Norman Jones has been interested in heraldry since a young age and even now in his eighties, he is still reproducing coats of arms for commissions. His talk covers briefly the many aspects of heraldry. As this is such a large and complex subject, this report will just outline the early stages of the subject in this Country.
The origins of heraldry lie in the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces were hidden by iron and steel. Eventually a formal system of rules developed into ever more complex forms of heraldry.
Though the practice of heraldry is nearly 900 years old, it is still very much in use. Many cities and towns in Europe and around the world still make use of arms. Personal heraldry, both legally protected and lawfully assumed, has continued to be used around the world.
At the time of the Norman Conquest , heraldry in its essential sense of an inheritable emblem had not yet been developed. The knights in the Bayeux Tapestry carry shields, but there appears to have been no system of hereditary coats of arms. The seeds of heraldic structure in personal identification can be detected in the account in a contemporary chronicle of Henry I of England, on the occasion of his knighting his son-in-law Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, in 1127. He placed to hang around his neck a shield painted with golden lions.
By the middle of the 12th century, coats of arms were being inherited by the children of armigers (persons entitled to use a coat of arms) across Europe. Between 1135 and 1155, seals representing the generalized figure of the owner attest to the general adoption of heraldic devices in England, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. By the end of the century, heraldry appears as the sole device on seals. In England, the practice of using marks of cadence arose to distinguish one son from another: the conventions became standardized in about 1500.
The internationally recognised authority on Heraldry is the College of Arms in London.