Theft of Monument from Foy, Herefordshire

December 2005:
The original site of the grave of King Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey has been found. For more information ,visit the official Abbey's site by clicking here.

Monuments on the Move Piloti (Gavin Stamp) reported in Private Eye recently that the magnificent gilt-bronze effigy of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (ob 1439) was moved from St Mary's Church, Warwick to the Gothic: Art for England exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. This is one of only two such medieval effigies remaining outside of London. Dr John Physics reports that wooden effigy (c. 1250) of Robert, Duke of Normandy (ob 1134), son of William the Conqueror, was removed from Gloucester Cathedral in 1987 to the Royal Academy; when it was returned, it was replaced not in front of the altar but side-lined into the south ambulatory. Flaxman's monument to George Steevens (c 1800) was removed from St Matthias, Poplar in 1979 for exhibition at the Royal Academy; this time it did not go back into the church but was hawked around looking for a home. Such movement of monuments is a cause for concern.

February 2006 Archaeologists discover St Chad's Burial Place and Shrine in excavations at Lichfield Cathedral. Chad became the fifth bishop of the Mercians in 669 and moved his see to Lichfield, Staffordshire. He died 672 and Bede reports that he was buried 'close by' the church of St Mary but his body was later translated to the new church of St Peter. Both of these churches have now been located below the present cathedral. Three adjoining fragments of a panel - one the 'Lichfield Angel' - have been found which are thought to be part of a shrine which contained the bones of St Chad. The fragments are of painted limestone and in an excellent state of preservation. They will be on display until the end of March and then removed for further research. For further information and a photograph of the Lichfield Angel, click here, here or here. For the cathedral site with photograph, click here.

April 2006 Peter Yeoman FSA, Senior Archaeologist of Historic Scotland, writes to inform Fellows that the Whitehorn collection of early medieval sculptured stones has been given a makeover. The pride of the collection is the country's earliest surviving Christian memorial, the Latinus Stone, carved some time around AD 450 to mark the grave of a man called Latinus and his unnamed four year old daughter. That stone is one of sixty early grave markers and crosses in the new display, the majority of which were created in the decades around 1000 during the heyday of the Whithorn School, when local carvers established a distinctive style of ring-headed crosses with interlaced decorated shafts.

Historic Scotland felt that the cultural significance of the collection was not matched by the quality of the old display, and indeed had become overshadowed by the new archaeological displays created next door by the Whithorn Trust, hence the decision to create something more fitting. The new display, partly funded with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, restores something of the sense of winder medieval pilgrims would have felt for the crosses when visiting St Ninian's shrine.
Special visits can be arranged to the newly displayed museum by contacting Peter Yeoman -

April 2006 The Sunday Express included an article about former BBC journalist Graham Phillips who claims that William Shakespeare was born in Stratford, East London. He also claims that the only evidence linking the Bard to Stratford-upon-Avon is the monument overlooking his (sic) grave but this was not erected until 1748 although an illustration of the original monument exists in Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire, which shows another Shakespeare altogether with his hands on a sack, indicating he was a grain merchant. Professor Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust believes Mr Phillips's theories are rubbish. April 1st did not fall on a Sunday this year!

June 2006 The Salisbury Journal of 1st June reports: 'A bronze statue valued at more than £30 000 has been stolen from the church-yard of St Leonard's Church at Semley - for the second time.
The 5ft-high statue of a first world war soldier on horseback was previously stolen in April 2000, then mysteriously returned.

It is the work of Henry A Peagram and celebrate the life of Lieutenant George Delaware Irving Armstrong of the Sherwood Foresters, who spent the later years of his life in Semley.

Cutting equipment was used to remove the statue from its plinth on Saturday night or the early hours of Sunday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Tisbury police on 0845 408 7000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Information from Revd Ben Elliott, Society Member

December 2006 The Guardian Newspaper of December 15th reports the thefts last months of six bronze busts - including that of Georges Bizet (1838-1875), the composer of Carmen - from Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. The busts date from the second half of the 19th century and were made by well known artists of that time. These thefts are considered to be the work of an expert and probably carried out to order by a collector. It is also reported that there is a thriving black market for items from French graveyards.

Père-Lachaise, the oldest cemetery in Paris, is a major tourist attraction with over two million visitors per year. It contains the graves - among others - of Oscar Wilde, Molière, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf, Maria Callas, Chopin and Jim Morrison. It is difficult to police as there are five gates open to the public and easy for a potential thief to hind. Other monuments have been vandalised in the past.

