased"? The crown traditionally used by Canadian monarchs? As one writer noted: "It’s worth pointing out that the St. Edward’s Crown wasn’t really 'traditional'. Traditionally the 'Tudor crown' now used by King Charles was used for the arms of the King in right of Canada. It was only at the accession of Elizabeth II 71 years ago that the crown was changed to match the one she preferred to use on her arms. Only because she had an extraordinarily long reign did that crown come to be seen by many as 'traditional'…but it wasn’t").

And there have even been few who had an initial negative reaction to the crown but have come to have it "grow on them" in a more positive way.

Anyway, it's been in the news lately, and I thought it worth talking about, and hopefully lowering the temperature of the rhetoric just a bit.

* Kerfuffle: a disturbance or commotion typically caused by a dispute or conflict. Fuffle is an old Scottish verb that means “to muss” or “to throw into disarray”—in other words, to (literally) ruffle someone’s (figurative) feathers.

** The Order of Canada is a Canadian state order and the second-highest honour for merit in the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, after the Order of Merit. The medal of the Order is the snowflake which appears atop the new crown.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

An Heraldic Memorial to Two Sisters

Like so many other little parish churches in England (well, throughout Great Britain, Ireland, and on the Continent, too), there are memorials to the dead on the walls and in the floor.

And many of these memorials have heraldry on them.

This memorial, for example, keeps alive the memory of two sisters, Dorothy Spilsbury and Elizabeth Hollingworth née Spilsbury.

The full text reads:

Sacred to the Memory of
Daughter of Lucas Spilsbury Esquire
of Coughton in the County of Warwick,
Who died Janry 31st 1837, aged 82 years,
at Croft Lodge in this Parish
and is buried in this Church.

Also of
Sister to the above Dorothy Spilsbury
Who died Janry 23rd 1820, aged 71 years
and is buried in the Chancel
of St. Botolph Without Aldgate London.

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.
                                   Revelation XIV.13.

On the pediment above the inscription is a coat of arms, hatched (that is, with lines in different directions to indicate the colors) and on a lozenge. (Please feel free to click on the image above to see a larger, more detailed photograph.) Burke's General Armory gives Sable a fess gules between three unicorn's heads argent as the arms of Spilsburie from Hustolbury, near Worcester.

A run through one of the major genealogy websites found a Lucas Spilsbury of Alcester, Warwickshire (1714-1764), but while he had a daughter named Dorothy, her dates are entirely incorrect for the Dorothy memorialized here and buried in the church.

Nonetheless, this is a beautiful example of an early 19th Century carved stone memorial, complete with a coat of arms upon its face. I don't think that, at least as far as visiting small English parish churches go, it gets a whole lot better than this.

Monday, May 15, 2023

The Arms on the Pulpit in Grantchester Church

I hadn't noticed this feature in the scenes of the TV series Grantchester which were shot inside the Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary in Grantchester, but while in the church I saw that the pulpit had a coat of arms carved onto its face.

I am unable to give you a reason why I hadn't noticed this coat of arms before, because it is certainly something that would have caught my attention. My best guess is that the show seldom, if ever, shows the front of the pulpit; usually, the actor portraying the vicar there is seen standing beside the pulpit, and not speaking from it.

But that, in several senses, is neither here nor there. The fact is, I hadn't noticed it before, and having found it, thought I would attempt to identify the arms carved on it.

Alas, there are no colors to help guide the search, and no crest, either; only a helmet with a crestless torse and mantling.

Still, I thought to myself, how many coats of arms consisting of two chevrons and a canton could there be?

The answer? More than I had suspected.

Here is a list from Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials listing, by surname, all of the two chevrons and a canton arms to be found there.

Dexter. Argent two chevrons azure a canton gules.

D’Ori. Crioll, Feton/Fitton, Fyton, Gawseworth, Hable/Habley, Keryell, Kiriel, Kyrell, Orby, Orreby, Titton, Waspale/Waspoole. Argent two chevrons and a canton gules.

Dalby. Argent two chevrons and a canton sable.

Rees. Azure two chevrons and a canton or.

Gegon/Gigon/Jegon, Pope. Or two chevrons gules a canton azure.

Bevell, Criell, Cryoill, Kenell, Kirriell, Kyrell, Kyriall. Or two chevrons and a canton gules.

M’Leish. Or two chevrons gules a canton sable. (This last comes from Scotland, so probably not related to the church here in Grantchester.)

A quick on-line search for some of the most likely names (e.g., Feton/Fitton/Fyton, Keryell/Kiriel/Kirriell/Kyrell/Kyriall/Criell/Cryoill, Waspale/Waspoole, Gegon/Gigon/Jegon) unearthed no connections to the parish church in Grantchester.

So, with no crest to help guide the search, with no hatching (ditto), and with no clear connections to Grantchester, I am sorry to say that I cannot identify this coat of arms, seen by me for the first time upon visiting the church, for you.

Nonetheless, it's a beautiful example of heraldic carving, and in my not so humble opinion is well worth the sharing.


