During the period 8-10 May 2015 there will be three days of commemorations to mark 70 years since Victory in Europe (VE 70). The occasion is being commemorated with events across the UK.

As part of these commemorations, Her Majesty's Government buildings are being asked to fly the Union Flag at full mast from Friday 8 May to Sunday 10 May to mark the VE 70 celebrations.

During the VE 70 period Europe Day will fall on Saturday 9 May 15 which is already a designated day for flying the Union Flag. The guidance for Europe Day is as follows:

The Union Flag should be flown as full mast on all Government buildings on this day. Where the European flag is flown on this day, the Union Flag should fly alongside the European flag and, on UK government buildings that only have one flagpole, the Union Flag should take precedence. It is not advisable to fly two flags on one pole.

Further to the flying of flags for VE Day we are encouraged to observe a two minute silence on Friday 8 May. The Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph is timed to coincide with the moment Winston Churchill broadcast to the nation on VE Day in 1945. The service will start at 3pm with a two minute silence observed nationally.

In celebration of the birth of the second child of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke of Duchess of Cambridge, it is requested that Union Flags should be flown at full mast from all Government Buildings as follows:

Flag to be flown on Monday 4th May from 0800 hours until 2000 hours.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance.

Richard III epitaph I 3 f.4 cropped compressedOn 26 March 2015 King Richard III was reinterred in a specially-constructed tomb in Leicester Cathedral, in a service in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses the Countess of Wessex and the Duke of Gloucester, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor and other distinguished guests. The College of Arms, founded by Richard III in 1484, was represented in the procession and service by Thomas Woodcock, Garter King of Arms, and Peter O'Donoghue, York Herald. Some information about the reburial service can be had here and here.

Illustrated left is an image from a College of Arms manuscript, showing an epitaph for Richard III. It is in the hand of Thomas Hawley, Clarenceux King of Arms, a herald between 1509 and his death in 1557. The epitaph would seem to come from the original tomb of Richard in the Franciscan Priory in Leicester, erected by Henry VII. It makes reference to the latter's piety and generosity, whilst hoping that the reader will pray for Richard on account of his offences and thus lessen his punishment.

The year 2015 sees the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill, K.G., O.M., C.H.

Churchill received many great honours both domestically and internationally. Arguably one of the greatest followed his death on 24 January 1965: the grant of a State Funeral. This took place at St Paul's Cathedral, London, on 30 January 1965.

The ceremony was arranged by the Earl Marshal with the Officers of Arms, the heralds, staffing his office and making the detailed plans. They also took part in the funeral itself. Volumes of papers relating to the ceremonial for the funeral are held at the College of Arms; a small selection are displayed here.


WSC Funeral Order Serv cover compressedCover of the Order of Service, showing Churchill's Arms within the Garter.

Learning with regret of the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia, on 23 January 2015, special instructions have been received requesting that all Union Flags on buildings of her Majesty's Government be flown at half-mast from 8 a.m. this morning until 8 p.m. this evening, 24 January 2015.

Any other UK national flags flown alongside the Union Flag when it is at half-mast should also be at half-mast. If a flag of a foreign nation is normally flown on the same stand as the Union Flag, it should be removed.

Local authorities are not bound by this request but may wish to follow it for guidance. Devolved administrations are responsible for issuing instructions for the flying of the Union Flag on buildings in their estate and others as necessary.

Keith Evans, MVO

05 January 2015

The College of Arms reports with sadness the death on 22 December 2014 of Keith Alexander Evans, MVO, Clerk of the Records and chief scrivener at the College of Arms.

Born on 17 December 1941, Keith arrived at the College at the very end of 1956, when he began as assistant to William Lovegrove, MVO, then Clerk to the Registrar of the College. He assisted with the seating arrangements for the last State Funeral, that of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965. Keith was appointed Clerk of the Records in 1968. In this role he administered, planned and scrivened the official records of grants of Arms, pedigrees, Royal Licences and other official documents; he also prepared many Letters Patent and fine pedigrees for the Officers of Arms. Having received the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, he was appointed Member of the Royal Victorian Order in the 1979 New Year's Honours List. He was a Freeman of the City of London.

Keith Evans's presence at the College of Arms after nearly sixty years of service will be sadly missed.


DBA vol IV cover compressedDictionary of British Arms: the publication of the fourth and final volume of the Dictionary of British Arms Medieval Ordinary completes the first stage of work, which began with a bequest to the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1926 from Lieutenant Colonel George Babington Croft Lyons to produce a new edition of Papworth's Ordinary. For several decades card indexes were compiled listing instances of British Arms, giving an original source for each entry. The index was divided into pre and post 1530, in other words the periods before and after the start of the Heralds' Visitations.

