Monday, November 12, 2018

Next Stop: Arras, France!

Our most recent trip overseas took us to the city hosting the XXXIII International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences, Arras, France.

We arrived a couple of days before the Congress was to begin, for two reasons: (1) it helps us deal with jet lag; and (2) it gives us some time to wander about the town, finding our way to the various venues, to learn more about and get a feel for the town itself, and it gives me a chance to find and photograph some of the heraldry which may be seen there.

First and foremost, of course, were the various depictions of the city's coat of arms to be found. In French, they are blazoned: De gueules au lion d'or, armé et lampassé d'azur, chargé en coeur d'un écusson d'azur semé de fleurs de lis d'or au lambel de gueules de trois pendants chargés chacun de trois petits châteaux d'or rangés en pal. The English blazon is: Gules a lion rampant or armed and langued azure overall an inescutcheon Azure semy-de-lis or a label of three pendents gules each pendent charged with three castles in pale or.

According to the website Heraldry of the World (, the origin of the lion is not known; the inescutcheon is the arms of the County of Artois, of which Arras was the capital.

These stained glass windows of the arms are found in Le Beffroi, the large multi-story building and bell tower situated at one of the Place des Héros (, which edifice is a symbol of Arras and a multi-purpose civic building:

This carved achievement of the arms is also found in Le Beffroi:

And the city's arms appear on street signs all around the city center:

There is also a carved version (of just the field and lion, without the inescutcheon) on the side of the city's train station.

There were some other places where the city's arms are found, but I think those deserve their own posts, so I will get to them in future posts.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

"Primrose, Maybe?": A Follow-Up

In my post of October 2, 2017 ( I'd uploaded two photographs of a corbel in St. Cuthbert's Church in Dalmeny, Scotland which contained a carved coat of arms that could not be identified for certain, but which might have been related to the Primrose family, or a couple of others.

An article by Ian Shepherd in the latest Tak Tent, the quarterly newsletter of the Heraldry Society of Scotland, states:

On 27 May 2018 I was the duty person welcoming visitors to the church. It was a quiet afternoon and I whiled away my time by looking at an old scrap book which I found in the apse. In it I read an article which stated inter alia that these two corbels bore the Arms of New College, Oxford, described as being the Arms of the then Lord Dalmeny's College....

The arms of New College are blazoned Argent two chevronels sable between three roses gules barbed and seeded proper. These are also the arms of the founder of the College, William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester. (This information is taken from a recent acquisition to my heraldic library, Oxford College Arms by John Tepper Marlin. If you'd like a copy of your own, it is available on Amazon.)

The above image of the New College arms was taken from the Trinity Ball Guide 2013,

So there you have it! Mystery solved, and positive identification made!

If only all of the other heraldic mysteries I run across could be solved so easily.

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Final Post From Our London Trip

Walking across one of the many bridges across the Thames River to get back to the north bank from whence we could catch the Tube back to our hotel, we passed several cast iron panels with these arms painted upon them:

The are, of course, the Royal Arms as borne by Queen Victoria (Quarterly: 1 and 4, Gules three lions passant gardant in pale or (England); 2, Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory gules (Scotland); and 3, Azure a harp or stringed argent (Ireland), and the arms of her consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

On his marriage to Queen Victoria in 1840, Prince Albert was granted his own personal coat of arms, which was the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom differenced with a three-point label bearing a red cross in the center, quartered with the arms of Saxony. The blazon is written as: Quarterly, 1 and 4, the Royal Arms with overall a label of three points argent charged on the center with a cross gules; 2 and 3, Barry of ten or and sable a crown of rue in bend vert.

The Prince's unusual coat of arms was a "singular example of quartering differenced arms, [which] is not in accordance with the rules of Heraldry, and is in itself an heraldic contradiction." (Boutell, Charles, Heraldry, Ancient and Modern: Including Boutell's Heraldry) Prior to his marriage to Victoria, Albert used the arms of his father undifferenced, following German practice.

