The following pages contain the full text of my 1987 booklet, Royal Arms in Churches: The Artists and Craftsmen.

Go to Page Two for the Artists Inventory A-I.
Go to Page Three for the Artists Inventory J-Z.
Go to Page Four for the Index of Places.

(The photograph on the front cover above depicts the work of John Abel at Abbey Dore, Herefs.)



Royal Coats of Arms to mark the Monarch's position as Head of the Church of England have been placed in churches since the Reformation, although the earliest authentic surviving example dates from the reign of Edward VI. At no time has it been compulsory by law to erect these Royal Arms, but it became the accepted practice after the Restoration in 1660. In the eighteenth century almost all churches contained one or more Royal achievement (those few which did not were frequently admonished by archdeacons during their visitations). Sadly the majority of Royal Arms have now been lost, usually as a result of neglect or deliberate destruction during Victorian church restorations. However, approximately twenty percent of parish churches and cathedrals retain examples, and the tradition is by no means dead, for several dozen have been erected during the reign of our present Queen.

These Royal Arms are normally painted on wood, canvas or plaster, carved in stone or wood, moulded in plaster, or cast in metal. More unusual media can also be found, such as carpetwork, papier maché and printed cardboard!

Among the artists and sculptors involved were a few well-known names such as James Bubb, John Charles Rossi and William Bainbridge Reynolds. Far more of them were at best obscure and at worst anonymous. Some were local sign-painters and craftsmen, who could sometimes be found in Trade Directories under "Painters and Decorators", while others were travellers doing work here and there to make a meagre living. The Royal Coat of Arms at Newport (Salop) is believed on good evidence to have been painted by an old tramp who passed through the village in 1768 (see An Architectural Account of the Churches of Shropshire by D.H.S. Cranage, 1912, VII, p.615).

Researchers into the history of inn signs should take a particular interest in Royal Arms in churches, for the artists of the former were often the artists of the latter as well. Old signs have only rarely survived their exposure to the elements, so a Royal Arms in a church may frequently be the only existing example of the work of an eighteenth or nineteenth century inn sign painter.

Unfortunately, all too many Royal achievements remain frustratingly anonymous. Only a small minority are signed, while Churchwardens' Accounts and other Parish Records can sometimes help but often simply record payments to unnamed artists. Occasionally it is possible to identify the person responsible for an anonymous Royal Arms from its resemblance to another example whose artist is known.

The following, annotated listing is a heavily revised and expanded version of the one which I produced in 1978. It includes all the artists and craftsmen I have discovered whose names are associated with Royal Coats of Arms in churches. Each entry includes a list of the Royal Arms made by the artist, along with dates and details of the evidence for attribution (e.g. "Signed"). Wherever possible I have added a few biographical notes and references to further information, but in most cases little is known about these usually humble artists.

It should be noted that by no means all the Arms listed still exist. I have marked with an asterisk (*) the Arms which I, or my correspondents, have seen within the past twenty years. Those marked with a cross (+) definitely no longer exist.

I would like to thank Ewart Russell for his help with the entry on Joseph Wallis, and the Marc Fitch Fund, without whose assistance this booklet could not have been published.

Rosemary Pardoe
Chester, December 1987


Information for this booklet has been gathered from three main sources:
(i) Personal examination of existing Royal Arms in churches, by myself and my correspondents;
(ii) Churchwardens' Accounts, both printed and in manuscript form in Record Offices;
(iii) Published articles and county surveys listed in Royal Arms in Churches: A Bibliography (Rosemary Pardoe, 1975) and subsequent additions.

Sources which do not fit into these categories are noted in the text.

Copyright © 1987 Rosemary Pardoe.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

Go to Page Two for the Artists Inventory A-I.
Go to Page Three for the Artists Inventory J-Z.
Go to Page Four for the Index of Places.
Back to the Royal Arms in Churches Homepage.