Grosvenor Club

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The "Welsh Arms" on the frontage of the Grosvenor Club in Eastgate Street

Number 47 was originally a Gentlemens Club and bank. It was constructed 1883-4 and designed by Douglas and Fordham, it was enlarged in 1908. The bank was a Welsh bank (The North & South Wales Bank, established in 1836), hence the first storey frieze bears shields with (supposedly) the arms of twelve of the thirteen former shires of Wales (excluding Monmouthshire). These counties were: Glamorgan, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Cardiganshire, Brecknockshire, Radnorshire, Montgomeryshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Merionethshire, Caernarfonshire and Anglesey. Monmouthshire was at various times counted as an English county.

It is not evident which arms are associated with each county. The arms include some clear cases: three golden eagles (Caernarfonshire) and bats and daggers (Brecknockshire). However some are less clear: a white castle and a golden lion may also be Caernarfonshire, and chevrons could be Glamorgan. It is hard to identify which are the arms of Cardiganshire, Pembrokeshire, Merionethshire or Anglesey. Several of the arms appear to be related to the arms or seal of the county town.

First Set

..Owen Jones cameo on the front of the Bank in Eastgate Street.
  • Ship with gold shield and red castle. Possibly Anglesey, due to the castle being surrounded by water. Similar to the arms of Beaumaris.
  • Three golden eagles (Caernarfonshire):- originally attributed to the 12th century king, Owain Gwynedd, king of Gwynedd. Apart from the actual eagles living in the county, it is possible that the symbolism harks back to the Roman eagle (and the Roman fort at Segontium (modern Caernarfon) constructed around 77 AD. Three eagles also appeared on the three turrets of the "Eagle Tower" at Caernarfon Castle. Also appears in the Kaffee Hag collection as Caernavon.
  • Red lion on gold:- appears in the arms of the Kingdom of Powys. The main center of government was at Mathrafal in historic Montgomeryshire. The arms are identical to those of Ranulf de Meschines. Ranulf de Meschines has arms which are, on the Queens Park Suspension Bridge, a white lion on a red ground and, in the stained glass of the Town Hall, possibly a red lion on a gold ground. To add further confusion some versions of the arms of his son Ranulph De Gernon (shown in the church window on his page) and that shown on the bridge also differ - the window shows a metallic lion on a red field, while the bridge shows the opposite.
  • Gold castle and ship at sea. Possibly Flintshire - the castle upon a rock and ship are possibly taken from the ancient borough seal of Flint and show that Flint is a sea port with a castle on a rugged coastline. The arms of Flintshire itself are quite distinct with a cross and birds taken from the arms of Edwin King of Tegeingl, a former Kingdom that covered most of the present county.

Second Set

  • Black castle: by elimination (if all others are correct) this would be Merionethshire, but does not feature the more familiar leaping goats.
  • Crossed keys:- do not appear in any of the "official" arms of any historic Welsh county, but do appear in the arms of the diocese of St Asaph (Denbighshire).
  • Bats and daggers (Brecknockshire):- based on the supposed arms of Brychan a legendary 5th-century king of Brecknockshire. The swords/daggers are for Prince Anlach, Brychan's father and the blue "reremice" or bats are for Marchell, his mother.
  • Black castle with separate flanking towers (Cardiganshire?):- similar to the seal listed in the Kaffee Hag collection.

Third Set

  • White castle and golden lion (Carmarthenshire?):- the castle above the lion appears on the arms of the Carmarthen town council (granted 9th April 1936, to the Carmarthen Borough Council, but based on a seal in previous use).
  • Red and gold chevrons (Glamorgan):- The gold shield with three red chevronels was the arms of the de Clare family, Norman Lords of Glamorgan.
  • Black castle with flags (Pembrokeshire?):- similar to the seal used by Pembroke prior to the grant of arms.

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