Why the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom (suitably differenced) in the first and fourth quarters, rather than his paternal arms as would normally be expected there? Victoria and Albert were first cousins, plus the arms of a kingdom normally supersede those of a duchy. Besides, it is apparently what Victoria wanted, and as we all know from Mel Brooks' movie The History of the World, Part I, "It's good to be the king." (Because people give you what you want.)

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Nicely-Carved Achievement of Arms

Continuing our walk from St. Mary-at-Lambeth back toward the Houses of Parliament in London, we came by the Marriott Hotel, which as a sign on its facade indicates, used to be the London County Hall.

Also indicative of its former use was this carved achievement of arms:

The arms are those of the London County Council, which used to meet in this building.

(Don't you just love those wide-eyed dolphins on either side of the shield?)

The London County Council was granted this coat of arms in 1914. The arms can still be seen on buildings constructed by the council (like this County Hall become Marriott Hotel) before its dissolution in 1965. The final design for the arms, "simple in character and in every way suggestive of the corporate life of London," was agreed by the Council on May 26, 1914.

The arms were blazoned as: Barry wavy of six azure and argent on a chief argent the cross of St George [gules] charged with a lion of England [or], the shield ensigned with a mural crown or.

The blue and silver waves represented the River Thames and the Port of London. The English lion on St. George's cross was to show that London was the "Royal centre of England," encompassing the nation's capital city. The gold mural crown indicated that the arms were those of a municipal body.

As the arms included part of the royal arms (the "lion of England," a lion passant gardant or) a royal warrant was issued granting the arms on July 29, 1914. The arms were registered at the College of Arms by letters patent dated October 20, 1914.

Simple and suggestive arms indeed!

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Newly-Digitized Heraldic Research Tool

For those of you who know of the four-volume set Dictionary of British Arms: Medieval Ordinary, you know it's a great set of books, but one which may be a bit beyond many budgets. There is some recent good news about this set of books.

OAPEN, Open Access Publishing in European Networks, has digitized and uploaded all four volumes of the Dictionary of British Arms and these books can be downloaded from their website.

You can visit the OAPEN website and see these digitized books at, or go to the OAPEN Library main page at, click on "advanced search options", and in the Metadata box, type "dictionary of british arms" in the "Title" field, and then hit the "Search" button.

I have also added the first link above to the section "Some Good On-Line Armorials" in the left-hand column of this blog, so you should always be able to find the link, even if you can't remember which blog post it's in.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

A Pseudo-Heraldic Logo

It is interesting to note how often a shield shape is used to exemplify protection.

Continuing our walk beyond St. Thomas' Hospital, we passed a construction area which boldly announced that it was being protected by a specific security company. Oh, and guard dogs, which I think may possibly have been the bigger deterrent.

The company's logo is an interesting combination of an heraldic shield, a clenched gauntlet, and a pun on it's name.

If I had to try to blazon it, I would make it Quarterly argent and azure a clenched gauntlet grasping a rolled and sealed charter scroll fesswise whose margins extend beyond the edges of the shield azure.

Admittedly, the larger image of the two on the sign reverses the tinctures, and makes the gauntlet and charter argent.

Still, though, however quasi-heraldic and difficult to blazon the logo may be, it does tend to leave the viewer with a feeling of guardianship and protection, which is what you really want in a security company, isn't it?

Monday, October 22, 2018

A High School Class Creates a Coat of Arms

Well, if you're going to get a classroom full of high school students to enjoy studying Shakespeare, this is certainly one way to go about it!

Teacher Megan Schott of St. Joseph High School got the students in her AP Literature and Composition course to take inspiration from their study of Shakespeare and his works to create a Renaissance doorway, which incidentally also won the Texas Renaissance Festival's Door Decorating Contest.

The coat of arms, one of the main elements of the doorway, was created after the students researched Shakespeare's own heraldry, represented here by the tilting spear on the cross. The book represents literature, and the blue and white are the school's colors.

