The Livery Collar
by C. E. J. Smith
Coat of Arms No.151, Autumn 1990.

The livery badge, and the livery collar, are amongst the most intriguing — and most confusing — offshoots of heraldry. The former has been with us from the beginning: Geoffrey of Anjou, recipient of the golden lions of Henry J. used the planta genista (the broom plant) that gave a dynasty its name. Ashmole, writing in The Institution, Laws and Ceremonies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, tells us of the fourteenth century: 'This age did exceedingly abound with impresses, mottoes and devices, and particularly King Edward III was so excessively given up to them that his apparel, plate, bed, household furniture, shields, and even the harness of his horses and the like, were not without them.'

Though it has been claimed that the 'earliest known livery collar is the French collar of broompods, cosses de genesta, which was in use as early as 1378',(1) the collar of SS around the neck of the effigy of Sir John Swinford at Spratton, Northants, precedes this. Sir John died in 1371.(2) The effigy could be later, but the collar with its fastening of a plain cord in a 'hangman's knot', looks as if copied from life (see figure). Certainly, no similar fastening exists; and the style of armour is that of the last quarter of the fourteenth century.

In Tolleshunt Knights church in Essex is the effigy of a knight with a collar of small plates each bearing a crescent. This was attributed to Sir Walter de Pateshull, who died in 1330. However, Frederic Chancellor comments that the armour is of the latter part of the century.(3) Is the crescent for Percy? or could it be the badge of Henry IV mentioned in Holinshed?

Monumental effigies and brasses are our best evidence for livery collars, but not the only source. In Ripon Cathedral is a splendid monument to Sir Thomas Markenfield (1390) with a collar of park palings, widening at the front to enclose a couchant hart.(4)

Joan Evans, in A History of Jewellery, 1100-1870, suggests that this is a form of Richard II's livery, but in Cyclopaedia of Costume, J. R. Planché makes a connection with the corporate seal of Derby: a device of a stag couchant, with trees in the background, surrounded by park palings in high relief. Could this be a livery of Henry of Lancaster as Earl of Derby? Some credence is given to this by the appearance of a remarkably similar collar round the necks of Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland, and eight of his sons, in a French miniature.(5) The sons are those of his second marriage, to Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt. However, in this collar the harts seem to be leaping through, rather than lodged within, the palings. The resemblance is sufficient to suggest that this is a livery rather than a personal collar.

A more individual collar is found on the brass of Thomas, Lord Berkeley, at Wotton-under-Edge, Glos., dated by some as 1392, by others as 1417. It is sown with four splendid mermaids, a Berkeley cognizance from much earlier. In the Boroughbridge Roll, 1322, Berkeley bears: gules queyntée de la mermounde. However, the device may derive from the 'Mermaids of the Sea' to which the Black Prince refers in his will. This collar might indicate Thomas's known attachment to that Prince, who bequeathed to his son, Richard II, 'the worsted hangings embroidered with mermaids, swans with ladies' heads, and ostrich feathers.'(6)

Two other collars of individual character are of interest. One, at Houghton Regis, Bucks., is still with us; the other, on a brass (1410) at Mildenhall, Suffolk, is, alas, lost. The former, on a freestone effigy, supposedly of Sir John Sewell of Eaton Bray, who was alive at 1433, seems to be a collar of cord, so arranged that a Stafford knot appears at the front, on each side, and presumably at the back. The latter is a collar of pruned boughs, or ragged staffs, joined at the front with a large crown with a dog- or wolf-like animal within it.(7)

The animal may be an ermine, providing a link with the collar of that creature on the tomb of John IV, Duke of Brittany, d. 1399, which was made in England in 1408, but, unfortunately, also destroyed (illustrated Fred H. Crossley, English Church Monuments). Another theory, less tenuous, is that of Miss Joan Corder, FSA who believes the device to be that of Joan of Navarre: an ermine (sable or gennet) collared and under a crown.(8) This is found pounced all over the tester above the effigies of Henry IV and his Queen in Canterbury Cathedral. Planché, in The Pursuivant of Arms, reminds use that the gennet was a Lancastrian badge, believed by Willement to be 'an old device of an English king, in allusion to the name Plantagenet.' He himself thought it 'more likely to be a cognizance of the queen ... in allusion to her name "Jeanette"'. As to the form of the collar: when Henry IV was Earl of Derby he gave silver-gilt collars to Sir William Bagot and Sir John Stanley 'ad mod' de snagg' — with the links made like snags.(9) The first definition of 'snag' in OED' talks of a stump from a stout branch after cutting or pruning — a ragged staff. If the animal should indeed be a wolf there could be an association with Mortimer. A. C. Fox-Davies in Heraldic Badges gives a wolf argent for the family, but with no further reference.

