Thursday, December 29, 2022

The Impressive Doorway Into King's College Chapel

Looking across the courtyard of King's College, we get another view of the very impressive edifice that is the Chapel there.

More information about the history and construction of this unique building can be found on-line at,_Cambridge

Way down on the left (to the south) is the main entrance to the Chapel, 

which, as you get up to it, demonstrates how truly impressive it, too, is:

If you look carefully (and you can click on the image above to go to a larger, more detailed photograph), we see more examples of the Royal badges we found on the main entrance to King's College itself: crowned Tudor roses; crowned portcullises; Tudor roses; fleurs-de-lys; plus in the frieze above the two coats of arms, the Royal badge that is the Prince of Wales feathers.

And then we come to the coats of arms themselves:

Each supported by a dragon and a greyhound (in slightly different postures), these must be the Royal arms of King Henry VII and King Henry VIII: Quarterly: 1 and 4, France modern; 2 and 3, England. France modern being, of course, Azure three fleurs-de-lys or, and England, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale or.

In addition to all of this identifying heraldry, if you click on the first image above, you may notice that in addition to the crowned roses and crowned portcullises on the facings of the four buttresses to the left, there are also three-dimensional, that is to say, "in the round", depictions of the royal supporters: lions, dragons, and greyhounds, on two different levels, standing atop the angles where the buttresses jut further out.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Arms and Badges in the Courtyard of King's College, Cambridge

Unsurprisingly, once having passed through the main gate of King's College, Cambridge and its Royal arms and Royal badges and College arms, there are more arms, and badges, and even non-heraldry to be seen on the buildings facing the interior courtyard there.

Here is a notable example of all three! In the lower frieze on this bay, we find the Royal arms of Kings Henry VI, Henry VII, and Henry VIII between (on the left) the arms of King's College and (on the right) the arms of Eton College. We have discussed the relationship between these two latter coats in an earlier post.

But wait; there's more! If you look carefully on the same frieze to the left and right of these three coats of arms (and you may want to click on the image above to see it in more detail), you will notice two entirely blank shields on each side.

And then, looking further up to the next level, the frieze there consists of a row of Tudor roses (in this case, triple-roses, consisting of five petals each), a Tudor Royal badge.

Further along, we came to this bay window:

Upon taking a closer view of the frieze below the window we see 

a row of five Tudor rose badges (also consisting of triple-roses, but here each rose has nine petals instead of the more usual five. Well, they do sometimes say that "Nothing succeeds like excess." If five petals is good, then nine must be even better, right?). I think it's also kind of cool how the stone carvers have placed sprigs of three rose leaves in the larger frames on the upper left and right and lower left and right of each rose. (You may need to click on the image above to see this in better detail.)

Anyway, with all of this heraldry, both arms and badges, on the inside and interior of the main gate and on the buildings around the courtyard, what are we likely to see when we make our way to King's College Chapel?

Thursday, December 22, 2022

A Final View of the Main Gate at King's College

Of course, after passing through the main gate at King's College, Cambridge, it is well worth turning around to look back at the gate.

Central over the doorway is another fine stone carving of the arms of King's College, flanked by two Tudor roses (triple-roses again) beneath a frieze of seven panels each of which has as its central element another triple-rose.

Here's a close-up of the arms and large triple-roses:

You can click on the images above to go to larger versions which show the massive amount of detail that has been put into these carvings. The intricacy of the rose vines and petals is awe-inspiring!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Heraldry (and Wildlife!) on the Ceiling of the Main Gate

Only part of today's post is going to be about heraldry; the other part is going to feature the wildlife found in and amongst the heraldry on the ceiling of the main gate leading into King's College, Cambridge.

But first, an overview, followed by the heraldry!

That's a shot of the ceiling inside the main gate of King's College.

Central to it is a Tudor rose, though in this instance it is carved as a triple-rose rather than the more common double-rose. (If you click on the first image above, and then zoom in, you will find two of the Tudor double-roses.)

