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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Stewart Jamieson

heraldic jewels by stephen slater

Updated: Jul 1

Some years ago I chanced upon a rather sad and neglected mansion off a leafy lane south of Exeter, thinking there must be heraldry associated with it, or rather the families that had lived there, I thought the best thing was to head for the local church, whose tower I could see over the tops of the park. This lead me to a love affair with the heraldic glass of Harberton Church, which certainly included the arms of that family from the mansion (the Harveys of Dundridge Park, Harberton) and bizarrely a connection with the little known 'Bird Dung Wars' of 19th century South America! Harberton also led me off 90 miles south down to the edge of Cornwall where I found yet another wonderful window, with more than 30 shields of arms in it, the connection with Harberton I will shortly make clear. 

It was simply the quality of the glass in Harberton church that dazzled me, the detail of foliage, the diapering of the fields of the shields and their brilliant colours just wowed me- I was in the church for hours. On one wall was a plaque to the memory of the Reverend George Martin, who, in the mid 19th century put much energy into revitalising Harberton schurch, he never saw his grand plan completed for, not long before it was, he slit his own throat, apparently he'd been much distressed that he'd made a financial mistake regarding payments in the parish and couldn't live with it- the amount that led to his awful demise- 3 shillings and tuppence halfpenny!

The arms of Trist/Edgcombe

The main set of armorial panes are devoted to generations of the Trist family of Tristford, on the edge of Harberton - simply put, the Trist arms are Azure a 4foil pierced within an orle of estoiles Or, a canton (probably as a difference as the heralds did not acknowledge the simpler version used by the family. I have included in this article 4 of the armorial panels, so you can see the quality of the glass. 

The arms of 1.Trist 2.Puleston 3.Ker 4.Trist Escutcheon of Pretence Browse

For the centuries the Trists were substantial land owners both in Devon and Cornwall, many becoming merchants and vicars (notably in the Truro area) and tending to marry with their own kind and social status, let's say they were 'major gentry' .

Arms of Trist with Escutcheon of pretence for Devonshire (with quarterings)

The one 'Trist' panel I have used in the article that has the family arms, not as the main shield, but as an escutcheon of pretence, is for the wonderfully named Tryphena Trist, she was heiress to the branch that are commemorated at Harberton (her father was Reverend Browse Trist, of Bowden, near Totnes, died in 1791). The main shield behind Trypena's arms is that of her husband, Edward Wynne Pendarves, of the Pendarves estate near Camborne in North West Cornwall. We will hear more of Tryphena (and yet more names that sound as if they've come from the cast of Poldark!) later. But let's return to the other main local family heraldically commemorated in Harberton Church, the Harveys of Dundridge Park- its quite a tale of a local man made good. 

Arms of Tryphena Trist (escutcheon of pretence) and her husband Edward Wynne Pendarves

Sir Robert Harvey was the son of a Truro tailor, in 1872 he emigrated to Bolivia where he was involved in copper mining, not long after he moved to Peru where he became a foremost expert on the mining of saltpetre, he was known there as 'El Gringo Colorato' (the red bloke). The fledgling states of South America were conscious of the rich mineral resources that each country had, copper, nitrate and guano (bird turds), the latter being used to assist in soil enrichment. Guano deposits were certainly responsible for the fortunes of another West Country family, Gibbs, of Tyntesfield, Somerset. Hence the quaint little jingle "My Gibbs made his dibs, from selling turds of foreign birds"!

A somewhat curious diversion but the saltpetre which was found in urine and guano was important in the manufacture of gunpowder, so much so that, during the English Civil War, government men were permitted to dig up church floors as it was common to pee in them during the long services - I never quite know where heraldry will lead me to next!

So a series of disputes over those minerals erupted into all our war which involved Bolivia, Peru and chile. Unfortunately for Robert Harvey he was employed in Peru and found himself captured by the Chilean forces at the Battle of San Fransisco, onNovember 19th,1879. It is thought he was about to be put ot death, but was recognised for what he was and then was employed by the Chilean government. With his expertise and business acumen Robert Harvey mad a fortune and married the love of his life, a Franco-Peruvian lady, who he honoured in Harberton church with glass bearing both her family arms and those of her country, Peru. 