By the 1970s there were approximately 114,000 cards in the pre-1530 ordinary. The work was largely directed from the College of Arms as Sir Anthony Wagner, sometime Garter, was General Editor from 1940 till his death in 1995 and the decision to produce the work as an ordinary was taken in 1979.

Volume One of this monumental work was published in 1992, Volume Two in 1996, Volume Three in 2009 and Volume Four in 2014. The hard work of entering and editing over 20,000 cards for this volume and for Volume Three was undertaken by Sarah Flower at the College of Arms under the direction of the present Garter King of Arms, Thomas Woodcock. Together these four volumes form an index and ordinary to hundreds of manuscript and other sources for medieval British heraldry.

Volume Four and previous volumes are available online from: Boydell & Brewer Ltd., PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF.

Accession of George I

18 September 2014

August 2014 saw the 300th anniversary of the accession of King George I to the throne of Great Britain, marking the start of the rule of the Hanoverian dynasty.

The heralds, under the jurisdiction of the Earl Marshal or his deputy, had an important rĂ´le to play in arranging and carrying out the ceremonial associated with the accession. This included the Proclamation of King George's succession, and of course the Coronation itself. The design and registration of Royal and national symbols was also undertaken at the College of Arms, as it is to this day.

In the course of George I's reign, the Most Honourable Order of the Bath was established. This was the fourth most senior British Order of Chivalry (after the Orders of the Garter, the Thistle, and St Patrick): its chief architect was John Anstis, Garter King of Arms, who was appointed by the King to draw up Statutes for the Order, design its motto, badge, and elements of the robes, and the ceremony for creating a Knight.

A temporary exhibition at the College of Arms presents a selection of facsimiles of documents held by the College relating to King George I's accession and Coronation and to the Order of the Bath.


Coronation Queen Anne Geo1 p19 compressed

Order of the Privy Council directing the Heralds to proclaim the accession of George I. The Order was issued on the day of Queen Anne's death. By the terms of the 1701 Act of Settlement, the Crown was to pass to her nearest surviving Protestant relative, meaning that it was inherited by George ahead of around 50 others who had stronger genealogical claims to the throne but were Roman Catholic. 1 August 1714. College reference: Coronations of King George I and Queen Anne, p. 19.


Coronation Queen Anne Geo 1 p26 compressed
Record of the appointment of a Commission of the Lords Justice to decide the cases of those who claim to have a hereditary or other right to play a role (to 'do a service') in the forthcoming Coronation ceremony. The Earl Marshal is to arrange for a notice to be put in the Gazette (the first official journal of record and the newspaper of the Crown). 6 Sept 1714. College reference: Coronations of King George I and Queen Anne, p. 26.


Coronation Queen Anne Geo 1 p32 compressed
Even the Earl Marshal had to set out his claim to do service at the Coronation, as laid out in this document. Here he claims the right to order and direct the building of the Galleries and seats in Westminster Abbey, and decide their 'disposal' (i.e. the allocation of seating). College reference: Coronations of King George I and Queen Anne, p. 32.


Coronation Queen Anne Geo 1 p51 A4 compressed
This document conveys the King's Order to the Earl Marshal that he enquire of the Heralds whether the First Earl of England (i.e. the Earl who takes precedence over others on ceremonial occasions by virtue of his Earldom being the oldest) may carry the Sword of State at the Coronation if he is not a Knight of the Garter. The Order was issued on 14th October, less than week before the Coronation on the 20th. 14 Oct 1714. College reference: Coronations of King George I and Queen Anne, p. 51.


I. 27 p 45 coin designs compressed
Design for coins to be issued by George I, combining the arms of the countries of the United Kingdom with those of some of his dominions in Germany. 1714. College reference: Earl Marshal's Book: I.27, p.45.


I. 27 p 44 compressed
Draft of design for arms of King George I, quartering the nations of the United Kingdom with those of some of his German dominions. 1714. College reference: Earl Marshal's Book: I.27, p.44.


Grant of Arms M  R Howard 1714 compressedOriginal patent of arms issued in the first year of the reign of King George I. This was granted to Mathew Howard, merchant of the City of London, and his brother, Richard. The grant was made after it was established that they were of good reputation, loyal to The King and the Protestant succession, and had sufficient estates to support the rank of gentility. The grant is signed by Sir Henry St George, Garter King of Arms, and John Vanbrugh, the famous architect and playwright, who was Clarenceux King of Arms. 21 Dec 1714.


