Monday, September 16, 2019

Resting on Someone's "Laurels"

Or, at least on their coat of arms.

The benches in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral have cushions on them, so that you're not sitting on hard benches through services there.

These cushions are embroidered with the coat of arms superimposed on an image of the "Canterbury cross", given name, and years in office of the various Archbishops of Canterbury.

The following is a selection of some of those cushions. (To have tried to photograph all of them would have taken a much longer time, and involved much repetition.) For each, I have given the full name, years as Archbishop, and the blazon of the arms.

Simon de Mepham (1328-1333), Azure three bends or; and Walter Reynolds (1314-1327), Azure on a cross between the symbols of the four Evangelists or five lions rampant gules.

George Abbot (1611-1633), Gules a chevron between three pears or.

William Laud (1633-1645), Sable on a chevron between three estoiles or three crosses formy fitchy gules.

William Juxon (1660-1663), Or a cross gules between four Moor’s heads affront couped at the shoulders proper wreathed gules.

Gilbert Sheldon (1663-1677), Argent on a chevron gules three sheldrakes argent and on a canton gules a rose or.

Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie (1980-1991), The See of Canterbury, impaled by Argent on a fess sable between three roses gules barbed and seeded proper three crosses patonce argent.

Frederick Donald Coggan (1974-1980), Argent on a cross quarterly azure and gules between four crosses formy fitchy sable a rose argent barbed and seeded proper and ensigned by a mitre argent garnished or.

Reginald Pole (1556-1558), Per pale sable and or a saltire engrailed counterchanged.

Matthew Parker (1559-1575), Gules on a chevron between three keys argent three estoiles gules.

There was an amazing amount of needlework put into all of these cushions! The people who did the work should be congratulated on the quality, and the quantity, of their work.

And, truly, if you are going to be sitting through services on a hard wooden bench, wouldn't resting on someone's laurels, err, coat of arms, make it just a little bit more comfortable?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Armorial Memorial to an Archbishop

It's amazing sometimes to me to see something that is at once highly ornate and at the same time a little understated.

This is my reaction to the memorial (not tomb; he is buried at Addington in south London) of Archbishop William Howley.

He had a somewhat interesting and not entirely uncontroversial life; you can read a little more about him on-line at

Archbishop Howley presided over the coronation of King William IV and and Queen Adelaide in 1831. Six years later, it was he, along with the Lord Chamberlain, who informed Princess Victoria that she was now Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Anyway, it was, of course, the two different coats of arms on his large memorial which drew my attention:

On one shield, we have the See of London (Gules two swords in saltire points upwards or) impaled by Bishop of London William Howley (1813-1828), (Azure an eagle displayed erminois charged on the breast with a cross formy gules).

On the other shield, we find the See of Canterbury (Azure a cross-staff or with its cross argent overall a pall argent charged with four crosses formy fitchy sable) impaled by Archbishop of Canterbury William Howley (1828-1848) (Azure an eagle displayed erminois charged on the breast with a cross formy gules).

So on the one hand we have an ornate memorial, with stone arches and all kinds of architectural embellishments, including heraldry, and on the other, we find it all done in uncolored stone, almost plainly done.

As I said above, "highly ornate and at the same time a little understated."

Monday, September 9, 2019

An Impressive Display of Heraldry

Continuing our tour of Canterbury Cathedral, we came into a space with a number of monuments and coats of arms, but it was looking up a little that truly caught my eye! A row of angels, each bearing a shield. (As always, you can click on an image to go to a larger version.)

From left to right, we have the arms of: Pinchyon/Pynchon (Per bend argent and sable three roundels within a bordure engrailed counterchanged); New College, Oxford (Argent two chevronels azure between three roses gules barbed and seeded proper); and See of St. David’s (Sable on a cross or five cinquefoils azure [the cinquefoils should be sable]). 

Continuing we find: the See of Canterbury (Azure a cross-staff or with its cross argent overall a pall argent charged with four crosses formy fitchy sable); and Archbishop Henry Chicheley (1414-1443), whose arms are also those of All Souls College, Oxford (Or a chevron between three cinquefoils gules).

Turning right around to face the other side, we see:

The same shields as above in reverse order (l-r: Chicheley/All Souls College, See of Canterbury, See of St. David’s, New College, and Pynchon).

