Monday, March 27, 2023

The Very Complex Arms of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

Now, admittedly, the arms of Gonville and Caius (pronounced "Kees") College are especially complex because they consist of the impaled arms, within a bordure compony, of the first founder, Edmund Gonville, and the third founder, Dr. John Caius. (The second founder, Bishop William Bateman, is commemorated heraldically in his own separate foundation of Trinity Hall, as we have already seen.)

Gonville Hall was founded in 1348 by Edmund Gonville, Rector of Terrington (near Lynn). When he died just three years later, in 1351, his friend and executor Bishop Bateman drew up a new set of statues and changed the name to the Hall of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. John Caius, a native of Norwich, graduated from the College in 1533, going on to study medicine at Padua and graduating M.D. On his return to London, he offered to indirectly endow Gonville Hall, but discovering that it had never been properly incorporated, he obtained a Royal Charter of foundation and confirmation of past acts in 1557. This renamed the hall Gonville and Caius College. Shortly afterwards, Dr. Caius was elected Master, and retained this position until shortly before his death in 1573.

And, indeed, we can find the arms of the first and third founders displayed separately on the façade of the College:

And marshaled, as noted above, in monotone. It was in the Visitation of 1575 that Robert Cooke, Clarenceux King of Arms added the bordure compony to avoid the impression that the arms did not suggest a marriage between the two families of Gonville and Caius, thus creating a unified and distinctive shield for the foundation.

But it's when we start seeing it in color that we begin to truly grasp its complexity:

But before moving on to the final, full-color rendition, let's take a look at the blazon:

Argent on a chevron between two couple closes indented sable three escallops or (Gonville), impaling Or semy of flowers gentle in the middle of the chief a sengreen resting upon the heads of two serpents in pale their tails knit together all proper resting upon a square marble stone vert between their breasts a book sable garnished gules buckled or (Caius), all within a bordure compony argent and sable.

Heraldically, serpents proper are usually vert, or green; the flowers gentle (floramor) are usually shown as argent, or white; and sengreen (the houseleek in flower) ought to be a pink flower with green leaves, but is usually drawn as argent, or white.

Dr. Caius explains the meaning of his coat of arms, which he obtained in January 1560 [Old Style]/1561 [New Style]* from Laurence Dalton, Norroy King of Arms:

betokening by the book learning, by the ii serpentes resting upon the square marble stone, wisdome with grace founded and styed upon vertues stable stone; by sengrene and flower gentile, immorality that never shall fade, as though thus I shulde saye, ex prudentia et literis, virtutis, petra firmatis immortalitas, that is to say, by wisdome and lerning graffed in grace and vertue, men cum to immortalite.

And now, just so that you can get the full impact of the College's coat of arms, here it is in full color over the main gateway:

As you can see, they've added some green to both the sengreen and the flowers gentle, presumably to help their contrast against the gold field, but totally missed that the serpents ought to be green!

Oh, well, that default is a bit obscure.

* Until 1752 in England, the new year began on March 25 (following the Julian calendar); in 1752 the beginning of the new year was changed to January 1 (to follow the Gregorian calendar). Dates prior to 1752 falling between January 1 and March 25 are generally now written as, for example, February 2, 1660/61, or as February 2, 1660 (O.S.)/1661 (N.S.) to indicate that the date was considered to have occurred in the year 1660 then, but would now be considered to have occurred in the year 1661.

You can learn all kinds of weird stuff by following this blog, can't you?

Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Arms of the "Other" Trinity

We've already seen the arms of Trinity College in a previous post (and may see them again in a later one, if I can adequately identify the accompanying personal arms), but today we're going to look at the arms of a different Cambridge educational institution: Trinity Hall.

Trinity Hall (as opposed to Trinity College!) was founded in 1350 by William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich, for the study of canon and civil law. The college received a Royal Charter from King Edward III in 1351.

The arms of Trinity Hall are based on those of the founder, but where Bishop Bateman's arms were Sable a crescent ermine within a bordure engrailed argent, the college's arms are Sable a crescent within a bordure engrailed ermine, thus making the bordure as well as the crescent ermine.

According to an entry in the Master's Statute Book, since lost, Bishop Bateman's father had borne these arms with three crescents; the arms with three crescents passed to his eldest son, while the second son bore them with two crescents, and the third son with one crescent for difference. That said, evidence made, and lost, so long after the event should be treated with caution.

