Lord Lyon King of Arms' Tabard

1702-1707 (made)
Lord Lyon King of Arms' Tabard thumbnail 1
Lord Lyon King of Arms' Tabard thumbnail 2
+3
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Place Of Origin

Officers of arms (or heralds of arms) were originally messengers sent by monarchs or noblemen to read proclamations during occasions of state or to convey messages - in this sense being the predecessors of the modern diplomats. By the 18th century, they were also responsible for organising state ceremonies and processions such as weddings and funerals. Their official, ceremonial dress was the tabard; a short, T-shaped surcoat emblazoned with heraldry that has remained unchanged in style and shape from the earliest known period of which representations of officers of arms exist. However, whilst the tabard itself has remained unaltered in its style, the coats of arms thereupon have constantly changed, these always being the arms of the officer’s master or of the contemporary Sovereign. This tabard was made for the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the head of Lyon Court, which regulates heraldry in Scotland since 1532. It dates between 1702 and 1707 since it bears the Royal Arms of Queen Anne as used in Scotland during that period. The arms incorporate three fleurs-de-lis (for France), three lions passant (for England), a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory (for Scotland) and a harp (for Ireland). Majority of the emblems are worked in the heavily padded raised embroidery made with the abundance of silver and silver-gilt threads. Blue plain cut velvet is the ground for the harp and three fleurs-de-lis, while the three lions passant are applied upon a crimson velvet. The presence of velvets confirms that the tabard was worn by a Kings of Arms. Namely, there were three ranks of the officers of arms: Kings of Arms, Heralds of Arms and Pursuivants of Arms. Traditionally, the tabard of a Pursuivant is of damask, that of a Herald of satin, while the velvet was proscribed only for the tabards of the senior officers - the Kings of Arms.


object details
Category
Object Type
Brief Description
embroidery in silk, silver and silver-gilt threads in couching stitches, laid and raised work; black glass beads; blue and red plain cut velvet and white taffeta. Edinburgh, 1702-1707
Physical Description
Officers of arms (or heralds of arms) were originally messengers sent by monarchs or noblemen to read proclamations during occasions of state or to convey messages - in this sense being the predecessors of the modern diplomats. By the 18th century, they were also responsible for organising state ceremonies and processions such as weddings and funerals. Their official, ceremonial dress was the tabard; a short, T-shaped surcoat emblazoned with heraldry that has remained unchanged in style and shape from the earliest known period of which representations of officers of arms exist. However, whilst the tabard itself has remained unaltered in its style, the coats of arms thereupon have constantly changed, these always being the arms of the officer’s master or of the contemporary Sovereign. This tabard was made for the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the head of Lyon Court, which regulates heraldry in Scotland since 1532. It dates between 1702 and 1707 since it bears the Royal Arms of Queen Anne as used in Scotland during that period. The arms incorporate three fleurs-de-lis (for France), three lions passant (for England), a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory (for Scotland) and a harp (for Ireland). Majority of the emblems are worked in the heavily padded raised embroidery made with the abundance of silver and silver-gilt threads. Blue plain cut velvet is the ground for the harp and three fleurs-de-lis, while the three lions passant are applied upon a crimson velvet. The presence of velvets confirms that the tabard was worn by a Kings of Arms. Namely, there were three ranks of the officers of arms: Kings of Arms, Heralds of Arms and Pursuivants of Arms. Traditionally, the tabard of a Pursuivant is of damask, that of a Herald of satin, while the velvet was proscribed only for the tabards of the senior officers - the Kings of Arms.

Dimensions
  • Width: 156cm (Note: Maximum width (sleeves stretched out))
  • Length: 100cm (Note: Maximum length (from the tip od the collar to the bottom edge))
Credit line
Alfred Williams Hearn Gift
Object history
The tabard is that of the Lyon King of Arms
Bibliographic Reference
John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, 1938, p.81
Collection
Accession Number
T.174-1923

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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