I'm always pleased when society publications drop through the letterbox and last week's arrival of The Heraldry Society's Coat of Arms and Heraldry Gazette gave me an excuse to stop work, have a cuppa and indulge my addiction. One particular small piece has occupied my thoughts over the last day or so.
The article in question is the report that in 2008 three new road signs were erected by the Parish Council on each of the approach roads to this old South Yorkshire Village.
The report identifies the arms illustrated on the village sign as those of Anne of Burghwallis, long standing local land owners, one of whom still lives in the village.
Why has this small report occupied my thoughts so much on this wonderfully sunny weekend?
I have a particular interest in the activities of Parish Councils and I have more than once set down my thoughts about local authorities who use unauthorised armorial bearings; I would dearly love to see those authorities who feel that the use of armorial bearings is important to them actually putting their money where their mouth is and investing in a grant of arms from the Heralds College.
These signs show the arms of the Anne family and not the arms of any local authority governing the ancient village of Burghwallis. It may be patently obvious to the residents of the ancient village of Burghwallis that these arms are those of the Anne family but then again, knowing how many people are truly ignorant of heraldry, it may not. How many residents and visitors will, quite understandably, be under the impression that these are the arms of "the village" or, more properly, of the Parish Council?
In my humble opinion this is a prime case of a local authority, Burghwallis Parish Council, using armorial bearings which it has no right to use; it doesn't even have the excuse of assuming unauthorised arms, it has in fact usurped the arms of the Anne family and is using them to represent, or identify, the village.
It is quite possible that the Parish Council has the tacit consent of at least one surviving member of the Anne family but it is questionable as to whether such consent could be given. The College of Arms states that arms that have been granted to an armiger have been granted to him and his descendants according to the law of arms and that under a ruling of the College those arms may not be used by any other body or person.
If Burghwallis Parish Council wishes to use armorial bearings they jolly well ought to petition for their own.
See The Court of Chivalry - 1954 Manchester Corporation v Manchester Palace of Varieties Ltd  1 All ER 387.
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