The present arms of the college, differenced from the arms of the founder by making the bordure engrailed ermine, were granted in 1575 by Robert Cooke, Clarenceux King of Arms.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Yet Another Cambridge College Coat of Arms

I know, it shouldn't be a surprise that there were a lot of different college's coats of arms to be seen about town in Cambridge, England. And today, we're going to look at yet another one!

These are, as clearly noted on the banner above the doorway, the arms of Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge.

The arms are blazoned: Argent a bend engrailed sable (for Radcliffe), impaling Or a pheon azure (for Sidney.

They are the arms of the foundress of the College, Lady Frances Sidney, Countess of Sussex, widow of Thomas Radcliffe, third Earl of Sussex. She died in 1589, her will making a provision for the establishment of a new college at Cambridge.

Some records (not, alas, among the Sidney muniments, nor in the official records of the College of Arms in London, aside from 17th century note in a "book of entrances" at the College of Arms stating that "Sidney Sussex College bears these two [the arms of Sidney and Sussex] impaled") indicate that these arms were granted to the College in 1675 by Sir Edward Walker, Garter King of Arms.

Extending along the front of the building on either side of the main entranceway were a display of pennants (or penoncels) displaying alternately the arms of the College and the words "Sidney Sussex College University of Cambridge".

I must admit, it makes me wonder what other uses for heraldic penoncels might be found for decorative purposes about my home. Just sayin'.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

A Clock, A Very Large Grasshopper, and a Coat of Arms

Sitting in a window of the Taylor Library at the junction of Bene't Street and Trumpington Street in Cambridge is an absolutely amazing clock.

I'm not going to get into its history, its mechanism, or any of that here. You can find out everything you could possibly want to know about this work of mechanical engineering, including a 14-second video of it at work, over on Wikipedia at And I will admit, standing there and just watching the clock, with the lights rotating around the face, the movement of the grasshopper at the top, and the swinging of the pendulum below, can be mesmerizing.

But no, because this is a blog about heraldry, I'm going to show you the bottom of the clock's pendulum and the coat of arms immediately below it.

I've included two pictures here, because you can see the movement of the pendulum.

The arms, of course, are those of Corpus Christi College, which we have seen before in the Cambridge Union Building and on the façades of the Sedgewick Museum of Earth Sciences and the Cambridge train station.

The College was the result of a union in 1350 of two guilds, Corpus Christi and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Until the Reformation, the College used the shields of two guilds next to each other, but as some people saw too much "Popery" in those, a new coat of arms was sought.

The arms of the College, granted in 1570, are blazoned as: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Gules a pelican in its piety argent; 2 and 3, Azure three lily flowers argent.

All in all, the clock is an amazing piece of work, and the arms below the pendulum are one of the finest examples of the jeweler's art that I have seen.

Monday, March 13, 2023

The Arms of Trinity College, Cambridge

Next up on our walkabout around Cambridge, England, we found the arms of Trinity College.

Trinity College (not to be confused with Trinity Hall, whose arms we will look at a little later) was founded in 1546 by uniting and enlarging two earlier foundations, Michaelhouse and King's Hall.

The arms of Trinity College were recorded in the 1575 Visitation of Robert Cooke, Clarenceux King of Arms, and as "arms as usual" in the 1648 herald's Visitation. However, no evidence has been found of their having been formally granted. 

The arms are blazoned: Argent a chevron between three roses gules barbed and seeded proper on a chief gules a lion passant guardant between two closed books or.

It's always fun for me to walk down a street and find different depictions of a coat of arms.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Two More Cambridge Colleges' Arms

You didn't think we were done seeing all of the arms of the colleges of Cambridge University that I found in my perambulations around Cambridge, did you? Well, if you did, you were likely "misinformed".

Today, we're going to see the arms of two more Cambridge colleges:

First up, Pembroke College.

The arms of Pembroke College are blazoned: Barry of ten argent and azure an orle of martlets gules (de Valence), dimidiating Gules three pales vair on a chief or a label of five points azure (de St. Pol).

Founded in 1347, these are the arms of the College's foundress, Mary de St. Pol, Countess of Pembroke. She was the daughter of Guy, Count of St. Pol, and great-great-granddaughter of of Isabel of Angoulême by her first marriage to King John (you know, Richard the Lionheart's younger brother). Mary was the second wife of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke (d. 1324).

