I am frequently asked for advice on the redecoration of historic structures. This may be by local authorities, heritage bodies or residents concerned at intended development in the area.
In this case I was asked to help with the selection of paint and colour on an eighteenth century building in the centre of Beverley, East Yorkshire. Beverley was described by Pevsner as “among the finest of England’s small country towns”.1
As part of the recently announced £2.5 million makeover of Saturday Market, the Grade I listed Market Cross was in need of a repair and a repaint.
The Cross was designed by Theophilus Shelton of Wakefield and built between 1711 and 1714. It was constructed at the expense of the then MPs, Sir Charles Hotham Bart and Sir Michael Warton. The cross displays their coats of arms as well as well as those of Beverley and the Royal Arms of Queen Anne.
It consists of four pairs of coupled Roman Doric columns in stone standing on an octagonal base of three steps. It has a full entablature with triglyphs, unadorned metopes and guttae. On the south side are four carved cartouches displaying the arms mentioned above. Above the entablature is a further cartouche which forms part of a tablet carved in relief with trophies of arms.2 The cartouche is surmounted by a head with head-dress displaying Prince of Wales feathers and it contains the following inscription:
“This cross was built at the expense of Sir Charles Hotham Bart, and Sir Michael Warton Knt. Members of Parliament for this Corporation Anno Domini 1714. Repaired AD 1769 Wm Leake Esq, Mayor”
Eight enriched urns by Crabtree and Rushworth added in 1769 stand over the columns. The Cross has a leaded octagonal cupola roof with an elaborate square glazed lantern surmounted by an obelisk and cross and gilded ball.3
Before offering suggestions on the use of colour for the body of the Cross I focussed on the heraldic shields themselves. I was mindful that on a previous project – on the arms above Dudley House, in Park Lane, London – two of the nine quarterings had been incorrectly painted and families with no connection to the Dudleys had been indicated. The last thing that anyone wanted was for the same kind of mistake to be made in such a public location.
A whole language has developed to describe the appearance of heraldic arms (the shield). With this blazon the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image.
The principal heraldic colours (or tinctures) are as follows:
Sable – Black
Gules – Red
Azure – Blue
Vert – Green
There are also two Metals:
Or – Gold (frequently shown as yellow)
Argent – Silver (usually shown as white as silver tarnishes)
A bit of basic research told me that the arms of the Hotham family were blazoned:
As an explanation – when the shield is patterned with a number of horizontal (fesswise) stripes, this is described as Barry e.g. of six or eight, usually of a colour and metal specified, e.g. Barry of six Argent and Azure (this implies that the chiefmost stripe is Argent and the second is Azure – i.e. silver and blue).
For some reason the Hotham arms are shown with Barry of eleven rather than ten, but, given the construction of the shield, this cannot be changed. My understanding is that Barry of ten should be shown as above:
A Canton is a square charge placed in the upper dexter corner (a small device in the top L/H corner – looking at the shield).
A Cornish Chough is a type of blackbird and Proper means in naturalistic colours i.e black.
The red hand on a shield in the centre is the sign of a baronet. The order of baronets was created by James I in order to raise money. Nominally this was for the upkeep of military forces in Ireland, hence the badge of the Red Hand of Ulster featuring as a baronet’s device. At the same time the Red Hand is not invariably shown in a baronet’s coat of arms.
Further research indicated that the Warton arms were blazoned:
This indicates that a blue chevron is placed on a gold background and that on the chevron is a gold martlet between two broad arrow heads.
A martlet in English heraldry is a heraldic charge depicting a stylized bird similar to that of a house martin or swallow, though missing legs.
A pheon or broad arrow is a type of arrow with a typically flat barbed head.
The Royal Arms were immediately recognisable, but I had to ensure that they were those of Queen Anne, who reigned from 1707-1714 (the period when the Cross was erected). The Union with Scotland in 1707 had been marked by placing the Arms of England and those of Scotland side by side in the first and fourth quarters. The fleurs-de-lis of France took over the whole second quarter, and Ireland’s harp the third. The blazon being:
In the photograph that was sent to me the arms of Beverley appear to have a chief of Gules (red). In heraldic blazon, a chief is a charge on a coat of arms that takes the form of a band running horizontally across the top edge of the shield.
From what I gathered the shield is that used by the former Beverley Borough Council and that it was registered as a seal device without colours in 1584. The beaver and waves were an obvious interpretation of the old form of the name ‘Beverlac’.
The official blazon recorded at the College of Arms is
Castor is the scientific name for the beaver. Regardant indicates an animal with its head turned backward, as if looking over its shoulder.
I look forward to the Market Cross being restored and becoming, once again, the focal point in Saturday Market, Beverley. Next year (2014) will be its 300th anniversary.
1 Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and David Neave Yorkshire: York and the East Riding Yale University Press. 1995. 280.
2 Possibly a symbolical reference to the Hotham / Warton service to the Crown.4
3 British Listed Buildings.
4 K.A. MacMahon. ‘The Building of the Beverley Market Cross’ in Transactions of The Georgian Society for East Yorkshire. 1952-1953. 80-98.
I am particularly grateful to Professor John Wilton-Ely, who has been of enormous assistance. I would also like to thanks Andy Marshall who sent me a snap shot of the Market Cross.
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