Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Arms of an Archbishop?

Not surprisingly, there are ecclesiastical arms in the church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth, which sits just outside the gate of Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishops of Canterbury in London.

Here, held by an angel which is also one of the supports for a roof beam, are the impaled arms of the Archbishop of Canterbury and (I believe) Archbishop William Warham (Archbishop of Canterbury from 1503 until his death in 1532.

I say "I believe" because the depiction of the arms here in the church is a little confusing. Burke's General Armory blazons Archbishop Warham's arms as: Gules a fess or between in chief a goat's head erased argent horned or and in base three escallops two and one argent.

The carving here has the "fess" reduced in size to basically fimbriation of a chief, and the escallops have become the main charges on the shield, with the goat's head on a red chief.

Here's a better depiction of the Archbishop's arms, from his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral, which can be found - along with other information about him - at

This depiction, too, does not quite match the blazon given in Burke's, as the goat's head here is clearly couped, not erased. (The two black dots on either side of the goat's head are rivets attaching the arms to the side of the tomb.)

There is a painting by Hans Holbein of Archbishop Warham where, if you look carefully, you can see his arms impaled with those of his archepiscopal see on the processional cross next to his right shoulder, at (On the portrait image, below, the goat's head appears to be issuing from the chiefmost edge of the fess.)

Alas, poor Warham! He was Archbishop of Canterbury during the time when King Henry VIII was trying to annul his marriage with Catherine of Aragon and move Anne Boleyn into Catherine's rooms at the palace, and so he would have to have been somewhat involved in all that fooforah. (Fooforah: a technical term used by historians to mean "a complete and total mess.") Fortunately for him, he was not in the direct line of fire the way that Lord Chancellor Cardinal Wolsey was, and he died comparatively peacefully still in office in 1532.

Monday, September 17, 2018

A New On-Line Source for Researching Heraldry

There was a short article near the back of the most recent Coat of Arms from The Heraldry Society (England) that caught my eye.

After checking it out, I thought it was something that I simply had to share with you.

It's the website of the ARmorial Monumental du Moyen Age (ARMMA), the work of Laurent Hablot, consisting of searchable database of coats of arms, with photographs and/or drawings, from 1200 A.D. to 2000 A.D. on monuments in the area of Poitiers, France.

As a sample, here's a screenshot of two of the entries on the website:

The entries on the ARMMA website can be searched in several different ways, though to be honest I have spent most of my time going through them "Par période."

Anyway, I thought this was a really great site, and thought you should know about it. It can be found on-line at, and I have already added it to the listing of "Some Good On-Line Armorials and Ordinaries" section of links in the left-hand column of this blog.

Enjoy! May you spend as many (or more) hours as I have already have there.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

An Attributed Coat of Arms in a Church

Having finished up our heraldic tour of St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster, we move on down and cross over the Thames to the Church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth, a deconsecrated church (which is now the Garden Museum) immediately outside the gates of Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I've posted before about some "Entirely Unexpected Heraldry in London" (, in which we ran across the tomb of Vice Admiral of the Blue William Bligh at this Church.

Though deconsecrated, the building still contains of a fair bit of heraldry, which I will try to share with you over the next several posts.

One especially nice carved and painted coat of arms was one of a number of arms, each supported by a carved angel, placed around the interior where the base of the arches of the ceiling meet the walls.

I recognized this coat of arms immediately:

See if you recognize it, too.

Go ahead. Take a good look if you need to. I'll wait. When you are ready, scroll down.

Yes, it is (one of the) attributed arms of Jesus, containing the items associated with his Passion: the cross (topped by the sign placed there by Pilate inscribed "INRI"), the crown of thorns, the three nails, the hammer which hammered them in, a pair of pliers (for removing the nails, presumably), a pair of flails (scourges), a spear, and a sponge on a pole.

Utterly appropriate to its setting of a church, and a wonderful example of both heraldic and the stonemason's art.