The next arms are the extremely simple arms of St. Catherine's College (we have seen these arms in earlier posts, at the Cambridge Union Hall and on the façades of the Sedgwick Museum building and the Cambridge railway station): Gules a Catherine wheel or. (Yes, I know that these are not on a standard shield or "heater" shape; they are, nonetheless, the arms of the College.)

St. Catherine's College, named after St. Catherine of Alexandria, was originally called St. Catherine's Hall, founded in 1473 by Robert Woodlarke, Provost of King's College.

St. Catherine, whose emblem is a wheel set with knives or spikes, is "universally reverenced as the patroness of learning"; most apropos for a college, I would say.

Monday, March 6, 2023

It's On a Shield, But Is It Heraldry?

Wandering back out onto the streets of Cambridge from our visit to King's College Chapel, I ran across a couple of, well, I'm not entirely sure what to term them.

The first is pretty definitely a logo, even though it is placed upon a shield.

This is the logo of Malloy's Craft Butchery (a fancy way of describing a butcher's shop, but there you go).

The logo, a shield shape charged with a cleaver and a boning knife in saltire. Certainly appropriate for a butchery (even a "craft butchery"), but is it really heraldry?

Yeah, I don't think so, either.

Our second candidate in today's "Is It Heraldry" competition, is this one, on the Fosters' Bank building:

It's not really a logo, consisting as it does of only an ornate letter F (for Fosters) on an Italianate shield being supported by a, well, it's not a cherub (no wings). Basically, the supporter is a mostly naked young boy, wearing a loincloth or diaper (what my English friends would call a "nappy").

But though it's not quite a logo, it's not really heraldry, either, despite the shield and supporter.

Yet what a couple of interesting things to run across while making my way about the streets of Cambridge, England!

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Arms, and a Plethora of Biographical Information

For the coat of arms in this next window, not only do we have a blazon and an identification of the armiger, but because he has his own entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, we are blessed with a virtual treasure trove of biographical information.

The arms are unusual, containing as they do a purple chief on a green field (thus violating the heraldic Rule of Contrast usually described as "No color upon color, nor metal upon metal").

The arms are blazoned: Vert in chief two garbs or in base an arrow in pale argent on a chief purpure a cherub’s head proper between two estoiles or.

They are the arms of George Thackeray, D.D., Provost of King's College 1814-1850, who bequeathed his library of some 3,200 volumes to the College.

From the Dictionary of National Biography we learn the following:

THACKERAY, GEORGE (1777–1850), provost of King's College, Cambridge, born at Windsor, and baptized at the parish church on November 23, 1777, was the fourth and youngest son of Frederick Thackeray (1737-1782), a physician of Windsor, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Abel Aldridge of Uxbridge (d. 1816). George became a king's scholar at Eton in 1792, and a scholar of King's College, Cambridge, in 1796. In 1800 he was elected a fellow of King's College, and in the following year was appointed assistant master at Eton. He graduated B.A. in 1802, M.A. in 1805, and B.D. in 1813. On April 4, 1814 he was elected provost of King's College, and in the same year obtained the degree of D.D. by royal mandate.

The death of his second wife in 1818 cast a gloom over Thackeray's subsequent life. He devoted much of his time to collecting rare books, and "there was not a vendor of literary curiosities in London who had not some reason for knowing the provost of King's." He directed the finances of the College with great ability. He held the appointment of chaplain in ordinary to King George III and to the three succeeding sovereigns (George IV, King William IV, and Queen Victoria).

Thackeray died in Wimpole Street on October 21, 1850, and was buried in a vault in the ante-chapel of King's College. He was twice married: on November 9, 1803 to Miss Carbonell; and in 1816 to Mary Ann, eldest daughter of Alexander Cottin of Cheverells in Hertfordshire. She died on February 18, 1818 (just two years after their marriage), leaving a daughter, Mary Ann Elizabeth.

So how's that for not only identifying the armiger, but finding a great deal of information about his life? Ah, if only all of them were this easy, or productive.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Back on Track!

So having covered some of the difficulties in identifying some coats of arms in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, we're going to look at one or two more where more information about the armiger - the person to whom a coat of arms belongs - was: (1) easier to find; (2) more complete; or (3) both!

