The American Connection

A couple of miles from Creech Folly in Dorset is the small hamlet of Steeple, which is home to the steeple-less Church of Saint Michael & All Angels. This quiet and remote church proudly displays the flag of Washington DC, the capital city of the United States of America. The flag was presented to the church on the 25th July 1977 by Walter E. Washington, the Mayor of Washington DC (January 1975 - January 1979). The letter accompanying the flag reads:

The Rector
Church of St. Michael & All Angels
Steeple, Dorset

Dear Rector,

We recently learned through Mr. George Honebon of Poole, that the Church of St. Michael & All Angels has an historic relationship with the family of George Washington, in whose honor our Nations Capital is named.

It was particularly interesting to see drawings of the stone armorial tablet depicting the Washington arms quartered with those of Lawrence. Because they are shown in our flag, the Washington arms are a very familiar sight in the District of Columbia.

Thinking that your parish might appreciate having some token of our mutal heritage, I have asked Mr. Honebon to carry with him on his return to England, this letter and the Flag of Washington, District of Columbia.

I know the citizens of our city join with me in this expression of friendship and best wishes to you and all the people of the community of Steeple, Dorset.

With warm personal regards.


Walter E. Washington
District of Columbia

The letter refers to a “stone armorial tablet” which is probably the engraved coat of arms that can be found in the stone wall of the main porch of the church. The coat of arms is a quartering (an amalgamation) of the coats of arms of the Lawrence and Washington families who were joined in 1390 when the heiress of the Washington family Agnes de Wessington married Edmund Lawrence. The Washington family’s coat of arms is the three stars atop the two stripes and it is this coat of arms that was used by George Washington (an ancestor of Agnes de Wessington) when he became the first president of the United States in 1789. This star and stripes motif was replicated in the flag of Washington DC and also was presumably the inspiration for the design of the US National flag.

A more striking example of the quartered Lawrence/Washington family coat of arms can be found painted in scarlet and white on the bosses on the ceiling of the church. It pays to look up occasionally!