Heraldry of the Biltmore House

Over the holidays I had the pleasure of visiting the Biltmore House near Asheville, NC.

Biltmore Estate

(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

This house is the largest privately owned house in the United States built between 1888 and 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt. The house is approximately 175,000 square feet (~16,300 square meters) and has 255 rooms. It is on an estate that currently spans 8,000 acres (32 square kilometers), greatly reduced from the original 125,000 acres (506 square kilometers) that it was at the end of the 19th century.

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The house is spectacular and, as one can tell, is inspired by the estates in the French countryside. It is amazing on the inside as it is on the outside and especially so for Christmas.

I could go on and on about the house, its history and everything I saw inside (such as the dozens of engavings framed along all the walls with the arms of various nobles of Europe) and would have loved to have added pictures from the interiors. I would especially would have loved to have shared a picture of the banners and armorial achievement in the main banquet hall – truly magnificent! Unfortunately, taking pictures of the interior of the house is prohibited.

I did manage to have pictures taken of the exterior and I will be sharing those photos in this post. These shields are repeated around the house, above windows, doorways etc.

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In this first picture (detail to the right), we see an armorial achievement (unknown to me) on a window above one of the towers. The dimidiated shield has an eagle displayed and three acorns slipped and leaved.

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In this picture above (detail to the right), there is a shield that I would like to say has a decorative pile as the ordinary on it to look like the letter “V” for Vanderbilt. However, it is probably most likely that it is just the letter “V” and not very heraldic at all…. I guess, lack of heraldic knowledge is not a recent phenomenon and not restricted to the poorer social strata.

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In this next picture (detail to the right), we go back to seeing something a little more heraldic in nature. It is a shield (to whom it belongs I do not know) that displays three boar’s heads erased 2 and 1. I’m guessing those are boars. They may be bears 🙂

To close, I’ll share a beautiful night picture of the Biltmore house that I took the day I visited. I strongly recommend to anyone visiting the area to make an effort to visit, it will be worth it.

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