There is further written evidence for the existence of varied collars. In Royal Beasts Hugh Stanford London, following G. F. Beltz, refers to Cotton Ms. Tiberius C. ix, fo. 25 as recording that in 1390, at the jousts held at Smithfield, Richard II distributed to the competitors his badge of the white hart pendent from a collar of golden broomcods. In the Gentleman's Magazine, February, 1842, J. G. Nichols denies the existence of these collars, though in March he does allow that in 1393 Charles VI of France sent 'four collars of the Cosses de Geneste to King Richard II and his three uncles, the Dukes of Lancaster, Gloucester, and York.'

Three such collars are mentioned in An Inventory of the jewels, etc, belonging to King Edward III, King Richard, Queen Anne... (October 6th 1399), made for Henry IV within a week of his accession.(10) This also lists collars of the Duke of York and of Queen Anne. The collar of the Duke is described as 'ove vii linkettz and vi faucons blancz' — seven fetterlocks and six white falcons. The queen's two collars have been variously described as: one, 'a collar of her ostrich feathers'11 or a collar 'accompanied by the figure of an Ostrich';12 and, two, a collar 'being made of nine pieces of work in gold, in the form of branches of rosemary.'13 But J. R. Planché (Cyclopaedia of Costume) believed that she had 'a collar of her livery consisting of branches of rosemary with — as it would appear from another entry — another inventory — that of the gifts given to Isabella of France on her marriage to Richard II. The Duke of Aumarle gave a collar of 'broompods with roundels between, each charged with a rosemary pearl-set and an ostrich with a ruby on its shoulder.'14 And when Richard II received his second bride, Isabella, from Charles VI of France, he gave that king a collar of his dead queen's livery worth 5,000 marks.15

The inventory made for Henry IV mentions no actual collars of SS; but one item is 'viii letters of S for a collar, each of xv pearls'; and another is for a pair of silver-gilt basins, one standing on a foot, with a collar of letters of S of the livery of Monsr de Lancastre, and the cover with a coronet above graven with letters of S around, and the arms of Monsr de Lancastre within.16 So we return to the collar that adorns Sir John Swinford, the first English livery collar, Hartshorne's 'crux antiquariorum', here acknowledged as the livery, not of the King, but of 'time-honoured Lancaster', John of Gaunt.

Such a collar, this time shown as a buckling collar bearing five S's, surrounding the arms of the Duke, impaling those of Blanche of Lancaster, appeared in a window of the old St Paul's Cathedral.17 That Gaunt wore and gave collars of livery is apparent from a complaint made by the Earl of Arundel before Parliament in 1394. He asserted: 'that the King was wont to wear the Livery of the Collar of the Duke of Gaunt and Lancaster, and that people of the King's retinue wear the same Livery'. The King replied that after his uncle's return from Spain in 1389 he himself took the collar from the Duke's neck and put it on his own, 'which collar the King would wear and use for a sign of the good and whole-hearted love between them — as he did the Liveries of his other uncles.'18

Certainly this livery was worn by followers of John of Gaunt. Sir John Swinford has already been mentioned; Sir John Marmion, whose effigy lies in West Tanfield church with a splendid broad collar of finely-carved S's, sailed to Spain with his master; and Sir Thomas Burton, whose brass at Little Casterton, is the first such monument to show a collar (1381) was created 'governeur de nostre tres cher and tres ame filz Henry' by Gaunt in 1374. The wearing of this livery was not always trouble-free; in 1377 after the Duke had angered the London mob, one of his adherents, Sir Thomas Swintone, was seized and his collar torn off — other of the Duke's retainers concealed their collars in fear.19

