The Society Arms
The Society is a national Professional Institution and Immediate Past President Professor Mervyn de Calcina-Goff describes The Society Arms and tells how he worked with H.M College of Arms on the design and Grant
Today, more than ever, the granting of armorial bearings, ancient and historic as their origins are, can bring together in a unique and wholly modern way the history, achievements and aspirations of organisations such as The Society of Environmental Engineers.
Grants of arms are very much a part of the image that an organisation has of itself and, perhaps more importantly, how it wishes to present to outside bodies. In the recent past many institutions have replaced armorial bearings with contemporary logos, sometimes incorporating elements from older arms but often discarding them altogether.
The design of symbolism for any organisation is a matter of taste and judgment over which it is so easy to go wrong. However, with care and the proper professional input from the Officers of The College of Arms, it is possible to create a modern image for an organization. In 1994 I was asked by The Society to design and progress a Coat of Arms for The Society. The aim of the exercise was to create arms for The Society that accurately echoed a proud past and inspired confidence for a successful future.
As a member of The Heraldry Society I previously had experience of working with H.M College of Arms on other heraldic achievements, one of them for The Royal Photographic Society. For the SEE project I had many meetings with John Brooke-Little, CVO, (then Clarenceux King of Arms) and a most important outcome from these discussions was the granting of Supporters by Garter Principal King of Arms. Supporters are those creatures on either side of (literally supporting) the shield. They are only granted to an organisation that has a sustained and proven status and high peer group standing within its field of activity. In our case, the age of The Society and the fact that it organises courses and awards an academic diploma were all factors that helped to decide this point.
The coat of arms had to reflect our standing as a Learned Society and cement contemporary attitudes with the historical bonds, which have ensured our continuity and stability. As with many enterprises it was all too easy to start with complicated ideas and then to simplify them for a variety of reasons. This project was no exception as was the case with heraldry itself, which at an early stage in its development had to follow universally recognised rules if chaos was to be avoided.
Various "modern" devices were discussed but under the expert guidance of John Brooke-Little most were seen as inferior to more traditional symbols. Traditional heraldry long ago demonstrated a robustness well able to cope with changing (and often recurring) fashions.
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