Heraldry Etiquette

 
eploy
 
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eploy
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17 November 2011 02:37
 

Quick question:  Is it considered inappropriate to step on a coat of arms or a heraldic seal?  In particular, I am thinking of the heraldic seals of schools and institutions which are often inlaid on the floors of buildings and courtyards.

 
Derek Howard
 
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Derek Howard
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17 November 2011 04:27
 

I always try to avoid stepping on arms and memorial inscriptions, especially those on tombstones in churches which suffer excessive wear and tear already. It is often like the children’s game of avoiding the cracks between paving stones to avoid being caught by the bears coming out - only in reverse. I get hopping mad when I see tourists dragging their soles where souls should rest.

Derek Howard

 
Dohrman Byers
 
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Dohrman Byers
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17 November 2011 09:11
 

It does seem somewhat disrespectful, but I assume the armiger who put the arms in the floor did not consider it so. (I’ve had the same thought about arms embroidered on seat cushions.)

 
arriano
 
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arriano
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17 November 2011 11:40
 

I think if you’re going to cover a floor with a coat of arms, you can’t expect people not to walk on it unless you put up some type of barrier. Lots of universities have such floors, and I think the CIA does as well.

 
Joseph McMillan
 
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Joseph McMillan
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17 November 2011 11:51
 

There are schools and universities where it is a local custom (that is often made a big deal of) not to walk across the arms that are embedded in the floor, but I don’t think it’s a general rule of etiquette.

 
mquigley
 
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mquigley
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18 November 2011 19:06
 

The CIA allows people to walk on the seal in the lobby of the Old Headquarters building… Georgetown University (my Alma Mater) has a tradition/legend that anyone who walks on the arms of the university in the entry of Healy Hall will not graduate.

However, the Co-Cathedral of St John in Valetta, Malta (and the other co-cathedral in M’Dina, Malta) have marble coats of arms of the Knights and chaplains of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta covering every square inch of floor in both churchs… no choice BUT to walk on them.

 
James Dempster
 
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James Dempster
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18 November 2011 20:25
 

mquigley;90061 wrote:

Georgetown University (my Alma Mater) has a tradition/legend that anyone who walks on the arms of the university in the entry of Healy Hall will not graduate.


The University of Aberdeen (my Alma Mater) allegedly has it that no one is supposed to walk on the grass in King’s College Quad unless they are wearing a rapier (because it was the old duelling ground). Equally allegedly it is only applied when someone finds out that they are due a glass of port at the end of each degree exam and asks for one.

 

Unfortunately the story also has surfaced in several other universities (some of which have never had grassed quads) so it is probably apocryphal.

 

There was an ancient set of fines relating to the quad (still in shillings and pennies) when I was a student. I have a photo of the notice somewhere.

 

My class (History 1987) were officially "told off" by the Sacrist of King’s College for spraying champagne (and leaving the empties) all over the quad after our finals, with the added comment "it’s good to see that at least one department knows how to behave". :-D

 

We knew it would be good when we went into Elphinstone Hall for the final exam. The Faculty Dean (ex Department Head) who was invigilating saw us dumping the bottles at the door and responded with the words "Are these all for me?" (RIP Professor Peter Ramsey).

 

James

 
Richard G.
 
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19 November 2011 04:24
 

mquigley;90061 wrote:

The CIA allows people to walk on the seal in the lobby of the Old Headquarters building… Georgetown University (my Alma Mater) has a tradition/legend that anyone who walks on the arms of the university in the entry of Healy Hall will not graduate.

However, the Co-Cathedral of St John in Valetta, Malta (and the other co-cathedral in M’Dina, Malta) have marble coats of arms of the Knights and chaplains of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta covering every square inch of floor in both churchs… no choice BUT to walk on them.


I was thinking exactly the same thing Michael, and was searching for a photo. It really is every single square inch. Impossible to avoid.

 

I know of churches here were it’s almost impossible to avoid stepping on tombstones which sadly are now so worn that the inscriptions are lost.

 
liongam
 
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liongam
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19 November 2011 04:45
 

Dear All,

The Royal Air Force’s Church of St Clement Danes, in the Strand in the City of Westminster (London) has its entire floor set with slate representations of badges of RAF formations.  Due to the great number of badges often there is no way that one can avoid stepping on them.

