Castle Object of the Month: Coats of Arms

Coats of arms
November 29 2021 | Castle History

Castle Object of the Month - Coats of arms

Located in the Books of Hours Room, the Castle Object of the Month is the coats of arms of Boleyn/Howard and Henry VIII/Boleyn. It is one of the artefacts that has been on display in the Castle for the longest – since the ownership of the second Jane Waldo in the 19th century. It was mentioned in issue 405 of the Penny Magazine, 28th July 1838:

The Gothic tracery over the fireplace [in what is now the Council Chamber] is extremely beautiful, both in design and execution. It consists of two angels, each bearing two shields, showing the arms and alliances of, 1. The Carey and Boleyn families; 2. Carey and Waldo; 3. Boleyn and Howard; 4. Henry VIII and Boleyn.

As stated, there used to be another coat of arms belonging to Carey/Boleyn and Carey/Waldo but we have no record of who it was sold to. The coats of arms show the shield, or escutcheon, of the Boleyn family – Argent (silver), a chevron gules (red) between three bulls heads couped sable (black), armed Or (gold). The term ‘couped’ denotes the fact that the three black bulls heads are cut off in a straight line as opposed to ‘erased’ which is a jagged edge. The term ‘armed’ tells us that the bulls have horns (other armed features are teeth and claws) contrasted with ‘langued’ (tongue), ‘attired’ (antlers), ‘unguled’ (hooves), ‘coward’ (carries the tail between its legs), or ‘queue fourchée’ (forked tail).

The two shields are known as à bouche. They each have a distinctive notch cut out of the top left corner which replicates the bouche or mouth that was cut out of the shield to allow the lance to pass through. The mouth is always shown on the dexter side (to the right from the viewpoint of the bearer of the shield, left to the viewer), as jousting tilt yards were designed for right-handed knights.

Read more on the history of Hever Castle.