Thursday, September 28, 2023

Historic Plaques With the Badge of the York Civic Trust

There were other historic markers in the City of York which did not display the arms of the City along with the badge of the York Civic Trust.

Some, like this one found on St. Sampson's Church, display only the badge of the Trust (Azure a fleur-de-lis or dimidiating Gules a crowned leopard's face or):

Still others displayed some other emblem along with the badge of the Trust.

For example, this marker for George Hudson street has, in addition to the Trust's badge, a roundel showing an early locomotive (you may click on the image below to go to a larger version where the locomotive can be seen more clearly):

And the plaque for St. Margaret's School for Girls displays the vesica seal of the School, which contains a standing cross and the legend "Saint Margaret's School" around the border.

Heraldry and visual emblems used for identification; they may not all be heraldic, but as used here, don't they help to fulfill the purpose of heraldry?*

* One (brief) definition of heraldry is: “designs painted on shields and used to identify the owner.” (Kevin Greaves, A Canadian Heraldic Primer)

Monday, September 25, 2023

Arms, and a Badge

All through the old city of York you will find plaques noting especially historic places. Some of these places are large and therefore especially notable, while others are less obvious without the assistance of a nearby plaque giving some of the history of the site.

One thing that all of the plaques have in common, though, is that they bear both the arms of the City of York (Argent on a cross gules five lions passant guardant or), and the badge of the York Civic Trust (Azure a fleur-de-lis or dimidiating Gules a crowned leopard’s face or).

The badge of the Trust is clearly based on the older Royal arms of England, Quarterly: 1 and 4, Azure three fleurs-de-lis or; 2 and 3, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale or.

Here are some of the historic plaques displaying the arms of the City and the badge of the Trust which I found in my wanderings about the old city of York:

The original Roman fortress was completely rebuilt later, as the gate that stands there now is clearly not built in the Roman style:

And for those who are really interested in what historical plaques may be seen in York, the York Civic Trust website has an entire page listing all of the plaques that may be found there, along with an enlargeable map showing their locations, at

With coats of arms and badges: what a great way to mark many of the historic places and people of York.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Those Words Must Mean Something Different in English Than They Do In Texan

Our next two bits of heraldry are coats of arms that we have seen before (along with another, new one that we'll be seeing more of later), but I'm giving them their own post because they are located on the "shortest street in York", the one with the unusual name.

Back in 1505, it was called "Whitnourwhatnourgate", meaning "What a street!"

Sometime later, it was changed to Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate. As being easier to pronounce, I suspect. (And just in case you think I might be making this up, here's one of the helpful location and direction signs posted there.)

Still, as I stated in the title to this post, I think those words, or at least those syllables, don't mean the same thing in York as they might here in Texas, where they could be taken to mean one should whip, or whop, or both, one's "Ma", or mother, at a gate.

But of course, we're here not to talk about the morality, or immorality, of whipping one's mother at a gate. We're here for the heraldry, which can be found on two other signs at the street.

The first, which we have seen before, is the arms used by the City of York Council, here placed on a sign near a bicycle stand explaining the best ways to lock up your bike to prevent its theft.

The other, on an historical marker, contains both the arms of the City of York (Argent on a cross gules five lions passant guardant or) with the cap, sword, and mace on the upper right, and on the upper left, a new bit of heraldry for us, the badge of the York Civic Trust, Azure a fleur-de-lis or dimidiating Gules a crowned leopard's face or.

Please feel free to click on any of the images above to see a larger, more detailed photograph of these signs.

The badge of the York Civic Trust (the Trust says its vision is "promoting heritage, shaping tomorrow") is based on the pre-Stuart Royal Arms of England, Quarterly: 1 and 4, France modern (Azure three fleurs-de-lis or); 2 and 3, England (Gules three lions passant guardant in pale or).

I think you might be hard-pressed to say "historic York, England" more concisely than with these last two pieces of armory.

