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Crests and Badges - their history and rules


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Small point of order. There is not such thing, at least in British and Irish Heraldry, as a 'Family Crest', at least in the sense that most people understand it, not in the English, Scottish or Irish system.


A heraldic 'Crest' is in fact a device placed on top of a Helm, both are part of an Achievement, the central part of which is the Coat of Arms. So, in your first post only the first two Achivements have Crests, Three Feathers, Gold between Blue, then Three White (or rather, Silver) Feathers.


Then a key point - an Achievement and the associated Coat of Arms can only ever be held by a person or a corporate body. Disposing of corporate bodies, things like the Arms of County Councils and Cities belong to them corporately. The law (and they ARE laws- using a Coat of Arms that you are not entitled to is a breach of the law) are different from those that apply to personal arms. Counties will often use, unofficially, the Arms of the Duke of the same name.


Arms held by persons are passed to the most senior descendant on the death of the current holder. Thus the Royal Arms of England and Wales belong to Her Majesty the Queen only. The Duke of Edinburgh has his own, separate Arms, as does the Prince of Wales.


Where the family comes in is that it is traditional for the arms of members of an important family to be variants of those held by the most important members. Thus the principal (he has several, for example those he bears as Duke of Cornwall) arms of the Prince of Wales are The Arms of the United Kingdom differenced by a plain label of three points and an inescutcheon of the Coat of Arms of the Principality of Wales whilst those of the Princess Royal are the Arms of the United Kingdom differenced by a label of three points, the points bearing a red cross, a red heart and a red cross. On the death of HM The Queen the Arms of the United Kingdom will pass to King Charles the Third.


All of these arms are awarded personally, DESPITE WHAT CERTAIN FIRMS WHO WANT TO GRAB YOUR CASH AND COME UP FIRST ON GOOGLE SEARCHES SAY, there is nothing for the family in general. The only way to get a Coat of Arms is to inherit it from your parents or to be awarded some honour that entitles you to it. In both cases the transfer or award of arms is controlled by the respective College of Arms or the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland.




OK, now Ships Crests. These do not exist, at least in Britain. What modern Royal Navy ships have are Badges. You can see two in my signature - to the left is that of HMS Invincible, the namesake of my home and to the right that of HMS Grenville, the namesake of the building I work in. The third 'badge' is not that of a ship, it is the badge of the Royal Naval Patrol Service (RNPS), the vessels of which had no individual badge. It represents the 'Hill' Class Admiralty Anti-Submarine Trawler HMT Portsdown.


Badges are also controlled by a College of Arms, in this case the English one controlled by the Admiralty Badge Committee, who talk and get permission for certain things from the relevenat Colleges of Arms. That is why the RN can be cheeky and use the arms of Sir Richard Grenville on the badge of HMS Grenville use the arms of Dukes on ships badges - they have specific permission.


Badges only came in after our period, once Figureheads had fallen out of use. There was no system, their use was unofficial. This changed in 1918 when the Captain of HMS Tower went to the curator of the Imperial War Museum, Charles ffoulkes, for a new design for his ship. This rapidly led to ffoulkes being assigned to regularise the system and make it official. So, unofficial badges from the 1850s, official ones (many of which mirror the unofficial ones) from 1919. Today most Commonwealth nations keep up the tradition of Badges but those for their ships are controlled by their own Naval and Heraldic authorities.


Badges often 'borrow', with permission, the Arms of the people or places they are named after. For example HMS Cornwall bore the Arms of the Duke of Cornwall within its badge.


BTW, the badge of HMS Grenville is the pre 1919 unofficial badge used by HMS Revenge, the name of the ship that Sir Richard Grenville commanded when he fought his glorious and fatal action at Flores in 1591. Its heraldic description is: "On a Field Black, a Griffin Gold upon a Cap of Maintenance Proper", HMS Revenge has "On a Field Blue a Gryphon rising out of wavelets Silver."




In our period a ship would have no symbol but her Name and her Figurehead.


The Figurehead of any theoretical in game HMS Portsdown would be, if I had anything to do with it, be a portrait of a healthy young Hampshire Shepherdess, such as worked the downs at the time, extending her Crook to snare any of the Kings Enemies that might have the temerity to flee from her. I suggest that you might profitably find a period (or non-period) portrait of a Miss or Mrs Warren that delights your eye and base the figurehead of a theoretical HMS Warren on her, in whatever state of dress or undress (very artistic, yer ladies lounging around in states of undress, especially when clinging to Bowsprits) you should desire.


Edited to correct and clarify. Edits in Red. Additions in Blue

Edited by Portsdown
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Nice post Portsdown!


If player customizeable symbols, flags, icons, figureheads or whatever do become a thing (I do hope it happens) I'll paint something cute and unique then, but so far I'll keep my mind clear of such things.

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By the way, there was an HMS Warren, but as she was a Shore Establishment she didn't have a Badge.


HMS Warren was the HQ of the Rear Admiral, Combined Operations Base (Western Approaches) and housed in the Hollywood Hotel in Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland. It existed from 1942 to 1946.


It also housed:


HQ, Flag Officer Commanding, Overseas Assault Forces


(Part of) No 4 Combined Training Centre (or CTC Largs) which provided Combined Operations (Commando and sea landing, including that for D-Day) training for Senior Officers, providing a Short Course for Commanders, Wing Commanders, Lieutenant Colonels or above and a Long Course for Lieutenant Commanders, Squadron Leaders and Majors or above.

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I'm off sick today, so more stuff.



First off, I don't regard what I posted as 'politics', its period and legal information. I gave x a 'bye' on the only political point that concerned me.


The 'political' point: If you defaced the White Ensign like that in real life there would be a lot of flack directed at you. Its only one step down from defacing the Union Flag and is possibly illegal, both in UK and international law (as Naval Ensigns have a role in Maritime Law). If I saw it in-game I would get seriously grumpy.



Secondly, and moving right along, the 'correct' way to display a Coat of Arms is as part of the Figurehead. In some cases this was done by having a relevant figure holding a shield or plaque with the arms upon it. The other way was to show the entire 'Achivement', wrapped round the bow. This is what was done for HMS Victory - her figurehead is the Hapsburg monarchy version of the Royal Arms of England and Wales, as shown below.




It might be a nice idea for the devs to add some selectable figureheads to which arms could be added into the game at a later stage. Of course this would have to be subject to the same sort of limitations imposed on names.




BTW, as a commissioned warship, HMS Victory has a badge as well as having a figurehead. It does get confusing however, as the RN Barracks in Portsmouth was once also known as HMS Victory and had at least two versions of its own badge, different from that of the ship. The barracks name was later changed to HMS Nelson to avoid confusion.


What I understand to be the correct badge is shown below.



Edited by Portsdown
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