Reference NumberP/COA
TitleRecords donated by the College of Arms
AdminHistoryThe College of Arms is the official heraldic authority for the UK and much of the Commonwealth, and the oldest heraldic court in the world. It was founded in 1484 when heralds were granted a charter by Richard III, who also gifted them a building - its first premises - in Upper Thames Street, where records could be stored.

Medieval heralds acted as master(s) of ceremonies at jousting tournaments. Their role evolved, as many became experts on armorial symbols, determining who was entitled to display specific symbols. Heralds became part of the Royal household in the 13th century. Their duties were, and remain largely ceremonial, although the modern College of Arms is responsible for, inter alia, granting new coats of arms; the registration of family trees; genealogical and military research and advising governments, corporate bodies and individuals on matters heraldic and ceremonial, such as the Stare Opening of Parliament and State funerals. They keep to a distinct hierarchy, headed by the King of Arms, followed by heralds, and thence junior heralds.

The College of Arms maintains a high profile as custodian of a vast collection of manuscripts and genealogical and heraldic material which has built up since its inception. Although unsupported by government funding, the College receives occasional grants for specific projects undertaken by its conservation and archive departments, and the preservation of its historic premises in Queen Victoria Street, which has Grade 1 Listed Status.

The College continues its work with the support of the White Lion Society, inaugurated in 1986, and based at the same premises. Other aspects of the College's public role include its liaison with the College of Arms Trust, which maintains a museum for the exhibition of books; manuscripts and items of heraldic and general interest.

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