If you have time, also take a moment to look at the symbolism on the Welcome page. The scene at the bottom of the page shows a village in the Cotswold area of England. The parish church, identified by its embattled tower, the covered lych gate, the village cross, and the manor house are all typical parts of an English village.
To the immediate left of Welcome is Edmund Blair Leyton’s Signing the Register, the original of which is in the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. From 1754 English grooms, brides, witnesses to the marriage, and officiating priests all signed the register, giving an easy way to determine basic literacy for most ancestors and sometimes useful in linking to other records containing signatures. In modern times, “signing the register” is an integral part of the marriage ceremony and may even be photographed.
On the far upper left, beneath the cross of St. George, the patron saint of England (and the England part of the Union Jack of 1707), is a map of England showing the boundaries of the 40 historical English counties (+12 for Wales). The map is here represented as if it were an heraldic shield, with the crest at the top a crown of three rolls of microfilm, the film from which cascades down and behind the shield as mantling but with ends like shoelaces, signifying “research on a shoestring” services. In relation to the continent of Europe, the baseline of the island of Great Britain, composed of England, Wales, and Scotland, is slanted upwards to the right, so the artist has given visual stability to the shield with books that represent family histories and other genealogical works. This drawing is a trademark ™ of Alan Phipps © 1992 and was designed by Michael Phipps.
On the far lower left is the Hans Holbein painting of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex (1485-1540), Lord Privy Seal of Henry VIII, who was instrumental in the 1538 inception of the registering of baptism, marriage, and burials in each of 10,000 ancient parishes. Parish registers are the mainstay of English genealogical research. The original painting is in the National Portrait Gallery.