Page last updated at 13:39 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Fire at heraldry records building

Fire at College of Arms building
The College of Arms building dates back to the 17th Century

A fire that broke out on two floors of the College of Arms in the City of London has been brought under control, London Fire Brigade (LFB) has said.

LFB said eight fire engines and 40 firefighters were at the six-storey office building in Queen Victoria Street, south of St Paul's Cathedral.

Some 35 people were evacuated from the building on Thursday morning.

The coats of arms and pedigrees of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families are kept there.

There are no reports of any injuries and another 100 people were asked to leave adjacent buildings.

Fire had broken out in parts of the third and fourth floor.

College history

A spokesman for the LFB said so far no historical documents have been reported lost or damaged in the fire.

The curator at the College is working ''closely with fire crews to preserve historical manuscripts held in the building".

Fire crews from Dowgate, Islington, Clerkenwell, Soho and Euston were called in to the incident.

Scene of fire (pic: Kevin Rogers)
Eight fire engines were sent to the scene
Records at the College of Arms also include official copies of the records of Ulster King of Arms, the originals of which remain in Dublin.

The officers of the college specialise in genealogical and heraldic work for clients and are therefore called heralds.

In 1484 heralds, who worked for the monarchy and noblemen, were given a house in Coldharbour in Upper Thames Street to keep their records.

When Henry VII came to power in 1485 the building was taken away from them.

In 1555 they were given the current site where Derby Place stood.

Derby Place was gutted in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the current building was built at the site in the 1670s.

The College is overseen by the Earl Marshal, a hereditary office which has been held by the Duke of Norfolk.

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