The Queen’s Beasts
At the coronation of Her Majesty The Queen, ten heraldic beasts, each six feet tall, stood guard at the temporary western entrance to Westminster Abbey. The Queen’s Beasts were sculpted by James Woodford RA for the coronation ceremony in 1953. The heraldic creatures symbolised the various strands of royal ancestry brought together in a young woman about to be crowned queen. Each proud beast, used as an heraldic badge by generations that went before her, was inspired by the King’s Beasts of Henry VIII that still line the bridge over the moat at his Hampton Court Palace.
Today, The Queen’s Beasts from Westminster can be found at the Canadian Museum of History in Quebec, while Portland stone replicas, also carved by James Woodford, watch over Kew Gardens.
These mythical, ancient creatures – the Lion of England, the Griffin of Edward III, the Falcon of the Plantagenets, the Black Bull of Clarence, the White Lion of Mortimer, the Yale of Beaufort, the White Greyhound of Richmond, the Red Dragon of Wales, the Unicorn of Scotland andWhite Horse of Hanover – inspired Lavender Groves to produce a series of pottery plaques which are to be seen in the Museum.
Now The Royal Mint is producing a series of bullion coins, including a platinum coin, of The Queen’s Beasts which can be seen at their website.