10.1.07 The Guardian In the G2 section there is a photograph of the newly erected headstone in Edinburgh's Grange Cemetery marking the grave of politician Robin Cook who died in 2005. This is a simple rectangular stone with a curved top. The lettering is bold and simple and gives his dates and names his family. The epitaph reads: "I may not have succeeded in halting the war but I did secure the right of Parliament to decide on war." This was chosen from the former Foreign Secretary's memoirs by his family. The words are much criticized by the writer of the article. (Stephen Moss)

21.3.07 The Guardian In the G2 section is the photograph of a tomb stone in St Lawrence Church, Oxhill, Near Stratford-upon-Avon which reads: 'Here Lyeth the Body of Myrtilla Negro Slave to Mr Tho Beauchamp of Nevis.' She died in 1705. In this 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, Barbara Willis-Brown is researching the life of Myrtilla, why she should have been brought from the small Caribbean island of Nevis, where Thomas Beauchamp was thought to have owned a sugar plantation, and why she should have been buried with a memorial just outside the church door. If anyone has any information, Ms Willis-Brown may be contacted at

12.04.07 The Independent, Compiled by Ian Irvine
'12 April 1948.
James Lees-Milne, working for the National Trust, writes in his diary:"After breakfast I motored Eddy to Salisbury and then, parting with him regretfully, continued up to Wilton. Picked up Mrs Esdaile and drove her to Stourhead. Never have I been in closer contact with a more unkempt female; yet she is an old pet. Her stockings hang in folds, covered with stains; her face and fingers are yellow with cigarettes. She is rather vague now and walks with difficulty. Yet at Stourhead she plodded gallantly round the house and told us what she knew about each sculpture, which was everything.[She]kept prattling about a monument she wished to see in a church three miles from Stourton.'A stunner',she called it. It was by Van Nost, she assured me of a Windham. We took a look at it. I admit it was a splendid affair, dated 1684, full-blooded Charles II Baroque, standing in the face of the open door'.
supplied by member Michael Fitzgerald

24.07.07 The Guardian Meav Kennedy reports that BBC History Magazine has launched a search for the nation's most curious, touching or enigmatic gravestone epitaph, inspired by the concern of Richard Smart, director of the National Archive of Memorial Inscriptions, that many will be lost for ever. The public are invited to send to the magazine - - their favourite magazine by September 1st, including a photograph, location and transcription

September 07 BBC History Magazine There are two separate articles in the September edition both relating to Westminster Abbey.

In the News Section (page 8): Secrets of Westminster Abbey's Mosaic by David Keys recounts how new research suggests that mosaics - made in the 1260's - were almost certainly made from stones looted from ancient buildings in Rome. Although this article concentrates on the mosaic pavement positioned before the high altar, it is also relevant to stones used for several late C13th monuments in the Abbey.

In the Footsteps Section (page 98); Britain's Crowning Glory by Megan Palmer also refers to Westminster Abbey. There is a good photograph of 'Poet's Corner' but the short account of the exhumation of Oliver Cromwell's remains is sanitized and inaccurate. His body was indeed removed from the Cromwell Vault (still marked) in the Abbey but several others bodies were also removed, not only those who had taken part in the opposition to Charles I or the republican governments but also family members such as Elizabeth Cromwell, the Protector's mother. A large floor slab in their memory was set by Dean Stanley in the 19th century but this is now covered by a carpet. Most of the remains were buried in a common grave nearby and there is a modern plaque on the outside wall of St Margaret's, Westminster listing their names as well as a brass inside the church in memory of General-at-Sea Robert Blake. However such disgraceful treatment of the dead was clearly not good enough for Charles II and his government when it came to the treatment of Oliver Cromwell himself, John Bradshaw, the trial judge, and Cromwell's son-in-law Henry Ireton, arguably the architect of the republic. Their remains were hanged from the gallows at Tyburn (now Marble Arch), and then beheaded (hardly 'executed' as the article says!), their bodies buried at Tyburn (not at Westminster as again the article states) and their heads set on Westminster Hall. Cromwell's head blew down in a gale, possibly in 1703, and was allegedly sold by a sentry for a shilling to a passer-by. After various changes of hand, it became a family heirloom until it was eventually buried in Sidney Sussex College Cambridge in 1960, where Cromwell had been a student; a modern wall plaque on the wall of the vestibule to the chapel recounts this event. For further details click here.