All of the carvings in this ceiling are extremely detailed, from the central triple-rose with its circlet of leafy rose vines, through the two green men, to the double-roses and oak leaves and acorns, and I recommend that you click on the first image above to better see the details of all of these carvings.)

But what of the wildlife I promised, you ask? Well, if you look carefully in an enlarged version of the first picture above, you may note that one of the carvings at one of the junctions of the ribs in the ceiling seems to have a little something "extra" attached to it.

By going to the next section of the ceiling inside the gate, we can see a little more clearly what is going on.

In addition to the portcullis badge of the Beauforts inherited by King Henry VII, in the center (above the squirrel and oak leaves and acorns) the dark spot with a bit of white at the top is actually a swallow's nest, with two of the young swallows sticking their heads out, looking for a parent to return with food. (Once again, clicking on the image above will take you to a larger version where it is more clear what is going on there.)

And in this image, one of the parents has returned and is feeding the youngsters.

So, as I said, heraldry and wildlife (both carved and real). It was really neat to be able to stand there for a few minutes and watching the adult birds come and go feeding their young.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

A King's College Heraldic Stray

Admittedly, though, it didn't really stray all that far!

I think I'd mentioned in an earlier post the village of Grantchester. The town was known to me before we went to Cambridge, but only through the ITV detective drama Grantchester broadcast on PBS stations here in the States. I had no idea that it was a real place. I mean, most of the British detective dramas are set in fictional places like "Midsomer" (Midsomer Murders) and "St. Mary Mead" (Miss Marple).

Now admittedly, only some of the filming of the series is actually done in the village of Grantchester, mostly the scenes in and about the church and the back patio of the Red Lion pub. Other local filming locations include Grantchester Meadows and parts of Cambridge. Other locations are used as necessary; for example, the vicarage next door to the church is most definitely not the vicarage that appears in the series, presumably because the series is set in the 1950s and the actual vicarage looks too new to be from that era.

Anyway, as fans of the show, and it being so close, we felt that we just had to go there! So we took part of a day, grabbed a taxi, and had lunch at the Red Lion and visited the Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary just up the street.

We will cover more of the church and its heraldry in a later post or two, but today I wanted to note an instance of the arms of King's College, Cambridge (as well as the arms of Eton College, granted, as noted before, the same day as the arms of King's College), on a monument in the churchyard in Grantchester.

This is the grave of Augustus Austen Leigh (1840-1905) and his wife, Florence Emma Austen Leigh (1857-1926).

Augustus Austen Leigh was the 32nd Provost of King's College, Cambridge, where he had also served at tutor, Dean, and Vice-Provost.

But, as ever, it was the two coats of arms on his grave that first caught my eye.

On the right side (as you are facing the cross) of the base is the arms of King's College:

And on the left side of the base is the very similar arms of Eton College:

Anyway, it was interesting to run across these unexpected "heraldic strays" in the little village of Grantchester while we were visiting there that day.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Badges Here, Badges There, Royal Badges Everywhere

You may, or may not, have noticed them in my last post, but there are multiple examples of Royal badges on the entrance to King's College, Cambridge.

Though King's College itself was founded by King Henry VI, the badges on the entrance clearly relate to the first two Tudor monarchs, King Henry VII and King Henry VIII.

For example, going back to our picture of the entire edifice:

We find, on each side of the main gate, two Royal Tudor badges: a crowned double rose (the Tudor rose, generally depicted as a white rose on a red rose), and a crowned portcullis with chains (which was brought to King Henry VII by his mother, the heiress Lady Margaret Beaufort. We have already discussed Lady Margaret in conjunction with her founding of Christ's College and St. John's College, both of which use her arms and who display her badges - including the Beaufort portcullis badge - on their entrance gates.)

