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Although it is difficult to create a comprehensive list of three-dimensional weathervanes in England, it is safe to say that the vast majority of English towns have one. This is largely due to the papal edict in the 9th century, requiring every church in Christendom to be mounted by a cockerel. The abundance and variety of the British weathercock is unmistakable. The very fact that there are still so many up and functioning is testament to the care and dedication of each local church, parish and community. Without their longstanding commitment to maintaining these beautiful architectural ornaments, many would have been lost to the ravages of the wind and weather.

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Overview of the three-dimensional weathervane in England

So numerous are the three-dimensional weathercocks in England, that they cannot be listed. Instead, this page only features one; the oldest functioning weathervane in England. This cockerel flies atop the church at Ottery St. Mary, and is also notable both for it's small size (2 ft. 3 in.), and the fact that it whistles.

Three-dimensional themes vary greatly, with even flat designs incorporating 3D elements like spun copper balls, heraldic symbols (e.g. the fleur de lys and the crown), and ornate scroll work. However, by far the most popular design produced three-dimensionally (after the weathercock), was the ship. Ships again, are so numerous, that this page only represents a small selection.

Three-dimensional weathervanes in England, have historically been reserved for only the most noteworthy buildings. These include Churches, Town Halls, Schools, and charitable organizations like orphanages and missions (they also appear occasionally on businesses). The popularity of banners and pennon style weathervanes amongst the nobles in the 14th century, compounded by the need for a royal license to display a weathervane in the 13th century, may explain why three-dimensional weathervanes do not appear more regularly on manor houses in England.

For three-dimensional weathervane producers in England, the favoured material was copper, although some casting was done in bronze. The Victorians, however, would have considered a copper weathervane which was not gilded, to be naked. Thus the high incidence of 3D vanes in gilt copper. The copper weathervane was usually a one-off creation by a blacksmith (molded copper weathervanes were certainly
never manufactured or mass produced in England). With nearly every village in England having its own blacksmith, the weathervane was considered a rare occasion for the craftsman to display his skill and artistry in "light" metals. For this reason the style and design of each of the vanes
varies greatly, with particular care and attention paid to the individuality of the cardinal letters. Certainly weathervanes were considered to have enough visual effect on the building on which they stood, that a good many of the vanes in the list below were designed by the architects themselves (Sir Christopher Wren designed a different weathervane for each new church, after the Great Fire of London). Nonetheless, by the 18th century, the copper weathervane in England was slowly dying out. Unlike in America, where the copper weathervane
flourished for most of the 18th and 19th centuries (and still today are widely available)
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for further information check out these books:
A. Needham, English Weathervanes Their Stories and Legends from Medieval to Modern Times


Patricia & Philip Mockridge, Weathervanes of Great Britain


3D English Designs:
(excluding ships and weathercocks)

Aeroplane: 1909 Bleriot, Type XI
The Briery, Troutbeck, Cumbria
date?
material?

Angel Weathervane:
Guildford Cathedral
Designed by William Pickford
Largest British Weathervane
1961
gilt copper
15ft. Tall (weighing nearly a ton)
Angel Weathervane:
Burslem Town Hall, Staffs.
19th c.
material?
5 ft
Beaver Weathervane
Hudson Bay House
St. Helen's Place/ Bishopsgate
London
1926?
gilt copper

