Monday 26 April 2010

A manorial coronet.

Heraldry addicts like me tend to spend far too much time trawling the world wide web in search of a fix ( in my defence, I am aware that there are far worse things to trawl for so it could be worse!) and I'm always pleased to see armorial bearings which, to my eyes at least, are new additions to the ether. Today, when searching for images of the insignia of the members of The Manorial Society of Great Britain, I noticed the arms of Peter N. Jones Esq., Lord of the manor of Holdingham.

I not only stumbled upon Mr. Jones' splendid armorial bearings but I also found some information on the design of the insignia used by Members of the aforementioned society - I am most grateful to Mr. Jones.

Using the information from Mr. Jones' website I have created an imaginary coat of arms for an imaginary lord of a manor onto which I have added the membership insignia  of the MSGB in much the same way that a knight or baronet would do. 

The arms of an imaginary lord of the manor.

It is worth noting the involvement of two prominent figures in the design of the insignia which Mr. Jones records as:

'DNS CUR BARO' is a diminuitive for 'DOMINUS  CURIA BARONAM' - Lord of the Court Baron, the Court of the Freeholders, or the baron's men, presided over by the Steward to the Lord of the Manor.
The crimson and ermine represent manorial lordship.
The Norman pillars and arch represent Monarchy, founded by William the Conqueror.  The Monarchy was based on military land tenure through the Manor.  The English Manors, as described in the Domesday Book in 1086 were the pillar and keystone of government.
'PER VIRGAM' - "By the Rod".  The rod or wand is the symbol of office and is carried by the Steward or Bailiff of the Manor representing the authority delegated to him by the Lord.  All males of the age of 16 and over are entitled to attend Court and on admittance are tapped on the left shoulder with the tip of the rod. 
The rod also symbolizes the Court's power to inflict punishment.  Lists of admittances in court rolls and books often began with "per virgam".
The Acanthus leaf coronet is the coronet of the Manorial Lord differenced accordingly from Royal or Noble coronets.
Green represents the spring growth of corn and gold the harvest.

The insignia was designed by Cecil R. Humphrey-Smith OBE, FSA Principal of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies and authorized by Sir Colin Cole KCB KCVO KStJ TD BCL MA FSA (sometime Garter Principal King of Arms).

I haven't seen the insignia used armorially before but, having added it to the arms of Mr. Jones, I confess that it quite pleases me and I hope that I have started a trend.

Manorial Insignia

Saturday 24 April 2010

A Roadshow a Sheriff and a coconut.

Viewers of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow (Sunday 18th April 2010 - all images courtesy of the BBC) will have seen the Sheriff of Chester Cllr Andrew Storrar proudly wearing his official robes and sporting what has undoubtedly become accepted as  the Sheriff’s Chain of Office. He described the armorial jewel as those of the Office of Sheriff. 

Badge of office

Pimbley's Dictionary of Heraldry describes Arms of Office as those borne by holders of certain offices which designate that office. For instance, the ancestors of the Dukes of Ormond, being hereditary butlers of Ireland, bore three covered cups. Garter, the principal king-at-arms of England, bears "Argent, a cross Gules, on a chief Azure a crown Or, encircled with a garter of the order buckled and nowed between a lion of England and a lily of France."

The Sheriff and his good lady wife were pleased to present to the antiques expert a rather splendid gold ring sporting the same armorial bearings as the Chain of Office.  Mrs Storrar explained that they had heard that the ring was due to be auctioned locally and they had successfully bid in the region of £400 to £450.  The ring shows an inscription indicating that it belonged to "Robert Gregg, Sheriff of Chester".  Robert Gregg held the office of Sheriff in 1869/70 and went on to become Mayor in 1872-73.  The expert informed us that a price of upwards of £500 was a bargain when compared to the cost of commissioning a new one which, to match the workmanship on the one before him, would cost "thousands".

“Sheriff’s Ring”

Harold Storey, Chairman of the Cheshire Heraldry Society, also saw the show and stated that:
“We did not get a clear view of the arms, but it seemed to be - a chevron per pale and per chevron, between three garbs, and there might have been something in Chief.  I cannot find any Gregg arms anything like this, but to have been sheriff he will have had to belong to one of the Guilds.  The Guilds all used Coats of Arms which are on display in the Guild Hall, Chester.  Most were copies of, or fairly similar to, those of the London Guilds. The arms of The London INNHOLDERS are - Azure a chevron Argent between 3 oatsheaves Or, on a chief argent a "St. Julian's Cross" Sable.  The Cross (drawn as a saltire to fit on the chief) was an addition in 1634.  We can be sure the Chester Innholders used something very similar, and I guess that Robert Gregg was a member of the Innkeepers Guild and his ring bore the arms of his Guild.  It seems probable that either he or the guild itself had the medal made with the Guild arms for future use by Chester Sheriffs who were members of that guild, and now it is used by all sheriffs.”