Arms of the Republic of Peru (re Sir Robert Parker of Dundridge Park)

In 1883 Robert Harvey returned to the UK and with the money he'd made during his South American ventures he purchased much property in the Truro area and also the mansion and estate at Dundridge. He had a mausoleum built outside Harberton, the main feature inside being a sad and poignant effigy of his 10 year old son, Tito, who died at boarding school. In recent years, because of the deterioration of the tomb, Tito's effigy was brought into the church and it lies beneath beautiful windows to him, his mother and family. Robert Harvey was well known in the Truro area, becoming a high sheriff and was knighted in 1901. His arms appear several times in Harberton Church, but to my mind, one of the most spectacular pieces of armorial glass therein, must surely be that of Sir Robert's crest of: On a wreath of the colours, on a mount Vert a cockatrice proper, holding in its beak 3 ears of wheat slipped, gorged with a chain and suspended therefrom a harrow all Or. But- who knows what the 'proper' colours of a cockatrice are, after all, is it not true, if one looks at you, so awful is its gaze, you are turned to stone!

Crest of Harvey of Dundridge Park

I went from Harberton 90 miles westwards, almost to the north Cornish coast, to the town of Camborne to see that other heraldic gem- the Pendarves window, in Camborne Church.

When Tryphena Trist married Edward Wynne- Pendarves she arrived at, then, one of Cornwall's finest estates, Pendarves, which her husband had beautified and upon built a typical Victorian gentleman's domain, with landscaped grounds, lakes, an estate church and the mausoleum, at nearby Treslothan, where, eventually he and his wife would lie. 

Some years after Edward Wynne-Pendarves was planted in that mausoleum (he died in 1853), his widow, Tryphena honoured his life and lineage with a splendid window in Camborne Church, commissioned from the workshop of Alfred Beer, in Exeter. 

Unlike the Trist shields in Harberton, where they are part of a mainly religious scheme, Tryphena's tribute is entirely armorial. It has no less than 29 shields and several crests.

Each shield represents a marriage of one of the Pendarves or associated family members. It further records the fact that while, technically the Pendarves line died out with Grace Pendarves (in mid 18th century), she devised the Pendarves estates on a cousin, John Stackhouse. This line married several heiresses including that of Wynne, so it was that Tryphena's husband firstly assumed the surname of Wynne, by sign manual (4th Jan, 1815) and on the 28th February of same year took the name and arms of Pendarves.

Whereas the Trists had mainly been content to marry into West Country gentry and merchant folk, the Pendarves had often gone for grander matches and Tryphena obviously had a delight in highlighting this through the arms in the Camborne window. The armorial scheme even starts not with a Pendarves, but with the arms of the grandest aristocratic family in England, the Dukes of Norfolk!  We then get an armorial rundown of the grandees of Cornwall and Devon, including Courtenay, Luttrell, Wyndham, Arundel and Godolphin. The latter 2 are fine examples of canting heraldry, the Arundel arms having their 6 swallows (hirondelles) and Godolphin, the estate taking its name from Godolghan = white eagle. 

As for the Stackhouses, their arms are worth looking for, they too being a pun, a 'stack house' (an open sided shed used for drying cereal crops etc) appearing in their shield.

Example of heraldry, Pendarves Window, Camborne Church

I have included pictures of several of the individual shields, as well as the full window, so you can see the excellence of detail.  Helpfully, at Camborne, each shield has a ribbon below telling you the name of the families, and if one looks into that lineage, the names that leap out at you, sound like a cast from Poldark- Tryphena Trist, Reskymer Courtenay and the unfortunate, Admonition Prideaux!

Example of Window at Camborne Church showing Fuller arms and Tryphana Wynne-Pendarves NB Stackhouse on both shields

Pendarves Window, Camborne Church, Cornwall

Tryphena Wynne-Pendarves died aged 94, in 1873.

Now days there is little to remind one of the centuries when the Pendarves held sway over the Camborne area. Like so many of their kind, the mansion at Pendarves was dismantled stone by stone in the 1950s, the grand gates and lodges still stand as does the little estate church of Treslothan, hard by the park entrance, it houses a very fine many quartered hatchment to Edward Wynne- Pendarves, who rests in the mausoleum in the churchyard- but is his widow with him? According to local legends, Tryphena was accused of certain 'misdemeanours' and not allowed a place in the mausoleum, she therefore haunts the graveyard to this day!

Treslothan Church, Cornwall and the Pendarves Mausoleum

Stephen Slater is a well known English heraldic author, lecturer and Fellow of the Heraldry Society in England.

This article and photographs are the copyright of Stephen Slater and may not

be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.


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1 Comment

Bernard Juby
Bernard Juby
Jun 20

Fantastic glass Steve but I still prefer the glass at Baddesley Clinton;, Warwicks.

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