04 Dec 2011

Worst Coat of Arms of All Time?

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British taxpayers got to pick up the Herald’s College bill of 15,000 pounds for devising John Bercow, the new Speaker of the British House of Commons, brand new coat of arms.

I’d say that the heralds and pursuivants must have developed an actual animus toward the new Speaker.

They succeeded in persuading him that a ladder (alluding to his rise from humble origins) was a compliment, that four gold balls were alluding to his enthusiasm for lawn tennis (and not his Hebraic ancestry), and that those hideous Islamic scimitars are Saxon seax knives representing the county of Essex (where he went to a red brick university). Right, sure they are!

The motto “All Are Equal” between pink triangles with rainbow striping on the back of the scroll really devastatingly tops the whole thing off resulting in the most extraordinarily oxymoronic expression of the triumphant elevation of the spirit of leveling to established status in the hierarchical realm of heraldry. One can just imagine the guffaws emanating from the studio in the Herald’s College.


The Daily Mail



The current coat of arms of the County of Essex, I find, does feature its three seaxes drawn the same as Bercow’s, looking like Middle Eastern scimitars.

An earlier, 1611 version of the same arms is much less influenced by the Arabian Nights.

I suppose though that I must concede that Bercow’s arms does feature Essex seaxes, in at least the problematic form presumably invented by some ill-informed Victorian heraldist.

2 Feedbacks on "Worst Coat of Arms of All Time?"

Fred Woodbridge

As I have an interest in heraldry, blow me over to see someone post about it!

That ladder is truly vile and the multicolored back of the scroll means, what? I don’t know anything about the new speaker, but is he a homosexual?

I study heraldry and those are indeed seaxes ; I’ve seen them over and over in several different arms from different ages (I’ve yet to follow your link so it may change my mind).

The heralds should’ve done something better, but here’s the thing: the conferee gets to approve the design before it’s revealed so Mr. Speaker had a part to play in this atrocity!


2 things, I am pretty sure the government only covered the portrait. The fees to the college of arms are more like 2000 pounds, and covered by the Speaker.

You are right, the seaxes used in heraldry bare little resemblance to the real thing.


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