Monday, October 22, 2018

The Arms of a Hospital

Leaving the little church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth and its many heraldic offerings behind us, we took a stroll down one of the nearby streets and came upon this:

The large, and busy, St. Thomas' Hospital on Westminster Bridge Road, London.

Its arms, granted on February 14, 1950, are blazoned: Argent on a cross between in the first quarter a sword erect gules and in the second quarter a chough proper, a roach haurient argent, on a chief azure a rose argent barbed and seeded proper between two fleurs-de-lys or.

The crest is: Between four spears points upwards sable embrued gules three Madonna lilies argent stalked and leaved vert.

As supporters, it has: dexter, A chough proper; sinister, A nightingale proper.

The cross and sword are clear references to the city of London, where the hospital is located. The nightingale supporter represents Florence Nightingale, and is a symbol for a hospital. The two choughs (the one on the arms and the other a supporter), popularly known as the Becket bird, represent St. Thomas Becket, after whom the hospital is named. The spears in the crest represents St. Thomas the Apostle, who was martyred by being killed with spears. (I am at this time unaware of the symbolism of the remaining charges on the arms and crest, though I could probably make some reasonable guesses; e.g., the Madonna lilies and fleurs-de-lys are often used as symbols of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the hospital is very near St. Mary-at-Lambeth. The church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth has pre-Norman origins, being recorded as early as 1062 as a church built by Goda, sister of Edward the Confessor, and dedicated to St. Mary.)

It is both unusual and gratifying to seen a modern organization displaying its coat of arms so boldly on the face of its building.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

An Unexpected But Familiar Coat of Arms at St. Mary-at-Lambeth Church

In looking at the stained glass windows in St. Mary-at-Lambeth, I noticed a coat of arms that I found very familiar from our trip to Glasgow, Scotland.

The window contains images of St. Ninian and St. David, with arms which are associated with, but not ascribed to, them.

The arms with St. Ninian are a shield of Scotland (Azure a saltire argent), most often seen in the form of a flag, and then this one:

These are the arms of the City of Glasgow, which can be found all over that city in many forms, styles, and media, as I noted in my post of September 1, 2016 (

So to find the Glasgow coat of arms here on the south bank of the Thames in metropolitan London was almost like running into an old friend there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Don't Try to Tell Me That Heraldry Is Dead!

Or dying.

Occasionally I'll run across someone who believes that heraldry, and the use of coats of arms, is something best left to the antiquarian, a moderately interesting field but one which has no practical application in this modern world.

Fortunately, I am not the only one who believes that such people are either misinformed, or even flat-out wrong.

Witness the following:

Dr. Waring McCrady, a former French professor and graduate of The University of the South (Class of '59) in Sewanee, Tennessee, is helping the University commemorate its 150th anniversary by designing nineteen unique flags for each residence hall and to hang in the University's McClurg Dining Hall.

From what I can see, the flags - which are truly heraldic in nature - are well-designed and easily identifiable, two major underlying principles in heraldry.

You can find a more complete article about the flags, their purpose, and rationale for some of the specific designs in an article in The Sewanee Purple by contributing writer Mary Pryor dated October 16, 2018, on-line at

(Additional individual pictures of the flags can be found at

I especially appreciate the quote in the article from Dr. McCrady that: “When heraldry is done right, the designs are permanent, and unlike logos that are constantly having to be rebranded for a ‘trendy effect,’ they are abstract enough to not get outdated.”

Amen to that, Dr. McCrady. Amen to that!

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Other Large Tomb in the Garden at St. Mary-at-Lambeth, London

In addition to the table tomb of Rear Admiral William Bligh and other family members and descendants in what is now the garden of The Garden Center (formerly St. Mary-at-Lambeth churchyard) (, is another marking the resting place of three generations of another family, the Tradescants.

Five members of the Tradescant family are buried here: John Tradescant the Elder (c.1570-1638); John Tradescant the Younger (1608-1662) with his two wives Jane and Hester, and his son, also called John, who died aged 19.

