Wednesday 25 February 2015

Are flags armorial in nature?

I am having a very interesting conversation elsewhere about the initiatives of The Flag Institute, a private society for flag enthusiasts, "Creating Local & Community Flags"; their website states that they are “currently being consulted by a number of civic organisations throughout the United Kingdom, who are in the process of selecting and adopting their own flags”. The Institute makes it quite clear that in Scotland any initiative must be undertaken in consultation with the Lord Lyon and this is quite obviously because in the view of the Lord Lyon almost all flags can be considered to be armorial in nature. In England however, the College of Arms appear to have taken their usual laid back approach and appear to have sat back and just handed the reigns over to The Flag Institute.

Some of the design proposals are quite stunning but, so far as I can tell, they are (as the Lord Lyon quite clearly and astutely already knows in his own domain) armorial in nature. The College of Arms will not grant arms to a non entity; for example, whilst they will grant arms to a County Council, they will not grant arms to an historical ceremonial county because there is no body corporate to whom the grant could be made. So, how can these proposed new flags trans-morph into reality given that in England flags and armorial bearings can only belong to real entities. A ceremonial county is not a corporate body or a person in law; it is simply a geographical line on a map. Other than the fact that a private organisation (the Flag Institute) has accepted a particular flag through some local participation, how can the flag have any status?

I realise that that the College of Arms has little or no power but it is stretching it a bit to say that flags do not come under the remit of the College of Arms. If the College had the same bite as the Lord Lyon (who must be consulted in the matter of flags in Scotland) I am sure that they would argue that such flags as the ones I have seen designed are indeed VERY armorial. The Lord Lyon would and does argue that they are indeed armorial.

The College of Arms has recently offered reduced fees to Parish Councils but now we have The Flag Institute, apparently with the blessing of the College of Arms, offering to organise and assist with the design of “Local & Community flags” which experience has shown are very heraldic in nature.

I can not help but wonder if this is yet another nail in the coffin of the College of Arms. Once it’s on a flag which has gained some pseudo authority via an “Institute” which is the guardian of “The UK Flag Registry” why not also display the design on a shield?

Perhaps, in all fairness, I ought to add that I believe that the initiative by the Flag Institute is commendable and whilst I have some reservations, or unanswered questions, as to the legal status of the flags they have registered, my real concern is that, yet again, the College of Arms has shown that it has no control over armorial designs and that it appears to have simply left this initiative to others.

The "village" flag of Evenley, Northamptonshire, adopted 18th November 2014. Image courtesy of The Flag Institute and used under the terms of fair reporting.

Monday 23 February 2015

Morton of Hulme Walfield

The latest image added to the website is Morton of Hulme Walfield
Arms: Argent, a greyhound courant Sable collared Vert purfled of the field.
Crest: A greyhound's head Sable collared Vert purfled Argent.  

It's a long time since I've used "purfled". 

Friday 20 February 2015

Meredith (Amerydith) of Ashley

Meredith (Amerydith) of Ashley
Arms: Gules, a lion rampant reguardant Or armed and langued Azure.
Crest: A demi-lion rampant Sable collared and chained Or.      

When is a coat of arms not a coat of arms?

Apparently a Coat of Arms is not a Coat of Arms when it is a crest belonging to a "title" you've just purchased for a few quid.

Daft statement I know but according to the vendors of Lord & Lady Titles (which can apparently be purchased for a mere £24.95) this isn't a coat of arms:

The website, in the frequently asked questions part, states:


Yes you can. The title crest and estate crest are not heraldic coats of arms but can be used in a similar way by title pack holders to represent their personal connection to the title. These unique crests have been specially created to reflect the history of the title and the estate and have been hand painted exclusively for title pack holders. 

What a load of tosh!