Now, admittedly, we've seen this coat of arms before, on the façade of the Cambridge train station. (See the post of September 22, 2022, at

These are, of course, the arms of Francis George Godolphin D'Arcy D'Arcy-Osborne, 7th Duke of Leeds, and High Steward of the Borough of Cambridge 1836-1850. (Alas, Cambridge is one of at least sixteen boroughs which no longer fills the post of High Steward. High Steward is an honorary title bestowed by the council or charter trustees of certain towns and cities in England. Originally a judicial office with considerable local powers, by the 17th century it had declined to a largely ceremonial role.)

The arms are blazoned: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Quarterly ermine and azure a cross or (Osborne); 2 and 3, Gules a double-headed eagle displayed between in chief two fleurs-de-lis argent (Godolphin).

So there you go! A coat of arms, the identification of the person to whom those arms belonged, and sufficient biographical information to ascertain why those arms appear in the windows of King's College Chapel, Cambridge.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

What We Have Here Is a Failure to ... Identify?

(You must pardon me for borrowing, and slightly modifying, a well-known line from the movie Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman, but I simply couldn't resist. What can I say? I like movies as well as heraldry.)

Further to my last post about partial success in identifying a coat of arms, in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, I ran across another piece of heraldry that, if you can believe it, had even less information I was able to find than Martin Freeman's arms.

I feel fairly confident about the identification of the surname, Davidson, than does, for example, The Online Stained Glass Photographic Archive (at, which simply labels this coat as "Coat of arms (for Davidson?)".

I would blazon these arms as: Azure on a fess between three pheons argent a stag couchant gules, a martlet for difference. (The martlet is the cadency difference for a fourth son.)

However, for all of my research, the closest I could come to an actual identification is the entry in Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials, which gave the base arms (without the martlet) as "Davidson (Grinnant, Scotland)".

Nor did any internet searches for Davidson in relation to King's College Chapel turn up anything beyond the entry at The Online Stained Glass Photographic Archive, above.

Assuming that the initials "ID" or "JD" and the date "1825" are meant to help identify the bearer of the coat of arms, we're still (mostly) in the dark. There is a Joseph Davidson listed in the Eton College Register who went on to attend King's College, Cambridge, and became a Fellow there 1769-1798 and who gave £11,000 to the College at some point, but he died in 1828, not 1825. Was this window to commemorate his donation to the College? I'm not sure that's a reasonable assumption to make.

And yet ... that is apparently exactly what happened. According to The Architectural History of the University of Cambridge, and of the Colleges of Cambridge and Eton, by Robert Willis, Vol. 1, 1886, p. 515, "The Rev. Joseph Davidson (A.M. 1774) had given £1000 to the College, 9 Nov. 1825, to be appropriated as thought proper … to the repairs of the Chapel."

So there you go! We went in one giant leap from barely knowing the surname of the individual (the "What We Have Hera Is a Failure to ... Identify") all the way to knowing his name and the reason for his inclusion in the stained glass of King's College Chapel.

Maybe next time I won't leap to conclusions about what is or is not "a reasonable assumption to make".


Monday, February 20, 2023

Partial Success in Identifying a Coat of Arms

I find it interesting (frustrating, at times, but interesting) just how much -- or how little -- information I can discover about the bearer of a coat of arms.

Sometimes, as in my last post, I can learn a lot about someone; parents, siblings, career, birth and death dates, etc., etc., etc.

Other times, and at the other end of the spectrum, I can't even confirm a surname to go with the heraldry. (This is where the frustration sets in.)

And sometimes, I can only find the barest amount of basic information about someone. For example:

In this window in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, in addition to the three stained glass roundels (which from all appearances came from earlier, older and now incomplete windows), there is also a panel with a coat of arms in it.

The arms, Azure three lozenges argent, a crescent in chief for difference, are remarkable not only for their simplicity, but also for the dearth of identifying information I was able to find.

The full extent of the information that I could locate about the bearer is that these arms belonged to Martin Freeman, a Fellow of King’s College, who died April 6, 1630.

The only entries in Burke's General Armory for these arms are:

Freeman (co. Northampton). Az[ure] three lozenges ar[gent].
Freeman (Higham Ferrars, co. Northampton). Same Arms. Crest-A demi lion ramp[ant] gu[les] charged with a lozenge ar[gent].

The crescent on the shield here is the cadency mark of a second son.