Gaunt's 'tres cher and tres ame filz' Henry made much use of the collar, both before and after his ascent to the throne. In John Gower's Chronica Tripartita, referring to the events of 1387, he speaks of Henry as 'qui gerit S' — he who wears the S. In 1390-1 Henry had engraved a gold signet with a feather and a collar;20 and a year later his wardrobe accounts record the making of a collar of gold with 17 letters of S after the manner of feathers ... with a swan in the tiret.21 The swan occurs again in the same year: 'A gold collar ad modum de round suagges and within the same suagges 1 sign (swan?) et 1 S usque 8 sign' et 7 S. £23 10s 10d';22 and on the collar of SS that Henry gave to Gower in 1393-4.

The forms became more elaborate. In 1397-8 Herman Goldsmith provided a silver collar of esses with flowers of soveigne vous de moy, pendent and enamelled, weighing eight ounces.23 This is echoed by a collar created by Christopher Tildesley, Citizen and Goldsmith of London, worked with the motto Soveignez, and the letter S, garnished with pearls, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and costing £385 6s 8d.24 In The History of England under Henry the Fourth, J. H. Wylie expresses the belief that this collar was given by Henry IV to his bride as a wedding gift. The same Christopher made a collar of gold for the King with 24 letters of S pounced with Soverain, and four bars, two pendants, and a tiret with a nouche garnished with a balas and six large pearls.25 It would be interesting if this pair of collars were made for the same occasion, but there is no evidence for this.

However, the bulk of collars were the plain SS of the first Gaunt livery. Between Henry's return from exile and his seizure of the throne, he retained so many supporters that his receiver-general distributed 192 collars: 91 in silver-gilt, 81 in silver, and the rest in an unstated metal — probably latten. He also gave out 27 crescents.26 Is it too romantic to think that we see representations of some of these collars on effigies and brasses today? But the evidence of such monuments must always be suspect, particularly as to date and style.

Sir Robert Waterton of Methley, Yorks, has a splendid collar of reversed SS alternating with crowns, but Pauline E. Routh in Medieval Effigial Alabaster Tombs in Yorkshire comments: 'Possibly this merely signifies his long service to the House of Lancaster without representing an actual collar. It certainly cannot be the first, or even the second one he received, because it is on record that "... pro pondere argenti unius colerii facti cum esses rollati and dati Roberto de Waterton eo quod Dominus dederat Colerium ipsius Roberti alio Armigero ... (A collar made with rolled esses and given to Robert Waterton because the Lord had given the collar of the same Robert to another esquire).

Generally the collar consisted of a strip of leather, silk or velvet, set with S's gold, silver-gilt, silver or latten, and ending in two buckles linked by an ornamental trefoil known as a tiret or toret from which a badge could be suspended. The S's were of many different shapes and sizes, sometimes reversed or horizontal, were pounced, fluted, rolled, riband or Gothic, and were set at varying distances from each other, therefore producing collars of different widths, lengths and numbers. In earlier forms the S's seem to have been riveted or sewn upon the base, and the collar fitted tightly to the camail. Though, in Southwell Minster there is a corbel showing a crowned head with the collar shown as a strap, close-buckled round the throat, with the end passed under and then hanging down in front, in the usual style of the Garter. Later the collars were all metal with the S's, often elaborately formed, strung or linked together. There may have been embroidered collars. For the marriage cortege of Isabella royal liveries were embroidered round the neck and on the sleeves with a chapelet de l'ordre du Roi a geneste. In the Book of Benefactors of Benefactors of St Albans Abbey the figure of Johannes Gyniford has a broad collar of S's that looks very much as if it is the decorated neckband of his costume.

