Heraldry, from War to Peace

Bodliam Castle
Heraldry is an art as well as a science and this is partly the reason that it has survived from the Middle Ages when the use of body armor to which it owed its origin began to decline The other factor in keeping Heraldry alive has been its significance in identifying one’s class. Because only the richest and most powerful persons used arms it soon became the mark of the “best people” and so Coats of Arms acquired a significance far beyond their merely utilitarian use in war as ensigns.
Bodliam Castle entranceThe beauty of the form and the colors used in Heraldry attracts many who have no knowledge of the subject. Very early on, , the use of shields, crests and other heraldic objects departed from the martial forms which gave rise to Heraldry, and was adapted to peaceful styles. Over the gateway of Bodiam Castle in Sussex, near Hastings the Arms of the old Lords  of Bodiam, of Wardedieux and of the Dalyngrigges can be seen cut into the stonework above the entrance to the castle ( see below). The Dalyngrigge family came into possession of the castle through marriage with the heiress of the Wardedieux family. Sir Richard Dalyngrigge married the heiress of the Wardedieux family and in doing so acquired the manor and land of Bodiam, he then obtained permission from the king, Richard II, to build a castle there.  From the usage of these Heraldic images on the castle walls it was possible to those who understood Heraldry to know not only who was the present owner of the Manor but also those who had held it before him. The Arms were used on every occasion when the identity of the owner needed to be established.

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