26 June 2015

To Arms, to Arms

It is well known that this University has always regarded itself as immune from the jurisdiction of the Kings of Arms; both University and Colleges have ever devised and adopted into use their own Arms; often simply using the achievement of a Founder. My wife's College uses the Arms of the father of its founding principal, Dr Eleanor Plumer; he, as a distinguished Field Marshal and First World War general, had been granted a Coat of Arms including a sword surrounded by a laurel wreath ... a striking heraldic adornment for a Women's College!

When, in 1548, the University Press was finally firmly established (after two rather infirm earlier establishments going back to 1478) with Joseph Barnes as Architypographus, the first thing he did was to have a splendid block made of the University Arms. These were then, as they are now, three ducal coronets upon a field azure and, between them, an open book. But, whereas the words on the book now read Dominus Illuminatio Mea, from Barnes' time until at least 1658, the 'motto' was Sapientiae et Felicitatis. I expect some writer has explained all this; if a reader can point me in the direction of information, I would be grateful.

If I had anything to do with the (technically illegal) assumption of Arms by Catholic entities in England, I would behave rather differently from whoever currently does cook up such designs (it is my confident guess that the College of Arms has had little to do with these productions). The Ordinariate, for example, uses the Priory of Walsingham impaling Newman, which would normally imply either that the Prior of Walsingham had married a Miss Newman, or that a member of the Newman family held the office of Prior. The Anglican College of Guardians of the Shrine did distinctly better in 1945; I suspect Fr Fynes Clinton (who paid the fees) may have had a lot to do with the design. The  Kings of Arms granted Arms consisting of the Priory of Walsingham (Argent, upon a cross sable, five lilies of the first slipped and seeded proper) differenced with a canton (azure, charged with the Holy House or). A correspondingly elegant composition for the Ordinariate would have been the Priory of Walsingham differenced with a canton of Newman.

I think I rather like the use of cantons to do differencing. I can think of an example that goes back as far as the Roll associated with the Siege of Caerlaverock in 1300. It means that neither of the two coats concerned is deprived of its integrity. Allen Hall, for example, would look well if (given its origins) it were Oxford Ancient (i.e. with the words Sapientiae et Felicitatis!) differenced with a canton of Allen ... that is, his very jolly little conies!

Gumming a couple of coats together by means of impalement, which in heraldry most commonly implies the sort of temporary association that goes with a marriage (or the metaphorical marriage where an office-holder impales his arms of office with his own arms), seems unsophisticated if not down-right plain misleading!

9 comments:

Unknown said...

I am not quite sure if all the arms used by Catholic institutions are properly registered but, to be fair, this (as you say, technically illegal) practise is fairly common. Harrow, for example, has used it's arms, based on those of it's founder, for several centuries but only had the registered properly in 1920.

I think that some are properly registered tough. I seem to remember reading somewhere that canon law orders that they be registered in countries where such registration is possible. Besides, I suppose, since the pope is a sovereign with the right to create any title or honour he wishes, the arms of Catholic institutions and prelates would be legitimate through him anyway.

Felix Romanus

Charley Larkyns said...

I do wonder who came up with the Ordinariate 'arms'. Heraldry is a language. It has a grammar. If you ignore that grammar, as the presumably heraldically illiterate devisor of the Ordinariate 'arms' did, you may as well be talking like the late Professor Stanley Unwin.

As a nice point, Newman's arms were bogus too. Assumed, I understand, bu his father, but never granted. Why would one do such a thing, apart from vanity? A Grant of Arms is an Honour, and to assume such a thing is much like assuming a peerage.

Charley Larkyns said...

I do wonder who came up with the Ordinariate 'arms'. Heraldry is a language. It has a grammar. If you ignore that grammar, as the presumably heraldically illiterate devisor of the Ordinariate 'arms' did, you may as well be talking like the late Professor Stanley Unwin.

As a nice point, Newman's arms were bogus too. Assumed, I understand, bu his father, but never granted. Why would one do such a thing, apart from vanity? A Grant of Arms is an Honour, and to assume such a thing is much like assuming a peerage.

Zephyrinus said...

Dear Fr.

Thank you for a riveting Post.

Is one to understand that, in pursuing your armigerous interest, you have become a Pursuivant, or were you a reader of The Daily Herald ?

Chris said...

The Ordinariate's having an impaled coat of arms would also produce an awkward squashed effect should an armigerous Ordinary wish, correctly, to impale them with his own.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

A most illuminating point of which I was unaware, that the colleges of the Universities continue the practice of assuming arms. An excellent precedent then for the Catholic Church, which of course is barred from being granted arms as the State does not recognise its institutions (and particularly Dioceses) as bodies corporate. The situation is thus quite the opposite of the Universities, but the solution can be the same.

The Ordinariate arms were devised by Mgr Marcus Stock (now bishop of Leeds) when he was Secretary of the Bishops' Conference. You are quite right, the impaling is absurd, as it has a very precise meaning, which you cite, which does not apply here. Modern Catholic heraldry is sadly notoriously ignorant, not only in Britain.

Interestingly, however, for whatever unclear reason, he chose to devise new arms to represent Our Lady of Walsingham. He did NOT use the Priory arms: 'Argent on a cross Sable five lilies of the field', instead he gave them 'Argent on a cross Azure, five fleurs-de-lys of the field'. These arms have, to my knowledge, never existed before. Why? Who knows, was Mgr Stock trying to devise new arms for Our Lady in England? Does he think black looks gloomy and blue is Our Lady's colour? It makes clear however that the Ordinariate has no institutional connexion to the Shrine, but only Our Lady's patronage.

Zephyrinus said...

Charley Larkyns said:

"As a nice point, Newman's arms were bogus too. Assumed, I understand, by his father, but never granted. Why would one do such a thing, apart from vanity? A Grant of Arms is an Honour, and to assume such a thing is much like assuming a peerage."

I agree.

Comte de Poitiers.
(One of my Secondary Titles.)

Charley Larkyns said...

It is a fiction that 'the Catholic Church, ... is barred from being granted arms as the State does not recognise its institutions (and particularly Dioceses) as bodies corporate'.

Firstly, many Catholic institutions have been granted arms. The Grant to Ealing Abbey, which hangs outside the current Abbot's room, is to 'the Lord Abbot and Community...'.

Church of England bishops have Arms as corporations sole, which Catholic bishops are not, granted. But, since the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Wales, neither have Anglican bishops in Wales so been, nor are they 'recognised by the State'. But they get Grants of Arms.

If that were impossible, Catholic dioceses have bodies of trustees, which are corporations recognised in law, and to which Arms could be granted.

And before anyone brings it up, the Ecclesiastical Titles Act 1851 was repealed in 1871, and the 1871 Act has no bearing on the matter.

No, the real reason Catholic bodies and bishops prefer to use bogus Arms is because they are too mean to pay the fees. Or, to be charitable, they thing other uses of money are better.

A PS to Zephyrinus - I usually don't use my title of Lord Larkyns of Verdant Green socially.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

It remains a fact that the College of Arms will not grant arms to Catholic Diocese which display the ecclesiastical arms with mitre, cross and crozier. Admittedly as far as I know this has never actually been tried.

As to bishops personal arms, they will only be granted with helmet and crest, not with an ecclesiastical hat. That is to say, granted as the arms of a layman. Bishops are not laymen, nor martial, nor are they likely to have heirs (though they legitimately may, of course, if they have children from before their priesthood).

In such circumstances, why would one pay high fees to be insulted?

Lord Lyon, on the other hand, is prepared to grant ecclesiastical arms respecting the Church's heraldic tradition.