of the
A Record of the Heraldry contained on HATCHMENTS MONUMENTS BANNERS WINDOWS
in the Bedford Chapel, Chenies, Buckinghamshire.

Recorded by The Middlesex Heraldry Society
August - September, 1980.

  This version compiled from the original print by optical character recognition by Andrew Gray, December 2006. Inevitably there will be transcription errors, which he would be glad to have pointed out. Click the arms to send an email.  
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  CONTENTS Note:- The illustrations in this record are interpretations of the blazon and not exact copies of the originals.




The Middlesex Heraldry Society has been greatly privileged to produce this report. Thanks to the kindness and co-operation of the Bedford Estates Office, we have been permitted access to the Bedford Chapel to catalogue, draw, photograph and record the heraldry of this unique heraldic treasure house.

Much use has been made of the work of Sir George Scharf who recorded the monuments in 1892. Since then the chapel has been enlarged and restored; several monuments have been added; and new glass has been installed. Little had been recorded of the banners, hatchments, corbels or windows. Virtually nothing had been written of the post 1892 alterations. It was felt, therefore, that we could make a useful contribution to the records, while indulging our own heraldic interest.

Our aim was to record the heraldry as it exists in the chapel. We have not attempted any genealogical research, as this has been thoroughly investigated by Gladys Scott Thomson and others. In general, we have accepted the identification of arms made by Scharf. Where we differ from his work, in identification or in blazon, we have indicated in parenthesis.

From the beginning, this has been a Society project, in which most of the members have actively participated. All have employed their special skills and talents in art, photography, recording, researching and checking.
Finally, acknowledgement must be made to Mrs. Draper for her kind assistance at the Bedford Estates Office, and to Mrs. Atkins for her help and friendliness at the chapel.

September 1980

F. Bell
A. Dickson



The complete achievement would seem to vary slightly according to different sources. These are described and illustrated below.





  Arms Argent, a lion rampant Gules, on a chief Sable three escallops of the first.  
    Above the shield, arising out of a ducal coronet a peer's helm.  
  Crest On a wreath of the colours "a goat passant Argent armed Or" according to Burke (11), but Burke (10) and Fox Davies (12) describe the goat as "statant armed and unguled Or".  
    Note Statant indicates an animal with all four feet on the ground  
      Passant indicates an animal walking with the dexter forepaw raised.  
  Mantling Argent and Gules  
  Supporters Dexter - a lion Gules and Sinister - an heraldic antelope Gules, armed, unguled, ducally gorged and lined Or.
Fox Davies (12)

Burke (10) gives an almost identical blazon:- Dexter - a lion and Sinister - an antelope, both Gules, the latter ducally gorged, lined, armed and hoofed Gold.

Burke (11) however, describes the supporters:- On the Dexter side a lion rampant Gules, gorged with a collar Argent charged with three escallops Sable and the Sinister side a goat Argent, armed, unguled and bearded Or. Note This version has been used in Hatchment HS for a Duke of Bedford.

  Motto Che Sara Sara (what will be will be).  
  Badge A goat courant, the horns wreathed Or and Azure.  


The great family of Russell originated in Dorset; the first mention of the present Duke's ancestors is as important merchants involved in the French wine trade at Weymouth in the mid-fourteenth century. In the sixteenth century John Russell, the first Earl of Ledford, emerged as one of the ablest administrators of a stormy political age. He served under Henry VIII, Edward VI and Queen Mary, and after a lifetime of service to the Tudor dynasty, died in 1555 with an earldom and a considerable fortune. He had received Woburn Abbey under the terms of the will of Henry VIII, but this was only one small part of his considerable estates. His successor to the Earldom, Francis Russell, was an ardent Protestant, supporting; the cause of Lady Jane Grey on the death of Edward VI. He was forgiven this by Catholic Queen Mary (perhaps because of his Father's high standing at Court) and later held important office in the government of Elizabeth I. His son, Edward, inherited the title, and did little except marry an extravagant yet astute wife, Lucy Harrington, who brought together many of the magnificent early portraits in the Woburn collection. The fourth Earl was the first Russell to adopt the Abbey as his home. Originally he, as heir to the Earldom had fled to Woburn with his family to escape the plague which infested London in 1625. His son succeeded to the title in 1641, and it was his eldest son William Lord Russell who was responsible for the Russell's Dukedom. In 1683 Lord William was executed for opposing the Catholicism of James II. On the accession of William and Mary an Act was passed pardoning him, and his father was created Duke by way of apology. Both the Second and Third Dukes died young, the latter gambling away a vast amount of the family fortune before dying in 1732 at the age of twenty four. John, the Fourth Duke retrieved the financial position and rebuilt the Abbey in lavish style to Flitcroft's designs. The Fifth Duke was also a man of wisdom and taste and he employed Henry Holland to re-model the South Wing of the Abbey. Unfortunately he died at the age of thirty seven, having continued the Russell tradition of agricultural reform. The Sixth Duke's third son was Lord John Russell who was to become a Whig Prime Minister and many political coups must have been plotted at Woburn at this time.  The Seventh Duke is notable for entertaining Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Woburn; in fact he married one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting. The Eighth Duke, a bachelor, dwelt mainly in London with a succession of mistresses. and his cousin, Hastings, inherited the Dukedom in 1872. He too was an enthusiastic agriculturalist, as was the present Duke's grandfather who was the last autocrat to hold the title. He died in 1940 with the stringencies of war fast eroding the trappings of ducal splendour.   The present Duke, the Thirteenth, succeeded to the title on the death of his father in 1953.