The colour of the background riband seems to have varied. On the drawing of the St Paul's window the collar is tricked sable and the letters or.27 In the glass of Wells Cathedral Chapter House, a similar collar associated with the arms of Mortimer is party azure and argent; as is the collar on a MS. in the British Museum shown surrounding a painting of the arms of Holland quartering Lovel. At Spratton there are still traces of blue on the collar, but no assurance as to when it was applied. Edward Richardson, writing about his restorations in The Monumental Effigies and Tombs in Elford Church, noted that the collars were green and the lettering gilt. In the coloured plates in Charles A. Stothard's Monumental Effigies of Great Britain the collar of Robert, Lord Hungerford is shown green, but that of Sir Edmund Thorpe at Ashwellthorpe is gold on blue. The Patent Roll of 7 Henry IV records the theft of a collar of black silk dotted with silver letters of S.28 In The Colour of Chivalry the collar of Fitzalan is shown as red, but I can find no basis for this.

The S seems to have had a variety of associations. As early as 1348 Queen Philippa had a set of room hangings of red sindon stamped with the letter S in gold leaf, and accounts for 1350-2 mention a cloak made for her 'powdered with gold roses of 8 petals and bordered with white pearls, in the middle of each rose an S of large pearls.'29 Catherine Swinford, wife of John of Gaunt, presented to Lincoln Cathedral a cope of red velvet 'sett with white hertes lying in coloers full of thes letturs SS, with pendentes sylver and gylte, the hertes having crownes abowte ther nekes with cheyns sylver and gylte.'30 There appear to have been collars of SS on the tomb of Catherine's daughter in the same Cathedral. The connection with the couchant white hart is found again on the strange stone from Venice, now in Corby Castle, where a white hart within palings is chained to a helmet surrounded by an SS collar, worn by a swan, which is chained to another SS collar.31 The swan is a frequent pendant, and the initial letter of a charter granted to Gloucester by Henry in 1399 contains a crown encircled by a collar of SS ending in two lockets between which is a pendant charged with a swan. A similar pendant decorates the collar of John Gower at Southwark, and the swan as badge is worn by Joan Peryent at Digswell and a Warenne knight at Lewes in conjunction with the Lancastrian collar. It also appears as pendant to collars used as designs on medieval tiles at Kenilworth, Coventry, and Nuneaton Priory Church. The relationship is shown in another form on a circular brass pendant now in the British Museum. Here, on a field azure, is shown a swan ducally gorged, holding in its bill a buckling collar with six S's on a pale blue ground.

However, the collar around the arms of Holland/Lovel mentioned above has for a pendant a gold fetterlock party inside of red and black. In 1401 Eltham was glazed with scutcheons, garters and collars of the king's badges, and with collars, crowns and flowers bearing Soveignez vous de moy. In 1402 there were insertions of broompods and eagles with scrolls marked Soverayne.32 The eagle is found, as is the motto, on the canopy above Henry IV's tomb, where it forms the pendant of the three SS collars painted there. This form is repeated on the spandrel of the tomb of Oliver Groos, Sloley, Norfolk; and a pewter badge showing the eagle within a collar of nine S's was recently found in London. (It is illustrated in The Antiquaries Journal, Vol LXV. p 405)33 Henry inherited his eagle from his father, and his grandfather, Edward III. Collars were also used as a decoration on cloths and cushions provided 'for the advantage and accommodation of the Lords and nobility appointed to consult together on behalf of our said Lord the King in the Star Chamber within the King's Palace at Westminster.'34

There is no mention of the greyhound, though the Chronicon Adae de Usk records: 'This duke Henry, according to the prophecy of Merlin, was the eaglet, as being the son of John. But, following Bridlington, he was rightfully the dog, on account of his badge of a linked collar of greyhounds ... and because he utterly drove out from the kingdom the faithless harts ...' Neither the effigy nor the portrait of Henry IV shows him with any collar of livery; but the statue of him on the choir screen in York Minster has a simple collar of SS ending in a tiret without a badge of any sort.