Monday, September 10, 2018

An Armorial Porch as a Memorial

Around on the "back" side of St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster, facing the Houses of Parliament just across the street, is a porch dedicated to Robert Lowe, Viscount Sherbrooke (1811-1892), Chancellor of the Exchequer 1868-1873 and Home Secretary 1873-1874.

On the other side of the interior of the porch from the inscription in Latin (above), we find a finely-carved bust:

It's a pretty good likeness, really. (You can compare it to his photograph on his Wikipedia page,

There is a lot that has been written about Robert, Viscount Sherbrooke, and I'm not going to repeat all of it here. The Wikipedia page (above) about him gives a decent overview of his life. For those wishing even more detail, I recommend to you his entry in the Dictionary of National Biography at,_Robert_(DNB00)

Because my especial interest, of course, is the heraldry contained around the base of his bust and over the doorway to the porch.

Centered on the band at the base of the bust are the impaled arms of Lowe and Sneyd. (In 1885, Lord Sherbrooke married as his second wife Caroline, daughter of Thomas Sneyd.) From what I have been able to deduce from my books here, these arms would be blazoned: Gules three mullets pierced in fess between two wolves passant in pale argent (Lowe); impaling Argent a scythe the blade in chief the sned (or handle) in bend sinister on the fess point a fleur-de-lis sable (Sneyd). (The arms are, somewhat obscurely, meant to be canting arms; that is, they are a pun on the surname.)

The other shields on the base of the bust each contain a bend (or bend sinister) inscribed with a Greek word.

Lord Sherbrooke, who suffered from albinism and a related weakness of the eyes, recorded that Latin and Greek were the main subjects of his study at school, and that they were both easy for him. Indeed, when some wits in the 1870s suggested an epitaph for him, he promptly translated it into Latin. (See his Wikipedia article, above, for both the English and Latin texts.)

The Lowe and Sneyd arms also appear separately above the arch of the porch entry on the exterior of the church.

Lord Sherbrooke had no children by either of his wives, and so the peerage became extinct upon his passing.

Nonetheless, this fine armorial porch at St. Margaret's stands as a memorial to him.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Rare Look at an Heraldic Plantagenet Floor

Recent excavations at Bath Abbey during its Footprint Project has turned up a remarkably well-preserved late-13th or early-14th Century floor.

The floor was put in the Norman Cathedral which, like so many other buildings in Great Britain, went through several phases (just watch just about any episode of Time Team, which can be found on YouTube) and was later replaced by the smaller Abbey.

The shields in the tiles are the three lions of England, and the three chevrons of the de Clare family.

After being fully photographed and recorded, the tiles will be protected and covered back up in place (they are, after all, almost two meters below the current floor level! Can't have tourists falling into a hole that deep, don'tcha know?).

An article with even more background, as well as a short video where one of the archaeologists discusses the floor, can be found on-line at

Still, though, if they'd prefer to put this floor on display somewhere off site, I'd be more than happy to rip up the floor in my library at home to make a space for it here.

Just sayin'.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Hawks and Eagles: Different or Not?

A recent (August 22, 2018) ruling about trademarks by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that hawks are not different from, indeed, that they are identical to, eagles.

The case, Alliance for Good Government v. Coalition for Better Government, was based on the issue that the logo used by Coalition looked very much like that used by Alliance, though Alliance had been using its logo longer.

This is what the complaint was about:

One of the arguments that Coalition made was that the birds were different: Coalition is represented by an eagle, while Alliance is "represented by a hawk, not an eagle."

The judges on the Fifth Circuit Court ruled: "We agree with the district court: the birds are identical."

Clearly, no one at Alliance was a herald, because any decent herald could have told them: If it's displayed, it's an eagle. If it's close, it's a hawk or falcon.

Anyway, it's not often that I run across a court case that bears a relationship, however tenuous, to heraldry. (They were, after all, ruling on a controversy over trademarks.)