The College of Arms was experiencing a period of some turbulence at the time of King George's accession, with two men vying to become Garter King of Arms. The incumbent, Sir Henry St George, was 89, and both John Vanbrugh and John Anstis wanted to be named his successor. Vanbrugh had been appointed Clarenceux King of Arms in 1704 from outside the College, despite an ignorance of, and professed lack of interest in, heraldry. This was naturally much resented by other Officers. Anstis, a strong personality and a divisive figure, persuaded Queen Anne to sign a patent by the terms of which he would become Garter when Sir Henry died.

Historically, however, Garter Kings of Arms had always been appointed on the recommendation of the Earl Marshal. On Sir Henry's death in August 1715, the Deputy Earl Marshal ignored Anstis's patent and appointed Vanbrugh instead.

The case went to the Attorney General and remained in dispute for four years. In the meantime, Vanbrugh acted as Garter, using the title 'Clarenceux nominated Garter'. However, in 1718 it was Anstis who became Garter. Vanbrugh continued to serve as Clarenceux until, with the permission of the Deputy Earl Marshal, he sold the office in 1725. (This practice was not uncommon in the 17th and 18th centuries, but had petered out by 1770, never to return). Portraits of Vanbrugh and Anstis hang at the left-hand side of the Earl Marshal's Court.

Procession Knights of the Bath compressedThe Most Honourable and Military Order of the Bath was founded by King George I in 1725. The idea was that of John Anstis, who took the name from the medieval practice of ritual bathing on special occasions when new knights were created (the more usual practice being that of dubbing with a sword). However, there had never before been an Order of the Bath. At first it was a military order, but there are now both military and civil divisions and 'Military' has been dropped from the title. It contained both Knights and Esquires. There are now three classes of member: Knight or Dame Grand Cross; Knight or Dame Commander; Companion.

The volume illustrated, The Procession and Ceremonies Observed at the Time of the Installation of the Knights Companions of the Most Honourable and Military Order of the Bath, was produced by the engraver John Pine (later Bluemantle Pursuivant of Arms) in 1730, from original drawings by Joseph Highmore, depicting the processions and ceremonies at the time of the first installation of Knights and Esquires of the Bath in 1725.

Procession Knights of the Bath heralds compressed
This page from Pine's work shows the heralds in procession at the ceremony to install the first Knights and Esquires of the Bath.


SML 23 p21  compressed
Copy by Stephen Martin Leake (Lancaster Herald, 1727; Norroy King of Arms, 1729; Clarenceux King of Arms, 1741; Garter King of Arms, 1754-73) of Anstis's Statutes of the Order of the Bath. This page shows an illustration of the badge to be worn on the mantle of a Knight of the Order. College reference: SML 23: Order of the Bath c. 1725-72.

1986 01 Box 2 Part 2 Drawing of Bath Collar Civil cropped compressed
Twentieth-century drawing of the collar and badge of a Knight Grand Cross (Civil), by the artist Gerald Cobb, who worked for the College from the 1920s to the 1970s. College reference: Acc 1986/1 Box 2 Part 2.

1986 01 Box 2 Part 2 Drawing of Bath Collar Military cropped compressed
Twentieth-century drawing of the collar and badge of a Knight Grand Cross (Military), by the artist Gerald Cobb, who worked for the College from the 1920s to the 1970s. College reference: Acc 1986/1 Box 2 Part 2.

Warburton John portrait compressedThe College of Arms has purchased a portrait of John Warburton (1682-1759), Somerset Herald. It was acquired from Sir John Elphinstone Bt, a descendant of Warburton's daughter Amelia (1735-1786) who married Captain John Elphinstone RN, an Admiral in the service of Catherine the Great.

Warburton was something of a notorious figure. Born at Bury in Lancashire, the son of a tenant of Lord Derby, he worked as a customs officer in Cumberland, Northumberland and Yorkshire and acted as a government informer during the Jacobite rising of 1715. Soon after being demoted for drunkenness in 1718 he left the revenue service and was appointed Somerset Herald, supposedly in reward for his service to the government in convicting some of the rebels. Admitted a fellow of the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries, he was eventually ejected from both bodies. A noted collector of manuscripts and antiquities, he also published county maps for which he sought subscribers in return for including their arms in the margins, but without establishing their entitlement to arms. This caused bad relations with his fellow heralds. His collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean plays was destroyed by his cook, by whom they were burnt or 'put under pye bottoms'. After his death his books and manuscripts were sold at auction, the Duke of Norfolk buying sixty-three lots which he gave to the College.

The College of Arms Newsletter is produced every three months and sent automatically and free to those who subscribe. Other benefits for those who submit their names in this way include advance notice of College of Arms events, relevant publications, and media appearances.

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