The College of Arms was granted its present site in 1555 and today houses the eleven Officers of Arms forming the College – three Kings of Arms, six Heralds, and two Pursuivants.
Through their work over the centuries the heralds have built up a unique registry of armorial and family records. The College itself is one of the few remaining heraldic courts in Western Europe and is now the oldest existing such College in the world.
Derby Place, near to St. Paul’s Cathedral (the site granted in 1555) was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, but a new building was erected on the site in the 1670’s to house the heralds’ offices, their unique library of official records and the Earl Marshal’s Court. A new Record Room for the College’s manuscripts was added in 1842.
The blitz in World War II caused considerable damage to the College, and renovations were finally completed in 1984. A fire in the West Wing in 2009 fortunately did little more than superficial damage. The College is one of the very few listed buildings remaining from the 17th century in this part of London.
The Granting of Arms today
Anyone who can establish a direct male line of descent from an ancestor whose arms are registered at the College is automatically entitled to those arms.
In addition, the Kings of Arms can grant legally protected armorial bearings (coats of arms) to individuals whose life or work has been a benefit to the community.
Tracing your family
Many people are interested in learning more about their ancestors such as what kind of people they were and what they did in society. The Officers of the College of Arms carry out genealogical research and can help to trace anyone’s family (if that is practical).
Anyone who wishes to enquire about a coat of arms or is interested in tracing their ancestors should consult the Officer in Waiting at the College of Arms.
Contact details are:
The College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4BT
Telephone: 020 7248 2762
Fax: 020 7248 6448