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Ian G Brennan Sculptor and Woodcarver to the British Royal Household


Heraldic Sculptor Ian G Brennan has been carving and painted individual Coats of Arms and Crests, working from the designs and sketches provided by the client in both wood and bronze for over twenty years from his studio in Southern England. Ian G Brennan first began his career as a professional woodcarver in 1984 and later in 1996 also started producing his bas-relief carvings and three dimensional sculptures in bronze; for details about how Ian first became a professional sculptor   Phoenix from the Ashes

Ian's heraldic bas-relief and three dimensional carved and painted Coats of Arms and Crests have not only been commissioned for such places as Windsor Castle, St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, but his work can also be found in Museums, Government Buildings and Churches along with private art collections all over the World.  Sculptor Ian G Brennan is one of those rather rare breed of Artists that both carves and casts and has been not only been commissioned to create woodcarvings and bronze sculpture for private and corporate clients, but also commissioned to produce a wide variety of sculptures for both British and European Royalty and the Nobility, several British Prime Ministers as well as other Heads of State. 


These commissions are as diverse as producing sculptures designed to suite the splendour of centuries old historic buildings such as Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral were his rather unique skills in reproducing wood carvings and bronze sculpture from a by-gone age are often required, to the more modern surroundings of Company receptions and Board Rooms; Recently Ian has been commissioned to produce two large bas-relief heraldic sculptures which have now been placed amongst the grandeur and elegance of the Grand Lobby of Cunard's new luxury Liner Queen Victoria.

In 1989 Ian G Brennan was officially appointed the 'Sculptor to the Most Noble Order of the Garter and Honourable Order of the Bath and has since that time  spent around four months of each year on a wide variety of commissions in both wood and bronze for the British Royal Household.  Since this appointment, Ian has received over 85 completely unique commissions from the Royal Household. As well as commissions for the British Royal Family, there have also been various commissions for other Royal Families, included HM King Juan Carlos of Spain, HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, HM King Harald V of Norway and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito of Japan.

These commissions often can vary from producing highly detailed realistic sculptures of Animals and Birds, to a wide range of the more traditional Heraldic sculpture which range from Mythical Unicorns and Regal Lions to Crests and many Royal Crowns and Coronets which have included more recently the carved and gilded Crown for HM King Harald V of Norway, the Coronet for HM The Queen's first cousin, HRH Princess Alexandra and more recently the carved and gilded Royal Crests for HM The Queen's sons HRH Prince Andrew the Duke of York and HRH Prince Edward the Earl of Wessex.


Ian's Heraldic Commissions are often as diverse as producing  :-

Carved Coat of Arms and replicas of State Crowns and Coronets, to Regal Lions and Mythical Unicorns for Royalty and the Nobility from all over the World. These carved and painted highly detailed Heraldic Crests which are often depicting such designs from Majestic Eagles to Busts of Men and Woman for Field Marshals, Admirals of the Fleet and Marshals of the Royal Air Force.

These colourful carved Arms and Crests Ian has produced have also include designs depicting Animals, Birds and Flowers, for Prime Minister, Statesmen and other Heads of State, which have more recently included the carved and gilded Chrysanthemum Crest for Emperor Akihito of Japan. Ian's first two heraldic Crests were the carved and gilded Crown for King Juan Carlos of Spain for St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle and a carved and painted Cockerel Crest for an Admiral of the Fleet for Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey.

During the past two years Ian G Brennan has been commissioned to produce eleven carved and painted Crests for the latest Knights of the Bath which have now been placed in Henry VII Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey for the latest Knights Grand Cross of the Most Noble Order of the Bath. These carved Crests unique designs have included sculpture's of Pegasus, Griffins, Dogs, Horses and also a Knight in full Armour on horseback, depicted riding at tournament.

Also during this period Ian has also produced five carved and painted Crest for the latest Royal Knights, Knights and Ladies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. These commissions also included two carved Crests and a Coronet again all were carved from lime wood and then painted and gilded, they were a carved red Stag for former British Prime Minister Sir John Major and a carved Griffin for Lord Bingham of Cornhill: the former Lord Chief Justice. The carved and gilded Coronet was produced for Lady Soames, the daughter of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

The latest commissioned Royal Crests were Prince Andrew and the Prince Edward who were both appointed by Her Majesty the Queen to this the oldest and highest order of chivalry and were installed as Royal Knights to the Most Noble Order of the Garter both Crests have now been placed in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.