John the Elder and John the Younger were naturalists, gardeners, and collectors, who between them traveled to the Low Countries, Russia, the Levant, North Africa, and even North America to bring plants and other specimens back to England.

The present tomb (above) is the third on the site of the Tradescant grave and replicates the original design. It was restored by public subscription in 1853.

On the east side of the tomb is carved the family arms, on the west side a skull and a seven-headed hydra, on the south side broken columns, Corinthian capitals, a pyramid and ruins, and on the north side shells, a crocodile, and a view of some Egyptian buildings.

The epitaph on the top of the tomb was written by Tradescant's friend, John Aubrey (the spelling is modernized here):

Know, stranger, ere thou pass, beneath this stone
Lie John Tradescant, grandsire, father, son
The last dy'd in his spring, the other two,
Liv'd till they had travelled Art and Nature through,
As by their choice Collections may appear,
Of what is rare in land, in sea, in air,
Whilst they (as Homer's Iliad in a nut)
A world of wonders in one closet shut,
These famous Antiquarians that had been
Both Gardeners to the Rose and Lily Queen,*
Transplanted now themselves, sleep here & when
Angels shall with their trumpets waken men,
And fire shall purge the world, these three shall rise
And change this Garden then for Paradise.

* Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I

But, of course, it was the heraldry that caught my eye.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any reliable information about the Tradescant "family arms," which I would blazon (alas, without tinctures, as On a bend wavy three fleur-de-lis, impaling A lion passant. They do not appear in Burke's General Armory, Burke's Landed Gentry, Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials, or any of my other armorials, ordinaries, and Visitations records. A review of Fairbairn's Crests for the crest here (Issuant from a chapeau a fleur-de-lis between a pair of wings) resulted in a list of the following names: Apeele, Apsley, Casson, Chamond, Chaumond, Crag, Cragg, Delins, and Edmonds. Nothing for Tradescant.

Given the comparatively lowly origins of the Tradescants, father from Suffolk, England, and son born in Kent, and despite their being gardeners to the first Earl of Salisbury, the first Duke of Buckingham, and to King Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria, it may well be that the arms here are borne without right. It may very well be that as "up and comers" in early 17th Century England, they felt that they needed or were entitled to a coat of arms as a symbol of their status, even without the approval of (or having to pay the fees to) the College of Arms.

If that is true, it is certainly not without precedent. Remember that it was about this time that playwright William Shakespeare approached the College of Arms for a posthumous grant of arms for his father, which of course he immediately inherited, establishing his place in society as a gentleman.

Something I hadn't known about when we visited there, but which I totally would have wanted to do if we had, is that local Lambeth legend states that if the Tradescant tomb is danced around twelve times while Big Ben strikes midnight, a ghost appears. Now that would be something to write home about!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

More Arms in St. Mary-at-Lambeth Chapel

There are other coats of arms held by angels which support the roof arches in St. Mary-at-Lambeth (now the Garden Museum), which I feel I ought to share with you, but most of which I have been (so far) unable to identify.

The arms above, Barry of four argent and gules per pale counterchanged, I have been able to identify only as Barrett. I do not know which Barrett. Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials ascribes it to "Barrett, Bellhouse, Essex." I have been unable to narrow that attribution to any individual who had a connection to the church here.

The guidebooks and on-line information I can find about the church and the Garden Museum regarding heraldic memorials here tend to focus on the larger, more famous memorials in the churchyard, e.g., the tomb of Rear Admiral William Bligh (of HMS Bounty fame) and his family, which I discussed in my post of November 10, 2014 (, and that of John Tradescant, Sr. and John Tradescant, Jr., which I will include in an upcoming post. They have next to no information on the smaller memorials in the interior of the church.