Martin Freeman has no entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, and the overwhelming majority of internet searches came back with results for Martin Freeman the actor (Sherlock, The Hobbit, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, etc.). Interesting in general, but not very helpful here.

So there we are, a bare-bones identification for this coat of arms. And as I said at the beginning of this post: interesting, and frustrating.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Four Different Coats of Arms on a Single Memorial

Armorial memorials are always a pleasure to find. And armorial memorials with more than one coat of arms on them (e.g., the arms of a husband and wife) are an even greater pleasure.

So imagine my joy at finding this armorial memorial on one of the walls of the Ante-Chapel in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, which contains not one, not two, not even three, but four coats of arms on its face!

This is the memorial to James Kenneth Stephen, B.A. King’s College, Cambridge, barrister-at-law, Inner Temple, born February 25, 1859, and who died unmarried on February 3, 1892. He was the second son of Sir James FitzJames Stephen, 1st Baronet, and his wife, Mary Richards. 

Of the four coats of arms on the memorial, we have three which we have seen a number of times before in recent posts: at the top, the arms of Cambridge University; to the left, the arms of King’s College; and to the right, the arms of Eton College.

Finally, in base, we have the arms of Stephen. Argent on a chevron between two crescents in chief and a sinister hand couped at the wrist in base gules, an escallop between two mullets argent.

If you look closely at the bottommost shield, which can see better by clicking on the image above to view a larger, more detailed photograph, one of the charges (in center chief) appears to be the badge of a baronet, i.e., An escutcheon argent charged with a sinister hand appaumy gules. As a second son, barring the death of his older brother before him, James K. Stephen would not have inherited the baronetcy, and as a consequence he does not have the right to display the badge of a baronet on his arms. I suspect that what happened here is that the craftsman creating this memorial simply took the full arms of his father, Sir James, and placed it here on the memorial, without considering (or perhaps even knowing) that the baronetcy could only be inherited by the oldest surviving son.

In any event, it's not all that common to find a memorial with four coats of arms on it, all with a relationship to the person being memorialized. So I consider this an especially remarkable find from my time in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, and I'm glad that I can share it with you.

Monday, February 13, 2023

A Conundrum? (No Longer! See the Update Below)

This next armorial memorial in King's College Chapel has left me with more questions than answers, I am afraid.

It is the grave of John Gerard, 1637-1690.

Here is the information that I have on him:

John Gerard was born in 1637 in Harrow, London Borough of Harrow, Greater London, England. He was admitted to King's College as a scholar from Eton College in the fall of 1656. He received his B.A. in 1660, and his M.A. in 1664, was Bursar (an official in charge of funds) of King's College, and was a Fellow from 1659-90, when he died and was buried in King's College Chapel.

According to his grave marker, he is the son of Sir Gilbert Gerard, Baronet.

My issue is that I cannot find a Sir Gilbert Gerard, Baronet in any of my Peerage and Baronetage books. William Gerards aplenty, and even a few Thomas Gerards. But no Gilbert Gerard, Bt.

Further, the arms on the marker are more complex than those of the baronets Gerard:

Without tinctures, it's hard to be certain, but my guess at a blazon of these arms would be: Quarterly: 1, Argent a saltire gules (Gerard); 2 and 3, Azure a lion rampant crowned or (the second and third quarters of Baron Gerard of Gerard's Bromley, extinct 1707); 4, (without tinctures, could be any one of several families bearing [Field] on a bend cotised [tincture] three roundels [tincture] (per Papworth)).

Now, there is a Gilbert Gerard (d. 1622), 2nd Baron Gerard of Gerard's Bromley, Staffordshire, but there is no mention of a son John, only his successor, Dutton Gerard, 3rd Baron, and three daughters. And the dates are impossible (a man who died in 1622 having a son in 1637!), so this does not seem to be a match to Gilbert Gerard, Bt.

It's all very annoying; it's not usually so difficult to track down a Baronet, but this time I find myself at a bit of a loss, and leaving me with a number of questions, the biggest one of which is: Was John's father Gilbert really a baronet?

Nonetheless, it's a nice armorial memorial to a scholar and bursar of the College, and I felt the need to share it with you.