I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Non-Governmental Uses of the Arms of the City of York

While the coat of arms of the City of York, England can be found on public buildings and used by the City and the City Council, I also noticed a couple of instances of the use of the City's arms by entities not directly affiliated with the local government.

This first, though, is directly licensed by the City of York Council through their Taxi Licensing Team, which involves fees and charges in addition to requirements for vehicles to meet certain specific standards, not to mention that only a limited number of hackney carriage licenses are available to be allocated.

Be that as it may, I found one of those hackney carriages bearing the arms of the City:

Additionally, one of the local public houses (or, pubs) was also using the City's coat of arms. Welcome to The York Arms:

Later on in another post, we will see different one of these pub signs which are fairly common in England, of "X Arms" or "The X Arms" where "X" is a specific individual or, as above here, city.

The City of York is obviously very proud of its coat of arms, and it was a pleasure to see them in so many different places, and even used by non-civic entities like taxicabs and public houses.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

More Examples of the Arms of the City of York

So today we're going to visit some of the other places where I found the arms of the City of York (Argent on a cross gules five lions passant guardant or) used within the walls of the old city.

This first one is the arms of the City found on a public water fountain built, as it notes on its face, in 1880:

I love the dolphins and the decorations made to look like waves here.

Another was found on much newer display surface, the side of a Dial & Ride bus, "York's flexible bus service":

And finally, in a manner that can be found all over the British Isles (including Ireland), on the lowly but armorial dustbin (that's a trash receptacle, for my American readers):

Next time, not everyone who uses the arms of the City of York is necessarily directly affiliated with the City or the City Council. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Arms of York in York, England

As I noted last time, the arms of the City of York, England, can be found all around the city. (You can even buy tee shirts with the arms on them, though I was a bit disappointed not to find any caps emblazoned with the arms. So I will just have to "make do" with the armorial tee shirt I purchased there.)

Anyway, there are enough different examples that I photographed while we were there to fill at least two blog posts, along with some others later on which have other coats of arms besides the City of York's arms on display.

Naturally, buildings in the city are a frequent backdrop for display of the City's heraldry. Here, for example, over the doorway of the old York Dispensary:

And here, in full color, on the Mansion House in St. Helen's Square:

And over the doorway to what is now the Antique Centre at Duncombe Place:

And then, not surprisingly, on the iron gate entrance to a local park:

And finally, on the building housing Gregg's Bakery -- and here the bycocket (see my previous post for the definition and discussion of this cap) has reversed its orientation and is painted like a true heraldic cap of maintenance:

Note also that in the two panels above, the sword and mace have reversed their placement from each other, even though the bycocket/cap of maintenance and the lions on the cross remain the same.

What a great display of civic heraldry to see, just wandering about within the old walls of the City of York!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

On to Historic York and the Arms Used by the City Council

Or, as the Scandinavians who settled there called it, Jorvik.

York, the next stop on our trip to England last year, is an historic city which in many ways revels in its historicity. Among other things, it boasts the longest remaining old city walls in England, punctuated by several gatehouses, or "bars". (We will be visiting some of these bars later, as they - oh, yeah - have heraldry on them!)

But one of the other things that a heraldry enthusiast (like myself) will notice is that the City's coat of arms can be found all over the place. I spent several days wandering the streets of York, and I am pretty certain (not the least based on the book Heraldry and the Buildings of York by Hugh Murray, published in 1985 and which I purchased a copy after returning home) that I have not seen half the examples of them!

Be that as it may, the City arms I found in so many places that I'm going to have to break the examples up into a couple of different posts.

Today, the arms as used by the City of York Council.

It is unknown when the City's arms were granted, but it is likely that they were at least adopted, if not granted, during the reign of King Edward III (1327-1377). They were recognized by the College of Arms during a Visitation in 1584, confirmed by a note from the heralds in February 1587.

The arms are blazoned: Argent on a cross gules five lions passant guardant or. They often appear with a crossed sword and mace behind the shield, surmounted by what is termed a "cap of maintenance", but whose form is that of a bycocket* gules turned up ermine. The sword, mace, and bycocket in the achievement of arms are based the actual sword, mace, and cap presented to the City by King Richard II in 1389 (the sword) and 1392 (the mace and cap).

