The Trusty Servant

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19th century engraving of The Trusty Servant, from the 1579 painting by John Hoskins
Inn sign copied from The Trusty Servant, at The Trusty Servant Inn, Minstead, Hampshire

The Trusty Servant is an emblematic figure in a painting at Winchester College and the name of the college's alumni magazine.

The wall-painting called The Trusty Servant, painted by John Hoskins in 1579.[1] It hangs outside the kitchen of Winchester College in Hampshire, England. The American author Arthur Cleveland Coxe (1818-1896) described "the time-honoured Hircocervus, or picture of 'the Trusty-servant,' which hangs near the kitchen, and which emblematically sets forth those virtues in domestics, of which we Americans know nothing. It is a figure, part man, part porker, part deer, and part donkey; with a padlock on his mouth, and various other symbols in his hands and about his person, the whole signifying a most valuable character."[2] Strictly speaking, the Trusty Servant is not a hircocervus, which is a combination of a goat and a stag: Coxe is using the term loosely to mean a composite animal in general.

The painting of The Trusty Servant had a didactic function: it is accompanied by allegorical verses that associate the servant's various animal parts with distinctive virtues that the students of Winchester College were meant to follow.[3]

The Latin verses have been translated into English as:

A trusty servant's picture would you see,
This figure well survey, who'ever you be.
The porker's snout not nice in diet shows;
The padlock shut, no secret he'll disclose;
Patient, to angry lords the ass gives ear;
Swiftness on errand, the stag's feet declare;
Laden his left hand, apt to labour saith;
The coat his neatness; the open hand his faith;
Girt with his sword, his shield upon his arm,
Himself and master he'll protect from harm.[4]

The Trusty Servant Medal[edit]

In 2014 Winchester College commissioned a medal by Old Wykehamist Anthony Smith to be awarded to staff in recognition of "Long And Loyal Service". The medal features a relief sculpture of The Trusty Servant as it appears in the painting.[5]

The Trusty Servant is also the name of the Winchester College alumni magazine.


  1. ^ Pattern Histories: The Trusty Servant Archived 2008-12-04 at the Wayback Machine accessed 29 May 2007
  2. ^ Arthur Cleveland Coxe, Impressions of England. (1874) (Google Books)
  3. ^ Mark Thornton Burnett, Constructing "monsters" in Shakespearean drama and early modern culture (New York: Macmillan, 2002), 139.
  4. ^ Quoted in Howard Staunton, The Great Schools of England (Strahan. 1869), 61n.
  5. ^ "Trusty Servant Medal". Anthony Smith Sculpture. Retrieved 30 October 2016.