Thursday, July 11, 2024

The Syme Window in York Minster

This next armorial window in York Minster, which I seem to be in the definite minority in wanting to call the Syme Window, is especially interesting to me because I do not seem to be able to identify with any confidence the two (or is it three?) coats of arms contained in it.

The lower right panel containing a marshaled shield, states that:

This window, which
disappeared in the year
1657, was reconsstituted
1951 mainly from panels
intruded 1658 into the
Chapter House; & replaced by
John Stuart Syme, Architect,
in memory of his wife
Adelaide Philippa 1872-1951.
It was completed 1960 to
commemorate John Stuart Syme
1872-1958 architect in this
City for 52 years

John Stuart Syme (1872-1958) was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a member of the Diocesan Committee of York, of York Civic Trust and of the Royal Archaeological Institute. By the post-war period, he was affectionately referred to as 'Dinky Dime' by some members of his staff. More information about Mr. Syme's career as an architect can be found on-line at:

However, ,while little enough can be found on-line about Mr. Syme, I have found even less about the marshaled coats of arms in the window, and nothing at all about Mrs. Syme.

Here's what I have:

The husband's arms in this panel are Azure a garb or, but these arms do not belong to Syme that I can find. They are best known as the arms of Grosvenor.

The wife's arms in this panel appear to be Gules a chevron ermine between three round buckles or. They pertain to the Barber family. Without knowing the family surname of Adelaide (or, for that matter, anything else about her), I am unable to confirm that she was a member of the Barbers who bore this coat of arms.

The crest, if that is what it is, floating above the shield, is entirely indeterminable. It looks most like a blue triangle with a red demi-roundel surmounting it from its base, but I cannot tell what it is supposed to be beyond that probablly incorrect guess.

Ah, but then, I mentioned that there may be a third coat of arms in this window, didn't I? Seen five times in this window, we find this lozenge:

My guess at a blazon would be: Argent an estoile within a bordure gules charged with four roses or in cross between eight roses argent. The design is repeated in the clear parts of the window, which is really kind of cool.

But, cool or not, I have been unable to find where this coat of arms comes from, to what family it might belong, or anything else about it.

Is this Mrs. Symes' paternal coat of arms? Then whose coat of arms is that on the wife's side of the marshaled coat?

I'm afraid that this window has left me with many more questions than answers. Of course, with no real answers at all, that's not a high bar to reach. Indeed, it may very well be that Weir, the author, has the same questions, as this window and Syme appear nowhere in A Guide to the Heraldry in York Minster.

Do you know about any of these arms? If you do, please share in the comment section. I would love to know more!

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