by Christopher Harrold

Examples of Heraldry relating to Thurrock

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e're gave,
Awaits alike the inevitable hour;
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

I am sure you recognise this as Gray's Elegy written in a country churchyard, referring to the village of Stoke Poges.

My theme is to demonstrate that there is even a ‘Boast of Heraldry’ in Thurrock. Thurrock is no country churchyard. It has been described as dead as a dustbin because this is where thousands of tonnes of London's rubbish are deposited every year. The very name Turruc is a Saxon one meaning the bottom of a ship where the dirt collects. There are no really great houses or estates here but is there a 'Boast of Heraldry' behind this description?

Heraldry is a visual subject with its origins in the adoption of the closed helm in the twelfth century. To recognise friend from foe it was necessary to add a clearly recognisable device to one's shield. From this sprang the idea that each coat of arms must be different from any other. It became the practice to pass the coat of arms down through the generations and to use it, or the badges which went with it, to indicate ownership of land and property and to give a sense of belonging to retainers. The idea still exists in the football teams of today and in the logos displayed by many companies. Heraldry being colourful and very visible also has a language of its own - the Anglo-French language spoken at the time of heraldry's earliest beginnings. In the descriptions which follow, illustrating just a few of the many striking examples to be found in and around Thurrock, I have used today's language but added the heraldic ‘blazon’ to the last example.

For a glossary of heraldic terms click here

Next page  Next page