And then, on the two peaked roofs on either side of the main gate, we find more Royal badges:

If you look closely (and you may want to click on the image above to see a larger version), near the peak we have a Tudor rose, with a fleur-de-lys on either side below it. Then, in the second row of the frieze below the rose and fleurs, we have alternating badges: Tudor rose, fleur-de-lys, Tudor rose, fleur-de-lys, and Tudor rose.

As Heraldic Badges in England and Wales, II.1. Royal Badges by Michael Powell Siddons notes: "This combined Tudor rose represented the union of the dynasties of Lancaster and York and was a powerful political symbol."

The fleur-de-lys was also a powerful political symbol, of course, and represented the English crown's claim to the throne of France.

We'll find some more depictions of these Royal badges as we pass through the gates of King's College and enter the Chapel there. Watch for some of the triple and even quintuple Tudor roses to be seen there.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

There's No Mistaking This Heraldic Entrance!

Having looked at the rear entrance to King's College, Cambridge, last time, today we go around front to the main entrance. It's a doozy!

(Yes, that's another view of the Chapel on the right. And feel free to click on the image above to see a larger, more detailed picture so as to better get the full effect!)

Above the central main gate, in pride of place, is the arms of King Henry VI (also the arms of King Henry VII and King Henry VIII, who completed the Chapel and, simply based on the heraldic badges scattered all over its façade, the main entrance).

To the left and to the right of the gate, carved in stone and inset into the walls, we find the arms of King's College and the arms of Eton College, respectively:

Next time, "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" (Quoted from the 1948 film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.)

Monday, December 5, 2022

(Some of the) Heraldry at King's College, Cambridge

All right, I've been putting this one off for a while. Not because I didn't like it, but because there is so much heraldry there - coats of arms, and badges, and whatnot - that it felt a little overwhelming.

And in fact, there is enough there that I'm going to have to break this up over several posts.

But I've gone through my photos taken at King's College now, cropping and straightening, and it's time to start sharing them with you.

To begin:

This is the image of King's College that most of us are familiar with. It is, in fact, a shot taken from along the back side of the College, and displays very well the Chapel (the large building in the center). I've seen it a number of times on the PBS-ITV show Grantchester, which is based in the actual village of Grantchester, a place within walking distance of Cambridge. It was rather fun to be walking about Cambridge myself and come to the view above, which I recognized immediately from the TV series, though without, of course, the stars of the show accompanying me there.

According to The Cambridge Armorial, King's College of St. Mary and St. Nicholas was founded by King Henry VI, who personally laid the first stone of a building on Passion Sunday in 1441. Arms were granted to the College on January 1, 1448/49, at the same time as similar arms were granted to the King's College of Our Lady of Eton Beside Windsor, better known now as simply Eton College, established by King Henry VI in 1440. Initially, King's College, Cambridge, only accepted students from Eton. The arms of the two institutions are very similar, and we will see both in our perambulations about King's College.

We start out at the rear entrance to King's College, where we find three different coats of arms:

Over the central gate we find the arms of King Henry VI, Quarterly France modern and England, supported by two heraldic antelopes.

Above the small gate on the right, we find the arms of Eton College, Sable three lilies argent on a chief per pale azure and gules a fleur-de-lys and a lion passant guardant or.

It is on the Members Only signs that we finally see the arms of King's College, which are identical to those of Eton College except that the lilies of Eton are now roses:

Next time, we go around front to see the main entrance to King's College, where we find the arms of King's College, the arms of Eton College, and a whole bunch of Royal badges.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Well, Whaddya Know? I Missed One!

The real trouble with going on a trip to someplace with lots, and Lots, and LOTS of heraldry, and thus taking lots, and Lots, and LOTS of photographs of heraldry, is getting back home and trying to organize all of those many photographs into some kind of order.

And wouldn't you just know it, but in trying to do that and start posting them to this blog, it turns out that I missed organizing, and posting, another example of the arms of Cambridge University.

So today, we have for you yet another example of the University arms seen in and around the city of Cambridge, England, this time on the side of a bus.

You may note on the left that it says "Universal: The University bus for everyone."