And here they are in greater detail:

Impressive, right? I know I was impressed!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

When the Window Itself is a Tribute

We next came to a window memorializing - during his lifetime - a benefactor of the Cathedral.

Allan Robert Willett, CVO, CMG, KStJ (1936-2015), succeeded Robin Leigh-Pemberton, Baron Kingsdown (whose arms we have already seen in the previous post), as Lord Lieutenant of Kent (2002-2011).

He founded Willett International Ltd., which became one of the world’s largest electronic coding and information labeling companies. The sale of Willett International enabled him to create a charitable foundation which has donated £4 million to mainly Kentish causes, including more than £2 million for Canterbury Cathedral and substantial grants to, among others, the new Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.

His memorial window here (designed by Cathedral glass conservator Alison Eaton, and installed in the Cathedral in 2014) shows the military units in which he served as well as his awards, honors, and affiliations. (You can click on the image of the window above to see a larger, more detailed version.)

I cannot find a blazon for his arms (just above those of the Chapter and Dean of the Cathedral, which we have seen several times before in our heraldic tour of Canterbury) anywhere, and I am somewhat reticent try to guess, because I’m pretty sure I’d get it wrong. It almost looks like: Argent on a pale between two pallets endorsed sable three roundels or marked sable (leaving out the exact nature of the “markings”, though I feel certain they represent something specific), the whole having to do with the electronic coding and information labeling of Willett International.

The motto is taken from a line from a poem, My Creed by Howard A. Walter:

     I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
     I would be pure, for there are those who care;
     I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
     I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

The issue of the blazon aside, this is a beautiful, and beautifully done, memorial to a benefactor of the Cathedral at Canterbury.

Monday, September 2, 2019

An Armorial Memorial to a Lord Who Loved the Cathedral

Making our way into the Cathedral proper, we walked by this modest armorial memorial plaque:

Robin Leigh-Pemberton (1927-2013), was the son of R.D. Leigh-Pemberton, educated at Eton, and won a scholarship at Trinity College, Oxford. He won the Sword of Honour at Sandhurst, saw active service with the Grenadier Guards, and practiced as a barrister before embarking on a successful business career, which saw him take the role of Chairman of NatWest Bank in 1977. In 1953 he married Rosemary Forbes, daughter of the Dowager Marchioness of Exeter. In 1983 he was appointed Governor of the Bank of England by Margaret Thatcher. He was Lord Lieutenant of Kent 1982-2002.

He was created a life peer in 1992 as Lord Kingsdown. In 1994, he was created a Knight of the Garter. (You will note the Garter surrounding his arms on the plaque.)

Lord Kingsdown was the Cathedral’s Seneschal from 1983 until his death; Chairman of the Cathedral’s Council from its inception in 2004; and President of the Cathedral Trust for over 40 years. He regularly attended Services at the Cathedral, and appropriately, his funeral services were conducted there.

Lord Kingsdown's arms are blazoned: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Ermine an estoile or between three buckets sable hoops and hadles or (Pemberton); 2 and 3, Gules a cross engrailed argent between four lozenges ermine (Leigh). His motto, on the scroll beneath the shield, is: Ut tibi sic alteri (Do unto others as you would to yourself).

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Even the Corridors Have Heraldry In Them Here!

Moving out of the Water Tower of Canterbury Cathedral, we ran across some more heraldry in the corridor which was leading us into the body of the Cathedral itself.

First was this lovely window (if you look closely - and you can click on the image below to see a bigger version - the "frame" of the window consists of pieces of recovered stained glass with a variety of bits and pieces of different motifs:

 Which has in it the arms of the See marshaled with those of Archbishop Matthew Parker (1559-1575), Gules on a chevron between three keys argent three estoiles gules.

And as if his arms weren't enough, the shield is flanked on each side with the letters M and P, the Archbishop's initials.

Moving along, we then came across this window:

On the left, we have the arms of King Henry VII, Quarterly France modern and England, with its distinctive Tudor royal crown:

And on the right, the arms of the See marshaled with those of Archbishop William Warham (1504-1532), whose arms we have seen before, Gules a fess or between in chief a goat’s head erased and in base three escallops argent.

Not a bad display of heraldry in something that is really not much more than a hallway from one room to another!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Armorial Windows in the Water Tower

Moving out of the Chapter House on our way to the interior of Canterbury Cathedral, we passed through the Water Tower, built in the 1160s. The upper section was rebuilt in the time of Prior Chilleden (1391 to 1410).*

And, of course, there was some heraldry in it.

