Queen Elizabeth Street, London, SE1. Photo © Roger Dean 2012
Dickens’s Dictionary of London – Charles Dickens, Jr., 1879:
Heralds’ College, or College of Arms.—This is one of the old-fashioned institutions that still survive, although it is difficult to see of what particular service it is to anyone but its officials. In the days when the herald was really an important functionary, not only in state ceremonials, but also in registering the various grants of arms, superintending and chronicling trials by battle and chivalric exercises, it is possible that the thirteen kings-at-arms, heralds, and pursuivants, may have been usefully employed. At present they are mainly occupied in assisting those who desire to trace their descent from the own of titles, in granting new, and empowering the adoption of old armorial bearings on certain conditions. There are three kings at arms—Garter, Norroy, and Clarencieux: six heralds — Somerset, York, Chester, Richmond, Windsor, and Lancaster; and four pursuivants — Rouge Croix, Blue Mantle, Rouge Dragon, and Portcullis. The college of arms which was originally founded by Richard III., occupied, on the destruction of Derby House in Doctors’ Commons, new buildings planned by Sir Christopher Wren. The various improvements in that neighbourhood have now brought the frontage of the building into Queen Victoria Street. There are many objects of interest to antiquaries, especially in the form of curious rolls, pedigrees MSS [manuscripts], etc to be seen at the college; but there is little likely to attract the general public.
[ The coat of arms in the photograph above adorns the railings surrounding the statue of Colonel Samuel Bourne Bevington in Queen Elizabeth Street, and so, presumably belong to him. The Colonel came from a Quaker family who made their fortune in the leather trade for which Bermondsey was renown. He became the first Mayor of the borough in 1888. The bronze statue dates from 1908 and is by noted Victorian sculptor Sydney March.
For more on the College of Arms you can visit their website by clicking here. R.D.]