And these busses do seem to go all over, at least through the central part of Cambridge, and beyond, if the route of stops listed on the side is any indication.

But of course it was the University's coat of arms behind the rear wheel, along with the notation "in association with University of Cambridge" that made me photograph it. (I was forced to, I say! That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

So, anyway, I apologize for having missed this utilitarian example of the Cambridge University coat of arms when I was posting all of the other pictures of these arms from when we were there.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Because Of Course They Did!

Well, sure, isn't that just how it always seems to happen?

I recently did an update to my American Heraldry Collection (which can be downloaded for you to use from the "Some Articles I've Written" section in the left-hand column of this blog), and in the announcement of that update I noted that I was still waiting for the next installment from the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society to be published.

So, sure, wouldn't you know it, that just a few days later the latest copy of the NEHG Register arrived in my in-box, containing the final installment of Part 11 of the Committee's Roll of Arms.

So having very recently made an announcement about an update to the American Heraldry Collection, I am back again to announce ... another update to the American Heraldry Collection!

Anyway, it's there, it's up to date (and likely to remain so at least until they start publishing Part 12, assuming I don't find some new source of American heraldry before then), and you can download it for your own use/research/etc.

I hope that you find it useful.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Three (Okay, Four!) Different Coats of Arms at Jesus College, Cambridge

Our next stop on our tour of Cambridge is Jesus College, which has a pretty impressive gate and building façade.

The College was founded in 1496 by John Alcock, the Bishop of Ely, and the arms of the College markedly refer to him.

The arms are blazoned Argent on a fess between three cock's heads erased sable combed and wattled gules a bishop's mitre or all within a bordure gules semy of crowns or.

The base arms (Argent a fess between three cock's heads erased sable combed and wattled gules) are those of Alcock, while the bishop's mitre and the charged bordure refer to the Bishop and his See of Ely.

A bordureless version of these arms, along with two other coats, appear on the face of the College building behind the gate, above which stands a statue of Bishop Alcock himself:

The arms in the center over the doorway are of course the Royal Arms of England at the time, Quarterly France modern and England. As the College was founded in 1496, these would be the arms of King Henry VII, who reigned from 1485 to 1509.

Flanking the Royal Arms to the left are the arms of the See of Ely, of which John Alcock was Bishop. To the right are the Alcock arms on which the fess is charged with a gold bishop's mitre, a way of making the Alcock family arms personal to him.

Further down, still flanking the doors, is a gold eagle wings displayed, on the left, and a cock sable combed and wattled gules, on the right. I am uncertain as to the provenance of the eagle, but the cock comes from Bishop Alcock's canting crest, Issuant from a ducal coronet or a cock sable combed and wattled gules. While I don't see the coronet with the cock (you can click on the image above to go to a larger, more detailed photo, to double-check me), the Bishop's crest is undoubtedly where the bird here originates.

Anyway, it's one very nice gate and even nicer façade, highlighting the arms of Jesus College, King Henry VII, the See of Ely, and the College's found Bishop John Alcock.

Going down the street a little ways, I also came to the Marshall Court Study Center belonging to the Jesus College, with its arms (without the bishop's mitre on the fess) prominently displayed on the door:

Monday, November 21, 2022

Two Different Coats of Arms at Queens' College, Cambridge

Sometimes, it really helps to have the book.

No, really!

I had photographed this gate (and the building behind it) without fully realizing at the time that there were two (count 'em! two!) coats of arms on the gate. Each one done twice! Not counting the two crests, each atop a pillar framing the gate.

So I get home and I'm cleaning up the pictures (straightening, mostly, and cropping) and I realize that I recognize one of the two coats of arms (the little one on the green signs), but the other one, the black shield, is a bit of a poser.

The smaller shield on the green warning sign about pushing or pulling the gate is the arms of Queens' College, and is effectively Quarterly of six: 1, Hungary, 2, Anjou ancient/Naples, 3, Jerusalem, 4, Anjou modern, 5, Bar, and 6, Lorraine, all within a bordure vert.

