Pentathlon 2019 – The Garter Stall Project

This is the first of several posts documenting my progress on my Pentathlon entries for 2019. My entries will all center around the stalls of Saint George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, also known as the chapel of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and the heraldic displays featured thereon.

Each of the 26 Companions of the Garter has a stall in Saint George’s Chapel, where their achievement (banner, sword, helm, crest and mantling) are displayed. In addition, a stall plate depicting the knight’s heraldic achievement is affixed to the stall in perpetuity, as a memorial of those honorable knights who’d sat in the stall previously. The achievement is displayed above the stall until the death of the knight, at which point it is quietly retired in advance of the installation of the next Companion of the Garter. Alternatively, if the knight commits one of three heinous acts, namely treason, heresy, or cowardice upon the battlefield, they are degraded from the Order and their achievement is removed in a peculiar and visceral ceremony run by Garter King of Arms.

My entries for this Pentathlon will include examples of all means of heraldic display used in the Saint George’s Chapel stalls, including the banner, crest and mantling, stall plates, and misericord (a bench-like portrusion underneath the seat of the stall, upon which one can lean for comfort during long stretches of mass when attendees must stand and fold up their seats). In addition, I intend to submit a research paper analyzing the role of Garter King of Arms in his role as chief herald of the Order, especially as custodian of the regalia of the Order and the armorial displays of Saint George’s Chapel. I also intend to demonstrate the ceremony for the Degradation from the Order of the Garter as a performance piece. In this way, all of my entries rest upon my skills and expertise as a herald, while requiring me to push outside of my comfort zone into new and difficult art forms, such as woodcarving and painting, brass engraving, enameling, and historical linguistics.

As a final challenge to myself, I will intentionally avoid entering any of these items into Heraldic Display, where they would be judged primarily on their ability to render and display the arms depicted. I will instead place my entries into categories where they will be judged on their technical merit alone. While categories are known to shift, the current plan using the 2017 categories is as follows:

Item Category Subcategory Number
Crest and Mantling Armor & Weaponry Other 3.5.0
Stall Plate 1 Visual Arts Surface Decoration: Etching 1.9.2
Stall Plate 2 Visual Arts Surface Decoration: Engraving 1.9.3
Stall Plate 3 Visual Arts Glasswork: Other 1.4.4
Banner Fringe Fiber Arts Weaving: Other 4.4.7
Degradation Ceremony Performance Arts Dramatic Reading 6.2.0
Misericord Functional Arts Furniture 2.2.0
Research Paper –
Garter King of Arms
Composition Research Compositions: Topic Paper 7.6.2