When I was offered a peerage, I had to see Garter King of Arms to discuss and agree my title. That actually took little time, much to my relief. (I had heard various stories of new peers running into objections from Garter as to their preferred titles.) He was keen to explain to me that it was possible to have a Coat of Arms. The College of Arms is self-financing and designing Coats of Arms is part of their business, not that he said that. I was initially inclined not to have a Coat of Arms, but decided that as it was a once in a lifetime event and I would have one. I told Garter what I would like represented on it and he then came up with the design. His first design was excellent and I accepted it as it stood. The result is what you see here.
The bee on the top represents industriousness. The church steeple represents Louth: the town’s St James’ parish church is architecturally outstanding (see Simon Jenkin’s book on the churches of England) and has one of the tallest spires in the country. It dominates the town and surrounding countryside. The fleur de lys on the shield represents Lincolnshire. The gold and white are the official colours of the University of Hull and Garter added the blue to represent the River Humber. (He obviously has not seen the Humber!) The ‘supporters’ are owls of learning and the motto denotes my aspirations.
I appreciate it can be argued that Coats of Arms do not have much practical use. When one colleague asked Garter what use he could make of a Coat of Arms, he received the response ‘Well, I suppose you could have it woven into your carpet’! I have reproduced my Coat of Arms on a postcard, which doubtless borders on the pretentious but I find it quite useful. Apart from that, I have framed copies at home and in my office. They are at least conversation pieces.