Exploring Coats of Arms

When i’m not studying National Heritage and History I moonlight as a storyteller and one half of a writing team with Kevin Brooke published Children’s author from Worcestershire.

This weekend as part of World Heritage Day [19-20 September] we were invited to Harlebury Castle to make some stories about their history and preform them to visitors on the day.

Hartlebury Castle tells the story of the bishops of a major middle England plot of land and their evolving role in English society, from political and military guardians of a frontier with Wales to active participants in political decision making in modern times. They number a pope (Clement VII) who played a key role in precipitating the establishment of the Church of England; Bishops Latimer and Hooper, Protestant martyrs of the Reformation; and Bishop Hurd, friend to King George III and creator of the Hurd Library.

The great hall at Hartlebury has some of the most interesting and rare examples of Coats of Arms and the Hurd library too contains much of the information in its ancient books on how and why we have Coats of arms.

So, how did shields become Coats of Arms?

The ancient Romans used various symbols called insignia on their shields so that they could identify their different military units of soldiers.

The first real use of what we now know as coats of arms is portrayed in the Bayeux Tapestry which illustrates the Norman invasion of 1066, where some of the soldiers are carrying shields that have crosses and other symbols painted on them. However, by the 1100s, coats of arms came into more general use by feudal lords and knights in a battle to identify their soldiers and their opponents. By the 1200s, coats of arms had become a flag or emblem for noble families and inherited from one generation to the next. In Britain, only the aristocracy had the right to arms, with their serfs, servants and knights having these emblems as part of their ‘uniform’ when fighting on the battlefield for their Lord and Master. Eventually, the use of arms spread to the clergy, to towns, and places such as universities and trading companies; and so flags developed from coats of arms. The coats of arms that we are familiar with today were originally one person’s emblem. They were legal property which passed from father to son; however, wives and daughters could bear modified arms to show that they were related to the current holder. Other relatives of the original bearer of arms could use the family coat of arms but with a little bit of difference; maybe a colour change or an extra emblem. Coats of arms were essential in identifying people and used in seals on critical legal documents, and so their use was closely controlled. All coats of arms were tracked and recorded by heralds or agents to the King or Queen. which is why the study of coats of arms is called ‘heraldry.’

Did you know that the colours, animal, fruits, flowers and other objects used on the coats of arms all have different meanings?

Here are some of the meanings of the most used colours:

  • White stands for purity, innocence, peace and honesty
  • Gold stands for wisdom, glory, generosity and grandness
  • Green stands for happiness, love, and well-being
  • Red stands for strength and bravery
  • Purple stands for justice and is a royal colour used by Kings and Queens
  • Black stands for wisdom and sometimes grief
  • Blue stands for truth, strength and honour

The animals, fruit and flowers on coats of arms also have special meanings, here are some of the most used ones:

  • Apples, berries and grapes mean kindness, happiness and peace
  • Bay leaves stand for a poet or triumph
  • Oak trees or leave mean great strength and age
  • Olive branches or leavesstandfor peace and harmony
  • Roses are the mark of the seventh son -a red rose means grace and beauty; a white rosemeans love and faith
  • Bear stands for strength, cunning and defending your family
  • Dolphinmeans swiftness, love, charity and salvation
  • Dovemeans love and peace
  • Eagle is the sign for someone with a noble nature, bravery, strength and protection
  • Elephantmeans strength, happiness, luck and royalty
  • The horse stands for being ready for anything to do good for King and country
  • Lamb means gentleness and patience
  • The lion stands for great courage
  • Stagger stag’s antlers mean peace, harmony, strength and stamina
  • Swan means light, love, grace and perfection
  • Tiger stands for fierceness, bravery and fury

Mythological creatures are also often used on coats of arms, and these also have special meanings:

  • The dragon stands for a defender of treasure, courage and protection
  • Mermaidmeans eloquence
  • Pegasus (a winged horse)is the sign for inspiration and is considered a messenger of God
  • Phoenix is a symbol of resurrection
  • Sphinxstands for secrecy and knowledge
  • Unicorn(a horse with one horn)stands for extreme bravery, strength and truth

