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Theatre design

  • Date:


  • Artist/Maker:

    Warre, Michael, born 1922 - died 1987 (theatre designers)

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr Ray Ingram

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The swan is a symbol of courage, grace and nobility and was frequently adopted as an emblem by several noble houses. In fact, the swan was historically not a symbol of Bolingbroke's house, but of the Duke of Gloucester, son of Edward III and in the medieval poem There Is a Busch That Is Forgrowe Bolingbroke is referred to as the heron - a bird that seeks high places and thus a suitable symbol for one who aspires to be king.

Accuracy of this kind is not, in fact, always helpful to a designer. While many in a 1947 audience might be familiar with the swan's place in heraldry or folklore (as used for instance in Wagner's Lohingrin) and thus accept the symbol without question, to have used the more obscure heron might have made them wonder why it was being used and detracted their attention from the play. Designers always have to be very careful to work within the confines of the play and performers and not overpower the play and performers.

Physical description

Design for Bolingbroke's swan crest and helmet




Warre, Michael, born 1922 - died 1987 (theatre designers)

Object history note

Design for Bolingbroke's swan crest and helmet used in William Shakespeare's play 'King Richard II' performed at the Old Vic, London, April 23rd 1947

Descriptive line

Design for Bolingbroke's swan crest and helmet used in 'King Richard II', Old Vic, London, 1947

Production Note

Reason For Production: Commission

Production Type



Theatre and Performance Collection

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