St Benet's, Paul's Wharf: Furniture, fittings and records

Survey of London Monograph 16, College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street. Originally published by Guild & School of Handicraft, London, 1963.

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Walter H Godfrey. Anthony Wagner, 'St Benet's, Paul's Wharf: Furniture, fittings and records', in Survey of London Monograph 16, College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street, (London, 1963) pp. 36-37. British History Online [accessed 30 May 2024].

Walter H Godfrey. Anthony Wagner. "St Benet's, Paul's Wharf: Furniture, fittings and records", in Survey of London Monograph 16, College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street, (London, 1963) 36-37. British History Online, accessed May 30, 2024,

Godfrey, Walter H. Wagner, Anthony. "St Benet's, Paul's Wharf: Furniture, fittings and records", Survey of London Monograph 16, College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street, (London, 1963). 36-37. British History Online. Web. 30 May 2024,

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The Court room is the most elaborately decorated of the rooms of the College. In height it occupies two stories and has a gallery along its east side, with an entablature at first-floor level, above which is a balustrade of spiral balusters in three bays between four panels (curved above and below), beneath a moulded rail. This gallery is entered from the room above that east of the Court room, by folding doors a little narrower than the ones just below which have a broken pediment over the architrave carrying a shield of arms of Howard as Earl Marshal. Each leaf of the upper door has three bolection-moulded panels, and the lower follows suit with a little more pronounced detail. Below the level of the gallery the room is surrounded by a moulded cornice with bolection-moulded panels above and below a moulded chair-rail. In the west wall there are three doorways. Over the one in the centre is a cartouche bearing the arms of the College. Over the northern door, which is now blocked, is a carved cap of estate carrying a leopard, and over that to the south, leading to the north-west staircase, is an eagle and child (the Stanley badge), also on a cap of estate.

About half the width of the Court room forms a central enclosure surrounded by a substantial rail and balustrade which leaves some 7 feet between it and the windows in the south wall. In the centre of this against the north wall is an elaborate reredos behind the Earl Marshal's throne and adjoining seats. It is composed of three panels in width flanked by fluted pilasters with Corinthian capitals, supporting an entablature with a curved pediment over the central panel which is framed on each side by two vertical strips of carving that are continued to form the arms of the throne and terminate in lion's heads supported by enriched balusters. The reredos is further adorned by an escutcheon, surmounted by a crown and bearing the royal arms of Queen Anne from the Union of 1707, between two standing cherubs holding a baton and a coronet respectively above the pilasters. The centre panel has a small panel above it, filled with carving, while the side ones have small plain panels, over which are cartouches, one with the arms of the Earl of Bindon (later Earl of Suffolk) as Deputy Earl Marshal, the other with the arms of the Duke of Norfolk as Earl Marshal. The seats have panelled fronts and stand on a dais with a similar front. The coats of arms, as well as the two cherubs, have been omitted from the measured drawings of the Court room (Plate 44) by Mr James M. Scott, but they are clearly shown on Mr Hanslip Fletcher's drawing (Plate 36). A very charming wood chandelier, painted and gilt of the date of the other fittings of the Court room, is suspended from the ceiling and a twelve-branch brass chandelier is to be seen in the Public Office.

The College possesses extensive records and other manuscript collections which are described in The Records and Collections of the College of Arms, by Anthony Richard Wagner, Richmond Herald (fn. 1) (Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1952). It possesses in addition a number of paintings and other objects of art and of interest some of which will be found catalogued, together with those lent by friends of the College, in the Heralds' Commemorative Exhibition, 1484–1934 (Spottiswoode, Ballantyne and Co., 1934). For many years the College has felt the need of a Museum or exhibition hall in which its choicest treasures might be shown. The wartime destruction of buildings to the east of the College and the subsequent replanning of that area led to hopes of acquiring a site for this purpose. A charitable Trust, called The College of Arms Trust, was formed in 1956, with the Earl Marshal as Chairman, to provide income for the maintenance of the College building, to establish and maintain a Museum of Heraldry and to provide for other charitable purposes connected with the College. An appeal for funds succeeded so well that the Trustees hope shortly to take up an option on a site adjoining the College to the east and to put building in hand. The opening of a Museum to the public depends, however, on the future financial position.

Pew in the church of St Benet, Paul's Wharf

Derby House (the College of Arms) and Mountjoy House (later Doctors Commons) were both within the parish of St Benet, Paul's Wharf. It may be that both these houses possessed pews in the pre-fire church of St Benet, but it seems clear that in his rebuilding Sir Christopher Wren made provision for the members of both colleges. The church is planned with a north aisle, separated from the main part of the building by two columns, and this admits of a gallery above the aisle of three bays. The easternmost bay seems to have been appropriated to the College of Arms. It is now occupied by the organ, which was removed in recent years to this position, with the consent of the heralds, from the organ gallery in the west wall of the church. The central and westernmost bays of the north gallery were apparently used by the doctors, since it is upon the walls adjoining them that most of their memorial tablets are fixed. In the centre of each of the three sections of the panelled front of the gallery is a large carved cartouche bearing respectively (1) an anchor, (2) the royal arms, and (3) the arms of the See of Canterbury. These shields are now placed in the order given above from west to east, but since they are movable they may easily have been rearranged. The royal arms in this position is almost certainly in compliment to the College of Arms and the anchor and archbishop's pallium evidently symbolize the Admiralty and Ecclesiastical Courts.

In addition to the gallery, there are some cross pews north and south of the altar, which seem to have been used by the principal dignitaries of each college. The arms of the Heralds' College are prominently displayed under the window over against the northern set of pews. On the same east wall are also the following tablets connected with the College. They commemorate:

Gregory King, Lancaster Herald (incorrectly described in the inscription by his earlier title of Rouge Dragon), d. 1712. The tablet has his arms. He was secretary to (Sir) Wm. Dugdale as Norroy.

Alice, wife of Isaac Heard, Garter. She d. 1808.

John Charles Brooke, Somerset Herald, d. 1794.

Sir William Woods Kt, Garter King of Arms, d. 1842. The tablet erected by his son, Albert William Woods Esq., Lancaster Herald.

The union of the benefice of St Benet, Paul's Wharf, with that of St Nicholas Cole Abbey was effected by an order in Council dated 26 June 1879, when St Benet's was made the Metropolitan Welsh (Episcopal) Church. At the time a recommendation was made that a pew, capable of holding at least thirteen persons, should be appropriated in the parish church of the united parish for the accommodation of the College of Arms in exchange for the ancient right of the College to a distinct pew in the church of St Benet.


  • 1. Now Sir Anthony Wagner, Garter.—Ed.