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From Corpus to the College of Arms (via BAFTA): AdamTuck (m.1998) appointed Lancaster Herald

Alumnus Adam Tuck, who matriculated in 1998 and studied History, has recently been appointed Lancaster Herald at the College of Arms after previously serving as Rouge Dragon Pursuivant. For those who may find these terms unfamiliar, we asked him to tell us what the role involves, and how he came to serve at the College of Arms.

Coat of arms

With his knowledge of heraldry and a background in graphic design, Adam was kind enough to assist us in creating a new version of the College coat-of-arms last year, for which we are very grateful. He recently appeared in his role at the King's Coronation, where he was pleased to see the Master, Professor Christopher Kelly, presenting the Augustine Gospels to the King.

"The Officers of the College of Arms are all, colloquially, known as heralds; but we are in fact divided into three ranks of which 'herald' is the middle rank, and 'pursuivant' the junior. Pursuivant literally means a following person (as in 'pursuit'), and originally the officers of this rank acted as assistants (read: dogsbodies) to the heralds. These days, however, there is almost no practical difference between the two ranks. 

My day-to-day work as Lancaster Herald, running my independent practice in heraldry and genealogy, therefore remains the same as it was when I was Rouge Dragon Pursuivant, save that I've had to reprint all my headed stationery and no longer get quite such confused looks when telling people my job title. In fact it's not unknown for the heralds – all of whom are named after places, followed by the word 'herald' – to be mistaken instead for a regional newspaper. The change in rank is more obvious during my ceremonial duties, as I'm now slightly further back in each procession (meaning more senior), and I wear a collar of Esses over my tabard – not that a herald's uniform needs any further weight added to it. 

My move into heraldry, in my late thirties, was as much a surprise to me as anybody else. I studied History at Corpus, then milled about in various arts admin roles for a while, before deciding to retrain as a graphic designer. (My MA was in that subject.) Most of my work in that field was as the in-house graphic designer at BAFTA, which was an amazing place to work, but after about ten years as a designer I found myself wanting to do something more connected to the history which I'd first studied. The position of trainee herald at the College of Arms was advertised on the Cambridge alumni careers service website, and it seemed ideal. 

The work of a herald combines historical and genealogical research among the College's unique manuscript collections, with designing the new armorial bearings which continue to be granted every year. Plus one gets to be part of a corporation which has been running continuously since 1484 – in fact the title of Lancaster Herald has been in existence even longer, first being mentioned in 1347. That's two years older than Corpus!"