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  Where you are: Local History - Snippets - Royal Arms
  The Royal Arms of Great Britain in Tickhill Parish Church by Donald Thorpe
 

Royal Arms in Parish Churches were erected as tokens of loyalty to the Crown and to the Sovereign as the earthly head of the Church. Most of them date from after 1534 when Henry VIII assumed the title 'Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England'. In many churches the royal arms were erected on top of the chancel screen or above the chancel arch, as in St Katharine's Church, Loversall. This would have been difficult in St Mary's where unusually there is a window above the chancel arch.

During the reign of the Roman Catholic Mary Tudor (1553-1558) and again during the Commonwealth in the 17th Century, many examples of the royal arms were destroyed. With the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 when Charles II became king, a statute required royal arms to be displayed in all churches. In the next century, in 1714, George, the Elector of Hanover, inherited the British crown, even though there were 57 people who had a better genealogical right: they were excluded from the royal succession because they were Roman Catholics. So concerned were the Hanoverians with the Stuart Pretender (there were major Jacobite threats in 1715 and 1745) that many Stuart arms in churches were repainted with the arms of Hanover. The practice of installing royal arms in churches was eventually discontinued in Queen Victoria's reign.

It is an example of the Hanoverian royal arms which is displayed in St Mary's above the north door. We do not know if this is a repainting of the Stuart arms, but the letters 'GR' (Georgius Rex) are clearly visible and 'C' (for Charles) can easily become 'G'!

Only one of the four quarterings is different from the royal arms borne during the second half of her reign by Queen Anne, George I's predecessor and the last Stuart sovereign. George's arms were used after him by his son (George II) and his great-grandson (George III), in all for a total of 87 years. The Garter motto Honi soit qui mal y pense surrounds the quarterings.                                                                         

The 1st quartering (top left) shows the three lions of England, impaling (which means 'joined to') the single lion of Scotland.

The 2nd quartering (top right) is the three fleur-de-lys of France, and it is curious that even in the 18th Century the British crown was claiming some sovereignty across the Channel. Calais, our last foothold in France, had been lost in the reign of Mary Tudor.                 

The 3rd quartering (bottom left) displays the harp of Ireland.

The 4th quartering (bottom right) is the Hanoverian addition, and there are four parts to it:  
1. The two lions of Brunswick.                                                                               
2. The lion and hearts of Lüneburg.                                                                           3. The horse of Hanover.                                                                        
4. Superimposed at the point where the first three meet is the crown of Charlemagne. This represents George I's position as the Arch-Treasurer of the Holy Roman Empire (which, by this time, as Voltaire put it, was neither holy, Roman, nor an Empire!) founded by Charlemagne many centuries before.                                                              

 

 

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