Friday, 22 September 2017

Queer Achievement : Arming the Police

[Achievement – the name given in heraldry to the full pictorial representation of a coat of arms.]

No, I’m not talking about firearms but a coat of arms. One lgbt police officers to receive one of the highest honours in the UK is Jennifer Hilton (b.1936). She was an officer in the Metropolitan Police, reaching the rank of Commander. After retiring from the police force in 1990 she became a Life Peer and took the title Baroness Hilton of Eggardon. Her arms are illustrated below.
Regular readers will notice several things different about the illustration I’ve drawn for today. First of all it’s in a plain, flat, style with no shading or highlights. I’m experimenting with new styles and haven’t found one that works yet so have left it in its basic coloured format. Secondly, unmarried women like Baroness Hilton don’t use helmets in English heraldry so there is no mantling (the flowing cloth that is usually shown billowing around the shield). Rather than use the garland of leaves that is usually included in the achievements of unmarried women, as in my illustration of the arms of Dr. Sophia Jex-Blake, I thought I’d surround Baroness Hilton’s arms with a representation of the coronation robes of a baron.

As is customary I’ve also indicated the baroness’s rank by putting a baron’s coronet at the top. As with my illustrations of the arms of another peer of the realm, Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans, I’ve chosen not to include the supporters Baroness Hilton was granted with her arms (it doesn't suit my style). However, below is the illustration of the baroness’s full coat of arms as given in Debrett’s Peerage of 2003.
I’ll just mention the supporter on the right of the picture, the griffin. This is a creature widely used in heraldry and has symbolic meaning. One meaning is that the griffin is a guardian of treasure and you often find a griffin in the coat of arms of banks or financial institutions. Another symbolic meaning which is appropriate for Baroness Hilton in that the griffin is associated with justice, being the creature who pulls the chariot of Nemesis, the goddess of justice. It’s a fitting symbol for a police officer.

Moving on to the lozenge there is another element symbolic of the police which also incorporates Baroness Hilton’s name. Heraldry often uses puns and visual clues. One particular pun which is encountered quite a lot of English heraldry is the green mound, or hill, an obvious pun on Hilton. The oak tree, symbolic of England, is surrounded by a protecting fence. This alludes to the baroness’s career as a protector of the English public.

The two bees represent Baroness Hilton’s education. She went to Bedale’s School and Manchester University. Both of these establishments currently use bees, in Bedale’s school emblem and Manchester’s coat of arms, as shown below.
Suspended below the shield is the Queen’s Police Medal. This was awarded to Baroness Hilton in recognition of her services to the police force.

Finally there is the motto, “Poursuivre Raison Avec Resolution”, which translates as “To follow right with resolution”.

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