If you have a desire to see more about this ruling and the Court's review of its background, the full ruling can be found on-line at

But here we have it, an unequivocal statement by an appeals court that (at least in the same posture) hawks and eagles "are identical."

Thursday, August 30, 2018

An Unusual Coat of Arms

I'll be honest with you. I had my doubts about the coat of arms on this next memorial. It turns out, my skepticism was unfounded. Still, it's not the usual heraldry that one expects to see.

The inscription reads:

In the Great Vault in this Church
is Interr'd the Body of
He was
A Faithfull Magiftrate,
A Sincere Friend,
A Chearfull Companion,
An Honeft Man,
As fuch his Death was Lamented.

He departed this Life
on the 5th day of September 1768
Aged 67 Years.

It was, of course, the coat of arms above the topmost of the three cherub's heads that caused me some doubt.

The History of the Parish Church of Saint Margaret, Westminster by Walcott (1847) blazons the arms as: Argent two swords hilted or bendy dexter and sinister piercing a heart gules in chief a mullet for distinction sable.

However, if you look closely (you can click on the picture above to see a larger photograph), the sword blades appear to azure, and the charge in chief is pretty clearly a cinquefoil and not a mullet.

Burke's General Armory cites something closer in the arms of Pearson* (Kippenross, co. Stirling). Argent two daggers in bend and bend sinister conjoined in point azure piercing a man's heart in base proper in the honour point a cinquefoil sable.

So, an unusual coat of arms, but a real (albeit rare) one. But this sort of thing is one of the reasons I truly enjoy studying and researching heraldry. You can always learn something new.

* In my, alas, fruitless, searches on-line for this individual, I have found the surname spelled variously as Peirson, Pierson, and Pearson. What's that old saying? "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Monday, August 27, 2018

An Armorial Memorial to Two Children

Continuing our look at some of the armorial memorials in St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster, we find this one from a couple memorializing two of their children:

The inscription reads:

the Vault near this
place lyeth the body of MR
Sone of JOHN WILSON of this
Parish, Etc. and CATHERINE
his Wife who dyed ye 8th day of
March 1708, in the jjth year
of his Age.
In the same Vault lyeth
alfo the body of MARTHA
WILSON their
only Daughter.

The History of the Parish Church of Saint Margaret, Westminster by Walcott (1847) does not mention the coat of arms and crest, nor do I find the arms described in any of the other guidebooks, so I have no idea of the colors.

Burke's General Armory has a citation for Wilson (West Wickham, co. Kent; confirmed at Edinburgh, 20 July 1762). Argent on a chevron between three mullets gules a crescent argent. Crest: A talbot’s head erased proper. That would appear to be a differenced version of the arms here.

The arms on the memorial could be the paternal coat of arms, Argent a chevron between three mullets gules, as several Wilson families shown in Burke have minor differences (bordure, charge on chevron, etc.).

It is hard for me to tell whether the crest is a talbot's head or a bear's head. In either event, the head does not appear to be erased, but it is possible that could be an error by the carver.

As a possible identification for the wife’s arms, Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials assigns Argent a lion passant on a chief sable three mullets argent to Ball, co. Northampton, granted 1613. But with no tinctures, and no biographical information being found in any of my on-line searches, it is difficult to feel any real certainty about this identification.

In any event, it is a touching monument from a couple who lost two of their children, and it is also a beautiful piece of heraldic carving. Note the care taken to show the mantling on the side of the helmet.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

An Armorial Memorial to a Lady

Along one wall inside St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster, is a memorial described in The History of the Parish Church of Saint Margaret, Westminster, by Walcott (1847)as:

A large raised Alabaster Tomb, with the recumbent coloured figure of a Lady.

(I had my telephoto lens on the camera, and didn't take the time to switch it out with the regular lens. So the pictures here are of the monument in bits and pieces.)

