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.

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