What follows are examples of the arms of the City as used by the City of York Council, and which were found all about old City of York:

This next one is even a "two-fer"; two depictions of the City of York Council arms in a single location.

This next one is on a building "to let" (not "toilet"!); that is, the space is available for someone to rent:

The arms are used by the Council pretty much like a logo, but as they are, in fact, the arms and accompanying accoutrements of the City, I find it to be a refreshing, appropriate, and frequent(!) use of the ancient arms of York.

* French, chapel à bec. Nowadays this form of medieval cap is often referred to as a "Robin Hood" hat, because it has appeared in so many Robin Hood movies.

Monday, September 4, 2023

A Final Monument in Ely Cathedral with a Complex Display of Heraldry

For our final heraldic monument in Ely Cathedral (there are others, but as I noted at the beginning of this series from the Cathedral, we only had a limited amount of time to visit, and so I missed a fair bit of the heraldry to be found there), we come to the monument to Henry Caesar, Dean of Ely 1614-1636.

Henry Caesar, also known as Henry Adelmare, a member of the 400 year-old Adelmare family of Treviso in the Veneto, was the son of Giulio Cesare Adelmare, an Italian physician to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. When Henry and his brother, Sir Julius Caesar, became English citizens, they adopted their father’s middle name as their surname.

As you can see, the monument is quite large, and consists of a kneeling representation of Dean Henry Caesar as well as two pillars and a long inscription in Latin, not to mention the three heraldic shields at the top.

The inscription reads:

Post Tempestatem Tranquillitas. Effigies Reverendi viri Henrici Caesaris alias Adelmarii, S. Theologiae Professoris, huius Eccl. 20 plus minus Annis Decani vigilantissimi; Filii illustris viri Julii Caesaris Adelmarii, Medicinae Docttoris, serenissimis Reginis Mariae & Elizabethae principis Medici, Fratris honoratisimi D. D. Julii Caesaris Militis, & juris utriusque Doctoris; binis Regibus Jacobo & Carolo Magistro sacrorum Scriniorum, & 3 Consiliis secretioribus; de antique stirpe Adelmaria Familia Trevesana Venetorum Annis prope 400 illustri oriundi; Vita celebis, Religione devoti, Humanitate candidi, Gravitate placidi, Charitate in huius Eccl. chorum & musas Cantabrigienses ultimo Testamento munifici, praesentis Vitae Bonis felicis, futura, Spe felicioris, Fruitione felicissimi : Qui 27 Junii, Anno Domini 1636, placide in Dom, obdormivit, Annum Ætatis suae agens 72. Qui & hoc memoriae sacrum meruit a Carolo Casare Agnato suo charisimo & Executore solo.

Of these three shields at the top of the monument, we have:

In the center, Gules two keys in saltire wards upwards in chief the letter D or (a variant of the arms of the Deanery of Ely), impaling Quarterly: 1 and 4, Gules three roses argent barbed and seeded proper on a chief argent three roses gules barbed and seeded proper (Caesar); 2, Sable two bars in chief three swans argent beaked and legged gules (Cesaryna or Adelmare); 3, Gules three crescents or (Perient).

Margaret Perient was Dean Henry Caesar’s mother.

To the left, we have: Gules three roses argent barbed and seeded proper on a chief argent three roses gules barbed and seeded proper (Caesar).

And to the right: Gules three roses argent barbed and seeded proper on a chief argent three roses gules barbed and seeded proper (Caesar), impaling Sable two bars in chief three swans argent beaked and legged gules (Cesaryna or Adelmare).

The shields in the center and on the right are somewhat unusual, containing as they do both the Caesar and Adelmare arms. To the best of my research, Dean Henry Caesar never married, so the marshalled shield on the right does not contain (in the usual fashion) the arms of a wife, but the (older?) arms of Aldemare.

All in all, a complex memorial, with even more complex heraldry, some of which leaves me wishing for more information.