Monday, August 21, 2023

Wait! What?? I Think There May Be an Error Here

Researching this next memorial found in Ely Cathedral, I was reminded of a line from the Star Trek parody, and homage, movie, Galaxy Quest: "That's not riiiight."

This large brass memorial is, as it says on its face, "in Memory of the Men of the Isle of Ely Who lost their lives in the War in S. Africa 1899-1902".

The Isle of Ely, as we are told, is an historic region around the City of Ely in Cambridgeshire which formed an administrative county between 1889 and 1965, when it was incorporated into Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely.

Until it was granted arms on May 1, 1931 (for which see, it used the arms of the See of Ely which we have reviewed here recently, Gules three crowns or.*

So can you see in the detail image below what the problem is?

The shield here is clearly colored as Azure three crowns or, not gules (that is, blue, not red).

Indeed, it was the red field with three gold crowns which was carried over into the grant of arms in 1931, establishing pretty firmly, I think, that the blue field here is an error.

Now, admittedly, the arms of the See of Ely are based on the attributed arms of East Anglia, which has a blue field. Of course, these arms with a blue field never existed, the Kingdom of East Anglia ceasing to exist as an independent kingdom in the 10th Century, a couple hundred years before heraldry came into being.

Yes, I know that basically I am picking nits, and that most people looking at this memorial to so many local men who lost their lives in the Boer War would not notice that the coat of arms here is incorrectly colored.

Still, I thing it would have been nice if they could have better respected those lost lives by putting the correct color on the shield of this memorial.

* For purposes of this post, I am not going to get into the propriety, or impropriety, of the County Council of the Isle of Ely appropriating (or misappropriating) the arms of the See of Ely to represent the Isle. That's a whole other discussion in itself!

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