These arms are those of Margaret of Anjou, Queen to King Henry VI, being the lordships and dignities of her father, René of Anjou, differenced by the bordure. They were granted to the College in 1575.

So far, so good. But what of the black shield with the crossed processional cross and crozier both surmounted by a boar's head?

Fortunately for me, and thus for you, I have a copy of The Cambridge Armorial, compiled by members of the Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society and edited by Cecil Humphrey-Smith, Heather E. Peek, Gordon H. Wright, and C.W. Scott-Giles. Published in 1985, it's not a brand-new volume, but it certainly covers the arms of the City of Cambridge and the University of Cambridge and its colleges at that time.

And so we learn from that book that the black shield is effectively an alternative coat of arms to that of Queen Margaret, consisting of a white boar's head derived from King Richard III's white boar badge surmounting a processional cross for St. Margaret and a crozier for St. Bernard. This coat has been used by the College since at least 1544.

So there you go.

Additionally, the gate pillars are each surmounted by a crest, Issuant from a coronet or an eagle rousant [personally, I'd blazon it as rising] sable winged or:

And there you have it! Two different coats of arms, plus crest, on a gate to Queens' College, Cambridge.

I have to admit, I really like seeing a crest done "in the round".


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Some More Methodist Heraldry in Cambridge

In another part of the city from the Wesley Methodist Church, I ran across some more Methodist heraldry at the Wesley House which is, as its website notes, "a reflective, cross-cultural community of prayer and study in Cambridge for students and scholars in the Wesleyan tradition."

As you walk down Jesus Lane in Cambridge, the House is hard to miss:

As I said, hard to miss!

And, of course, it displays its coat of arms very prominently in front:

The arms are blazoned Gules a cross between four escallops or on a chief sable an open book argent bound and clasped or.

The color of the shield and the cross and escallop shells in the arms here harken back to the Wesley arms we looked in the last post.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the black chief on a red field. On the one hand, it violates one of the most basic guidelines for heraldry, that of not placing a color (here, black) upon a color (red). On the other hand, it remains pretty identifiable, and so almost works.

Nevertheless, it's "heraldry in the wild", and for that reason alone worth sharing with you.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Some Methodist Heraldry (and Non-Heraldry) in Cambridge, England

One of the pleasures for me of being set loose on my own in a new town is the opportunity to find heraldry (and heraldry-like objects) on my meanderings.

In today's post, it was the façade of the Wesley Methodist Church in Cambridge, England which caught my attention, which, in addition to having two doorways with depictions of the alleged arms of Methodism's found John Wesley, also had other, some more and some less, heraldic items.

But first, the doorways:

The arms here, Gules on a cross argent five escallops sable, may (or may not) be the arms of John Wesley's branch of several Wesley/Westley/Wellesley families. (See, e.g.. "The Wesley Coat of Arms" by Frank Baker, published in The Journal of the Methodist Historical Society of South Africa, Vol. ii, No. 2, August 1954, which can be found on-line at

No matter its origins or its accurate attribution to John Wesley, these arms have nonetheless found a place as a symbol of the church he founded.

Also above each door is another shield, this time each one non-heraldic:

The first one (which goes with the first (color) coat of arms, is simply a shield with a scroll containing the words "Holiness unto the Lord".

The second is a pointed oval cartouche with the initials IHS, for Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus Savior of Mankind).

Also along the façade of the church are these angels holding shields, which may or may not be heraldic.

The first may be a plain shield, or it may be a shield divided per pale. Given that there are no other clues on the shield itself (you know, like charges), it is impossible to say for sure which.

The second is badly worn at the top of the shield, but I believe it to be a cross (and not a Tau cross). In may, in fact, be another attempt at the Welsey arms, but lacking the escallops it is hard to be sure.

In any event, the church is an interesting study in heraldry and heraldry-like features, and was well worth the seeing.