Heraldry Society was founded by Mrs Lorraine Greenoak in 1977 to
awareness and interest in heraldry in all its aspects but mainly
focussed in Suffolk.
This county is
rich in heraldry in public buildings, old houses, inns, village signs
particularly our fine churches. The Society’s booklets on
500 churches, and these are continually under review. Full colour
now available for St Edmundsbury Cathedral and Long Melford church -
The origins of
heraldry can be traced
to the medieval battlefield where the shield was the main defence, and
knights in armour (which covered the face) were unrecognisable, the
surface of the shield was used as a means of identifying friend from
was decorated with a design and colours that were unique to each
also wore a tunic over his armour, similarly decorated, and this was
of arms.These armorial bearings were handed down from father to son and
became indications of descent as well as identity.
Heraldry has lost
its basic military
purpose, but not its essential function of identification, and so is
much alive in the 21st century. Grants of arms can be issued through
Heralds of the College
and also businesses, professional and academic bodies, services and
Society would welcome anyone who would like to know more about
have talks, run training courses, hold exhibitions and displays and
places of heraldic interest. Each 23 April we have a formal St George’s
Day dinner (see Events page).
SIR CONRAD SWAN, K.C.V.O., K.G.C.N., Ph.D., LL.D., F.S.A.
(13TH MAY, 1924 - 10TH JANUARY, 2019)
Sir Conrad Swan, an Honorary Member of this Society, died on 10th January, this year, at the age of 94. Sir Conrad was Garter Principal King of Arms, from 1992 to 1995, when he was encouraged to retire by the Duke of Norfolk, on being diagnosed with cancer.
His family originated in Lithuania, but his father moved to British Columbia, after the First World War, and it was here that Conrad was born, on 13th May, 1924.
His interest in heraldry was inspired at an early age, and particularly when his mother brought him to England for the coronation of King George VI, in 1937. During the Second World War, he was commissioned into the Indian Army, joining the Madras Regiment and serving in India.
After the War, he returned to England and obtained his doctorate in History, at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, in 1955. Because of his interest in heraldry, which resulted in a number of written papers, he was invited to join the College of Arms, in 1962, where he was appointed Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms. In this junior office, he had some heraldic business with the Canadian Government, which led to a difference of opinion, and a row, with the then Garter, Sir Anthony Wagner (a name that still resonates in heraldry, today). Sir Conrad was clearly a man of spirit!
In 1968, he was promoted to York Herald, and, in due course, to Garter King of Arms, in 1992. He was also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and, in 1994, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
I first had the privilege of meeting Sir Conrad about this time, and later, I came to know him on a more personal level, finding him to be a charming and friendly individual. He was certainly very punctilious, in every way, and he could also be a trifle pedantic - which is no bad thing in a Herald.
On his retirement from the College, and living at Boxford, he took an interest in the Suffolk Heraldry Society and gave several lectures to our Members. As a result of this interest and involvement, he was made an Honorary Member. Those of us who knew him will be sad to learn of his passing. May he rest in peace.
GERRY DE ROEPER