A fine example of the early strap-like collar is worn by Sir Thomas Arderne (c. 1400), Elford, Staffs. The S's are reversed, as they are on the collar of his wife; from both tirets hangs a small jewel. This is a very early instance of a lady with a collar. Early collars are also found on Sir John Mainwaring, Over Peover, Cheshire; on two Roos effigies at Bottesford, Leics; and around the neck of Sir Thomas Wendesley at Bakewell, Derby. Sir Thomas died defending Henry IV at Shrewsbury. At Staindrop, Durham, the collar is worn by Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland, and his two wives. This is the same Ralph Neville who wears the collar of park palings in the miniature. The Massyngberd brass, Gunby, Lincs, is interesting as it is possible to see that the brass was made without a collar, and later cut for its insertion. On the effigy of William, Lord Botreaux, North Cadbury, Somerset, illustrated in the county Archaeological Society's Proceedings, the S's appear to be on their sides. The same is true of the Guise collar at Apsley Guise, Beds. Later, more beautiful, intricate forms can be seen on Lord Bardolph, KG, Dennington, Suffolk, and Sir Richard and Lady Vernon, Tong, Salop.

The SS collar remained the Lancaster cognizance for over fifty years. Though Henry wore a collar of broomcods to his crowning, shortly after he ordained that 'All the sons of the king, dukes, earls, barons and baronets, might use the livery of our Lord the King of his collar as well in his absence as in his presence; and all other knights and esquires should use it only in the presence of the King ...'35 There is a story that at Agincourt Henry V gave to such of his followers as were not already ennobled permission to wear 'une collier seme de lettres S de son ordre.'36 The portrait of Henry VI in the National Gallery has him wearing a collar of S's and reversed S's, interspersed with jewels; he also possessed a collar of combined SS and broom-cods. Thomas, Baron Camoys, Trotton, Sussex, who commanded the left wing at Agincourt, wears the collar on his brass, and, strangely enough, so does his wife, who was a daughter of Mortimer and formerly wife of Hotspur. They are merely two of one hundred brasses and effigies from this time showing that those they commemorate owed allegiance to the House of Lancaster.

There has been great argument over the meaning of the mysterious S. In earlier times it was ascribed to various saints: Camden accepting the idea of Nicholas Harpsfield that the origin was one St Simplicius, whereas Favin claimed the 'order' was founded by Henry V in honour of the martyrs of Soissons, St Crispin and St Crispinian. In the early seventeenth century Manestrier in De la Chevalrie introduced a more worldly note by suggesting the initial of the Countess of Salisbury — King of Arms, favoured Souveigne vous de moy and this choice has been followed by G. F. Beltz, Professor W. W. Skeat and H. B. McCall. Willement offers the word Soverayne, the King's reason or motto pounced on the tester of the Canterbury tomb, suggesting the association with John of Gaunt's belief in his title as King of Castile and Leon. Mr C. H. Blair has pointed out that the motto was ma sovereyne, the feminine, a reference to some preferred lady, or even the Virgin Mary. John G. Nichols argues for Seneschallus, as Gaunt was High Steward; and Albert Hartshorne opted for Sanctus, the name of God, an idea developed by Daniel Rock in The Church of Our Fathers. But would this be used reversed, as it is even on the collar of Joan of Navarre?

True, she was accused of witchcraft, but this it too eccentric a hare to pursue. Dr R. B. Hepple suggested that SS was the initial and final letter of Serviens, a Latin echo of the Black Prince's Ich dien. A. P. Purey-Cust linked the idea of Seigneur/Seneschallus with Soveraine, the first the ostensible, the latter the real, meaning. Others suggest Silentium, Societas, Sanctus Spiritus, Signum and Swinford, and reference has been made to the S-shaped lever of a horse's bit, and the natural fall of chain links. More recently C. M. Jenkins made an intriguing case for the resemblance of the letter S and the swan (signo). A. R. Wagner, when Richmond Herald, wrote a fascinating article on The Swan Badge and the Swan Knight. I must admit that when I read that Gower's phrase 'Qui gerit S' had Strenuissimus comes Derbeie in the margin, I presumed that the first of these words was a gloss for the S — implying "very brisk, nimble, quick, prompt, active, vigorous', a worthy motto for an ambitious family.37

Be that as it may, after the battles of Northampton, Mortimer's Cross and Towton, the S of Lancaster fell into abeyance, and there appeared the Yorkist device, the collar of suns and roses. There seems to have been no revival of the falcons and fetterlocks on collars. Both these new tokens have apocryphal stories attached to them: the first of the plucking of the white and red roses by Plantagenet and Somerset respectively in the Temple Gardens (Shakespeare's Henry VI); the second of Edward IV's vision of the sun 'like three sunnes; and suddenlie ioined altogither in one; at which sight he ... fiercelie setting on his enimies, put them to flight' (Holinshed). What is far more likely is that he selected the white rose which the House of York bore by right of Clifford Castle as it had belonged to the Mortimers from whom he derived his claim to the throne. To this he added the sun-in-splendour from the badges of Richard II, the deposed king.

