Which shields will soon be briefly examined. But first of all a few brief remarks should be made for visitors not familiar with the terminology of the heralds so that, it is hoped, they will be able to get more enjoyment from the coats of arms displayed and, perhaps, may also depart from Kitley with a desire to learn more about this subject. It is beyond the scope of this guide to get involved with expansive explanations about the terms used, and there are many books on the market which more appropriately serve this purpose for those who might be interested in pursuing the subject further – the best general handbook is certainly Fox-Davies’ “Complete Guide to Heraldry”. But some essential basics should be given so that the reader, and onlooker, can gain a better understanding of what is displayed and what is being described. Looking at the arms in the hallway, and/or the accompanying sketches, whilst reading the notes and description, will obviously help to clarify certain points.
The descriptions of arms are known as blazons, the art of describing a coat of arms being referred to as emblazoning. First and foremost, it is important to understand that the bazon is given from the point of view of the bearer of the shield. Thus, the dexter of the shield is that side which is on the right hand of holder – but it is on the left side of the shield as it is seen by the onlooker. The opposite is the case for the term sinister. These terms have in fact been avoided in most of the descriptions herein, as it is not absolutely essential to use them in the majority of the blazons used.
Following a marriage, when the arms of two families are shown in one shield, quartering or impaling takes place. In simple impales, the male line normally takes the dexter position, the female the sinister. In quartering, signifying an inheritance through a marriage to a sole heiress, the male takes the dexter chief and the opposing quarter (1 & 4), the female the counter quarters (2 & 3).
Emblazoning arms follows the same rules, the dexter side of the shield always being described first, then the sinister. The blazon also follows the strict format of describing the colour of the field (the background colour) first, followed by the term for the principal charge(s) and its (or their) colour(s), then describing the smaller motifs and features which are incorporated into the design. These rules can be best illustrated by reference to the blazons themselves which, in conjunction with the accompanying sketches of each individual shield, will readily demonstrate the methods used. But it is essential that the terms for the colours (correctly known as tinctures in heraldic terminology) be provided, which are –
Argent Silver Azure Blue
Or Gold Sable Black
Gules Red Ermine Black & White
Vert Green Vair Blue & White
It should also be stated that the colours on some of the Kitley shields have faded over the years, and are not easily distinguishable from others. In particular, or (gold) can sometimes be mistaken for argent (silver), and vice versa, in some of the designs, also azure (blue) is often very dark, almost sable (black). Different lighting conditions can also affect the intensity of the colours. All the arms which can be identified by consulting the main reference works have been checked to ensure that their correct blazons and tinctures are recorded within these pages.
Another important point needs to be made about the tinctures, for it is one of the curious rules of heraldry that no colour may be repeated in a blazon for a single coat. Thus one finds phrases such as “of the second”, “of the third”, &c, in many blazons, these simply denoting that the charge or motif being described is of the second colour already named, or the third colour, &c. This ruling does not apply to quarterings and impalements, for as soon as one moves to a new arms within the same shield one is effectively beginning the description again, with a new blazon – which is just as well, otherwise confusion would reign!
Indeed, this was part of the intent of the early heraldists in devising the terms for emblazoning, to confuse and confound the layman by shrouding the whole in a mysterious language which he could not understand. However, for those who wish to pursue this subject further for their own interest and enjoyment, they will soon discover that there is no real “mystery” involved, and once they have mastered the basics, they will be able to emblazon coats of arms for themselves. Any they will soon find that their new hobby is an engrossing one. In which respect, it should perhaps be emphasised that the present writer is not a professional historian or heraldist, but an amateur interested in a wide variety of topics related to Devon local and family history. The author’s knowledge of heraldry has been self taught.
These, then, are the basic points which need to be learnt. There is no room here to get involved with definitions of the principal charges and the motifs, or the wide variety of descriptive terms which are applied to denote their precise shapes, border patterns, or positions within the arms &c, and so nothing at all will be said on these particular subjects. For it is to be hoped that an examination of the arms themselves, in conjunction with the blazons and sketches, will help visitors to get to know some of the basics, at least enough to enable them to enjoy and appreciate the arms which are to be seen here at Kitley, and to arrive at a basic understanding of the historical and genealogical information which they convey. Which is, after all, the primary purpose of these notes.
An outline of heraldic “tree”, shown below, has also been provided for guidance, so that the various lines of descent can be more readily followed in conjunction with the notes. Due to the constraints of the A4 page format it was not possible to include any names in the non-Bastard lines in the tree, and there was also not enough room for the dates of marriages to be included, but these are provided within the main text under their respective shields. Of the 43 impalements displayed in the entrance hall, 39 are shown on the “tree” – the reason for the absence of the other four impalements will be revealed in the notes appended against the relevant entries.
An Outline Heraldic “Tree” Showing the Position of the Shields in the Hallway in Relation to the Overall Pedigree
Bastard Lineage Ancestral Lines (a ~ in the descent indicates missing generations between marriages displayed in the shields)
shield 27 shield 1
shield 33 ~ shield 24
Shield 37 shield 36 shield 5 shield 3
Shield 40 shield 39 shield 38 ? ~
Bastard/Reynell shield 6 shield 4
Shield 42 shield 41 ? ~ shield 43
Shield 7 ~
Bastard/Bampfield shield 8 shield 44
Shield 14 shield 13 shield 12 shield 11 shield 10
Bastard/Pollexfen shield 2
Shield 19 Shield 18 shield 17 shield 16 shield 15
Other Bastard Lines
Shield 21 shield 22
Shield 23 (not shown) shield 29
Bastard/Woollcombe Bastard/Rodney Bastard/Scrope