This is the coat of arms of the Horman-Fisher family, as printed in this tattered 1856 copy of Illuminated Heraldic Illustrations with Annotations, by Sir Bernard Burke, Ulster King of Arms (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1856), which is in the Usmeum.
Although the name of Bentworth Hall is misprinted as “Brenworth Hall” below the colour plate, it is spelt correctly in the accompanying text, which describes the coat of arms thus:
Fisher, of Bentworth Hall, Hants.
ROGER STAPLES HORMAN-FISHER, Esq., of Bentworth Hall, eldest son of the late Robert Fisher, esq. of the Inner Temple, and of Mitcham, Surrey, by Mary, his second wife, dau. of Charles Staples, Esq. of London, By Mary his wife, dau. and heir of Baron Butz, a German noble, bears a quartered shield, FISHER and HORMAN, and an escutcheon of pretence for HORMAN, in right of his wife, Elizabeth, dau. and heir of John Horman, Esq. of Finchley. (See BURKE’S Landed Gentry, Supplemental Volume).
Arms.– Quarterly. First and fourth, arg. on a chev. engr. with plain cottises, between three demi lions guardant, gu., each supporting between the paws, a dexter gauntlet ppr., three bezants. Second and third, bendy of eight or, and az. per bend sinister, counterchanged, on a chief gu. a lion passant. An escutcheon of pretence for HORMAN.
Crests.- First, issuant from a crown pallisado, or, a demi lion guardant supporting a gauntlet, as in the arms. Second, in front of a cross-crosslet gu. two Roman fasces, with the battle axe in saltire ppr.
Motto.- Virtutem extendere factis. [To increase virtue by deeds].
The original manor house at Bentworth Hall, however, carried a much older coat of arms, which was discovered during renovations under Horman-Fisher’s ownership in 1841. We know this because of a letter, also in the Usmeum, from an unknown correspondent to Roger Horman-Fisher at Christchurch College, Oxford that year. The letter (which still bears the remains of a wax seal) contains a detailed sketch of the coat of arms, with a description:
“Supporters two unicorns as are now borne by Lord Plymouth…The bearings on the two last quarterings are broken, and cannot be made out…A well executed painting of these arms was discovered by removing the loose plaster from a wall in repairing the old manor house at Bentworth, 10 Nov. 1841. In the early part of the 14th century, the property belonged to Richard de Wyndsore (the ancestor of the present Earl of Plymouth) through a marriage with the daughter and heiress of William de Bintworth: and, as the arms have not the Baronial helmet, and are without the coronet, they must have been painted for one of the family between that period and before the first Lord Windsor was summoned to Parliament in 1529.”
This world of ancestral heraldry and landed gentry is as completely foreign to me as the language of the above descriptions. Yet I’m delighted to find these treasures in the Usmeum, a gossamer thread to the far distant history of my family.