Thursday, May 11, 2023

Some "Heraldry-Adjacent" Symbols in Grantchester Church

Continuing in the Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary in Grantchester, England, we come to this stained glass window (which appears fairly frequently in the television series Grantchester):

In the upper half of the window we see these:

At the very peak we see one of the namesakes of the church, St. Andrew bearing his saltire cross in front of him.

In a row across the window a little way below St. Andrew we find the symbols of the Four Evangelists.

The authors of the four Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- are known as the Evangelists. They are often represented (as they are here; please click on the image above to see a larger version of this photograph to see the details) with their attributes: the Angel or "divine man" for Saint Matthew, the Lion for Saint Mark, the Ox for Saint Luke (we have seen his symbol before in Antwerp, Belgium in a display of the arms of the Guild of St. Luke), and the Eagle for Saint John.

So, not heraldry, exactly, but certainly "heraldry-adjacent" (and here on shield shapes, no less!) as the symbols are standing in for the authors themselves, just as a coat of arms might.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Some Saintly Heraldry in Grantchester

Not surprisingly, the Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary in Grantchester, England, has some saintly heraldry within its hallowed walls.

The most obvious of these examples was found on a framed list of the Rectors and Vicars of the church from 1294 through 2007. (The document does state that the "Names of Earliest Rectors Are Not Known", so this is just the ones that they do know.)

The document contains three coats of arms:

In the upper left, the attributed arms* of St. Andrew, Azure a saltire argent. This coat can be seen elsewhere; for example, in the non-Royal flag of Scotland, of which country St. Andrew is the patron saint.

In the upper right, the attributed arms of St. Mary, Azure a fleur-de-lis argent. While there are a couple of different coats of arms attributed to Mary, the mother of Jesus, shields containing lilies and fleurs-de-lis are commonly seen.

And finally, on the left side of the document, the arms of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, which we have seen several times before. These arms are blazoned: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Gules a pelican in its piety argent; 3 and 3, Azure three lily flowers argent. Here, too, though not directly related to the church here, the pelican in its piety is often seen as a symbol of Jesus, and the lily flowers as a symbol of his mother, Mary.

All in all, it's an amazing document, containing as it does not only heraldry -- both real and attributed -- but also a listing of incumbents, the rectors and vicars, of the Grantchester church from the year 1294. That's quite a history!

* "Attributed arms" are coats of arms given retrospectively to persons, real or fictitious. who died before the start of the age of heraldry in the latter half of the 12th century. They themselves did not bear a coat of arms, but such arms were "attributed" to them by later heralds and heraldic authors.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

The Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary, Grantchester

Making our way now to the parish church in Grantchester, the Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary, we find some heraldry on our way into the churchyard.

These arms are, of course, those of the Anglican Diocese of Ely: Gules three ducal coronets or.

The earliest recorded use of this coat of arms is by Bishop William de Luda in 1290. They are those assigned to St. Etheldreda, Queen of Northumbria and founder of the Abbey of Ely, in whose honor the Cathedral is dedicated. (Ely Cathedral, whose heraldry we will be looking at in the near future, has a similar but different coat of arms from the Diocese, consisting of a red field with three golden keys.)

For those of you who might be interested in how the Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary is laid out, someone has spent a lot of time carefully creating a model of the church to show us, with the chancel to the left and the bell tower to the right, and even lifting up the roof of the nave to show us much of the interior:

We love visiting English parish churches when we have the opportunity, and not just because they almost always have some heraldry in them. Visiting this one was just a little more special because the TV series Grantchester regularly films scenes inside its hallowed walls. And being able to stand and sit in the exact spots where characters from the series have stood or sat was a plus!

And, of course, it has heraldry, too!

More next time.

Monday, May 1, 2023

It's Heraldry, But Whose Is It?

So, having introduced you last time to the village of Grantchester, England, today we're starting to look at the heraldry which can be found there.

Today's stop takes by the Green Man pub which, when we were there in August 2022 was closed, as you can clearly see here. (It reopened, under new management, in January 2023, sporting a new paint job and, presumably, a new, or at least fully repaired, roof! See the picture of the building at the bottom of this page on their website:

Alas, the renovation seems to have done away with the two coats of arms which were on the righthand gable when we were visiting.

And here's the close-up. (Of course, you can click on any of these images to see a larger, more detailed photograph.)

On the left, we have Two lions passant guardant in pale, which might be the arms of Normandy (Gules two lions passant guardant in pale or). Or not; it's hard to be sure when there are no colors, and there are nearly five pages of two lions, mostly passant guardant, listed in Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials.

On the right, we find A lion rampant, which could be any of a huge number of possible coats of arms*, again depending on the colors, which we cannot tell from this monochrome rendering.

So that's the first heraldry we saw on our side trip to Grantchester. And while, if you go there yourself, you can eat or have an ale at the reopened Green Man pub (and I will say, their food looks good), you will not, alas, find these two shields there anymore.

* The category of "Beast - Lion" takes up 34½ pages in Papworth's Ordinary, though those entries also include lions passant, lions queue-forchy, lions double-tailed, and shields divided per pale, per fess, and quarterly, as well as those with strewn charges (semy) or some kind of field treatment. Still, that's a lot of lions rampant to search through, when this is as likely to simply be an heraldic-looking decoration as it is to reproduce a specific coat of arms.