We're not going to go over every coat of arms in these windows -- there are plenty of pictures of all of them that can be found on-line -- but here's a quick review of some of them:

Here, the arms of the Archepiscopal See of Canterbury impaled with those of Archibishop Baldwin (1184-1190), Gules two bendlets and a bordure argent.

In the lower windows below these arms, we have Humphrey Bohun, 12th Earl of Hereford (d. 1372), who married Joan, daughter of Richard Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel. Azure, a bend argent cotised between six lions rampant or (Bohun); marshalling Quarterly: 1 and 4, Gules a lion rampant or (Fitzalan); 2 and 3, Checky or and azure (Warrene);

And Edmund of Langley. Quarterly France modern and England a label of three points argent each charged with three torteaux. (The red roundels have faded almost completely to white.)

In the window immediately to the right of Bohun and Langley, we find the arms of Archbishop William Courtenay (1381-1396), Or three roundels gules and a label azure charged on each point with a mitre or;

And Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince’s “shield for peace”, Sable three ostrich feathers each with a scroll argent across the quill inscribed Ich Dien sable.

At the top of the next window to the right, we see the arms of the See of Canterbury impaled by those of Archishop Theobald (1139-1161), Barry or and azure a chief indented gules. (The book Coats of Arms of the Archbishops of Canterbury blazons Theobald’s arms as Or two bars azure and a chief indented gules. I suspect an error by the stained glass artist for this window, as the arms look more like Azure two bars or and a chief per fess indented gules and or. But maybe that's just me.)

And finally, in the lower windows below Theobald's arms, we find Edmund of Langley (I believe), Quarterly France modern and England a label of three points argent each charged with three torteaux. (Here again, the red roundels have faded almost completely to white.);

And John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset. Quarterly France and England all within a bordure compony argent and azure. (The window shows the bordure with the tinctures reversed, i.e., azure and argent.)

It's a small room, but it's got a lot of historical coats of arms in it.

* There's an old saw about the difference between Europeans and Americans is that Europeans think a hundred kilometers is a long way, while Americans think a hundred years is a long time. So clearly, this tower was built, and then rebuilt, a very, very very long time ago!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Look Up!

So, after staring in awe at the massive east window in the Chapter House at Canterbury Cathedral, and then turning around to see the smaller windows with the arms of several Archbishops and Deans, we take a step back and then look up to see this:

The inscription across the bottom reads:

In memory of / Frederick William Farrar, D.D. / Dean of this Cathedral 1895-1903 / This window was erected on / Public Subscription.

We saw Dean Farrar's coat of arms in the immediately preceding post.

Like the east window, the main part of the west window contains figures important in one way or another to the history of the Cathedral, from Queen Bertha, Augustine, and King Ethelbert (in the first three windows in the top row) through Thomas Becket and King Henry II (the first two windows in the second row) through King Henry IV (who is buried in the Cathedral) and King Henry VIII (in the first two windows in the bottom row), through the coronation of Queen Victoria in the last window at the bottom right. The difference is that this window omits the Royal heraldry but portrays some of the events for which the people portrayed are famous.

You can find a more detailed description of who is who in this window on-line at

In this window, as in the east window, there is a lot of heraldry at the top, but before we get to some of those, if you look carefully, you will notice four smaller windows in the center with images of (l-r, top to bottom): St Andrew, St. David, St. George, and St. Patrick. These are, of course, the patron saints of Scotland, Wales, England, and Ireland, respectively.

Flanking these last is a row of shields, from left right, with the arms of: England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Surrounding and above all of these we have the arms of a great number of colleges of both Cambridge and Oxford Universities.

And, at the very peak of the window, the arms (once again) of the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral of Christ Church, Canterbury.

Of the colleges, you may recognize a number of them right off. I know I did, though I couldn't necessarily put a name to each of them without looking them up.

Want a "cheat sheet" to help you identify the arms here? Here are a couple of old postcards with the arms of the colleges of both Cambridge and Oxford. Happy hunting!