What is certain is that he created a beautiful and aesthetically-pleasing collar, seen to advantage on the monuments of Sir William Martyn, Puddletown, Dorset; James, Lord Berkeley and his son, Berkeley, Glos., Sir John Crosby, Great St Helen's, London; and Sir Robert Harcourt, KG, Stanton Harcourt, Oxon.

A fascinating pair are to be found at St Mary's, Broughton, Oxon. Side by side lie 'husband' and wife; the former with suns and roses, the latter proudly decked in Lancastrian SS. A sure recipe for trouble in the home. However, the juxtaposition is the result of later interference — the lady is Elizabeth Wykeham, the knight, probably her grand-daughter's husband, the second Lord Say and Sele, killed at Barnet in 1471.

The pendant badge is much more prevalent among wearers of the Yorkist collar than among adherents to Lancaster. Sir Robert Harcourt and James, Lord Berkeley, both show the White Lion of March. This is also seen on Sir William Ryther, Ryther, Yorks; Sir William Gascoigne, Harewood, Yorks; and the wife of Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex, Little Easton, Essex. The silver boar of Richard III, 'Dickon the Hog', appears on Sir Ralph Fitzherbert, Norbury, Derby; and with the alternate form of the collar, sun and rose combined as rose-en-soleil, on a Neville effigy, Brancepeth, Durham. His lady wears a collar of alternate suns and roses. Joan Evans and Albert Hartshorne mention the use of the Black Bull of Clare, but I have been unable to find an instance of this. A remarkable collar decorates the neck of Joan Nevill, wife of William Fitzalan, 9th Earl of Arundel, showing the Fitzalan badge of oak-leaves between the suns and roses.

Both Yorkist and Lancastrian collars are found abroad. Perhaps the most famous example is the collar of suns and roses on the incised slab to Joos de Bul at Bruges.38 This has the Lion of March (facing sinister), and was perhaps a token of esteem for hospitality received by Edward. A similar collar is shown in the glass of the Jerusalem church in Bruge where it surrounds the arms of Margaret Van der Banck.39 Edward distributed such badges in quantity to members of the Bohemian Embassy to England in 1466.40Henry had obviously done likewise: collars of SS appear on monuments in the churches of St Eustorgio and St Ambrogio in Milan, and contemporary records show that Conrad von Scharnachthal received the distinction from Henry VI in 1446 when he visited England. The SS are visible in his memorial window in Oberhofen, Switzerland. Ten years earlier Henry had granted the Marchese of Mantua permission to distribute 50 SS collars to 50 noblemen of rank. The Marchese already had a single collar from 1416; and in the Palazzo Ducale there is a frieze showing a number of SS collars with swan jewel pendants intertwined with marigold flowers.41

