A MAJOR gap in the heraldic collection of St John Scotland in the Chapter Room was rectified when, at a recent special ceremony, shields showing the arms of past Prior and current Lord Prior of the Order Sir Malcolm Ross and the current Prior of Scotland, Major General Mark Strudwick, were unveiled.
The magnificent items of work, each some two feet high, match existing shields of past priors, and form a frieze in the Chapter Room.
Painting the shields was undertaken by Mark Dennis, advocate, and Limner to the Order. Mark is also Ormond Pursuivant, one of six heralds at Lyon Court under Lord Lyon Dr Joe Morrow QC. His painstaking work has brought further life to the Chapter Room.
A short service of blessing was conducted by the Dean of the Order, the Very Rev John Cairns.
In inaugurating the shields, the Prior paid tribute to his predecessor in recording arms, and spoke of how popular heraldry has become, what his arms mean to his family and himself, and his wish that more members of the Order might petition for arms.
Sourcing suitable shields proved a major headache, with various original providers throughout the UK no longer able to supply.
Eventually Gillian Munro, Order member and daughter of former Chapter member Charles Munro, stepped in. Gillian runs an antique furniture business, and she herself manufactured the shields.
The re-foundation of the Order in Scotland in 1947 saw St John initially headquartered in the west end of Glasgow. When the move to 21 St John Street was made, the handsome and historic Chapter Room was carefully dismantled and rebuilt in Edinburgh.
The pictures show Major General Strudwick with Mark Dennis in front of the Prior's shield, and director of ceremonies James Bingham checking the hanging of Sir Malcolm's shield.