Of these next several coats of arms, I have not even been able to narrow down to a single surname; for example, the husband's arms (on the left) in this next one is ascribed to some 39 different surnames (not counting spelling variants) in Papworth. The identification of the wife's arms (to the right) may rest on the accuracy of the painting of the arms: if it is Gules a chevron argent between three lions rampant or, then the surname is Heely/Heeley or Langton. If however, it is Gules a chevron between three lions rampant or, then there are eight potential surnames (ignoring spelling variants) in Papworth to try to track down. And, really, I only have so much time in a day to be able to devote to hunting down the owners of these arms.

For the rest of these carved and painted shields in the church, we have:

Once again, this last one has too many possible bearers to chose from. Papworth's ascribes Argent a lion rampant queue forchy sable to eight different surnames (again, ignoring spelling variants), from Barynton through Stanlow. (And even that good an identification assumes that I have interpreted the shield correctly. Which it is possible that I have not. Shocking, I know, but nevertheless ... possible!)

Still, though, even without being able to identify the owners of all of the shields at this point, it is a wonderful display of heraldry in an historical church in London, England.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Memorial to a Beloved Rector

The other heraldic stone memorial which I photographed in the Garden Museum, formerly St. Mary-at-Lambeth Church, was to a former Rector of the Church, an ecclesiastic of some reknown.

The text of the inscription reads:

to the memory of
The Rev. George D’Oyly, D.D.
Rector of this Parish and of Sundridge
in the County of Kent,

This monument has been erected by some
of his parishioners in testimony of the
high estimation in which they held his
character and whilst his sound learning
and unwearied exertions evinced in the
foundation of Kings College London are
generally acknowledged; they wish to
record their sense of the important
services which he rendered to this
populous parish by his zeal in the cause
of Christianity, especially manifested
in the erection of eight new churches
during the period of his incumbency.

George D'Oyly, 1778-1846, was a cleric, academic, theologian, and biographer. You can find out more about his life and works, along with an engraving of him made the year of his death, on-line at

Of course, it was really the carved and painted arms on the memorial which caught my attention.

The shield is: Or two bends azure between them two fleurs-de-lis sable (D'Oyly); impaling, Vert two bends wavy ermine on a canton or five roundels in saltire gules (Bruere). (For Maria Frances Bruere, daughter of William Bruere. These arms were granted in 1803 by Isaac Heard, Garter King of Arms, and George Harrison, Clarenceux King of Arms, to George Bruere of Ashted, county Surrey.)

The crest is: A demi-dragon or winged sable holding between its forelegs a fleur-de-lis sable.

It's a beautifully carved and painted marshaled coat of arms, though there is a little wear on some of the gold and red paint. The other colors, however, remain clear and identifiable.

All in all, a very nice memorial to someone who clearly won the hearts of his parishioners.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A Memorial to an Archbishop

Set into one of the walls at the church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth in London, and partly hidden behind some empty flower pots and other gardening supplies when we were there (the chapel is now the Garden Museum, so much of the space is taken up with things having to do with gardening), was this carved stone memorial to Matthew Hutton, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1757 to his death in 1758.

As the Latin inscription on the monument notes with other ecclesiastical offices he held, he was made Bishop of Bangor in 1743, Archbishop of York in 1747, and finally Archbishop of Canterbury in 1757, just a year before his death.

Archbishop of Canterbury for such a short time, he never lived at Lambeth Palace, though he was buried here at St. Mary-at-Lambeth, just outside the gates of the Palace.

You can find a painting of Archbishop Hutton, and more information about his life and ecclesiastical career, on-line at

Once again, of course, it was really the impaled coat of arms at the top of the monument which caught my attention.

Surrounded by a laurel wreath, the shield displays the well-known arms of the See of Canterbury impaled with those of Archbishop Hutton, Gules on a fess between three cushions argent fringed and tasseled or three fleurs-de-lis gules.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Why Did I Think This Would Be Easier?

Continuing our circuit of the arms on the walls of the church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth, and given the prominence of some of the other coats of arms at the bases of the arches supporting the roof, I thought that determining the ownership of the rest of the arms should fairly straightforward.

Once again, I have been proven incorrect.