 

Speaking of university/college tradition in the Rotunda in College Hall of the Royal Air Force Cranwell is a large carpet (the present carpet given by Her Majesty The Queen as Commandant in Chief of the College. By tradition, only people who hold the Queen’s Commission have the automatic right to walk on the Carpet, so officer cadets must walk around it.  I remember to doing so when at Cranwell.  All my course going back to our rooms or to the dining hall generally had to pass through the Rotunda, so we all had to skirt the carpet in order not to place a foot on it.  Once we had graduated, we were free to walk on it.

 

In order to not get to far from heraldry with this post, the Rotunda also houses the framed grants of arms to the College: one, the original grant made in 1929 and the second granting supporters to the College some time later.

 

John

 
Aquilo
 
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21 November 2011 09:57
 

Richard G.;90067 wrote:

I know of churches here were it’s almost impossible to avoid stepping on tombstones which sadly are now so worn that the inscriptions are lost.


I agree. It reminds me of the Cathedral of Siena where the entire floor of this medieval church consist of about 60 beautiful panels made by graffito technique and marble intarsia.The scenes from the Old Testament on uncovered floor can be seen only during few weeks -mostly in September. It’s all about saving this monument from damage ,only now, because designed as decorative floors were used by millions worshipers over the centuries and never walking on them was considered disrespectful .

 

I remember a similar issue being discussed somewhere in US when kids painted a huge Amarican flag on the asphalt street in their neighborhood .

Being proud they meant well, but some people felt offended by the fact that they must drive across and they were right , but in this case it’s hard to blame children ...I think ,we will all agree on this one that banners and flags traditionally are meant to be raised high and should be always protected from stepping on them .

 
Benjamin Thornton
 
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21 November 2011 14:00
 

I recently passed a store in Toronto selling Union Flag doormats.  I suppose they’re designed to appeal to anglophiles, but the idea of putting any flag on a front step so I can wipe my muddy shoes on it is, at least, distatesful, and at worst, offensive.  I wonder if this was considered by the manufacturers, or if they are taking a calculated risk that many won’t realize or won’t care.

 
Dohrman Byers
 
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21 November 2011 21:56
 

Benjamin Thornton;90088 wrote:

I recently passed a store in Toronto selling Union Flag doormats.  I suppose they’re designed to appeal to anglophiles, but the idea of putting any flag on a front step so I can wipe my muddy shoes on it is, at least, distatesful, and at worst, offensive.  I wonder if this was considered by the manufacturers, or if they are taking a calculated risk that many won’t realize or won’t care.


Maybe they were intended for the Qu├ębecois separatist market.

 
Nick B II
 
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Nick B II
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22 November 2011 00:00
 

Dohrman Byers;90100 wrote:

Maybe they were intended for the Qu├ębecois separatist market.


In Toronto?

 

Irish Republican I’d believe in Toronto. Quebec Separatist not so much.

 

Nick

 
Aquilo
 
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Aquilo
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22 November 2011 07:02
 

In this case ,I’d rather walk with my muddy shoes straight into the reception smile

but this would be considered rude and breaking rules of etiquette ...

 
Benjamin Thornton
 
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22 November 2011 09:23
 

Nick B II;90103 wrote:

In Toronto?

Irish Republican I’d believe in Toronto. Quebec Separatist not so much.

 

Nick


I don’t want to digress too far into Canada’s particular tensions (which may appear more exaggerated to those outside the country than within), but if marketing to Quebecers trying to make a political statement was the intent, it might have been a Canadian flag doormat.  Even then, some patriotic soul might buy one for his or her porch, not considering the possible breach of etiquette.

 

And the age of Irish numerical dominance has long passed - Toronto is as diverse as they come these days.

 
Martin Goldstraw
 
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Martin Goldstraw
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25 November 2011 09:31
 

The carpet in the wonderfully old administration block of The King’s School Macclesfield (Cheshire, England) (est 1502) is, throughout the building, Azure semee de lis Argent, lending the belief that it was deliberately chosen to represent the first and fourth quarters of the ancient royal arms carved in stone on its exterior front. One has no choice but to walk on it but then most of its staff and old boys probably retain the belief that the French have, throughout history, always been a walk over!

[Tongue firmly in cheek! Cheshire provided many of the knights, men at arms and of course their famously liveried bowmen at all of the great battles between England and France]