The two similar Royal Crests for HRH Prince Edward The Earl of Wessex and HRH Prince Andrew The Duke of York in Ian's studio

For almost two decades Ian has been commissioned to produce many carved and painted Coats of Arms and Crests in both wood and bronze for the College of Arms which is one of the few remaining heraldic courts in Western Europe and is now the oldest existing such College in the world which have been granting armorial bearings (coat of arms ) from their original building in London since the 1670s.

Ian has also been commissioned to produce such Heraldic sculptures for Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral which are three of the most famous historic and widely visited buildings in Britain. Windsor Castle being the home to the HM the Queen and earlier Sovereigns of England for over 900 years,  Westminster Abbey is where every Sovereign since 1066 apart from Edward V and Edward VIII has been crowned and for many centuries the traditional burial place of Kings and Queens. St Paul’s Cathedral nearing its 300th anniversary of the completion is the masterpiece of a Britain’s most admired architect, Sir Christopher Wren, and one of the world’s best-loved buildings. 


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The Royal Unicorn limited edition bronze shown both coloured and with the bronze patina

37 inches ( 94cm) long - bronze 



St George's Chapel Windsor   -  Henry V11 Chapel Westminster Abbey 


Commissioning a Crest or Coat of Arms :-

As all Coats of Arms and Crests are unique to the particular family, company or organisations that they were originally designed for and as such, if  these Arms are required to be produced in many different sizes in either a two or three dimensional form by Ian G Brennan they are each individually produced in wood or bronze directly from the drawings supplied from the particular client.  The time required and fee requested to produce each coat of arms or crest would therefore be totally dependent on the size and complex nature of the particular design.

Each sculpture Coat of Arms or Crest that Ian produces are signed, numbered and dated, and are carved from the finest timber, individually produced  with the utmost skill and care, whether the client be a private individual, corporation or indeed one of Ian's latest commissions produced for the Royal Household. At present most of these wood sculptures are being carved from the same lime tree which grew in a small village in Somerset, Southern England. This massive centuries old tree blew down in winter storm winds which Ian has recently finished seasoning. 

Ian carefully selects each piece of timber to be used for his various carvings are produced from hard woods such as lime wood which carves extremely well and can also hold very fine detail. Lime wood is also the traditional wood used for all the carved, painted and gilded Crowns, Crests and Coronets that have been placed in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle and Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey for many centuries.


Coat of Arms - Lime wood

Those clients commissioning a particular Coat of Arms or Crest are usually sent stage photo's of the carving taken from all angles as the work progresses, starting from the seasoned blanks of lime wood, which have already being brought up to room temperature in Ian's studio ready for work to commence. When all the fine carving has been completed, photographs are taken and sent via email for approval.

When the client is completely happy with the crest or coat of arms  it can then be prepared for painting. Each carving is given one coat of primer and then at least two coats of  either an acrylic or enamel paint is applied for the finished coat. Again photographs are sent to the client for final approval. The coat of arms or crest is then wax polished, packaged and shipped to the clients nominated address. Outside the UK this would be sent via airfreight.


Ten of the thirty four Knights of the Garter Royal Crowns and Crests placed in position in St Georges Chapel Windsor carved by Ian G Brennan

click to enlarge


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The Griffin Crest for a Knight of the Garter



Creating a Griffin Crest for a Knight of the 'Most Noble Order of the Garter' to be placed in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

A short movie showing in various stages how Ian carved a Griffin crest for a Knight of the Garter; from the lime wood log to the completed carved and painted crest being placed in position upon the Knights helm in St George's Chapel Windsor Castle. please click here






Naturalistic Sculptures :-

Although the majority of Ian's commissions are in carving individual Coats of Arms and Crests, he also produces original realistic and naturalistic sculptures with Wildlife and Birds of Prey sculptures a particular specialty. These commissions are as varied as producing a life size bronze 'Osprey catching a Pike' for a fountain, to carving replicas of a life size lion figurehead for a Museum in Portsmouth. A life size statue of the 'Risen Christ' for a local church, to then carving from a single log an 8 feet wide (244cm) 'Bald Eagle in Flight' sculpture for an American Corporation. 


Ian in his studio working on the Royal Crown for HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands 

Wild Badgers, Foxes, Squirrels and Deer are regular visitors both inside and outside Ian's studio in Southern England. These visits are a constant source of inspiration especially if he is working on one of his sculptures of British wildlife as it gives him a rather unique opportunity of being able to study the local wildlife close at hand.   