Parallel with collars of SS and of suns and roses were the plain collars — a strip of cloth or leather in the heraldic colours of the lord. These are found throughout the fifteenth-century, usually on brasses, though one or two effigies may show them: William Carent, Henstridge, Somerset, and Robert Crane, Chilton, Suffolk. Unfortunately, on the brasses the colours have long gone, though it is sometimes possible to guess at the design. The collar around the neck of John Leventhorp of Sawbridgeworth, Herts is described as gobonated argent and azure. It has also been claimed as an erased SS collar. A series of bumps round the collar of Thomas Colte of Roydon, Essex have been interpreted as suns and roses — a reasonable deduction as his wife's collar, though smaller, is clearly Yorkist. An unknown knight (c. 1460) at Adderbury, Oxon has a collar showing some form of slight projection at intervals; while Sir John Wilcotes at Great Tew has a collar showing three or more divisions — though these may be the remains of scribe lines to help key in the enamel. The general outline shows signs of buckles and tiret. Richard Bartelot of Stopham, Sussex, shows a plain collar, and his wand of office as Marshal of the Hall to the Earl of Arundel. An illustration in Richard Gough's Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain depicts a collar on the brass of William Wingfield marked with lozenges, whereas that on Walter Fitzwalter of Little Dunmow shows a series of saltires. One of the very earliest of this type of collar, found on Henry Notingham, a civilian of Holm-by-the-Sea, Norfolk, c. 1405, looks to have studs around it. However, generally it is difficult to decide whether, if the colour were intact on most 'plain' collars, we should see S's or suns and roses. The brass of Richard Manfeld, Taplow, Bucks, was said at one time to show signs of quatrefoils and stars — were these roses and suns? John Digges, Barham, Kent, and Sir Thomas Shernbourne, Shernbourne, Norfolk, have broad, straight, plain collars, but the outline of that of Thomas de St Quinton, Harpham, Yorks, shows very clearly the buckles and tiret of the usual SS form. There are some 30 of these collars spread through the reigns of Lancaster and York, and overlapping into Tudor times. It may be that they will remain the least solvable of the livery puzzles.

With 1485 the livery collar as such faded, though the collar of SS did return — but this time it was much more a chain of office than a symbol of allegiance. At Stanton Harcourt, Robert Harcourt, Standard Bearer to Henry VII on Bosworth Field, bears such a collar, and a more attenuated form appears on the figure of John Anne of North Aston, Oxon, this time with a lion badge. For both men the collars may indicate earlier loyalties. There is one SS collar of the Yorkist period, that of Kniveton at Mugginton, Derbyshire. This is worn with a portcullis, the Beaufort Badge, which occurs again on the brasses of Sir William Pyrton, Little Bentley, Essex and John Payne of Hutton, Glos. The more usual badge was the Tudor rose as on the tombs of Sir Richard Knightley, William, Lord Parr, and Sir Thomas Andrew, an interesting Northamptonshire group. Their collars also show the broader form, falling lower on the chest, which was favoured in Tudor times. A similar collar on Sir John Cheney, at Salisbury, another Standard Bearer of Henry VII, has a pendant combining the rose and portcullis. Sir Edward Redman at Harewood shows the collar of alternating SS and roses with a rose pendant. Similar combination collars are found at South Cowton, Ratcliffe-on-Soar and Easebourne. At Aldermaston, Berkshire, Sir George Forster has the SS borne sideways and alternating with knots; the pendant a combined portcullis and rose. Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam, at Tickhill, Yorks, has the same lengthways SS with a fine intertwining chain, while at Thruxton, Hants, a Lisle effigy has a collar of SS, knots and roses with a cross as pendant.

A form of the SS collar is still with us, and is worn in various styles by the Lord Chief Justice, the Kings of Arms and Heralds, the Serjeants at Arms, other High Officials of State; and by the Lord Mayors and Mayors of London, Dublin and certain other cities — but that is another story. As for the actual medieval collars, they seem to have vanished almost without trace. I have listed over two hundred representations of collars of Lancastrian, Yorkist and Tudor times to be found on effigies, brasses and sculptures, in stained glass, on portraits, and some few, long gone, in written records only. Allowing for the destruction of such memorials during the Reformation and at the time of the Commonwealth, these must be the survivors of at least twice that number. Yet there are two silver SS collars in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and one in the London Museum; and they are considered to be of the early sixteenth century. Charles Roach Smith in the Catalogue of the Museum of London Antiquities (1854) listed two badges: '699. Collar of Esses, encircling a shield supported by an angel' and '704. Collar of Esses, smaller than 699, without the shield and with a wreath as pendant.' These are now in the British Museum. An Inventory of the Jewel House of the Tower listed three collars of SS, one of 351 ounces at £3 per ounce, but this list was made in 1649.42The Journal of the British Archaeological Association, XIII, records a Mr Thomas Wills as exhibiting a chain of 38 S's of cast brass, and the Archaeological Journal, XL, 1883, mentions a Mr A. W. Franks showing 'portions of a leather strap with S's — twenty-nine in number — attached to them, probably parts of a collar of SS ...' Where are they now?


