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Crest of Sir Thomas Storey

Copyright © 2007

This page was last updated on
Sunday, 3 February 2008
by Brad Storey


a set watch all the night long, and have their sentinels. These stand on one foot and hold a little stone within the other, which, by falling from it, if they should chance to sleep, might awaken them, and reprove them for their negligence. Whilst these watch, all the rest sleep, couching their heads under their wings; and onewhile they rest on the one foot and otherwhiles they shift to the other, the captain beareth up his head aloft into the air, and giveth signal to the rest as to what is to be done."

On p. 192 of "The Architecture of Birds," published by Charles Knight, 1831, the author says: "The two allied species, the stork and the crane, do not build upon trees like the herons, but upon rocks, or by preference upon houses, churches or ruined buildings, and, like all birds which affect such situations, are everywhere held sacred, or at least highly worthy of protection. Thus we learn from Juvenal that a stork built its nest on the Temple of Concord at Rome. Southey says that in Spain the storks build their broad nests on the towers of churches, and are held sacred. At Seville almost every tower in the city is peopled with them, and they return annually to the same nests. One of he causes of their being venerated is their destruction of all the vermin on the tops of the houses. At Bagdad Niebuler observed a nest of this sort on the roof of a decayed mosque, and he said that hundreds of the birds were to be seen there on the top of every house, wall, and tree, and that they were quite tame. Fryer stated that among the ruins of Perseopolis, in Persia the summit of almost every pillar of those magniflcient monuments of antiquity contains a stork's nest."

Herons may not improperly be designated platform builders; for though they construct a shallow depression in the centre of the nest, which is by all the species, it we mistake not, lined with some sort of soft material, such as dry grass, rushes, feathers, or wool; the body of the nest is quite flat, and formed much in the manner of an eagle's eyry, of sticks crossing one another, and supported upon the branches or between the forks of high trees. All the species also are social, nestling in large communities, after the manner of rooks, though instances are not uncommon of individual pairs breeding solitarily. Belon tells us that the heron is royal meat on which the French nobility set great value. There were heronries in England in the old days, and express laws were passed tor their protection, a fine of ten shillings being inflicted for taking the young herons out of their nest, and six shillings and eightpence for a person outside his own ground, killing a heron, except by hawking or the long-bow; while in subsequent enactments the latter penalty was increased to twenty shillings or three months' imprisonment (v. 1 Jac. c. 27, 5, 2). At present, however, in consequence of the discontinuance of hawking, little attention is paid to the protection of heronries. Not to know a hawk from a heronshaw (the old name for a heron) was an old adage, which arose when the diversion of heron-hawking was in high fashion; it has since been corrupted into the absurd, vulgar proverb " not to know a hawk from a hand-saw" (v. Tennant, British Zoology, vol. ii., p. 841). The flesh of the heron is now looked upon as of little value, and is rarely it ever brought to market; though formerly a heron was estimated at thrice the value of a goose and six times the price of a partridge (v. Northumberland Household Book, p. 104). The old name for heron is hern, but the Anglo-Saxon term is hragra; Teutonic, Reihen; Latin, Ardea; Greek, Erodias.

There used to be a falconry at Cawood, near to Storrs Hall, Arkholme. the ancient seat of the Storrs family in the days of Henry V. John de Storres or Storkes was the owner in early times. In 1600 Adam Storrs was living at Storrs Hall. Cawood and Arkholme formed part of the chase of the Nevilles of Hornby Castle. Geoffrey de Neville, vivens 1280, was a great huntsman, and after his decease a survey of the chase was taken on behalf of his widow, under the title of Les Marches de la Forest de Dame de Neville en Cawode, &c. Geoffrey de Neville died 13th Edward I., 1285. To this day hawks still fly over to the site of the old falconry, at the season of the year for their return to this country, said the late Mr. Fenwick Pearson, of Storrs Hall.

The plumes of the heron were formerly in high request in Europe as ornaments for the caps and helmets of the nobility, and still they form part of the elegant costume of a Knight of the Garter. In the East the herons bear a high value. Chardin tells us that the