“How deceived I have been … From your letters [of presentation] I understood you to be an ambassador, but all I got was a herald….” (Elizabeth I, responding to a young and importunate ambassador from the King of Poland who spoke out of turn and in inappropriate language, 1597)
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
This is what happens when an heraldic artist has never seen anything more than a very rough description of an heraldic beast when painting ...
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Thursday, November 14, 2019
A Somewhat Overstated Tomb in Canterbury Cathedral
After the somewhat understated tomb of William Grant Broughton, Bishop of Australia, which we reviewed in the last post, we come to the somewhat more florid tomb of Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1883 to 1896.
No, really, you should click on the picture above to see a larger, more detailed copy. It's worth it. I'll wait. The tomb is emblazoned with the epitaph Benson had chosen: Miserere mei
Deus Per crucem et passionem tuam libera me Christe ("Have mercy on me O
Christ our God, Through Thy Cross and Passion, deliver thou me"). As with so many of the other "notables" buried, entombed, and/or memorialized in Canterbury Cathedral, you can find more information about Archbishop Benson's life in his article on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_White_Benson. But, of course, my passion is heraldry, and it was the three coats of arms along the base of the tomb which truly caught my attention.
The three shields are, from left to right: The arms of the See of Canterbury, which we have seen quite a number of times in our review of the heraldry of the City of Canterbury and of Canterbury Cathedral, Azure a cross-staff or with its cross argent overall a pall argent
charged with four crosses formy fitchy sable. The impaled arms of the See of Canterbury with the personal arms of Archbishop Edward Benson, Azure a cross-staff or with its cross argent overall a pall argent charged with four crosses formy fitchy sable, impaled by Argent three trefoils slipped sable between four bendlets gules (Benson). And finally, the Archbishop's personal arms, Argent three trefoils slipped sable between four bendlets gules (Benson). Yes, I know that the arms here are painted such that you only see two red bendlets. Take my word for it, there are supposed to be four of them. Additionally, Cecil Humphrey-Smith notes that: The field argent is strewn with
trefoil-looking objects giving the appearance of ermine, but the Archbishop’s
field should be argent. It is also observed that whilst on his seal as
Archbishop there are three trefoils as here, on his seal as Bishop of Truro he
bore a quatrefoil between two trefoils [between four bendlets]. So, there's apparently nothing like being able to change things up.
In any event, it truly is a beautifully wrought tomb, and the enameled shields are as bright and crisp as the day they were first installed.