to The Guild of Scholars of the City of London
Visit to the College of Arms 10th January 2008.
Report by Chaslav Frim:
The College of Arms is the official repository of the coats of arms and pedigrees of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families and their descendants. We gathered there on a rainy Thursday evening in the Earl Marshall’s Court and were greeted by the Chester Herald, who took us on a tour of this historic building. He firstly told us about the brief history of the college and then we moved through to the waiting room where usually enquirers are seen. We had a lovely glass of wine as Chester Herald explained the system of Heralds and how they manage to sustain themselves. The heralds are officers of the College and they specialize in genealogical and heraldic work for their respective clients. All the officers are self-employed and they also take part in being the officer in waiting. Whilst in waiting the officer is on duty to answer all enquiries.
After a short break we moved into the Record Room which is not open to the public and we were shown many books dating from the Tudor times all the way to present. I personally found this most fascinating and what amazed me most of all was the casual flicking of pages, some 400 years old by the Herald as he was showing us different coats of arms.
In the final stages of the tour we were shown coats of arms of some famous people like Lord Nelson, Margaret Thatcher, The Royal Family and others. One other interesting fact about the Heralds is that they plan the state funerals. All of the plans are drawn to the last detail in special books and they are kept until such time when they will be needed. It is a rather morbid thought that once a Royal is born there is a group of people already planning their funeral. I suppose someone has to think of that too.
Finally I would like to say that I had a great time, and thank the College of Arms for putting on a good show and Ivor Benett who organised the visit.