Thursday, September 27, 2018

Carved Royal Arms at St. Mary-at-Lambeth

Many churches in England (and Scotland, too!) have an image of the Royal Arms somewhere in their interior. St. Mary-at-Lambeth is no exception to this general rule, although the Royal Arms are not especially conspicuous, placed as they are in  corner being held by an angel which is also the support for one of the roof beams.

These arms are, of course, the Royal Arms as used by the Kings and Queens of England from the time of Henry IV through Elizabeth I, that is to say: Quarterly, France modern and England. (Or, far more wordily: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Azure three fleurs-de-lys or; 2 and 3, Gules three lions passant gardant in pale or.)

The arms are beautifully carved in fairly high relief, and gilded, and the angel holding them is wonderfully detailed.

I think it's a very tastefully done example of the Royal Arms, displayed in the protecting arms of an angel.

But what do I know?

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Arms of an Archbishop!

There is more certainty about this coat of arms and to whom they belonged: it is the arms of the Archbishop of Canterbury impaled with those of Cardinal John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1486 until his death in September 1500.

Archbishop Morton's arms can be blazoned a couple of different ways. Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials blazons them as Gules a goat's head erased argent attired or quarterly with ermine, while Bentham's The History and Antiquities of the Conventual Cathedral Church of Ely (he was made Bishop of Ely in 1478) blazons them Quarterly gules and ermine in the first and fourth a goat's head erased argent. (Actually, I can think of yet another way to blazon the Archbishop's arms: Quarterly gules and ermine in bend two goat's heads erased argent [attired or].)

Cardinal Morton lived in interesting times, the tail end of the Wars of the Roses. He was Keeper of the Privy Seal to King Henry VI's government in exile in France, but after that king's death became reconciled with Edward IV, who appointed him Master of the Rolls from 1472 to 1479. He opposed the Yorkist regime of Richard III (for which opposition he spent some time in captivity), and the year after Henry VII came to the throne, he made Morton Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor of England the year after that.

Sir Thomas More as a young man was a page in Archbishop Morton's house, and Morton is thought by some to be the original author of More's History of King Richard III.

More information about the life of Archbishop and Cardinal John Morton can be found at

What a fascinating history behind this little carved coat of arms high up on the walls of the church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Arms of an Archbishop?

Not surprisingly, there are ecclesiastical arms in the church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth, which sits just outside the gate of Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishops of Canterbury in London.

Here, held by an angel which is also one of the supports for a roof beam, are the impaled arms of the Archbishop of Canterbury and (I believe) Archbishop William Warham (Archbishop of Canterbury from 1503 until his death in 1532.

I say "I believe" because the depiction of the arms here in the church is a little confusing. Burke's General Armory blazons Archbishop Warham's arms as: Gules a fess or between in chief a goat's head erased argent horned or and in base three escallops two and one argent.

The carving here has the "fess" reduced in size to basically fimbriation of a chief, and the escallops have become the main charges on the shield, with the goat's head on a red chief.

Here's a better depiction of the Archbishop's arms, from his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral, which can be found - along with other information about him - at

This depiction, too, does not quite match the blazon given in Burke's, as the goat's head here is clearly couped, not erased. (The two black dots on either side of the goat's head are rivets attaching the arms to the side of the tomb.)

There is a painting by Hans Holbein of Archbishop Warham where, if you look carefully, you can see his arms impaled with those of his archepiscopal see on the processional cross next to his right shoulder, at (On the portrait image, below, the goat's head appears to be issuing from the chiefmost edge of the fess.)

Alas, poor Warham! He was Archbishop of Canterbury during the time when King Henry VIII was trying to annul his marriage with Catherine of Aragon and move Anne Boleyn into Catherine's rooms at the palace, and so he would have to have been somewhat involved in all that fooforah. (Fooforah: a technical term used by historians to mean "a complete and total mess.") Fortunately for him, he was not in the direct line of fire the way that Lord Chancellor Cardinal Wolsey was, and he died comparatively peacefully still in office in 1532.

Monday, September 17, 2018

A New On-Line Source for Researching Heraldry

There was a short article near the back of the most recent Coat of Arms from The Heraldry Society (England) that caught my eye.

After checking it out, I thought it was something that I simply had to share with you.

It's the website of the ARmorial Monumental du Moyen Age (ARMMA), the work of Laurent Hablot, consisting of searchable database of coats of arms, with photographs and/or drawings, from 1200 A.D. to 2000 A.D. on monuments in the area of Poitiers, France.

As a sample, here's a screenshot of two of the entries on the website:

The entries on the ARMMA website can be searched in several different ways, though to be honest I have spent most of my time going through them "Par période."

Anyway, I thought this was a really great site, and thought you should know about it. It can be found on-line at, and I have already added it to the listing of "Some Good On-Line Armorials and Ordinaries" section of links in the left-hand column of this blog.

Enjoy! May you spend as many (or more) hours as I have already have there.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

An Attributed Coat of Arms in a Church

Having finished up our heraldic tour of St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster, we move on down and cross over the Thames to the Church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth, a deconsecrated church (which is now the Garden Museum) immediately outside the gates of Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I've posted before about some "Entirely Unexpected Heraldry in London" (, in which we ran across the tomb of Vice Admiral of the Blue William Bligh at this Church.

