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PostAshby-de-la-Zouch, and a Family Coat of Arms (Timothy Ashby, South Africa, 07/07/18 5:47 am)
I appreciate John Heelan's note about the town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch (July 5th), which I visited some years ago while staying at the Jacobean family home of Quenby Hall (then owned by distant cousins), which is not far away.
In the summer of 1982, while a graduate student, I spent my weekends partying and excavating one of the Quenby cellars, and my weekdays shadowing (i.e. hanging out with) the SDP leader Dr. David Owen, who had recently co-founded the (political!) party as an alternative to Labour and the Conservatives (it was a noble but short-lived initiative).
While I have no family connection to Ashby-de-la-Zouch (as mentioned previously, we take our surname from Ashby Magna, about a dozen miles away), the La Zouch family perch on a gnarled branch of my genealogical tree, Thomas Ashby married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of John Burdet and Elizabeth de la Zouch. The photo below shows an armorial escutcheon over the doorway of the medieval courtyard at Quenby which is quartered with the arms of Ashby of Quenby (Azure a chev. Ermine between three leopards' faces Or) in the upper left and Zouch of Lubbesthorpe, the ten circles or "bezants" in the lower right quarter.
Although the crest above the shield looks like a lion's head, it is actually supposed to be a leopard ("On a mural coronet Argent a leopard's face Or"). The craftsman who carved this sculpture in the 1540s probably had no idea what a leopard looked like.
In medieval heraldry, a family's armorial bearings had meaning. The "mural coronet" was a hereditary badge of honour awarded to a soldier who was the first to scale the walls of an enemy city or castle. I hope that my research will uncover which of my ancestors received the mural coronet and under what circumstances. We have an oral tradition that a member or members of the family fought in the Crusades, and that the leopard head and the coronet originated from some battle in the Holy Land. Although the Ashby crest and shield were officially recorded in Camden's Grants, 1602, I know from wax seals and stone carvings that they were in use at least 300 years earlier, so it's possible that they date from the Crusades, perhaps from King Richard "The Lionheart's" ill-fated expeditions of the 1190s.
JE comments: The Zouch/e coat of arms features two goats, or possibly rams, but goats strike me as cozier. The coat of arms of Aldona's hometown, Lublin, features a goat prancing over some grapes. I always wondered how this came to be, as the city is not famous for either.
Lublin (Poland) coat of arms