Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Royal Guelphic Order

The latest College of Arms web newsletter has an article about the centenary of the Order of the British Empire which includes interesting material about the Royal Guelphic Order, established by the Prince Regent in 1815. After 1837 it was seen as an Order of the Kingdom of Hanover, where it came to be ranked second in that realm's system of honours. Since 1866 it has survived as a House rather than as a State Order.

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Insignia of a Knight Grand Cross Military Division of the Royal Guelphic Order
Tallinn Museum of Orders

Image: Wikimedia

I was especially interested to see the painting of the Knight in full ceremonial robes, and I have edited the post to concentrate on the Royal Guelphic Order alone.

17. Guelphic Order p. 237 compressed

This pen and ink sketch, tinted with watercolour, shows a member of the Royal Guelphic Order in full regalia. He wears the blue mantle, star (sewn onto the mantle), collar and badge. 

 College of Arms MS 'The Guelphic Order' p. 237

The image is from a volume which belonged to Sir George Nayler, an Officer of Arms from 1792 and Garter King of Arms from 1822. All British orders of chivalry have officers, usually including a King of Arms (who need not be an Officer of Arms of the College of Arms). Nayler was involved with several orders, and was Genealogist of the Order of the Bath from 1792, King of Arms of the Royal Guelphic Order from 1815, and King of Arms of the Order of St Michael and St George from 1818.

18. Guelphic Order p. 206 compressed

This illustration shows the badge of the Royal Guelphic Order, Military Division (as symbolised by the crossed swords), front and back. The front of the badge depicts the white horse of Hanover inside a blue enamel circle bearing the order's motto, NEC ASPERA TERRENT, and the back bears the cypher GR. The volume containing these images, which is of the nature of a scrapbook on the Order, includes a piece of the blue ribbon from which the badge should be hung, stuck onto the page.

College of Arms MS 'The Guelphic Order' p. 206

19. Guelphic Order p. 24 compressed

This painting is of the ceremonial collar of the Royal Guelphic Order. The collar of the Royal Guelphic Order includes the cypher of the monarch reigning at the time of its foundation (George III), together with lions passant gardant and crowns. The badge is of the Civil Division, being without swords.

College of Arms MS 'The Guelphic Order' p. 24

20. Guelphic Order p. 23 compressed

Signature of George, Prince Regent, approving the badge of the new Royal Guelphic Order in 1815. The volume into which this document is bound was owned by Sir George Nayler, who in 1815 was York Herald and the King of Arms of the Royal Guelphic Order.
College of Arms MS 'The Guelphic Order' p. 23
Images: College of Arms

There is an account of the Order, its original divisions and of its history after 1837, including its re-structuring in 1841 and its survival as a House Order after 1866 at Royal Guelphic Order

There are pictures of some of the insignia at The Royal Guelphic Order. A collar of the Order is, I believe, on display in the KOYLI Museum in Doncaster. 

Grand Cross: Star

Star of a Knight Grand Cross - Military Division
This is an early example


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 A post-1860 GCH Star of continental manufacture

Image: The Saleroom/Spink

After 1837 and the accession of King Ernest Augustus I to the throne of Hanover the Order became more clearly a Hanoverian one. It was joined in 1839 by a new Order, possibly intended to replicate the part played by the Order of the Garter in England and taking precedence over the Royal Guelphic,  the Order of St. George, and late in 1865, on the eve of the loss of the kingdom the following year, by the Order of Ernst August which ranked third in the hierarchy.

The last British holder of the GCH was Field Marshal HRH Prince George Duke of Cambridge, who died in 1904.

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A star of a Knight Commander - KCH - Military Division


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