Beast with banner weathervane:
Manor House at Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire
originally 12 stone beasts each with weathervane
Tudor
material of banners?
Dolphin
Dutch House, Ludham, Norfolk
Designed by artist Edward Seago
Executed by Eric Stevenson (gold medalist from the Whorshipful Company of Blacksmiths)
date?
copper
Dolphin
(pair of weathervanes):
Billingsgate Market, N bank of River Thames
date?
originally cast metal(replaced with fibreglass replicas, 1981)
Dolphin:
County Hall of London (S bank of River Thames)
date?
material?
Dolphin:
Brighton and Hove Grammar School
date?
copper
Dragon
Newark Park Ozleworth, Glos.
16th century
gilt copper
3' 6"
Dragon:
"Wynchdene", South Cliff Parade,
Broadstairs, Kent
date?
copper
Dragon:
Guildhall at Newbury, Berkshire
17th century
copper
Dragon:
St Mary-le-bow Church, London.
designed by Sir Christopher Wren
1679
copper
Elephant
former Indian Institue, Oxford,
1883
gilt copper?
Fish:
St John's Church, Piddinghoe, Sussex
date?
material?
Fish :"Bradford Gudgeon"
Chapel on the bridge at Bradford on Avon
16th c
gilt copper
"The Falcon and Fetterlock":
(badge of the house of York)
Fotheringhay Church, Northhamptonshire
15th century
gilt copper?
Grasshopper
:
Royal Exchange, City of London,
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren
16th century
copper
Head of a demiroebuck:
Leathersellers' Company, London
1930
material?
Hog:
"the Hampshire Hog"
Council Offices, Winchester, Hants.,
Designed by Architect John Brandon-Jones
1955
gilt copper
Hound
Hanslope Church, Milton Keynes
date?
gilt copper?
Lamb and flag:
Halifax Peace Hall, Yorks.
date?
material?
Lamb and small flag:
St Mary's Church, Hendon, London
date?
material?
Lion:
Maxstoke Castle, West Midlands,
pre-1860?
copper
Lion:
Black Lion Brewery, Brighton, Sussex
16th century?
material?
Lion:
Bisley, Glos.
maker: Eden Fowler
20th century?
gilt copper
Liver Bird:
Royal Insurance Company, Brighton, Sussex
circa 1905
copper
Pegasus
Foston Hall Prison
Sudbury, Derby.
date?
gilt copper?
Unicorn
Bisley, Glos.
maker: Eden Fowler
20th century?
gilt copper
Whistling Weathercock:
Ottery St. Mary, Devon
Oldest Weathercock in Britian circa 1340
gilt copper?
2'3" Long
Wyvern:
Guild Hall, Leicester
date?
material?

 

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3D Ship Designs:


"Victory"
(Nelson's ship)
Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, Suffolk
date?
material?
"the Golden Hind"
Originally in garden of Eynsford Hill, Kent. Moved to Beeston, Notts
date?
copper
"Mayflower"
Liberty of London Building
Great Marlborough Street, Westminster
date?
gilt copper
Four Masted Sailing ship of "the Great Harry":
(King HenryVIII's wharship)
Heritage Craft Schools, Chainley ,Sussex
1932
material?
"Santa Maria"
Victoria Embankment, London
(placed by Lord Astor)
date?
copper
Tudor Vessel
Metropole Court, Minehead, Somerset
date?
material?
the "Resolution" (Captain Cook's ship)
Mounted on mast
West Cliff, Whitby, Yorks
date?
material?
Gilt Warship
Rochester Guildhall, Kent
1780
material?
6 foot long
Gilt Carrack
Sandringham Estate Office (formerly York Cottage), Norfolk
date?
material?
John Cabot's Flagship
The Bristol and West Building Society
Broad Quay, Bristol
1980
material?
"Golden Barque"
Portsmouth
Damaged in 1954? Replaced?
date?
material?
Barque
Old Dockside Warehouses, (Watershed Atrs Centre)
Broad Quay, Bristol
date?
gilt copper
Barque
NatWest Building, Dartmouth, Devon
date?
material?
"Mary Rose"
Lion and Lamb Precinct, Farnham, Surrey
date?
material?
Herring Lugger
Victorian Town Hall
date?
gilt copper?
Herring Buss
Great Yarmouth's Fisherman's Hospital
date?
gilt copper?
19th century style ship
Court House, Irvine, Strathclyde
date?
material?
Tudor Galleon
The Ogilvie School, Clacton, Essex
date?
gilt copper?
Buss
Guildhall Museum, Rochester
date?
material?
Tudor Ship
Lloyd's Register of Shipping, Frenchurch Street,
City of London
date?
material?
Galleon (16th century style)
Trinity House, City of London
date?
material?
Medieval Cog
Lloyd's Bank, Oxford
date?
material?
Medieval Cog: "the Devon Ship"
County Hall, Exeter, Devon
date?
material?
Medieval Cog
Our Lady of Ransom, Eastbourne, Sussex
1901
material?
Medieval Cog
Morecombe College of Further Education, Lancs
date?
material?
18th century style Ship
Ship Institute, Newlyn, Cornwall
1911?
copper
Ship
South Shields Town Hall, Tyne & Wear
date?
material?
Over 7 ft. tall from keel to masthead
Gilt ship
Glasgow, 17th c Merchants Steeple
date?
material?
Ship
Barony Church of Scotland
Ardrossan, Strathclyde
1834?
material
Ship (17th century style)
Anmer Hall, Norfolk
date?
wooden hull?
Gilt Ship
17th century Merchant's Steeple, Glasgow
date?
gilt copper

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