Coats of Arms Unlocked



A mound on which the Supporters of the shield can stand, it is usually consistent with the arms’ design – frequently a grassy knoll, but also a pebbly beach, sea waves or brickwork.


Mottoes, probably deriving from war cries, express pious hopes or sentiments and usually appear on a scroll beneath both the shield and any decorations, orders and medals hanging from it. They can use any language (often Latin) and, since they are not included in the descriptive blazon, can be (but rarely are) changed by the arms’ owner. Their tinctures can be independent of the arms.


Unknown prior to the time of Henry VI, the Supporters are a pair of real or mythological creatures standing erect on the compartment and holding or guarding the shield.


Originally attached to the helm, a mantle or small cloak hung down the back probably as protection from the sun. It is now a decorative accessory displayed each side of the crest and shield and, like the torse, reflects the tinctures of the arms: the principal colour on the outside and the principal metal on the lining.


Covering the join between the crest and the helm, the torse or wreath is a twisted strand of six folds, possibly originating as a lady’s favour (love token). It alternates the two principal tinctures (metal and colour) in the arms, the first fold on the dexter side (the viewer’s left) being of the arms’ metal tincture.

An Augmentation

An addition to arms granted to honour and recognise service.

In 1651 the Lane family bore a simple coat of arms –

After Charles II’s defeated attempt to regain his throne, 25-year-old Jane Lane pretended he was her groom and rode with him to smuggle him out of the country. On his successful return in 1660, Charles remembered the risks she took and granted her family a canton of the Lions of England.

A year later he also granted a crest: a strawberry roan, an image of Jane’s horse, holding a royal crown.


GO TO FINAL SECTION:The hierarchy of heraldry in England