Here's the dictionary definition of  Crest:

Crest  (krÄ•st)



a. A usually ornamental tuft, ridge, or similar projection on the head of a bird or other animal.

b. An elevated, irregularly toothed ridge on the stigmas of certain flowers.

c. A ridge or an appendage on a plant part, such as on a leaf or petal.


a. A plume used as decoration on top of a helmet.

b. A helmet.


a. Heraldry: A device placed above the shield on a coat of arms.

b. A representation of such a device.


a. The top, as of a hill or wave.

b. The highest or culminating point; the peak: the crest of a flood; at the crest of her career.

5. The ridge on a roof.

Conclusion = It's a coat of arms, NOT a crest! The crest is the bit that sits on top of the helmet. 

Cheshire Heraldry Society Meeting

Tomorrow we will welcome Chris Purvis who will be presenting his talk on A family tree on a deerskin (at Charlecote Park).

Wednesday 18 February 2015

A Court Leet Manorial Chain

For those who do not have access to copies of The Heraldry Gazette, official newsletter of The Heraldry Society, I have uploaded a copy of my note on the magnificent heraldic jewel sold at auction by Bonhams in July 2007. 

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Seal of the Chester Palatinate Court

The last seal which was in use when the Chester Palatinate Court was dissolved in 1830.

Sunday 8 February 2015

Mainwaring of Newton

Latest addition to the 1663 Visitations:

Mainwaring of Newton

Arms: Quarterly of eight: 
1. Argent, two bars Gules, a canton Or [Mainwaring]
2. Vert, a tun Or [Newton]
3. Argent, a lion rampant Sable charged on the shoulder with a cross formee Or [Pownall]
4. Argent, on a bend Azure three garbs Or [Fitton]
5. Argent, three birds' heads erased Sable [                ]
6. Or, on a cross Azure five garbs of the field [Milneton]
7. Quarterly Vert and ........ a lion rampant Argent [Olton]*
8. Argent, a chevron Sable between three wrens Proper [Wrenbury]      

* These arms are shown as Quarterly Vert and Gules, a lion rampant Argent [Olton] in the second quarter of the arms of Starkey of Wrenbury in the Cheshire Visitations of 1580           

Friday 6 February 2015

Theft of a Thistle Stall Plate

The Membership Secretary of The Heraldry Society of Scotland has today posted (on the HSS forum) details of the theft of a Thistle Stall Plate.

Yet another theft from the Thistle Chapel: on Monday night the stall-plate of the late Alexander Hugh Bruce, 6th Lord Balfour of Burleigh KT GCMG GCVO PC DL JP (1849 – 1921) was stolen. Here is a snap of it in situ - if we all keep an eagle-eye on Ebay it may yet be recovered:

Now up to Page 10 of the 1663 Visitations: Mainwaring of Kermincham

Mainwaring of Kermincham
Arms: Quarterly:
1 & 4 Argent, two bars Gules a mullet for cadency [Mainwaring]
2 & 3 Azure, three garbs Or [Praers].
On an escutcheon of pretense Argent, a canton Gules over all a bend Azure charged with three garbs Or [Fitton]    

Thursday 5 February 2015

Spot the difference.

Spot the difference.

These are the armorial bearings of Leicester of Toft as recorded in the Visitations of Chester 1580 and 1663. The most obvious one of course is the crest but there are quite a few others including questionable ordering of the additional quarters.

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Farewell England

Well, it's official; England no longer exists as a governmental or political unit. 

"England, predominant constituent unit of the United Kingdom, occupying more than half the island of Great Britain.

Outside the British Isles, England is often erroneously considered synonymous with the island of Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and even with the entire United Kingdom. Despite the political, economic, and cultural legacy that has secured the perpetuation of its name, England no longer officially exists as a governmental or political unit—unlike Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which all have varying degrees of self-government in domestic affairs. It is rare for institutions to operate for England alone. Notable exceptions are the Church of England (Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, including Northern Ireland, have separate branches of the Anglican Communion) and sports associations for cricket, rugby, and football (soccer). In many ways England has seemingly been absorbed within the larger mass of Great Britain since the Act of Union of 1707." 

College of Arms Newsletter April 2024

 The latest College of Arms Newsletter for April 2024 is now online .

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