Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Heraldic images in the library of Combermere Abbey

I have recently been pleased to assist the archivist at Combermere Abbey, Steven Myatt, in his efforts to identify a number of plaster moldings in the library of the abbey which are  presently undergoing conservation.


Steven stated that he had been examining a number of plaster moldings which show heraldic devices and seemed to relate to local families; “there are the crests of the Cholmondeleys, Grosvenors and Stanleys, but I am unable to identify a couple of other. These a horse's head, reined, with a crescent; and an elephant and castle.There is a third, which is a pigeon or a dove, and which I assume relates to the Bishop of Chester.”


Heraldic images in the library of Combermere Abbey


Image taken from http://www.combermere-restoration.co.uk/


I would lay odds on the "horse's head" being the bear's head crest of either Brereton of Ashley Viz: Crest: A bear's head erased Sable, muzzled Gules, a crescent for cadency or the crest of Brereton of Malpass.  The arms of Brereton of Malpas (as recorded in the Visitations of Cheshire) do not have a crescent for cadency on the crest itself however the arms themselves do feature a crescent for the second son. Fox-Davies tells us that the differencing of crests for cadency is very rare but theoretically these should be marked equally with the shield. It seems to me that when the crest is used in isolation, it probably makes sense to use a cadency mark where one is ordinarily used with the shield.  


brereton-ashley-crest.jpg


Brereton of Ashley Crest [Martin Goldstraw]


Heraldic images in the library of Combermere Abbey


Image taken from http://www.combermere-restoration.co.uk/


Once it is accepted that there is a Brereton connection, the elephant and castle and the bird can be explained.


Although I have only seen a portion of the shield featuring the bird, (and an image of the full shield might assist here) I can see that it is basically a bird that is black in colour upon a gold shield. The fifth quarter of the arms of Brereton of Brereton are those of Corbet. The arms of Corbet are Or, two ravens Sable (a gold shield upon which are two corbies or ravens black in colour). The basic arms of Corbet are Or, a (single) raven Sable. BUT more importantly, the arms of Corbet bring us the connection with the elephant and castle as the Corbet crest is An elephant Argent, on his back a castle triple towered Or, trappings of the last and Sable. (Visitations of Shropshire 1623)


There is also an image of an impaled shield on the Combermere restoration site (forgive the small image) which confirms the Cotton/Corbet connection.


Heraldic images in the library of Combermere Abbey


Heraldic images in the library of Combermere Abbey


Image taken from http://www.combermere-restoration.co.uk/


It's nice to be asked to help and it's even nicer when you can!


 

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