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.