There is also an article about Katherine Swynford, mistress and third wife of John of Gaunt, with a reproduction of a drawing of the brass that was formerly on her tomb and a photograph of her tomb in Lincoln Cathedral (pp 49, 51) although it is not indicated which of the two tombs photographed belongs to her.

October 07 BBC History Magazine .There is an article about King Henry III - The King, The Saint & Parliament which includes a photograph of his tomb in Westminster Abbey (with Edward the Confessor's shrine in the foreground) and a separate photograph of the head of his monument.

The results of the tombstone competition, which was mentioned in an earlier reference, are announced in Mysterious Memorials Unveiled. The article describes the winner - which is in the Old Rectory Museum, Loughborough - and the four runners up in some detail.

September 18th 2008 Rutland & Stamford Mercury The following article by Gary Vyse appeared:
'A 400-year-old church monument which has pulled in crowds from across the world over the years is being given a much-needed spruce up.

The William Cecil monument, a landmark found in St Martin's Church, Stamford, is being intricately restored after the Burghley House Preservation Trust pumped in thousands of pounds to tidy up the memorial.

Made of marble and alabaster, the monument sits in the church's chapel and features the figure of William Cecil, first Lord Burghley who was chancellor to Queen Elizabeth I. Around the figure, which is lying down, are marble pillars, archways and inscriptions.

Robert Fogell, who runs St Leonard's Gallery in Stamford, is carrying out the restoration with this son Sam. His experienced hands have worked on historical monuments in buildings such as Westminster Abbey and he says that the memorial is just as significant.

He says: "It's so important because of who William Cecil was and the quality of the monument is one of the best of its type. We're giving it a thorough clean."

Mr Fogell says the memorial, with its hand-carved features, needs to be treated delicately. Light brushes are used to clean out dirt, while a wax finish will be used to give it some gloss. "We're taking it stage by stage If you work at it too rough then you're going to chip bits off," he said.

The cleaning-up project is likely to be completed by Friday next week and may also include some colour restoration.

The monument is open to the public and it is hoped the sprucing up may attract some new visitors to the land mark.'

July 17th 2008 The Guardian (Main Section). This short article appeared verbatim in this newspaper:
Bayeux Tapestry villain cleared after 200 years

More than a century after her death, the English woman accused of vandalising the Bayeux Tapestry has been cleared. Archaeologist Michael Lewis has named the 19th-century artist Charles Stothard as the real villain who snipped a souvenir fragment from the border if the priceless textile more than 200 years ago, not his wife, author Anna Elizabeth. Lewis unveiled his findings at an international conference at the British Museum in London earlier this week after studying records on the embroidery, which charts the downfall of Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, in 1066. Maev Kennedy

April 2008 BBC History Magazine. In this month's magazine there is a photograph of the chapel and tomb of Prince Arthur (eldest son of Henry VII) illustrating a short article on page 6. On page 26 there is another of the gilt-bronze effigy of Edward the Black Prince in Canterbury Cathedral, illustrating an article on the Middle Ages. There is a photograph on page 35 of the head of the alabaster effigy of King Edward II from Worcester Cathedral, illustrating a short article on the monument. There is nothing new here but it's good to see monuments used to illustrate articles and even a short article about an actual monument.

May 2008 BBC History Magazine. The magazine has an interesting regular section of very short features, quizzes etc called Diversions; this itself contains the regular compilation 10 of ... . This month are listed 10 Kings of England since 1066 who were not buried at Westminster or Windsor, compiled by Julian Humphrys. Although logically strictly correct - it does indeed list 10 kings who were not buried in those places - it is somewhat misleading as there are others who are not included. To put the record straight (using 3a... etc to complement the list and keep it in chronological order) these are:
3a Stephen (died 1154) Faversham Abbey, Kent
4a Richard I (died 1199) Fontevraud Abbey, France (the article uses the alternative but rarer spelling Fontevrauld); there is also a heart burial at Rouen, France and another effigy (of different appearance) there.

