Monday, 5 May 2014

Positive or negative?

Dalham Hall, which overlooks the picturesque little Suffolk village of Dalham, was for many years the home of the Afflecks, raised to the baronetcy (and therefore entitled to arms) in 1782. The family appears to have originated in Scotland, and the line, as well as the baronetcy, seems to have died out in the 1930s, in ignominy and in Australia.

According to the village’s website, the Elizabethan pub, which was one of the first buildings in the vilage to be erected (they had their priorities right in those days!), was named in honour of Lieutenant General Sir James Affleck (1759–1833), 3rd baronet, who was Colonel of the 16th Dragoons. (It’s an excellent pub, well worth an excursion.)

So, unlike some pubs I have mentioned previously, and others besides, here we have a pub named after the correct armigerous family. Full marks so far. The sign is a nice heraldic one, too.

But, is it correct? Well, the style – the double scroll especially – makes me think of one of those dreadfully misleading ‘your family crest’ sites, but I can’t find anything online that it could have been taken from. So hopes are high.

From various sources[1], we can write the complete blazon for the Dalham Afflecks as follows: 

Arms: Argent three bars sable
Crest: An ear of wheat proper
Motto: Pretiosum Quod Utile

This means that the shield should be white with three black stripes. This is what we see in the funeral monument of John Affleck (d. 1718), the first of the Dalham Afflecks, impaled with (presumably) the arms of his wife, Neeltje (née Schape, of Amsterdam).
Have another look at the sign:

Count the lines. Oops! That’s black with three white stripes (sable, three bars argent) – the negative, those of a photographic bent might think, of what it should be. Perhaps the artist was given as a brief, not the clear and specific heraldic description, but the ambiguous instruction ‘seven horizontal black and white stripes’. Explicable, but still very disappointing and easily avoidable.

The same generosity cannot be extended to the crest, however.

Looks nothing like a heraldic ear of corn. (And while I’m at it, the mantling and torse ought to be the same colours as the shield, i.e. black and white, not red and white.)

The motto is at least correct – although English heraldry prefers it to be placed below, not above, and of course giving the name as well is superfluous.

So, it’s a perfectly attractive and detailed sign, no careless daub, but let down by a couple of easily avoided errors. My hopes were high, but I ended up more disappointed than delighted.


Ar. three bars sa.

Crest: an ear of rye ppr.

Encyclopaedia Heraldica gives only the crest, “an ear (or fleck) of rye ppr”.

The Heraldry Institute’s site give the arms (in French), and provides the motto as:

“D'argent à trois fasces de sable Cimier un épi de froment au naturel Devise PRETIOSUM QUOD UTILE”


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well done sir! I know I am several years late but, that notwithstanding, you are spot on. The arms (usually called the Three Black Bars) goes way back as in the 14th for sure, maybe the 13th century or even earlier. The records fail us about there. As for the crest, the Ear of Wheat (you are quite right) is the proper Affleck crest. Having said that, an eagle (usually rampant)has been floated as being Affleck associated, which it is, but it comes from somewhere else, probably the McVicars.
    At any rate, well done. Great web site. All the best.
    Colin Affleck