18th May 1725. Badges of Fealty.

The notion of knightly chivalry lives on in the Order of the Garter, the most senior British Order of Chivalry,  followed by the Thistle and the Bath.(1)

The Order of the Bath was founded under Letters Patent under the Great Seal Today in 1725.

Knights in medieval times, in a Rite of Passage, were purified by being given a ceremonial bath, and as the Order of the Garter had certain affiliations with valour, chivalry and allegiance.

However ‘The Noble Order’ was used by Sir Robert Walpole as a source of patronage in an honours system, which increasingly in the number of awards, is still the case today.(1)

Distinguishing emblems for medieval knights was the banner which developed into regalia and Livery Badges, especially in the troubled times following the deposition of Richard II, and the Wars of the Roses, when factional conflict saw the wearing of chains of allegiance.

Thus we get the ‘SS Chains’ (Esses) of Lancaster and the Yorkist collars of suns and roses, with the white lion of the March Family and the bull of the Clare’s, along with the white boar of Richard of York, later Richard III.

However this could lead to trouble, as football scarves can today, as experienced by a retainer of the unpopular John of Gaunt, Sir John Swinton, who unwisely rode through London wearing the Gaunt Badge on a Livery Collar of the Lancastrian ‘Esses’, and was pulled from his horse.

Later in the reigns of the three Henry’s in the 15th century, the ‘SS’ badge was embellished with a white-swan pendant.

The effigy of Ralph FitzHerbert (who died in 1483), at Norbury, Derbyshire, bears the Yorkist livery collar of alternating suns and roses with the white boar of Richard as a pendant.

Sir Thomas More wearing a chain of Esses and the Tudor Rose, badge of Henry VIII. Franz Holbein the Younger 1527.

Henry VIII brought back the SS chain with a portcullis or Tudor rose as pendant. His son the young Edward VI had a collar of red and white roses, demonstrating the union of Lancaster and York royal houses.

Dunstable Swan c 1400, in gold and white and black enamel.

The oldest effigy bearing the SS is at Spratton Church on Sir John Swinford dated 1371 and a white-swan pendant was later discovered at Dunstable, Beds., known as the Dunstable Swan Jewel Livery Badge.

’Dubbing for Knighthood’, can be seen in the romantic painting by Edmund Leighton (1852-1922) entitled, ‘The Accolade (1901).

(1) Regarded as the first Prime-Minister.


wikipedia.org/Orders and Badges of Livery/Pic of More.

wikipedia.org/leighton painting.

britishmuseum.org/dunstable swan.




About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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