Heraldic Shields in the Banqueting Hall of Bradford City Hall. Researched and written by Janet Senior; window photography by Steve Reeder. City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, 2016. 28 pages. £5.00. Available from City Hall Reception or from the author (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This slim booklet is a treasure; a full colour informative and beautifully produced treasure of local history. Heraldic shields may seem an esoteric subject for most of us, and the fact that so few people will ever get to see the ones featured here, high up in the exclusive City Hall Banqueting Hall, is a reason to ignore them. But the beautiful photography of Steve Reeder, and the informative prose of historian Janet Senior, make this an enjoyable browse.
This booklet, apart from a brief introduction, consists of 86 full-colour photographs of hand-painted glass windows in the form of heraldic shields, mostly the work of the stained glass relief artist Henry Gustave Hiller, which were painted at different periods in the early 20th century. Each shield represents the coat of arms of a prominent local personage or family, or in a few cases, a figure of early national importance. In the book, each image is accompanied by a brief note on the person or family concerned. Edmund Peckover, H W Ripley, Sir Henry Mitchell and Alderman W E B Priestley are examples of local persons of note; the Rawsons, the Peckovers and the Ferrands examples of prominent local families; while John of Gaunt, Phillippa of Hainault, and the Duke of Northumberland are examples of national figures. Janet explains that both John of Gaunt and Phillippa (wife of King Edward III) were both, for a while, owners of the Honor of Pontefract, of which Bradford was a part; while Bradford was part of the Percy ‘Fee’ in the 12th and 13th centuries (Percy being the family name of the Dukes of Northumberland). Less exotically, but maybe more usefully, we learn that Charles Harris, along with his uncle, Edmund Peckover, founded the Bradford Old Bank; that Roland Paley was an iron merchant who, with John Stranger, founded the Bowling Iron Works; and that the first Lord Cranbrook was the politician Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, son of John Hardy, one of the owners of Low Moor Iron Works.
Janet found no trace of why or how these particular people or families were selected and ‘It is not clear if the heraldic shields actually belong to all the families represented.’ It seems, however, that the artist got the wrong shield for the Prince of Wales (that of the Stuart Prince of Wales rather than of the Prince and Princess of Wales who visited Bradford in 1904)!
This is an attractive booklet of great interest. All profits will go to the Lord Mayor’s Fund.