Monday, August 19, 2019

More Arms in the Chapter House at Canterbury Cathedral

After entering the Chapter House at Canterbury Cathedral, and finding yourself a bit overwhelmed at the sight of the large stained glass window at the eastern end of the room, if you turn around and look at the wall behind you, there are a couple of windows looking back out into the Cloister with coats of arms in them. In one window, all of the arms are of former Archbishops of Canterbury. In the second, the arms of those of some of the Deans of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Christ Church, Canterbury.

Once again, you may recognize some of this heraldry from where we have run across them elsewhere in Canterbury (or even earlier, at St. Mary-at-Lambeth in London).

From left to right, and moving from the left window to the right one, we have:

The attributed arms of Archbishop Anselm (1093-1109) [all the dates included here refer to their tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury], Argent goutty de sang a cross sable, and Archbishop Stephen Langton (1207-1228), Per pale azure and gules a bend or.

Simon de Sudbury (1375-1381), Sable a talbot sejant within a bordure engrailed argent (There is another coat of arms attributed to the Archbishop - Argent on a cross azure the letter M crowned or - but he bore these arms on his seal) and Henry Chicheley (1414-1443), Or a chevron between three cinquefoils gules.

John Morton (1486-1500), whose arms we have seen several times before, Quarterly gules and ermine in the first and fourth quarters a goat's head erased argent, and Frederick Temple (1896-1903), Quarterly: 1 and 4, Or an eagle displayed sable; 2 and 3, Argent two bars sable each charged with three martlets or (These arms were also borne by William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury 1942-1945).

In the next window, we find the arms of Nicholas Wotton (1541-1567) [here, too, the dates are those of the individual's tenure as Dean], Quarterly of six: 1, Sable a saltire argent; 2, Sable(?) on a chief argent a lion passant sable; 3, Azure on a bend argent three eagles displayed sable; 4, Ermine a fess checky or and azure (probably Arden or Arderne); 5, Bendy of six argent and gules; and 6, Bendy of eight azure and argent,* and Thomas Nevil or Nevile (1597-1615), Gules on a saltire argent a rose gules.

* The identification of the arms, or indeed of the tinctures themselves, here is very "iffy". Wotton is not found in Humphrey-Smith's An Alphabetical Catalogue of Coats of Arms in Canterbury Cathedral. Burke's General Armory cites several Wotton coats of arms, but in the closest ones to the first quarter in this coat the tinctures are reversed, i.e., Argent a saltire sable. Further searches on-line, e.g., for "Wotton" or "Nicholas Wotton" + "a saltire argent", and off, e.g., Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials, failed to turn up any useful information.

John Tillotson (1672-1689), Azure two bendlets between two garbs argent, and John Sharp (1689-1691), Azure a pheon argent and on a bordure or twelve torteaux.

And finally, Frederic Farrar (1895-1903), Argent on a bend engrailed sable three horseshoes argent, and Henry Alford (1857-1871), Or on a chevron sable between three roses gules three fleurs-de-lys argent.

Next time, we look up!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The BIG Stained Glass Window in the Chapter House

Moving from the Cloister through a doorway into the Chapter House, the visitor is confronted at the far, east, end of the room by a huge stained glass window depicting in its main sections people important in the history of Canterbury from Queen Bertha to Queen Victoria. (You can click on the image below to see a larger version of this photograph.)

A more detailed description of who is who in this window can be found on-line at

Most of these individuals, with the exceptions of King Henry III, King Edward I, the Black Prince, King Henry IV, King Henry VIII, and Queen Victoria, are not shown with their coats of arms.

The upper part of the windows display a number of coats of arms, mostly of different sees around England with the arms of a few individuals thrown in for good measure (e.g., the arms of Archbishop Temple impaling those of the Archepiscopal See). You may recognize some of them without even needing to look them up.

In between is a row of heraldry with four coats of arms we have seen several times before in our survey of heraldry in Canterbury:

Here, the Archepiscopal See of Canterbury, and the Canterbury Cathedral Dean and Chapter:

And the Grand Lodge of Masons (Gules on a chevron between three towers argent a pair of compasses sable, impaling Quarterly azure and or a cross quarterly argent and vert between 1st a lion rampant or, 2nd a bull passant sable, 3rd a man statant affronty hands elevated proper vested sable [should be vert?], and 4th an eagle displayed or), and the County of Kent.

It is an awe-inspiring window, and well worth the time to sit and glory in its construction and colors. And its heraldry.