Above the shield, acting like a crest, is what I would blazon as A dragon statant affronty breathing flames of fire proper. (The flames are three-dimensional, popping "off the door in a really ferocious way they were proud of," said Ms. Schott.

An October 20, 2018 article with more details about the background and creation of this door, and another Door Decorating Contest winner in the Elementary School category, can be found on-line on the website of the Victoria Advocate at

The Arms of a Hospital

Leaving the little church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth and its many heraldic offerings behind us, we took a stroll down one of the nearby streets and came upon this:

The large, and busy, St. Thomas' Hospital on Westminster Bridge Road, London.

Its arms, granted on February 14, 1950, are blazoned: Argent on a cross between in the first quarter a sword erect gules and in the second quarter a chough proper, a roach haurient argent, on a chief azure a rose argent barbed and seeded proper between two fleurs-de-lys or.

The crest is: Between four spears points upwards sable embrued gules three Madonna lilies argent stalked and leaved vert.

As supporters, it has: dexter, A chough proper; sinister, A nightingale proper.

The cross and sword are clear references to the city of London, where the hospital is located. The nightingale supporter represents Florence Nightingale, and is a symbol for a hospital. The two choughs (the one on the arms and the other a supporter), popularly known as the Becket bird, represent St. Thomas Becket, after whom the hospital is named. The spears in the crest represents St. Thomas the Apostle, who was martyred by being killed with spears. (I am at this time unaware of the symbolism of the remaining charges on the arms and crest, though I could probably make some reasonable guesses; e.g., the Madonna lilies and fleurs-de-lys are often used as symbols of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the hospital is very near St. Mary-at-Lambeth. The church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth has pre-Norman origins, being recorded as early as 1062 as a church built by Goda, sister of Edward the Confessor, and dedicated to St. Mary.)

It is both unusual and gratifying to seen a modern organization displaying its coat of arms so boldly on the face of its building.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

An Unexpected But Familiar Coat of Arms at St. Mary-at-Lambeth Church

In looking at the stained glass windows in St. Mary-at-Lambeth, I noticed a coat of arms that I found very familiar from our trip to Glasgow, Scotland.

The window contains images of St. Ninian and St. David, with arms which are associated with, but not ascribed to, them.

The arms with St. Ninian are a shield of Scotland (Azure a saltire argent), most often seen in the form of a flag, and then this one:

These are the arms of the City of Glasgow, which can be found all over that city in many forms, styles, and media, as I noted in my post of September 1, 2016 (

So to find the Glasgow coat of arms here on the south bank of the Thames in metropolitan London was almost like running into an old friend there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Don't Try to Tell Me That Heraldry Is Dead!

Or dying.

Occasionally I'll run across someone who believes that heraldry, and the use of coats of arms, is something best left to the antiquarian, a moderately interesting field but one which has no practical application in this modern world.

Fortunately, I am not the only one who believes that such people are either misinformed, or even flat-out wrong.

Witness the following:

Dr. Waring McCrady, a former French professor and graduate of The University of the South (Class of '59) in Sewanee, Tennessee, is helping the University commemorate its 150th anniversary by designing nineteen unique flags for each residence hall and to hang in the University's McClurg Dining Hall.

From what I can see, the flags - which are truly heraldic in nature - are well-designed and easily identifiable, two major underlying principles in heraldry.

You can find a more complete article about the flags, their purpose, and rationale for some of the specific designs in an article in The Sewanee Purple by contributing writer Mary Pryor dated October 16, 2018, on-line at

(Additional individual pictures of the flags can be found at

I especially appreciate the quote in the article from Dr. McCrady that: “When heraldry is done right, the designs are permanent, and unlike logos that are constantly having to be rebranded for a ‘trendy effect,’ they are abstract enough to not get outdated.”

Amen to that, Dr. McCrady. Amen to that!