English heraldry belongs to Gallo-British heraldry which also includes Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Canadian and French heraldry. In the United Kingdom, royal officers of arms are in control of English heraldry even today. The Royal College of Arms grants and regulates coats of arms in England and is one of the few still existing official European heraldic institutions. The English heraldic style is notable for its connections to royalty as well as the civic arms of cities and noble arms of individuals. Moreover, royal orders retain their coats of arms.
English coats of arms are strongly influenced by classical Greek and Roman imagery and often display charges that refer to the bearer’s name or profession. This practice of canting arms is very common and can make use of foreign languages, mostly French. English heraldic style nearly completely excludes the depiction of persons, especially those with a religious connotation. What is very common in English coats of arms is the use of furs, chevrons and stars.
Concerning images it can be stated that English coats of arms make frequent use of roses. This can be attributed to the historic Tudor War of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York. When it comes to animals in the charges, lions are very common in England while eagles, which appear frequently in German coats of arms, are rather rare and only used to denote a connection to a German prince. When it is necessary to distinguish similar coats of arms from the same family, the system of cadency is used: Small signs called brisures, which vary according to country, are added.
A first reference to English heraldry can be drawn from the Bayeux tapestry which represents the events around the battle of Hastings in 1066. The first coat of arms was created in the 12th century and the practice became increasingly popular with crusaders. The Falkirk Rolls, a record of different English coats of arms from the late 13th century, are an important example of English medieval heraldic signs. The most prevalent uses of heraldry in England were in the battlefield and in family seals. However, it should be noted that predominantly people of noble descent used coats of arms.