Theatrical Heraldry

Brad Smith
Brad Smith
Total Posts:  182
Joined  12-02-2009
11 December 2013 13:28

Not quite the same as cinematic heraldry, especially as I will likely never be "consulted" for heraldry in a movie.  But let me start from the beginning.

My son, who is a senior in high school, is part of a repertory theater group.  In October, the group was performing "A Night of Shakespeare" to raise funds for a trip.  To increase the funds, they held a renaissance fair just before the performance, which included various sorts of booths where you could spend money for food or activities.  My son thought it would be a good idea to have a "Visiting Herald’s Boothe", so I took some paper with blank shields and some pens and sat in my booth for two evenings.  The kids who dropped a dollar on me for my services (I made $9 for both nights!) were very kind and seemed to enjoy me asking questions about who they were, where there ancestors came from, and what they liked.  I in turn drew a coat of arms for them.


A few weeks ago, my son called me at work and said "The rep group was so impressed by your heraldry talents that they would like you to design some scenery for our next play.  We’re doing ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’, and we want you to create a coat of arms for Sir Percy Blakeney that we can use in the set for his study."


Now, I’m still learning, but I came up with a few ideas, and the theater group picked the arms pictured below.  I tried to come up with some good canting arms, but all I managed was something along the lines of an Abbott and Costello routine:


Me:  "What color is the shield?"

My son:  " Er, Black."

Me:  "That’s right.  And do you know what that diagonal white part is called?"

My son:  "I think it’s a Bend."

Me:  "That’s right.  And Bend is what a knee does.  So there you have it.  Black-Knee."


He has a weird sense of humor, so he laughed.


The cinquefoils represent the the pimpernel flower.  Even though Chauvelin (the bad guy) visits Sir Percy’s study, I thought maybe he was too much of a peasant to recognize the charge for what it was.  The galley on the crest is supposed to be Sir Percy’s yacht, the Day Dream.


I am not that good at emblazoning, though I am still trying.  And my copier wasn’t wide enough for the paper I used.  Still, here it is…

Total Posts:  343
Joined  19-02-2006
11 December 2013 16:13

Dear Brad,

I am sure that if I had not picked this up another of the correspondents who regularly visit this forum will state that the arms you have designed pertain according to Papworth and Burkes , the family of Betts, viz: ‘Sable on a bend argent three cinquefoils gules’.  The Betts crest being: ‘a leopard passant guardant proper’, whilst the non-fictional Blakeney’s use as their arms (in the main): Sable a chevron ermine between three leopards faces or’.


Perhaps, for theatrical purposes you may consider the following?


‘Argent, a leg in armour flexed at the knee sable between three cinquefoils gules’.  I am sure you would be safe using this - not that I have attempted to check.


With every good wish



Michael F. McCartney
Michael F. McCartney
Total Posts:  3535
Joined  24-05-2004
12 December 2013 00:08

Or maybe the Blakeney arms as cited above, but with the chevron Argent charged with three cinquefoils Gules?

Sounds like a fun project!

Total Posts:  852
Joined  08-04-2006
12 December 2013 04:17

I have read it in the book or seen it in a movie but in his arms there were pimpernels, which was a little flower of some kind, and they were of course scarlet hence the name Sir Percy uses.

Guy Power
Guy Power
Total Posts:  1576
Joined  05-01-2006
12 December 2013 11:48