Coat of Arms

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Coat of Arms of Ampleforth Abbey

St Benet’s Hall uses the same Coat of Arms of Ampleforth Abbey and Ampleforth College, but, like the College, without the abbot’s crozier and galero (ecclesiastical hat with tassels). The Arms were granted to the Abbey by the English College of Arms in 1922. The Abbey made the application to the College of Arms to regularise its armorial position as the lineal descendant of Westminster Abbey. The purpose of this move was to conform to proper authority and thus not be open to the charge of lack of consideration for post-Reformation bodies already bearing variants of the Westminster arms in their own line of heraldic descent.

The Pre-Reformation City of Westminster sometimes used a red shield with two keys in saltire to symbolise Saint Peter to whom its Abbey Church was dedicated. In addition, Westminster also used a blue shield with a gold “cross flory” between five gold martlets (heraldic birds). This forms the attributed arms of St Edward the Confessor (reign 1042-1066), the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, who is regarded as the principal patron and founder of Westminster Abbey. Both these arms appear in the chief (top portion) of the shield. The base (lower portion) of the shield is gold and blue divided “dancetté” (by a zigzag line). This represents the arms of the pre-Reformation Abbots of Westminster who would place their personal coat of arms in the top portion (chief) of the shield. The last Benedictine Abbot of Westminster to use this coat of arms was John Feckenham (c. 1515-1584) who was removed from office by Elizabeth I in 1560 at the final suppression of the Abbey. The abbey church then became known as the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster, which remains its official name to this day.

The present shield of Ampleforth Abbey, Ampleforth College, and St Benet’s Hall is thus a combination of three shields – the first representing St Peter (top left), the second representing St Edward the Confessor (top right), and the bottom representing the pre-Reformation Benedictine Abbots of Westminster.

The heraldic blazon of the arms is as follows: Per fesse dancetté Or and Azure a chief per pale Gules and of the second charged on the dexter with two keys in saltire Or and Argent and on the sinister with a Cross Flory between five martlets of the first.