The Origins of Heraldry part 3

Bodiam Castle
One common misconception is that the terms “Coat of Arms” and “Crest” are interchangeable. People often say that they have a crest, when they mean that they have a coat of arms, this is strictly incorrect as the crest is the part of the coat of arms that is above the helmet and a coat of arms is the correct term for the whole armorial achievement. This includes, shield, helmet, crest, mantling, and sometimes supporters. The essential part is the shield, without which there can be no coat of arms, the crest is merely an addition made much later. The term “Coat of Arms” is derived from the practice of covering over the armor of knights in the Middle Ages with a coat of linen or in some cases silk. The covering was used to protect the armor from rust and dirt and also to protect the wearer from the effects of the sun shining on the steel. On these covers the arms of the bearer were embroidered, hence the term “ Coat of Arms”. 

Heraldry is essentially medieval in origin and is associated with all of the images we conjure up when the Middle Ages come to mind. Knights in shining armor, castles, lovely ladies, princes and princesses, damsels in distress, tournaments, dragons, giants, all the apparatus of old romance, yes it is with things such as these that heraldry is linked. It is one of the traditions that has survived to this day. At Canterbury Cathedral in London can be seen the shield of the Black Prince, close by is the perfect medieval Bodiam Castle (above), with the arms of Bodiam, Wardedieux, and Dalyngrigge families over the great gateway (below).
Bodiam Castle entrance
Looking up as you enter the Gatehouse. The carved unicorn between the windows sits upon a helm and is from Sir Edward Dalyngrigge's crest (builder of the Castle). The coats of arms below are on the left, the arms of the Wardeux family (his wife and the family he got this land from and the Lordship of Bodiam), his arms are in the middle, and on the right are the arms of the family Radynden.

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