Heraldry with Sir William Paston (1528-1610)
We've put the dates with this Sir William because there are ten William Pastons in the family story. Our animated Sir William below will tell you about his life.
This Sir William Paston had a magnificent tomb constructed in the church at North Walsham. He made sure that it carried a family history in the coats of arms of his many ancestors and relatives.
Heraldry was very important to the Pastons and to many other families from medieval times onwards.
Below are some materials for you to explore heraldry. It's a huge subject with plenty more to find out, but these will help start you off. The Information Sheets and Activity Sheets can be printed out for young learners. Click on the buttons on the right to download Info and Activity sheets.
We also have some further web pages on heraldry to explore:
Draw a Coat of Arms An interactive page to draw your own coat of arms.
The Paston Book of Arms An introduction to a 15th century book in the Norfolk Record Office.
The Paston Roll An information page about the Paston Roll at the Norfolk Record Office.
The Arms on Sir William's Tomb A detailed look at the arms on Sir William's tomb in North Walsham Church.
Sir William Paston's Tomb The story of Sir William's tomb at North Walsham.
An information sheet for Key Stage 2 (7-11-years-old) pupils to introduce some of the basic terms and patterns of heraldry. It's a very large topic; we can only concentrate on some aspects of the subject.
Although designs had previously been used on shields to identify people in battle, true heraldry began in western Europe in the twelfth century, when such devices started also to become hereditary within families.
Some heraldic words from medieval French have already been introduced; more are grouped together on this page. One important rule of design is a coloured object (charge) shouldn’t be on a coloured field nor a metal charge on a metal field.
On the tomb of Sir William Paston’s tomb in North Walsham church is his achievement, a design including his coat of arms. At the top of the achievement is a helmet and a mythical creature, a griffin.
Werever we look around us, we're likely to see heraldry. This information sheet gives us some ideas about where to look and helps us with different types of heraldry. Schools, societies, sports clubs and official bodies often have heraldic symbols.
Amongst the many fascination documents from the Paston family is a book of coats of arms. We can't be certain who drew the various coasts of arms, or why they were drawn - at at some time the spare pages of the book were used for making notes on French grammar!
The charges are the objects which are put onto coats of arms. Charges are often animals or beasts. In medieval times many knights would want to be associated with particular beasts.
In medieval times, heralds had the task of announcing their masters on official occasion. They soon became expert at the coats of arms and genealogies of their masters.
Historic churches often have coats of arms in windows, on tombs and on information panels - though on tombs and plaques they may not be in colour. Here's a sheet you can take to a local historic church to make sketches.
Here are some not so famous knights from medieval times. They’d like a charge, an object on their shield which goes with their name. Print out a sheet and see if you can add designs to go with the names of the knights.
If you've looked at the first two information sheets or some of the on-screen pages, you'll have discovered some of the special heraldic words which come from medieval French. The challenge here is to find them in this Wordsearch.
The charges on coats of arms are often strange creatures. Can you name these creatures? What you can find out about them?
Here's a selection of ordinaries - the basic shapes seen on coats of arms before the charges are added. The task is to to match up the word with the shape - the Information Sheets or on-screen pages will help.
On this Activity Sheet you'll find shield on a number of pages from The Paston Book of Arms. You'll also see the blazons, the official descriptions of the coats of arms, but they are in the wrong order. See if you can match them up.Use the Information Sheets to help with some of the words.
This Activity Sheet gives you the chance to identify members of the the Paston family through various marriages. The roll, which is at the Norfolk Record Office, was probbly produced to help the Pastons establish that they really were importnat members and landowners in Norfolk.
All over England in medieval times families had coats of arms. The Pastons were amongst the Norfolk families who had coats of arms. See if you can find where some of the other families lived by using an atlas. If you're not in Norfolk, there'll be plenty of examples in your county.
There's a wide range of materials around our animation of Sir William Paston (1528-1610) and the Paston family interest in heraldry over the years. Some are web based, some are for printing out.