The tomb is that of Mary (or Marie), Lady Dudley, daughter of William Howard, first Baron Howard of Effingham, Lord High Admiral of England (the ninth son of Thomas Howard, second Duke of Norfolk); and sister of Charles Howard of Effingham, Earl of Nottingham, Lord High Admiral. She married, first, Edward Sutton, Lord Dudley, and second, Richard Montpesson, Esq. She died on August 21, 1600.

There are two shields with visible painted charges on them.

The large one at the top is her paternal arms, the well-known arms of Howard, blazoned: Quarterly: 1, Gules a bend between six crosses crosslet fitchy argent (Howard); 2, Gules three lions passant gardant in pale or in chief a label of three tags argent (Brotherton); 3, Checky or and azure (Warren); and 4, Gules a lion rampant argent armed and langued gules (Mowbray).

The arms as painted here are missing the augmentation on the bend in the first quarter and the octofoil mark of difference for a ninth son which should be in the center of the shield. See, e.g.,_1st_Baron_Howard_of_Effingham

Underneath the mantle are two shields. The one on the right contains no discernible figures that I could make out, but it is probably meant for the arms of her first husband, Edward Sutton, Baron Dudley, Or a lion rampant double-queued vert.

The shield on the left is the arms of her second husband, Richard Montpesson: Quarterly: 1 and 6, Argent a lion rampant sable (Montpesson); 2, Gules a chevron ermine between three leopard's faces or; 3, Argent a lion passant gules; 4, Azure a fess between three fleurs-de-lys or; and 5, Argent a tower and in chief three roundels sable.

(In the fifth quarter, Walcott blazons the primary charge as a water bouget, but it is clearly drawn as a tower, or even a tower triple-towered on the monument.)

I have been unable to find much information about Richard Montpesson beyond his marriage to the widowed Lady Dudley, and even less about his coat of arms, which do not appear in Burke's General Armory or in Rietstap's Armorial Général.

Still, this monument really is all about her, and it truly is a testament to her life.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Meanwhile, Back at St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster ...

To return from our recent posts of "heraldic things I got distracted by" ("Ooh, shiny!") to go back to a final few heraldic monuments still to be shared from St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster. Here, we have the memorial to John Dorington, Esq., and his wife, Sarah. (You can click on the image to see the larger photograph of this memorial.)

To the memory of
of Queen Square,
Who departed this life
on the 27th of June, 1827,
aged 74 years.

Also of
of Clarges Street,
Relict of the Above,
Who departed this life
on the 13th of February, 1845,
Aged 85 years.

Though uncolored here, the arms are blazoned in The History of the Parish Church of Saint Margaret, Westminster by Walcott (1847) as Sable three bugle horns argent stringed gules.

There is no entry for Dorington in Burke’s General Armory.

Papworth’s Ordinary of British Armorials assigns the arms as blazoned in Walcott to “Dodington, Dodington, co. Somerset; and Meere, co. Wilts.”

Burke gives the same attribution for these arms, but gives the crest as A lion’s jambe proper holding a flag gules charged with a chevron or.

Fairbairn’s Crests gives that crest cited in Burke as belonging to Dorington and Dorrington, as well as to Dodington.

No sources give the crest as it appears on the monument, which I take to be A stag’s or hart’s (or possibly an elk’s) head erased.

According to Burke’s Landed Gentry, John Edward Dorington, Esq., of Lypiatt Park (b. 1832), was the son of John Edward Dorington, Esq., of Lypiatt Park (d. 1874), and the grandson of John Dorington (d. 1827) and his wife Sarah Columbine (d. 1845), who are memorialized here. The Landed Gentry gives the arms of Dorington of Lypiatt Park as Sable three bugles argent stringed gules, with the motto Strepitus non terret ovantem (for which I find no entry in Fairbairn’s, and so no translation, except for a somewhat opaque one from one of the Latin-to-English on-line translators, which results in “Noise that scares mounting”).