Closer examination of the arms on the “Sheriff’s Chain of Office” show that they are surrounded by what might be a garter and are surmounted by a coronet - the lions grasping the jewel may (or may not) be supporters. I am intrigued by the inclusion of a coronet which might indicate the arms of a peer rather than a guild however I am not aware of any peer holding the office of Sheriff of Chester. It is of course pure conjecture but it is possible that Mr. Gregg took it upon himself to assume  the coronet of the earls of Chester because the office of sheriff, first recorded for the City of Chester in the 1120s, was originally appointed by the earl.  I noticed also that Mrs Storrar had what for want of better description was a "consorts jewel" which, if accurate, might indicate that the shield is Gules (see screen shot).

Consort’s Jewel

Harold has subsequently written to the present Sheriff, Cllr. Hilarie McNae, requesting further details and stating that “Robert Gregg was Sheriff 1869-70 and Mayor 1872-73. In order to reach these offices he will have had to have been a member of one of the Chester Guilds.  The Guilds all claimed to have Coats of Arms, but in fact most Guilds used as their arms those of the corresponding London Guild or a simple variation on those.  The arms used by the Chester Guilds are on display in the Chester Guild Hall.  I have not gone to Chester to check on this, but the arms of the London Innholders in 1588 were - “Azure a chevron quarterly Or and Argent between three oatsheaves Or”.   I suspect that The Chester Guild copied these, perhaps just changing the oatsheaves to garbs (wheat sheaves).  The London Guild later added a chief to their shield, a panel above the garbs with a cross of St. Julian.

It seems to me therefore that these medals were made for officers of the Innholders Guild.  With the demise of the Guilds they will have been inherited by the City of Chester and allocated by them at some date for use by successive Sheriffs.

It would be interesting to know if they bear an assay letter, of Chester or elsewhere, and if so what date this indicates.  If this is around 1870 this will confirm a connection with Robert Gregg, maybe he had all three items made for the Innholders.”

I hope to be able to bring my reader further information should a reply be forthcoming. In the mean time, whoever the arms belonged to and whatever they have morphed into, we can be fairly certain that they are not actually arms of office.  
Also featured on the same roadshow was a mazer made from a coconut, with arms carved onto the nut.  Difficult to be sure but they seemed to be simply Vair or Vairy, with the motto "veritas et concordia" and the initials J.B. It was suggested by the expert that that, although the present value was in the low hundreds, if the present owner could identify owner of the arms and the initials JB it would add a couple of thousands to the value!

Sunday 11 April 2010

Latest update to Cheshire Heraldry - Savage of Clifton

Savage of CliftonArms: Quarterly of seventeen -
1 Argent, six lioncels rampant 3,2, and 1, Sable.
2 Gules, a chevron between three martlets Argent [Walkinton]
3 Argent, a pale fusilly Sable [Danyers]
4 Argent, a fesse dancettee Gules [Chedle]
5 Argent, a cross formee, the ends fleury Sable [Swinnerton]
6 Gules, a cross Ermine [Beke]
7 Or, on a fesse Azure, three garbs of the field [Vernon]
8 Quarterly, Or and Gules; over all a bendlet Sable [Malbank]
9 Sable, a fesse humettee Argent [Bostock]
10 Azure, three garbs Or [Randolph Blundeville]
11 Azure, two bars Argent [Venables]
12 Quarterly, Argent and Gules, in the second and third quarters a fret Or [Dutton]
13 Argent, on a bend Gules, three escarbuncles Or [Thornton]
14 Sable [Vert?], a cross engrailed Ermine [Kingsley?]
15 Or, a saltire Sable [Helsby]
16 Azure, a chevron between three garbs Or, a crescent for difference [Hatton]
17 Azure, an estoile issuant from the horns of a crescent Or [Minshull]

1 Crest: An unicorn's head Argent, erased, mained [and armed] Or.
2 Crest: Out of a ducal coronet Or, a lion's jamb erect Sable.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Herald (Artist) wanted apply within.

Now here's a novel approach - The [Kenyan] College of Arms, the body mandated under the College of Arms Act (Cap 98), Laws of Kenya, to approve and award Grant of Arms seeks to constitute a Panel of Artists for purposes of designing Coat of Arms and engrossing Grants of Arms for applicants thereof.

The tender document, which can be seen on the link below, seems to require the applicant to be rather more than just an heraldic artist. In the UK at least, we leave the designing bit to the herald but in today's cost cutting world perhaps the Kenyans will start a trend!

Requiring a herald to tender for his job seems a tad too 21st century for us.



Closing Date:24th May 2010


The College of Arms, the body mandated under the College of Arms Act (Cap 98), Laws of Kenya, to

approve and award Grant of Arms seeks to constitute a Panel of Artists for purposes of designing Coat of

Arms and engrossing Grants of Arms for applicants thereof.