After being pointed in the right direction by commenter Philip Allfrey (who also offered an explanation of why I couldn’t find this Gerard baronetcy in any of my books), I did some more searching and found a copy of Burke’s Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies, 2d ed. (1844) on-line (the .pdf now downloaded to my computer for future reference). Therein we have the following information:

Gilbert Gerard, esq., of Flamberde, in the parish of Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middlesex, eldest son of William and Dorothy (Ratcliff) Gerard, was created Baronet in 1620, and represented Middlesex in Parliament. He married Mary, daughter of Sir Frances Barrington, baronet, and had issue,

    Francis, his heir.
    Gilbert (Sir).
    John [the John of the memorial in King’s College Chapel]
    Mary, died unmarried.
    Winifred, married Tristram Conyers, esq., sergeant-at-law.
    Katherine, married Sir Charles Pym, baronet.
    _____, married Sir John Heydon.

The baronetcy descended to Sir Gilbert’s eldest son, Francis, and then to each of Sir Francis’ three sons successively: Sir Charles Gerard, who having only a daughter, was succeeded on his death in 1701 by his brother; Sir Francis Gerard, who dying in August 1704, was succeeded by his brother; Sir Cheek Gerard, at whose decease unmarried in February 1715, the baronetcy became extinct.

And there you have it! What was once a conundrum, with a little help from my readers, is no longer a mystery. Thank you, Philip!

Thursday, February 9, 2023

The Arms of a Vice-Provost of King's College

King's College Chapel, being an English chapel, has burials and memorials to individuals who have a connection to the site.

In our example today, we have the grave marker of a man with a very common name: John Smith.

Fortunately, we can find out a little more about him, because he was not only a scholar at Eton College (many of whose graduates went on to King's College, Cambridge, witnessed heraldically by their very similar coats of arms granted on the same day, as we have already seen).

In brief, here is what we know about John Smith (1627-1706), alias John Hovell. He matriculated at Eton and was received at King's College, Cambridge, in 1646, received his B.A. in 1650/51, and his M.A. (M.S.?) in 1654. He was a Fellow at King's College 1649-1706, Proctor 1668-1669, and Vice-Provost 1694 until his death on August 23, 1706, aged 79, and finally, he was buried where I found his armorial memorial in King's College Chapel.

I could not find his (very simple) coat of arms ([Field], a crescent [tincture]) in Burke’s General Armory, Papworth’s Ordinary of British Armorials, or in The Dictionary of British Arms. A person of his background and status may very well have had a right to arms, but I have been unable to confirm it (yet).

Still, if you're going to use a coat of arms, you would do very well to make it a simple design like John Smith here. Just sayin'.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Arms of the Diocese of Lincoln in King's College Chapel

In amongst all of Royal badges in stained glass windows in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, I ran across this coat of arms:

At the bottom, beneath the Royal badges of the crowned fleur-de-lys and the crowned Tudor rose, we have the arms of the Diocese of Lincoln, Province of Canterbury. These arms were first recorded at unknown date. (The Diocese itself  can trace its roots directly back to the Diocese of Leicester, founded in 679, well before heraldry and coats of arms came into being.)

The blazon is: Gules two lions passant guardant in pale Or on a chief Azure the Virgin ducally crowned sitting on a throne issuant from the chief in her dexter arm the Infant Jesus and in her sinister hand a scepter all Or. The shield is surmounted by a bishop's mitre and its lappets to both sides of the chief.

It is a wonderfully simple (meaning, "not complex") coat of arms.

I am uncertain as to how the arms of the Diocese of Lincoln came to be placed here, as Cambridge is within the bounds of the Diocese of Ely, whose cathedral (and arms) we will be visiting later. Nonetheless, they make a nice addition to this armorial stained glass window.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Famous Attributed Arms in King's College Chapel, Cambridge

Not unexpectedly, it being a chapel after all, the chapel at King's College in Cambridge has at least one instance of some very well-known, but attributed, arms.

They are smack dab right in the middle of this window (which is clearly comprised of a number of old pieces of stained glass which have been saved from other windows now gone and reused here):

Yes, that coat of arms right there in the center, on a red shield:

This shield is one of several variants of a coat of arms attributed to Jesus Christ, containing representations of the instruments of the Passion: a cross (central charge), the crown of thorns, dice (for gambling for his clothing), in saltire the scourge/flagellum and reed scepter, a pincers (used to remove the nails), a hammer (to drive in the nails), the pillar where he was scourged, and in saltire overall, the staff for holding the sponge of vinegar he was offered and the spear which pierced his side.