Crosses and angels are a sign of Christianity and stand for dignity, honour and glory.

here are some other meanings of the different angels and crosses you sometimes find on coats of arms :

  • An angel or a cherub means dignity, glory and honour and joyful news
  • Cross is a sign for faith and service in the Crusades
  • Celtic Cross shows heaven and earth as one
  • Cross Flory (flowered at each end)means one who has conquered
  • Seraphim(angel with three pairs of wings)means bearer of joyful news

Some other objects are also included on coats of arms and their meanings:

  • Anchor means hope
  • Bells mean the banning of evil spirits
  • Harp stands for the bridge between heaven and earth and also for a person who has good judgement
  • A plume of feathers is a sign of obedience and peaceful minds
  • Shell stands for a traveller to far off places
  • Sword, dagger or dart shows justice and military honour

Hope this helps you make or enjoy your own Coat of Arms.

A Poety Education for Kemp Hospice

Kidderminster College Poetry Competition is being held to raise money for Kemp Hospice a local cancer charity, these are a couple of entries from students.

studying

Diversity

What is diversity?

The difference between you and me

The difference between he or she

The avoidance of perversity

What is diversity?

More than black or white

More than wrong or right

More struggling against adversity

We want diversity

We want to be free

We want a committee

We all agree

Diversity in college goes hand in hand with knowledge.

 

 

Education

 

Off to get an education

A college level vocation

Waiting at the bus station

Overflowing with anticipation

It’s 32 week duration

Looking forward to graduation

What if there’s been a cancellation?

What if there’s a problem with the application?

Have a done enough preparation?

Enough of my active imagination

I’ll check with student information

They can give me explanation, mediation without hesitation

And soon I be in a new occupation

All thanks to my college education.

Week 6 Creative Writing with WEA

Q; Write a short story with Lent as the theme, explore the use of monologue and/or soliloquy to tell the story.

This Lent

– “I forgot to put ash on my forehead this morning, what a wonderful example of Christianity I am. Not that anyone outside would care. They would think I’d just forgotten to wash my face this morning, or worse think I’d fallen asleep whilst smoking and landed head first on my cigarette in hand.

I haven’t even chosen what I’m going to be fasting. It’s no good giving up chocolate again; the PMT was so bad last year. Not that it hurt me much it was everyone around me who had to do the suffering. The point is for me to be in a type of sacrifice, I’m supposed to feel and resist temptation; I need to prove that despite being mortal I can understand the point God made.

Who am I kidding; I don’t understand being human let alone God.

I could give up blasphemy and cursing. Oh but dad did that a couple of years back, I don’t want to end up turning blue while holding my tongue at work , poor old dad.

Maybe I could do a Katharine? She is so pious only eating when the sun is down, now that’s true penitence. Only I know I’d pass out whilst driving grandma and chasing after my demented two-year old, not to mention being my crazy self. Oh god I’d better get a move on, she’ll be waiting. See what I mean, I’m just not good at being a Christian.”

-“Ash yes, prayed yes, bible notes check. Great I hope Marie is on time Jack, it’s been hard since you left. I’m fasting again this lent I’m going to do it this time too, no sneaking snacks, only water in the day this time, I will make you proud of me.

I’ve volunteered at the coffee shop with Marie so god will be more pleased with me now. I know I’m not as good as Marie; she manages to be nice, cheerful and do loads for people. I can’t stand people Jack god knows that. Especially the foreign people living in our country. I don’t know how they can honestly expect me to go to a doctor about private matters when I don’t even understand a word they say. Things are harder for me than her. She has her little family, and her big family have been at that church forever. Marie can just be a Christian it’s in her blood. I have to work at it. I will show them you will see and if god is happy with me maybe he could make you come back to me.  Be more than just an old photo.”