The arms in question are these:

A search of Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials resulted in this: Quarterly azure and gules four lions passant gardant or on a chief indented argent three pellets, assigned to Thomas Pert.

A close look at the photograph seems to show the roundels on the chief to be gules, not sable. And yet, we all know that sometimes painters will use an incorrect color when repainting a coat of arms, as I have pointed out before in some of the arms in St. Margaret's, Westminster. And besides, I couldn't find any other arms that were even close to this. (The closest was an ancient Welsh coat that was blazoned Quarterly azure and gules four lions passant counterchanged, which is not that close.)

A search through the Dictionary of National Biography and several other sources on-line discovered a number of Thomas Perts, none of whom, so far as I could determine, had a relationship with the church at Lambeth:

Thomas Pert “seems to have the parson at Loddon, and was presumably of the same family as John Pert, a servant of [Thomas] Moone.” Moone was convicted of heresy and abjured a few days later.  (Selections from English Wycliffite Writings, ed. Anne Hudson, p. 160);

Thomas Pert was Master and Warden of the Carpenters’ Company 1463, 1464, 1469, 1470, 1475, and 1476;

And in 1516, Cabot and Sir Thomas Pert (or Spert), then Vice Admiral of England, sailed in two ships to explore the coasts of Brazil and the West Indies for Henry VIII. (I believe, however, that his arms were entirely different from the shield here.)

So, I will (at least for now) admit defeat, and say that I am not certain to whom this coat of arms belongs. Nevertheless, there it is on the wall of St. Mary-at-Lambeth, carved, painted, and gilded, and must have belonged to someone at sometime.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Carved Royal Arms at St. Mary-at-Lambeth

Many churches in England (and Scotland, too!) have an image of the Royal Arms somewhere in their interior. St. Mary-at-Lambeth is no exception to this general rule, although the Royal Arms are not especially conspicuous, placed as they are in  corner being held by an angel which is also the support for one of the roof beams.

These arms are, of course, the Royal Arms as used by the Kings and Queens of England from the time of Henry IV through Elizabeth I, that is to say: Quarterly, France modern and England. (Or, far more wordily: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Azure three fleurs-de-lys or; 2 and 3, Gules three lions passant gardant in pale or.)

The arms are beautifully carved in fairly high relief, and gilded, and the angel holding them is wonderfully detailed.

I think it's a very tastefully done example of the Royal Arms, displayed in the protecting arms of an angel.

But what do I know?

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Arms of an Archbishop!

There is more certainty about this coat of arms and to whom they belonged: it is the arms of the Archbishop of Canterbury impaled with those of Cardinal John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1486 until his death in September 1500.

Archbishop Morton's arms can be blazoned a couple of different ways. Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials blazons them as Gules a goat's head erased argent attired or quarterly with ermine, while Bentham's The History and Antiquities of the Conventual Cathedral Church of Ely (he was made Bishop of Ely in 1478) blazons them Quarterly gules and ermine in the first and fourth a goat's head erased argent. (Actually, I can think of yet another way to blazon the Archbishop's arms: Quarterly gules and ermine in bend two goat's heads erased argent [attired or].)

Cardinal Morton lived in interesting times, the tail end of the Wars of the Roses. He was Keeper of the Privy Seal to King Henry VI's government in exile in France, but after that king's death became reconciled with Edward IV, who appointed him Master of the Rolls from 1472 to 1479. He opposed the Yorkist regime of Richard III (for which opposition he spent some time in captivity), and the year after Henry VII came to the throne, he made Morton Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor of England the year after that.

Sir Thomas More as a young man was a page in Archbishop Morton's house, and Morton is thought by some to be the original author of More's History of King Richard III.

More information about the life of Archbishop and Cardinal John Morton can be found at

What a fascinating history behind this little carved coat of arms high up on the walls of the church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth!

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”).

Thursday, August 16, 2018

When Someone Asks, "What Good Is Heraldry?"