As heraldry, it is far, far too complex for the ready identification that we have come to expect from coats of arms; as a representation of Christ, though, particularly in a religious setting like King's College Chapel, it serves more than adequately, calling immediately to mind as it does all of the events of that Passover Friday.

I mean, really, can you look at that shield not think immediately of the crucifixion of Jesus?

Monday, January 30, 2023

An Armorial Tomb in King's College Chapel

There is the tomb of a young man in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, decorated with a very well-known coat of arms.

The arms, of course, are those of Churchill (Sable a lion rampant argent on a canton argent a cross gules, surmounted by the coronet of a marquess), and the tomb is that of 17-year-old John Churchill, the Marquess of Blandford, the only surviving son of John and Sarah (Jennings) Churchill, the first Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. His parents are named on the inscription on the side of his tomb.

Young John Churchill was born in 1686. His only brother, born in 1690, died at the age of two. In 1696, 10-year-old Churchill was sent to Eton College, where he remained and studied until 1700, his fourteenth year. He to follow a military career as his father did, and join the latter's regiment, but his mother was concerned at the risks and wanted to ensure the dukedom could be passed through the male line. He was sent to King's College, Cambridge in 1700.

In early 1703, seventeen-year-old Blandford contracted smallpox, a deadly disease. His mother, the Duchess, rushed to her son's bedside, while Queen Anne, a close friend of Sarah Churchill, dispatched her own personal doctors to attend him. By 19 February, however, word reached London that his condition was hopeless and the queen, who had lost seventeen children herself, wrote a heartfelt letter to Sarah in which she she prayed that "Jesus Christ comfort and support you under this terrible affliction, and it is mercy alone that can do it." On Saturday morning, February 20, 1703 the Marquess died at King's College, plunging his father into "the greatest sorrow in the world."

He was (obviously, since we are looking at his tomb here) buried in King's College Chapel.

The dukedom of Marlborough passed first to young John's eldest sister, Henrietta Churchill, but her son predeceased her, age 31. The dukedom then passed though the second sister, Anne Churchill, to her son Charles Spencer as the third Duke, and that line continues down to today in the person of Charles James Spencer-Churchill, the 12th Duke.

Winston Churchill, the wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain, was the grandson of John Winston Spencer-Churchill, the 7th Duke of Marlborough.

And from the younger brother of the 3rd Duke, John Spencer, sprang the Earls of Spencer, beginning with John's son John, the 1st Earl. Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, was the daughter of Edward John Spencer, the 8th Earl, and the sister of Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, the current (9th) Earl.

So young John Churchill was born into what has become quite a family. His death at such a young age is truly a tragedy.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

In Memory of a King's College Provost

Our next armorial window in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, was installed in memory of one of the Provosts of Kings College, Roger Goad.

Roger Goad (1538–1610) was an English academic theologian, Provost of King's College, Cambridge, and three times Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

He married Katharine, daughter of Richard Hill of London. Six sons were elected from Eton to King's, viz. Matthew, Thomas, Robert, Roger, Christopher, and Richard.

Here's a closer view of the heraldry in this window:

The date, 1610, above the shield is the year of his death.

The scroll beneath the shield gives us his name and office in Latin; the translation is: Roger Goad, Provost of this College.

The shield impales the arms of King's College (Azure three roses argent barbed and seeded or a chief per pale azure and gules charged on the dexter side with a fleur-de-lis and on the sinister with a lion passant gardant or) with his own arms (Gules a chevron or between three lions rampant double-queued argent).

The whole is surrounded by red roses, white roses, white lilies, and other flowers.

All in all, it's a beautiful display of heraldry.

Monday, January 23, 2023

The Arms of King's College (Ancient and Modern) and of Eton College

And, of course, as we also saw in other places in and about King's College, Cambridge, we also find the arms of King's College (both Ancient - before 1448 - and Modern - after 1448) and of Eton College in differing locations and media in King's College Chapel. (We've discussed the relationship of King's College and Eton College in an earlier post.)

First up, the Ancient arms of King's College, near the bottom in this stained glass window:

These older arms are very similar to those of Eton College, but the bottommost lily is replaced by a golden bishop's mitre.

And then, of course, the arms of King's College used since 1448:

And the arms of Eton College (also seen on the image of the Chapel's organ, above):

You have to love a building with this much heraldry in it, don't you? I know that I do!