What’s the icon?

The icon at the top of the site is William Cotgreve’s coat of arms, painted on an old wooden board in St John’s Church in Chester, the parish where he lived. It’s not the only copy in the church, the other one looks like this:

Both of them spell his name surname Cotgrave, but William wrote it as Cotgreve, like this:

Both the shields are red, with a white zig zag line across the middle, with little black patterns on it – they’re meant to look like ermine tails, the black tips to a stoat’s tail when it turns white in winter. The zig zag is surrounded by three bugles made of cows’ horns.

The version used on the icon has a little crescent in the middle at the top, which means that William was the second son – he had an older brother called Randolph. William owned an inn called The Crow on Foregate Street in Chester, and he was Mayor of the city in 1589, which is why the authorities thought he was important enough to be commemorated in the church.

The board names all the parishioners of St John the Baptist’s church who had been Mayor of Chester since 1529.

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