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Armorial Bearings

Pitt Suit of ArmsThe armorial bearings of distinguished members of the Inn are to be found in many places.

Round the panelled walls of the Great Hall are the arms of those members of the Inn who have held office as a High Court judge or as Treasurer of the Inn, with some others, including Preachers to the Inn who became bishops. The large panels of former ages have now been abandoned for smaller panels and some of the larger panels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are housed elsewhere, as in the benchers' rooms.

The windows of the Old Hall, the Great Hall and the Library contain the arms of eminent members of the Inn of past ages and the windows in the chapel include the arms of all the Treasurers of the Inn since 1680. These begin in the east window and are continued in the northeast and southwest windows; the southeast window displays the arms of other distinguished members of the Inn. In the Old Hall, the arms of Sir Thomas More, who in 1511 was elected Treasurer but declined office, are shown in the two northern windows on the east side.

The bay window at the southeast corner displays the arms of eight of the sixteen members of the Inn who have been Prime Minister. Nearly half of Lord Chancellors since 1800 have been members of the Inn and, although their arms may be found in various parts of the Inn, have not been collected together.

The north window on the west of the Great Hall assembles the arms of some of the members of the Inn who have distinguished themselves in walks of life other than the law, including William Penn, David Garrick, Cardinal Newman, Lord Macaulay and Rider Haggard. The “Sir Winston Churchill” there came from earlier days (1620-88); he was father of the first Duke of Marlborough.

The arms of past Treasurers of the Inn may also be seen on various exteriors in the Inn, in conjunction with the letter T, some initials and a date. This indicates that some or all of the structure in question was constructed or restored during the year indicated, while the owner of the initials was Treasurer. Sometimes the arms are omitted, and sometimes the name appears in full; the practice varies. A single initial means that the Treasurer was a peer.

 

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