Page created 14 April 2002




Pictorial crests are scarce enough, but not rare. The costs involved in producing the dies would have been considerably more than for monograms, crests, addresses or even armorials. It is thought that some may have been produced as samples, exemplars of the high quality which could be achieved. Illustrated here are examples of pictorial crests illustrating houses: others in the category show flora, fauna, machinery and landscapes.

Bolton Hall in Yorkshire is the home of Lord Bolton.

The pictorial vignette with its artfully depicted mountainous background is almost certainly later than the chaste gilt address and crowned monogram which has rather an antique look to it.

The treatment of the mountain in this depiction of Holyrood Castle, Edinburgh suggests that the die may have been executed by the same craftsman who engraved the Bolton Hall die. It is noticeable that the lettering in both is rather poorly done. The handsome crowned scroll is a more commonly encountered address for the Palace

There is also a strong suggestion of a common origin in the depictions of Acton Scott and Rainsthorpe with the illustrations sandwiched between two address scrolls. The crests are rather heavy and would perhaps have been improved and lightened if the shading had been omitted from the scrolls; that treatment would certainly have made for easier reading of the addresses.

The Rainsthorpe crest has a manuscript annotation 'Hon F Walpole'. Long Stratton is in Norfolk and Walpole was probably of the family of the Earls of Orford who had seats at Aylsham in Norfolk. Church Stretton is in Staffordshire.

One would not expect to find a pictorial crest of an American House in a Victorian crest album, but Agecroft stands in Richmond Virginia. It does now, having been translated there last century from its original location in the Irwell valley, Lancashire, just a couple of miles from Manchester. The half timbered hall had been greatly despoiled by the advances of industry and the proximity of a railway line, and by the twentieth century was no longer the desirable residence which it undoubtedly had been in previous centuries.

An end of dereliction was in sight in the 1920s when an American couple stepped in; Mr & Mrs T C Williams Jnr. had the hall dismantled and re-erected in Richmond. In the present climate of preservation this would not have been allowed, and indeed it was resisted by some at the time. One must, however, admire the commitment of the Williams's. The old photograph reproduced here shows how faithfully the engraver copied his subject. This handsome depiction was presumably commissioned by the Dauntsey family who were owners of the hall for centuries down to the time of its relocation.

Pictorial letterheads were also in use in continental Europe.
The examples shown here are  Beauchamp, Chimay, Belgium (from a British album) and Amoy, par Aschéres-le-Marché, (Loiret), France (from a French album).


Whilst most of the pictorial crests depict imposing old houses a couple have been noted where the subject is a modern Victorian villa in which the owner clearly took as much pride as the owners of stately houses did of their family homes.

Ferndale, depicted here, was the home of Josiah George Jennings (1810-1882) who, his obituary records, was "universally known as the celebrated engineer of Palace Wharf, Lambeth." The other Victorian villa which has been seen is Fairlawn, Wimbledon Common, also in London.


Holeyn Hall was also associated with a celebrated engineer, Sir Charles Parsons, who lived in the house from 1895 and invented there the first multi-stage steam turbine.. The crest illustrated probably originates with the Woods family, previous owners of the hall.

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