Wild Badgers, Foxes, Squirrels and Deer are regular visitors both inside and outside Ian's studio in Southern England. These visits are a constant source of inspiration especially if he is working on one of his sculptures of British wildlife as it gives him a rather unique opportunity of being able to study the local wildlife close at hand. Many hours of researching the subject are undertaken using live studies whenever possible, but he also uses videos and books until he has built up a complete picture in his mind of what the intended sculpture should look like. Ian has a natural ability to see things three dimensionally, which is extremely useful when he is carving one of his life size sculptures from within the trunk of a massive tree.


please click to enlarge

Bald Eagle carved from within the folk of a 150 year old lime tree

( 96 inches high )


Ian often works on a number of completely different types of sculptures throughout the week from his studio in Southern England. He finds the contrast between  perhaps one day carving from lime wood a jewel encrusted Crown commissioned for a Queen, to the next day perhaps carving from wax a life size ' Swimming Otter' bronze sculpture for an exhibition, this enables him to work on each particular sculpture afresh.

Although Ian extensively exhibit his wood and bronze sculptures in the past, which have included some of the finest Art Galleries in London. Apart from the occasional rather special exhibitions, Ian prefers nowadays to work whenever possible on individual commissions directly with the client, rather than in the past always through the art galleries. It is therefore now often possible to have a particular sculpture, coat of arms or crest produced to specific requirements.

These woodcarvings and bronze sculptures are produced in very fine detail and many are life size. when appropriate Ian still produces the original master copy of the sculpture in wood, which is then moulded to produce the bronze sculpture. This highly detailed woodcarving 'master copy' can then also be polished and retained as a unique sculpture, unlike the normal method of producing the master copy usually from clay or wax, which is often destroyed during the moulding process at the foundry.

Every wood and bronze sculpture Ian has produced since 1984 has been signed and numbered. The first wood sculptures he carved were a pair of' Leaping Dolphins ' which is 6 inches high and an River Otter which is 8 inches high, both of which he still has retained. The first bronze sculpture Ian produced was a 10 inches long 'Elephant with a calf ' the second bronze sculpture he produced was a 65 inches high life size ' Osprey catching a Pike'.


Life-size Osprey and Otter bronze sculptures

In the case of bronze sculptures, as well as the natural bronze finish applied to an individual sculpture, coloured ‘patinas’ can also be added to the bronze which can give an effect of marble or onyx, producing a particular warmth and living quality to the finished Wildlife Sculptures. 

Ian has also been commissioned by the Museum service, English Heritage and the Ministry of Defence on a variety of historic projects which have included amongst other things restoring and replace sections of the carved Victorian oak panels for the Winchester Council Chambers and Southampton Guildhall. Carving a life size Lion figure-head for a Museum to then spending several months working on 'Lord Nelson's  flagship' HMS Victory' carving all the replacement  intricate scrollwork around the entrance port on the middle gun-deck on this unique 104 cannon warship built in 1765.


  The carved scrollwork on Lord Nelson's Flagship HMS Victory




Ian was commissioned to restoring and replacing detailed carvings on antique mirrors and picture frames at Southwick House in HMS Dryad, which was General Eisenhower's Allied Headquarters in Southern England during WW II  (where D-Day was planned ). He has also produced sculptures for Advertising, various Trophies and Company Logo's. These have included the Heraldic Lion logo Sculpture for Chivas Regal Whisky and the Trophy for the Scotland V Barbarians International Rugby Cup Final and more recently The Queen Victoria Crest and modern Cunard Logo commissioned for the Grand Lobby of the new Cunard Liner the Queen Victoria.


The Queen Victoria Crest and modern Cunard Logo in Ian' studio 

                   40 inches x 58 inches high                                    40 inches wide  x  35 inches high.  

For further details and stage photographs showing how both Cunard bas relief sculptures were produced; please click appropriate photographs. 


Ian's work has also been used as backdrops and props for Television Programs such as providing Birds of Prey sculptures for the set of the Granada Televisions detective program 'Cracker'. Ian G Brennan has given many talks, lectures and presentations, using 35mm slides and he also demonstrates the various aspects of his work as a sculptor and woodcarver, as well as writing articles for books and magazines.

Ian's work has also appeared on both Radio and Television. On the BBC,  ITV and  Channel 4  television and also Satellite and Cable Television, details of his work has also been sent worldwide via British Satellite News and The Central Office of Information.


A small selection of the variety of sculptor Ian G Brennan's commissions in wood and bronze


Churches & Chapels

Various Restoration Projects

Trophies & Company Logos

Bas-relief wood and bronze carvings

Coats of Arms & Crests

Wildlife Sculpture in wood & bronze





Artist Information    Order of the Garter   Order of the Bath    Garter Crests    Bath Crests

    Family/Arms Crests    Heraldry      Home Page     Crest/Arms     Short TV Films      FAQs