Monday, June 3, 2024

The Heraldic Glass in the Chapter House of York Minster: Part 1 of 7 (the Northwest Window)

Beginning with this post, we are going to visit each of these seven windows in the Chapter House in the order I photographed them, turning to the one immediately to the left of the entrance (that is, on the northwest wall) first and then moving about the circular Chapter House in a clockwise direction, photographing the windows on the north, northeast, east, southeast, south, and southwest, the entrance being in the western wall.

All of the windows in the Chapter House follow the same pattern: three small rose windows at the top, each containing two coats of arms, one placed immediately above the other, and below them a trefoil-shaped window between to smaller rosette windows, with each of the latter containing a single coat of arms.

And, as I found out while researching the Chapter House windows, you can't always trust your sources at face value. While Weir's A Guide to the Heraldry in York Minster (published in 1986) on p. 75 gives identifications of the arms in these windows, they are not always correct in comparison with the identifications in the (harder to read, admittedly) book by John Browne, A Description of the Representations and Arms on the Glass in the Windows of York Minster, published in 1859. Where the two differ, I tend to go with Browne, who often speaks of some of the symbols flanking some of the shields, lending support to his identifications.

As Browne tells us in his book, “Interspersed with the arms of England, placed in the heads of the windows of the Chapter House, are the arms of the principal commanders of the English army either against the invading Scots, or at the Battle of Crecy with the King [Edward III] in 1346.”

And so, on to the heraldic glass in the first window!  (Feel free to click on the image below to see the full-size photograph in better detail.)

The two shields at the top of the window are the arms of the See of York, Gules two keys in saltire wards to chief argent in chief a royal crown or, immediately beneath which are the arms of John de Greystoke (d.s.p. 1306) or William de Greystoke (father of John), Gules three lozenges argent.

In the larger rose window on the left, we have what should be the arms of Gilbert de Clare, Or three chevrons gules, but which is glazed as Chevronny gules and azure. Immediately below is the arms of Percy (ancient), which should be Azure a fess fusilly or, but which is glazed as Azure a fess fusilly gules. It was Henry, 1st Baron Percy of Alnwick, who changed his arms from Percy ancient to Percy modern, Or a lion rampant azure.) In both of these windows, the glaziers seem to have substituted blue for gold (that is, azure for or).

In the large rose window on the right, we have the arms of Balliol, Gules an orle argent (here glazed as Azure an orle argent). Immdiately beneath The Balliol shield we have what Weir tentatively identifies as Latimer (who bear Gules a cross patonce argent) , but which  Browne says should be the arms of William Vesci, who also bears Gules a cross patonce argent. In either case they are glazed here as Azure a cross [not really patonce, but not pomelly, either] argent, which is incorrect for either Latimer or Vesci.

In the smaller rose window on the lower left, we see the arms which Weir identifies as FitzAlen of Bedale,, but which Browne identifies as FitzAlan of Clun. In either case, these arms, glazed as Gules three bars or should properly be Barry of eight or and gules.

And in the smaller rose window on the lower right, we have the arms of John de Greystoke (d.s.p. 1306) or his father, William de Greystoke, Gules three lozenges argent.

And that's the firrst of the seven windows in the Chapter House in York Minster. Next time, we'll look at the heraldry in the north window!

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