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).