I've long had a quote that I like to pull out to help explain how heraldry can be useful to folks doing research, whether genealogical or historical:

Many are the incidents, but faintly written in the pages of history, which would have remained for ever dark and illegible, but for the light flashed on them by the torch of Heraldry. A shield of Arms, a Badge, or a Rebus depicted on a glass window, painted on a wall, carved on a corbel or monument, will frequently indicate, with unerring precision, the date to which such relics are to be ascribed, and  whose memory they are intended to perpetuate, when all verbal descriptions are wanting; and the identity of many an old portrait rests on no other authority than that of a coat of Arms painted at the side.

John E. Cussans, The Handbook of Heraldry, 1869, pp. 15-16

Then there's this one, quoted by Mr. Cussans immediately following the above quote, by C. James, Scotland in the Middle Ages:

For the pursuit of family history, of topographical and territorial learning, of ecclesiology, of architecture, it is altogether indispensable; and its total and contemptuous neglect in this country [Scotland], is one of the causes why a Scotchman can rarely speak or write on any of these subjects without being exposed to the charge of using a language he does not understand.

(Ecclesiology: the study of churches, especially church building and decoration. Just in case you hadn't run into this word before.)

Well, in addition to those two quotes, I recently came across another expressing a similar sentiment, in an article entitled What I've Learned by Harry Williams-Bulkeley, the Head of Silver at Christie’s:

Heraldry is incredibly important with silver. Hallmarks tell you who made the object, where it was made and when it was made, but the coat of arms will tell you for whom it was made. It’s the final cherry on the cake that leads you to the full story.

I love the sentiment contained in that final sentence, don't you?

And if you'd like to know some of the other things that Mr. Williams-Bulkeley has learned over the course of his 28-year career at Christie's, you can find the full article on-line at


Monday, August 13, 2018

Another Game With Heraldry

There are a few games around that involve heraldry.

Sometimes a "game" can be a task that a few bored heralds may assign to themselves. I was involved with one of these, where six of us, having been left pretty much unsupervised, tried to create a coat of arms consisting of a field and a single standard heraldic charge that everyone who saw it would say was "too complex."

I think we may have succeeded. This is what we came up with:

The blazon is: Gyronny [of eight] lozengy gules and or, and vair, a mascle throughout counterchanged.

Other heraldic games try to combine some fun with education, like the "Heraldic Bingo" game that can be purchased from

Well, the other day over on Reddit, I saw a new heraldic variant of an old game that someone has come up with: Heraldic Telephone. The way it is played is described as:

All the players are organized into a list, and the first person in the list is given a coat of arms that they need to blazon. They send their blazon to the second person in the list, who proceeds to draw a coat of arms using only that blazon. They then send their coat of arms to the next person in sequence and this continues until the final player and all the coats of arms and blazons are revealed!

(If you want to see something of the way it can go, you can see the results of a round played in April of this year at

What an intriguing concept! And it's the kind of thing that could be played on-line or in person with friends with a few pieces of paper. (Well, you'd also want something to write with, and colored pencils or Crayola markers or something similar to draw the coat[s] with.)

What an interesting idea for the next time you're sitting around with some other heraldry enthusiasts and want a fun way to pass the time.

Just a thought.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Heraldry Is ...

I ran across this meme on Facebook the other day, and it seemed too good not to share.

Some would take issue with the specifics stated for one or more of these six steps. Nonetheless, the progression is reasonably apt.

Still, I sometimes suspect that I started out on step one and simply raced through the others to get to step six.

As proof, here's a quick photo of a good portion of my heraldic library. (It extends out of frame both to the left and the right, plus there are some other heraldic periodicals, etc. tucked away in another part of the room entirely.)

It's not a problem. Truly, I could stop anytime. And I'm going to. Very soon. Any day now. Well, maybe I'll wait until after I receive that one book that I pre-ordered. No, wait, there's that two-volume set I've been looking at getting for a while. After that. Then I'll quit. No, really.

Okay, maybe not.