1. Chambers Encyclopaedia, New Edition, 1959, Vol 8, 'Livery' signed H. S. L., p 618.

2. A. Hartshorne, 'Notes on Collars of SS'. Archaeological Journal XXXIX, p 377.

3. F. Chancellor, The Ancient Sepulchral Monuments of Essex, Plate CXXIII. p 337.

4. Journal of the British Archaeological Association, XX. 1864, pp 291-6.

5. Reproduced in: Charles Ross. The Wars of the Roses, p 30.

6. Archaeologia, XXIX, p 34.

7. T. and H. Hollis, Monumental Effigies of Great Britain, 1840-1.

8. Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society, XII, Part II, No XCIII, 1978, pp 131-2.

9. J. H. Wylie, The History of England under Henry the Fourth, Vol 2, p 289.

10. F. Palgrave, The Antient Kalendars and Inventories of... H.M. Exchequer, iii, p 313 ff.

11. J. Evans, A History of Jewellery 1100-1870, 1970, p 66.

12. J. G. Nichols, 'On Collars of Royal Livery, III', Gentleman's Magazine, April, 1842, p 378.

13. Ibid.

14. Douët d'Arcq, Choix de pieces inédites relatives au règne de Charles VI, II, 1864, p 275.

15. P. Meyer, Annauire-Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de France, 1880, p 217.

16. Kalendars and Inventories, iii, p 322.

17. Gentleman's Magazine, May, 1842, p 478.

18. Rotuli Parliamentorum, III, p 313.

19. Chronicon Angliae, ed. E. M. Thompson, 1874, p 125

20. W. H. St John Hope, Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers, 1913, p 297

21. G. F. Beltz, 'Notices relating to the ancient "Collars of the King's Livery ..." ', The Retrospective Review, Second Series, II, p 507.

22. Duchy of Lancaster Records, Class xxviii. Bundle 1, No 2. 23 Ibid, Bundle 1, No 5

24. F. Devon, Issues of the Exchequer, III, p 305.

25. Hope, op. cit., p 300.

26. K. B. McFarlane, The Nobility of Later Medieval England, 1973, p 103.

27. Dr W. S. Simpson, Gleanings from old St Paul's, 1889, Plate 3, p 67.

28. Patent Roll of 7 Henry IV (1406) Part II, membrane 29.

29. England in the Fourteenth Century, ed. W. M. Ormrod, 1986, pp 241, 244. I am indebted to Mr Peter Begent and Mr Cedric Holyoake for these references.

30. Archaeologia, LIII, pp 23, 49.

31. Archaeologia, XXIX. Plate XLI, pp 387-9.

32. J. H. Harvey 'The Wilton Diptych — A Re-examination', Archaeologia, 98, 1961, p8.

33. Again my thanks to Mr Peter Begent for pointing this out.

34. Issues of Exchequer, III, p 274.

35. Hartshorne, op. cit., pp 378-9.

36. Gentleman's Magazine, March, 1843, p 258.

37. Summaries of the arguments may be found in: A. P. Purey-Cust, The Collar of SS, 1910, and Gentleman's Magazine, May, 1842, pp 481-5. Other references are found in: Hartshorne, op. cit., pp 376-83; Beltz, op. cit., pp 500-10; Edward Foss, Archaeologia Cantiana, I, pp 73-93; C. M. Jenkins, 'Collars of SS: A Quest', Apollo, March, 1949, pp 60-2; Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 88, C, No. 5, 1988, pp 115-7; W. W. Skeat, 'Souvent me Souvient', Christ's College Magazine, Michaelmas Term, 1905, pp 1-5; Journal of the British Archaeological Association, XXII, 1916, p 298.

38. Trans. Monumental Brass Society, 6, 1910-14, pp 320-5.

39. J. Maiden, 'Anselm Adornes & the two collars', The Double Tressure, 10, 1988, pp 6-12. My thanks to Mr John Maiden for introducing me to this.

40. The Quarterly Review, XC, 1851-2, pp 429-30.

41. Splendours of the Gonzaga, ed. D. Chambers and J. Martineau, 1981, pp 105-8.

42. Archaeologia, XV, 273 ff.