THE heraldic crest of the Earl of Rochford has returned to its position on St Osyth Priory's ancient Gatehouse after being restored to its former glory.

Having overlooked the estate since the 18th century, the coat of arms was removed from the Gatehouse as part of an extensive restoration of St Osyth Priory and its historic buildings.

The coat of arms belonged to Frederic Nassau de Zuylestein, 3rd Earl of Rochford, who took possession of the Priory estate in 1721.

He made the estate his main seat in England and carried out an expansive programme of improvements that shaped much of the estate as it is seen today.

The heraldic crest had been a focal point of The Gatehouse for close to three centuries, but had fallen into disrepair.

As part of the multi-million-pound regeneration of the historic estate, the crest was restored by renowned master carver Paul Wilson, who unveiled it on Monday.

William Grinsted, spokesman for the St Osyth Priory Estate, said: “This was a landmark moment for us in the new future for St Osyth Priory.

“Bringing the many historic buildings within the St Osyth Priory Estate back to life is at the heart of our plans for this iconic destination.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Gardens - guests tour the St Osyth Priory estateGardens - guests tour the St Osyth Priory estate (Image: Kat Marketing)

“Having stood overlooking almost 300 years of history in this part of Essex, we are thrilled that the newly-restored coat of arms will now have many more years to take pride of place in this very special place.”

Mr Wilson, who has worked on royal palaces around the UK, said the coat of arms had been in a “terrible state”.

“It hadn’t been touched for over 100 years,” he said.

“It was almost beyond repair, but we sat down and went through a programme of restoration.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Detailed - the 23 ct gold gilding that was added to the coat of armsDetailed - the 23 ct gold gilding that was added to the coat of arms (Image: Kat Marketing)

“We managed to consolidate and replace the carving where necessary.

“It has now been re-gilded and painted, with the exact colours of the original recreated from tiny fragments of paint salvaged from the wood.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Special event - Katie Skingle, Gail Wilson and Kate Field at St Osyth PriorySpecial event - Katie Skingle, Gail Wilson and Kate Field at St Osyth Priory (Image: Kat Marketing)

The coat of arms features coronets, lions and a pair of buckhorns.

The design of the emblem also includes the Latin motto Spes Durat Avorum, which translates as 'may the hopes of our forefathers endure'.