Armorial shields in Vowchurch parish church

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Editorial note: this is a summarised version of the more detailed paper by CJF Comyn published in the Newsletter of the Golden Valley Study Group, September 2012.
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One is struck immediately on entering St Bartholomew's church in Vowchurch by the array of small painted shields hung on the wooden posts in the nave and chancel as well as on the rood screen. Several of these appear to be ancient but over the years, they have all suffered from neglect, been repainted and re-hung so that almost all knowledge of their original dedications and positions has been lost.

When Beresford Lowther was appointed as vicar in 1836, he set about a lengthy process of restoration and improvement of the church. One of his projects was to restore all the shields where possible, and when not, to replace them with others he deemed suitable. It is not known is whether all the Arms displayed are truly those of the people named below.The list is based on Burke's General Armory together with local knowledge, but does not represent any official grant of Arms. The ground plan of the church indicates the position, by number, of each shield.

Plan of shields in church.tif

Photography by Carl Davies


Revd Harry Lee (vicar 1831-36) whose son was married to Lowther's sister Julia. Lee was also the Patron jure officio as Prebendary of Putson Major.

Gules a fess chequy Or and Azure between 6 billets Argent


Arms of Lowther as used by the Earls of Lonsdale to whom Beresford Lowther was very distantly related.

Or six annulets 3, 2 & 1, Sable.



Horsford in honour of Beresford Lowther's wife, Laura, daughter of Lt. Gen. George Horsford (1767-1840).

Sable on a chevron Ermine between 3 swords Argent 3 horses' heads erased Sable.


Lord Arthur Somerset of Poston, a younger son of Henry (1629-1700), 1st Duke of Beaufort; Lord Arthur married Mary Russell daughter of Sir William Russell of Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, whose arms appear as an escutcheon.

Somerset: Quarterly France (Azure three fleurs de lys Or) and England (Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or) all within a bordure company Argent and Azure,
Russell: Argent a lion rampant Gules on a chief Sable three roses of the first.



Parry impaling Waterton, borne by John ap Harry of Poston who married Elizabeth Waterton

Parry: Argent a fess between three lozenges Azure
Waterton: Barry of six Argent and Gules, three crescents Sable.


The lozenge shape indicates arms of a lady, presumably the wife of Sir Thomas Morgan, Bt., whose family was Cholmeley.

Morgan: Argent three bulls heads cabosssed Sable, on an inescutcheon Argent a sinister hand couped at the wrist Gules;
impaling Cholmeley: Gules two helmets in chief Proper, garnished Or, in base a garb of the last.


Probably the arms used by Beresford Lowther (vicar 1836-74) himself:
Quarterly: 1. Or 6 annulets Sable (for Lowther);
2. Gules a chevron between three combs Argent (for Ponsonby);
3. Argentsemy of cross crosslets fitchy Sable, three fleurs de lys of the last within a bordure engrailed Sable (for Beresford);
4. Argent a chief Azure, over all a lion Gules ducally crowned Or armed and langued of the second (for St George).


Revd William Seward (vicar 1704-29).

Gules on a fess Argent between 2 chevronels Ermine 3 leopard's faces of the field.


Revd James Bullock (vicar 1785-1815).

Gules a chevron between 3 bull's heads cabossed Or.


Another representation of Lee (see No 1), perhaps this time for Revd Harry Lee (1793-1880), the husband of Julia Lowther.


Not a true coat of arms, but described by Lowther as 'a fancy coat' being a monogram of the letters JC, probably representing the Revd John Chelmick (vicar 1690-1704) for whom no arms have been discovered.



Williams of Aswarby, co Lincs. Presumably for the Revd Thomas Williams (vicar 1750-85).It is a common name, and doubtful if the arms were really his.

Gules on a bend Argent, a lion passant Sable.


Supposedly Col Mountjoy Martyn (c.1809-1874). If correct, it is unclear why, as Martyn appears to have no obvious association with this area.

Sable 3 buckles Argent garnished Or.



Evans of Eyton (near Leominster), representing the Revd William Evans (vicar 1815-31).
Quarterly: 1. Argent 3 war saddles 2 and 1 Sable, Stirrups Or;
2. Or a lion rampant regardant Sable;
3. Argent a chevron Sable between three Cornish Choughs proper each holding in the bill an Ermine spot;
4. Sable a lion rampant Argent within a bordure engrailed or.



Salter, probably representing the Revd John Salter whose connection with the parish is unknown.

Gules 10 billets Or 4,3,2 & 1, a bordure engrailed Argent charged with 8 hurts.


Another example of Lowther but with a cadency mark of a mullet to indicate a third son - perhaps Brabazon Lowther.


Not yet identified. The church guide book lists Robert Lloyd, d.1729, but it does not appear from Burke's General Armory to be the arms of any Lloyds.



Bridger, representing William Milton Bridger, the husband of Beresford Lowther's sister Sophia, and/or their son Lt Marcus Leigh Bridger, RN.

Argent a chevron engrailed Sable between 3 sea-crabs Gules



Clive, probably Revd Archer Clive, second son of Edward Bolton Clive of Whitfield.

Argent on a fess Sable three mullets Or.


Sir Edward Boughton, Bt., of Poston.

Sable three crescents Or.



Appleyard, probably for Robert Prescott Appleyard who in 1851 married Emma Hilbert Horsford, a sister of Beresford Lowther's wife Laura. Lowther himself conducted the ceremony at St Mary Marylebone, signing the register as vicar of Vowchurch.

Azure a chevron between three Owls Argent membered Or.



Howorth family of Whitehouse.

Or a Cross Crosslet Gules


Deanery of Hereford.

Or five chevronels Azure.


Diocese of Hereford.

Gules 3 leopards' heads reversed jessant as many fleur de lys Or.


Lady Arthur Somerset - a lozenge (female) version of No 4 above.


Differs from most of the other shields as it is carved; it also includes the characters "RV 1613" across the top and has therefore been taken to represent the Arms of Rowland Vaughan.However, the arms on the dexter side (which should have been for Vaughan) are those of one of the family's mythical ancestors Bleddyn ap Maenyrch:
Sable a chevron between 3 spear-heads Argent;
these are impaled with the Vaughan Arms: Sable a chevron between three boys heads couped at the shoulders crined Or entwined about the neck of each a serpent Proper.


Arms of Sir William Russell first and last baronet of Laugharne, impaling those of his wife Hester daughter of Sir Thomas Rouse of Rouse Lench, 1st Bart.Their daughter Mary married (as her second husband) Lord Arthur Somerset (see Nos. 4 and 25).
Russell: Argent a lion rampant Gules on a chief Sable three roses of the first.
Rouse: Sable two bars indented Argent.



Fiennes, probably in honour of Revd Frederick Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 10th Baron Saye & Sele (b.1799), who became a Prebendary of Hereford Cathedral in 1825, Diocesan Treasurer in 1832 and a Canon Residentiary in 1840.
Azure three lions rampant Or.


Shield is currently missing from the church, but was another of Lowther's 'fancy coats' - a red shield with the letters JW - which may have been for one of the Williams incumbents, or alternatively for James Webb (1783-1851), farmer of Monnington Court, Vowchurch.


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