Though deconsecrated, the building still contains of a fair bit of heraldry, which I will try to share with you over the next several posts.

One especially nice carved and painted coat of arms was one of a number of arms, each supported by a carved angel, placed around the interior where the base of the arches of the ceiling meet the walls.

I recognized this coat of arms immediately:

See if you recognize it, too.

Go ahead. Take a good look if you need to. I'll wait. When you are ready, scroll down.

Yes, it is (one of the) attributed arms of Jesus, containing the items associated with his Passion: the cross (topped by the sign placed there by Pilate inscribed "INRI"), the crown of thorns, the three nails, the hammer which hammered them in, a pair of pliers (for removing the nails, presumably), a pair of flails (scourges), a spear, and a sponge on a pole.

Utterly appropriate to its setting of a church, and a wonderful example of both heraldic and the stonemason's art.

Monday, September 10, 2018

An Armorial Porch as a Memorial

Around on the "back" side of St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster, facing the Houses of Parliament just across the street, is a porch dedicated to Robert Lowe, Viscount Sherbrooke (1811-1892), Chancellor of the Exchequer 1868-1873 and Home Secretary 1873-1874.

On the other side of the interior of the porch from the inscription in Latin (above), we find a finely-carved bust:

It's a pretty good likeness, really. (You can compare it to his photograph on his Wikipedia page,

There is a lot that has been written about Robert, Viscount Sherbrooke, and I'm not going to repeat all of it here. The Wikipedia page (above) about him gives a decent overview of his life. For those wishing even more detail, I recommend to you his entry in the Dictionary of National Biography at,_Robert_(DNB00)

Because my especial interest, of course, is the heraldry contained around the base of his bust and over the doorway to the porch.

Centered on the band at the base of the bust are the impaled arms of Lowe and Sneyd. (In 1885, Lord Sherbrooke married as his second wife Caroline, daughter of Thomas Sneyd.) From what I have been able to deduce from my books here, these arms would be blazoned: Gules three mullets pierced in fess between two wolves passant in pale argent (Lowe); impaling Argent a scythe the blade in chief the sned (or handle) in bend sinister on the fess point a fleur-de-lis sable (Sneyd). (The arms are, somewhat obscurely, meant to be canting arms; that is, they are a pun on the surname.)

The other shields on the base of the bust each contain a bend (or bend sinister) inscribed with a Greek word.

Lord Sherbrooke, who suffered from albinism and a related weakness of the eyes, recorded that Latin and Greek were the main subjects of his study at school, and that they were both easy for him. Indeed, when some wits in the 1870s suggested an epitaph for him, he promptly translated it into Latin. (See his Wikipedia article, above, for both the English and Latin texts.)

The Lowe and Sneyd arms also appear separately above the arch of the porch entry on the exterior of the church.

Lord Sherbrooke had no children by either of his wives, and so the peerage became extinct upon his passing.

Nonetheless, this fine armorial porch at St. Margaret's stands as a memorial to him.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Rare Look at an Heraldic Plantagenet Floor

Recent excavations at Bath Abbey during its Footprint Project has turned up a remarkably well-preserved late-13th or early-14th Century floor.

The floor was put in the Norman Cathedral which, like so many other buildings in Great Britain, went through several phases (just watch just about any episode of Time Team, which can be found on YouTube) and was later replaced by the smaller Abbey.

The shields in the tiles are the three lions of England, and the three chevrons of the de Clare family.

After being fully photographed and recorded, the tiles will be protected and covered back up in place (they are, after all, almost two meters below the current floor level! Can't have tourists falling into a hole that deep, don'tcha know?).

An article with even more background, as well as a short video where one of the archaeologists discusses the floor, can be found on-line at

Still, though, if they'd prefer to put this floor on display somewhere off site, I'd be more than happy to rip up the floor in my library at home to make a space for it here.

Just sayin'.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Hawks and Eagles: Different or Not?

A recent (August 22, 2018) ruling about trademarks by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that hawks are not different from, indeed, that they are identical to, eagles.

The case, Alliance for Good Government v. Coalition for Better Government, was based on the issue that the logo used by Coalition looked very much like that used by Alliance, though Alliance had been using its logo longer.

This is what the complaint was about:

One of the arguments that Coalition made was that the birds were different: Coalition is represented by an eagle, while Alliance is "represented by a hawk, not an eagle."

The judges on the Fifth Circuit Court ruled: "We agree with the district court: the birds are identical."

Clearly, no one at Alliance was a herald, because any decent herald could have told them: If it's displayed, it's an eagle. If it's close, it's a hawk or falcon.

Anyway, it's not often that I run across a court case that bears a relationship, however tenuous, to heraldry. (They were, after all, ruling on a controversy over trademarks.)

If you have a desire to see more about this ruling and the Court's review of its background, the full ruling can be found on-line at

But here we have it, an unequivocal statement by an appeals court that (at least in the same posture) hawks and eagles "are identical."