Royal Arms

In the arch in the back(west) wall of the church above the Narthex are the Royal Arms.  The displaying of the arms of the monarch is quite ancient. In the time of Henry VIIIth, following the break with Rome and the king’s supremacy in the Church of England, it became the practice to have the Royal Arms in the church. This varied until the Restoration in 1660, at which time display again became usual.  This continued until Victorian times, following which the practice declined.[i] The Royal Arms probably were given near the time of opening and are so about the only piece of original church furniture left.

There are some intriguing things about the Royal Arms in St Paul’s. First the date: Royal Arms change over time. St Paul’s was opened in 1826, during the reign of George IVth (1820-1830) and one would expect his Royal Arms. They appear, however, to be from the previous period of 1801-1816 at the time of George IIIrd.  Secondly, the Arms in churches are usually rectangular but these are a lozenge shape, more normally used for funeral “hatchments”.

[i] ‘Origin of Royal Arms, The Churches Conservation Trust,

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