Extract front Woburn Abbey Guide.


in July, 1466, Sir John Cheyne devised the manor to his wife Agnes, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Laxham in Norfolk This Agnes Lady Cheyne being childless, left the estate in her will dated 20th November 1494 to Sir David Phelip and his wife Anne Semark who was her niece and to their heirs with remainder in tail to Sir Guy Sapcote, Anne's son by her first husband, with remainder to John Cheyne of Bois in fee.  Sir David and Anne dying without issue, the  Manor came to Anne daughter of Sir Guy Sapcote at that time married to Sir Joan Broughton. Anne Sapcote married secondly, Sir Richard Jerningham who died in 1524 and in 1526 she became the wife of Sir John Russell, created Baron Russell of Cheyneys in 1539 and Earl of Ledford in 1550 and on her death in 1559 it passed to her son Francis Russell the second Earl, to whom for the greater security of the title, John Cheyne the heir male of its ancient proprietor finally and formally conveyed it in 1560.

(Extract from: 'A descriptive and Historical Account of the Russell Monuments in the Bedford Chapel at Chenies' by George Scharf C.B. ) (1)



The Parish Church of St. Michael, Chenies, Buckinghamshire was entirely rebuilt in the 15th century and almost entirely gone over in the 19th century (1861, 1887). The only remnant of 12th century work is the Norman font. The chapel is built of flint rubble with stone facings and tiled roof. At the West end is a flint tower with higher stair turret.

The Bedford Chapel attached to the North side of the church, was built in 1556 by Anne Sapcote, Countess of Bedford in accordance with her husband's will. He did not assign any express place, only that his remains should have a Christian burial.

An inscribed stone tablet, apparently original, is built into the outer face of the East wall of the chapel, below the window. This records:


Anno Dni 1556
Thys Chappel ys, built by Anne
Countysse of Bedforde wyfe to
John Erle of Bedford accordyg to
ye last wyll of the sayd erle.

The chapel was subsequently rebuilt, and was enlarged in 1906. From contemporary photographs c 1901 this extension would appear to have been the North Aisle and Chancel. This would have occasioned the repositioning of some of the monuments, and the removal of some from St. Mary's Church, Watford.  Scharf's book pre-dates these moves.

Pevsner describes the Chapel as the richest single storehouse of funeral monuments in any parish church of England. Monuments range from one from the 15th century too member of the Cheyne family, through elaborate 17th and 16th c. sculpture, to one to the 9th Duke who died in 1891. It is remarkable that throughout the chapel, all recumbent figures have their feet turned away from the East.

The floor is of black and white marble; beautiful grey mottled marble quatrefoil piers support the arches dividing the chapel from the Aisle. There is an open wood roof, with hammer beams, the ends of the corbels decorated with half figures of angels bearing coloured shields of the Russell and associated families.

The co-ordinated series of six stained glass windows on the North side is by C.E. Kempe c. 1897.

The large Last window is dedicated to the 9th Duke and Duchess of Bedford, as is a carved stone achievement on the outer face of the West gable wall.

The Russell standard and banners hang from the walls and ten funeral hatchments are fixed to the roof.

On the floor of the chancel is the helm and sword which hung over the stall of Francis 7th Duke of Bedford in St. George's Chapel, Windsor on his election as a Knight of the Garter on 26th March 1847. The wreath of Argent and Gules, and the goat crest are moulded in the flat. There are also three helms, two of which have spikes for retaining the crest.

Further coronets are fixed at cornice level on the South wall.

The Bedford Chapel is not open to the public, except by special permission.


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