Garter King of Arms

I have written a post on Lords of the Blog about the death of Sir Peter Gwynn-Jones who until a few months ago was Garter King of Arms and, as such, responsible for agreeing titles and overseeing the introduction of new peers.  He was quite a character.  I got on quite well with him, despite the fact I failed to invite him to lunch.

Upon introduction, a new peer is entitled to host a lunch for family and friends.  It is also quite usual to invite the two peers who act as one’s supporters and I did so with mine, Lords Weatherill and Newton of Braintree.   Lord Weatherill was, as he usually was, on good form, regaling my family about his time as a tailor.  However, I discovered subsequently that Garter also rather liked (expected?) to be invited to lunch.   I consoled myself with the thought that he may have been invited to lunch by the other peer being introduced that day.  

I think my standing with him, though, was maintained by having a coat of arms.  Not only did I commission one, but I was full of admiration for his design.  The draft version was the final version (pictured).  I did, though, check it carefully.  When I met him to discuss my title and a coat of arms, he showed me some coats of arms that he had designed – and woven in some armorial jokes, usually a play on the names of the peers.   I don’t think there are any jokes in mine, at least I hope not.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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9 Responses to Garter King of Arms

  1. Croft says:

    Perhaps the CoA have exhausted their ton/tun/barrel canting ‘jokes’.

  2. Lord Norton says:

    Croft: I suspect they will always find scope for new plays on peers’ names. I will be interested to see the coats of arms of some of the recent intake.

    • Croft says:

      I was thinking of at least one peer who they might best encapsulate to public recognition by simply by depicting the English language being run through a mangle 🙂

      Personally I rather like cants when possible. A good cant lasts down the generations (luce/lucie)- better than depicting things meaningful only to the grantee. We’ll have a long wait as I don’t know how long your arms took but certainly new peers will probably be waiting a while.

  3. Liam says:

    It’s sad to hear of the man’s death, I do admire your coat of arms, it is very fitting.

    On a separate note, are you planning to post any insights on what is going on with parliaments around the world? There seem to be a number of hung-parliaments: Canada, Britain and Australia for example. Is there some over-arching reason, or is it just a co-incidence?

  4. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,
    Your first name is Hellenic English which of course I rather like. I see no love symbols or horses anywhere. I suppose the other way to go would be “fill” “hip” and indeed two set of hips are indicated but not really displayed and the rest fills between them. The bee might suggest a weather vane if one’s eyes are bad and therefore imply the cardinal directions including North. But I have a dirty mind trained to look for codes and therefore able to see both those that are there and those that are not. Probably none of this is intentional…

  5. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,
    I have decided to lead you further into the world of psycological delusion known as cryptographic over determinism. I will be prepared if you exclude me here after. The wings of the bee are of a colour and design that could suggest an iced vein. The quills in the owls’ beaks are also possible coded icecicles. The streamers are white with snow and ice as they are whipped around — all of this indicates a North wind. If this is true your coat says Fill Hip North On. The on because the crypto wind-vane is on the top.

  6. James says:

    I was sorry to learn of his death he was a nice person and only recently stood down from his position.

    I know he did a lot for the Order of St John which is where I last saw him this year at the priors reception before St Johns day at St Paul’s 2010.

    So he did not get a chance to enjoy his retirement.

    Peter RIP

    James

  7. Reblogged this on Franksummers3ba's Blog and commented:
    This is a sequential addition to my most recent post which was a reblog as well. That post has Lord Norton mentioning my name in the post itself this one does not. However this post has a comment in which I interpret the heraldry of the Coat. At the secret level Lord Norton calls Jokes and I call Hieroglyphics. This is a subtle skill that I am proud to possess. I hope you enjoy this. I recopy the comment again here:
    Your first name is Hellenic English which of course I rather like. I see no love symbols or horses anywhere. I suppose the other way to go would be “fill” “hip” and indeed two set of hips are indicated but not really displayed and the rest fills between them. The bee might suggest a weather vane if one’s eyes are bad and therefore imply the cardinal directions including North. But I have a dirty mind trained to look for codes and therefore able to see both those that are there and those that are not. Probably none of this is intentional…

    August 25, 2010 at 12:08 am
    Lord Norton,
    I have decided to lead you further into the world of psycological delusion known as cryptographic over determinism. I will be prepared if you exclude me here after. The wings of the bee are of a colour and design that could suggest an iced vein. The quills in the owls’ beaks are also possible coded icecicles. The streamers are white with snow and ice as they are whipped around — all of this indicates a North wind. If this is true your coat says Fill Hip North On. The on because the crypto wind-vane is on the top.

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