To constitute a Panel of Artists aimed at achieving effective management of standardization in designing

Coat of Arms and engrossing Grant of Arms.


1.  Design Coat of Arms as assigned following specifications provided;

2.  Submit the designed Coat of Arms for approval by the College of Arms;

3.  Engross Grant of Arms on the Vellum Parchment;

4.  Submit engrossed Grant of Arms for execution by the College of Arms;

5.  Update the College regularly on the progress of work assigned;

6.  Photographing and framing the Grant of Arms upon execution by the College of Arms.

The following qualifications will be used for short listing:-
1.  Good understanding of what is a Coat of Arms  and the uses thereof;
2.  Knowledge and expertise in the field of heraldry;
3.  Proven expertise and knowledge in designing Coat of Arms;
4.  Proven expertise in engrossing of Grant of Arms on Vellum Parchment;
5.  Ability to design Coat of Arms with specifications provided;
6.  Commitment to work diligently as and when assigned;
7.  Past experience of designing Coat of Arms and engrossing Grant of Arms.
Interested Artists will further be required to do a dummy engrossment of a Grant of Arms as per our
specifications. Further information together with the specifications can be obtained between 9.00 a.m. and
4.00 p.m. on normal working days from the Coat of Arms Registry, Room No.23, Ground floor, Sheria
House, Harambee Avenue Nairobi
Interested and eligible Artists who fulfill the above requirements are invited to submit their Expressions of
The same should include:
1.  Names and CV of the Artist
2.  Evidence of experience in carrying comparable assignments and of the extent to which the Artist
match the required expertise
3.  Physical address
4.  The dummy Grant of Arms as per specifications.
Expressions of Interest in plain sealed envelopes marked ‘Expression of Interest: Panel of Artists’
should be  addressed as below and hand-delivered and deposited in the Tender Box on the Ground
Floor, Sheria House,
on or before 24th May 2010 at 11.00 a.m.
The Registrar of College of Arms,
State Law Office,
P.O. Box 30031-00100,
Only successful Artists will be contacted.


[End Quote]

The above advertisement contained a number of quite unacceptable spelling errors (given that it originates from a law office). I have taken the liberty of correcting them. [They were - specifcations (sic) (five times) - qualifcations (sic) - feld (sic) - Ground foor (sic) - who fulfll the (sic) ].

One hopes that the applicants for the post have a greater grasp of basis spelling than the law officers who placed the advertisement.

Friday 9 April 2010

An heraldic abomination - Dartmouth Arms, Dartmouth, Devon.

I'm always pleased to see armorial inn signs but too often today these signs tend to have no relationship with their armorial names. Two examples close to my own home have now, sadly, lost all connection with their armorial names; The Granville Arms now sports an inn sign upon which is painted a view of what appears to be a coppice of silver birch trees (your guess is as good as mine!) and the sign of The Swinnerton Arms is simply a painting of the pub itself.

An heraldic abomination - Dartmouth Arms, Dartmouth, Devon.

I was therefore quite pleased when I noticed an image of an armorial inn sign posted on an internet photo storage site however, upon close examination the painting itself, whilst not too bad artistically, is an heraldic abomination. The shield itself is about the only part of the achievement which could be awarded the accolade of being heraldically true to the blazon. The supporters seem to have lost their decoration; the lion should be semée of fleur-de-lis Sable and the stag should be semée of mullets Gules. To make matters worse for the poor lion, he appears to have collected the wrong head gear from the cloak room and been stitched up with the coronet of an earl instead of his own ducal coronet with five ostrich feathers. Come to think of it, the crest itself seems to have suffered the same fate; the crest of the achievement and the head wear of the lion should be identical.

For those who have an interest in the heraldically correct, I offer, without any pretensions to artistic quality, my own meager image along with the correct blazon: 

The heraldically correct Dartmouth Arms

The Earl of Dartmouth

Arms: Azure a Buck's Head cabossed Argent
Crest: Out of a ducal coronet Or, a plume of five ostrich feathers Argent and Azure alternately.
Supporters: Dexter, a lion Argent semée of fleur-de-lis Sable ducally crowned Or, and issuing from the coronet a plume of five ostrich feathers argent and Azure alternately;
Sinister, a stag Argent semée of mullets Gules. 

Thursday 1 April 2010

A hello and a fare thee well.

Today we say a farewell and a hello to two Kings of Arms.

Sir Peter Gwynn-Jones, KCVO retires from the College of arms after a long and distinguished career and Thomas Woodcock LVO, DL, takes up the crown as Garter King of Arms.

Thomas Woodcock LVO, DL,

[Image courtesy of The College of Arms Newsletter]

A full account of the Garters past and present can be found in the latest College Newsletter.

A free heraldry symposium courtesy of the Yorkshire Heraldry Society

 The Yorkshire Heraldry Society will be hosting a free heraldry symposium on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Bradford Grammar School. You can do...

Popular Posts