Heraldry When you visit Knebworth House, the children will see many beautiful and interesting things including the fierce-looking heraldic beasts outside the House and coats of arms sculptured into the walls. Inside, ask them to look at the patterns and pictures in bright colours on the stained glass windows. In the State Drawing Room, Henry VII with the arms of Tudor and Beaufort are depicted on the long window at the end of the room. On the ceiling, look at the armorial quarterings and the children could count how many there are. Nowadays, heraldry is a record of family history. It developed over hundreds of years from the “devices” painted on shields so knights could be identified when they went into battle. These devices were first used in war and jousting tournaments in the 12th Century. The earliest arms were plain and bold. Bright colours were used so that they could be seen clearly from a distance on the battlefield. In time, they became more elaborate. Knights started putting pictures of powerful animals and birds on their shields to show their importance. Some chose to illustrate their names and show pride in their family. Knights wore helmets that covered their faces completely. The visor covered their eyes and they only had narrow slits to see through. This meant that vision was limited. It was a matter of life and death that they could still be recognised by their friends and followers and not mistaken for enemies. So began the distinctive markings on shields and pennons. Each knight chose a device that was unique and always used the same one. In the 14th Century, knights began to wear sleeveless tunics called surcoats over their armour and put their arms on them as well. The surcoats became known as Coats of Arms. It is a long time since Knights have gone into battle on horseback but sometimes people dress up as knights and joust at tournaments for entertainment. This sort of tournament is sometimes held at Knebworth Park. Arms are still granted today to people who have not inherited any but who can satisfy certain rules. Councils of towns and counties are also granted arms and so are colleges and schools. Your school probably has a coat of arms and it may be on the school badge. Arms are used on seals, documents, flags and buildings. Ask the children to keep an eye out and see how many they can find in your town or village. Designing A Coat of Arms The design should comprise “clues” about them so that their friends would recognise it as being belonging to their family. Children could use the outline of the shield included in the pack. 1. COLOURS - choose two favourite colours for the background of the shield. They could include some of the patterns on the previous page on the shield. 2. SHIELD - this should include something about what they like to do (hobby, sport or other pastime) or maybe what they would like to be when they grow up. 3. SUPPORTERS - these appear either side of the shield and can be animals, people or mythical beings. They may choose a different one for each side, or have both the same. Choose their favourite/s. 4. CREST - this appears at the top of the coat of arms and shows something associated with their name however loosely. It could be an animal that rhymes with their name or something that depicts it. They could even choose an animal that says something about their character. 5. MOTTO - this appears at the bottom of the coat of arms and would normally be three words describing why the knight would be a good ally. Think of three words that sum up their strengths or one of their strengths. They could think of the best comments they get on their school report, or how their friends would describe them. Here is the Coat of Arms the first Lord Cobbold designed when he was knighted in 1960. Shield: The crowns are taken from the Lytton coat of Arms. The gold circles represent money as Lord Cobbold was Governor of the Bank of England and Lord Chamberlain to the Queen. Crest: The lion was already associated with the Cobbold family. Its crown is cobalt (Cobbold) blue. Supporters: Lord Cobbold’s favourite pet labradors, Bella and Lena. They were both bitches but the laws of heraldry decreed that on the Coat of Arms they had to appear as dogs. Motto: “Rebus Augustis Fortis” means “Strength in Adversity”.