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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 57  1944  page 45

Two Coats of Arms from Kent in London by F. C. Elliston-Erwood, F.S.A. 

"Casing Street" (Birch, Cart. Sax., Vol. I, No. 346, p. 483) and our literature and history contain numerous references to personages, real and fictitious, en route between its termini. Charles Dickens is perhaps the best source for a description of the road as it was, and over which he many times travelled, often on foot, and the opening pages of the Tale of Two Cities give a vivid and realistic picture of what must have been the experience of hundreds of travellers in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; while the oracular utterances of "Mr. F's Aunt", "There's milestones on the Dover Road", are not to be forgotten.
   So it will not be considered strange that this coat of arms (which, to anticipate matters, is that of William III), was the fons et origo of numerous tales and legends, all tending to connect it with some more or less illustrious traveller, and in particular, with a foreign prince who married an English Queen. The current version, when I was a boy, was that the Prince Consort (as he shortly became) journeying by road to London for his marriage to Queen Victoria, in 1840, stopped at the Bull Inn for refreshment, and, being faint from the strain and fatigue of the long hard voyage, was only saved from falling by the timely aid of an ancient inhabitant standing near. The arms had been presented in memory of this event, though why the inn was the recipient and not the ancient, the tale sayeth not.
   Obviously this is not a true story, for, even if princes

are in the habit of distributing esuctcheons of arms to wayside inns as they progress through the country, it may be presumed they would make oblation of the their own arms and not those of a prince long since deceased. It was some years later that these armorial bearings were critically examined, when the discovery was made that they were or were intended for the heraldic insignia of William of Orange as William III, reigning alone. A trivial matter as this did not deter the legend maker, for now we are told that William stopped at the Bull in 1697 (there is some indecision as to the date) on his way from Margate to Greenwich, after the signing of the Peace of Ryswick in that year, and the arms were presented in memory of that event.
  But it will be better if the arms themselves are described: they are of definitely poor workmanship (note particularly the various animals and the lettering) carved in a coarse-grained wood (elm?) and affixed to a backboard of oak and framed, the whole being about twelve inches square. They are painted in oil colour and were either incorrectly coloured from the beginning or subsequent repaintings at the hands of unskilful and/or ignorant workmen have made much confusion.
   The heraldry may be thus described:
       Quarterly, on a circular shield enclosed in the 
                Ribbon of the Garter
        I. Gules, three leopards passant (? regardant) Or.

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