The same magazine in Out & About: Footsteps refers to Kirkmadrine Church, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, which, although built only in 1889, houses three of the earliest Christian monuments in Britain, predating AD500. The two largest are over six feet in length and carved with the early Christian symbol of the Chi-Rho cross. The oldest commemorates two local bishops, Viventius and Mavorius; the second a priest Florentius; and the third smaller stone reads INITIVMET FINIS. The stones were removed from what is said to be the original graves in 1850; the larger pair were used as gates posts to the church until 1860 and the third was discovered over 50 years later by a stone mason repairing a gate post a mile away. Other stones in the church date from the 8th to 12th centuries.

March 13th 2009 The Guardian Vampire Discovered
Italian researchers believe they have found the remains of a female 'vampire' in Venice, buried with a brick jammed between her jaws to prevent her feeding on victims of a plague which swept the city in the 16th century. Matteo Borrini, an anthropologist from the University of Florence, said that the discovery on the small island of Lazzatetto Nuovo in the Venice lagoon was linked to the old belief that vampires were behind the spread of plagues such as the Black Death. 'This is the first time that archaeology has succeeded in reconstructing the ritual of exorcism of a vampire,' Borrini said. Reuters Rome

April 2009 : BBC History Magazine Strife after Death
In the Q&A section a reader asks what happened to the body of King James IV of Scotland after he was killed at the Battle of Flodden. Rupert Mathews replies in summary thus. The King's body was identified the next day on the battlefield and sent by the English General, the Earl of Surrey to London. The Queen, Katherine of Aragon, wanted to send the body to King Henry VIII in France but was prevented from doing so by the nobles who refused to treat the body of a King in such a way. The nobles tried to have James buried in London but he had been excommunicated by Pope Julius II for invading England in support of Louis XI of France, the Pope having supported Henry's invasion to prevent the French from meddling in Italy. The priest therefore refused to bury the dead King in consecrated ground but the nobles would accept nothing else. On his return to England King Henry wrote to the new pope, Leo X, asking for permission for James to be buried in consecrated ground. The messenger was delayed because of snow but eventually permission was granted and James was buried in Sheen Abbey in 1514. The tomb was destroyed at the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the King's bones scattered. Aidan Dodson in The Royal Tombs of Great Britain adds to this story in writing that James's body was embalmed on Henry's orders and that the Sheen had been a Charterhouse monastery founded by King Henry himself. He further adds that James's head was cut from his trunk when the tomb was disturbed and this was then buried in the Church of St Michael, Wood Street, City of London. This church was demolished under the Union of Benefices Act 1897 but no head was found during the excavations at this time.

November 2009: BBC History Magazine Wolf at the Door
A letter includes a photograph of the tomb of Edward and Elizabeth Skinner in Ledbury Church. The letter states that the tomb records the death of Edward in 1631. Below the kneeling parents keel five adult males and five adult females while between them lies a baby. The church guidebook records the legend that this baby was killed by the last wolf in the district. This is in reply to an earlier articles which mentions that the wolf was generally thought to have become extinct in England in the early 16th century.

January 2010 BBC History Magazine Huskisson Memorial
The Out & About section this month is about The Birth of the Railways. It features a short article about the accidental death of the M.P. William Huskisson who was killed by a train on the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway at the former Parkside station, where there is a memorial plaque. There is a photograph of the Huskisson Memorial in St James Cemetery, Liverpool. The M.P. was buried at Chichester and there is further information about him on the Sussex pages.

I always enjoy Mick Aston’s articles in British Archaeology. Professor Aston is a man who walks the ground and frequently draws attention to little known features. The ‘bang’ and resulting crater at Fauld, included in his article on alabaster in your Nov/Dec issue (pp. 46-7), were unknown to me, although I have been interested in medieval alabaster products for some years. With some diffidence I offer one small correction. The alabaster military effigy at Hanbury is identified by Aston as ‘probably that of Sir John de Hanbury who died in 1303’. In an article in Church Monuments in 1991 (vol. VII, pp. 3-18) Dr Claude Blair concluded that this identification and date first appeared in the Methuen Little Guide to Staffordshire of 1910 and appears to be without any foundation.

Blair convincingly argued, on the basis of certain details of the armour and spurs, that the effigy dates to about 1340 and most probably commemorates Sir Henry de Hanbury who obtained a license to endow a chantry in Hanbury church in 1345. Blair noted that the effigy is identified as Sir Henry’s in William Burton’s (d. 1645) unpublished history of Fauld (British Library, Add. Ms 31917, f. 92). The later dating of the Hanbury effigy places the alabaster effigy of Edward II at Gloucester (c.1330, and mentioned by John Cannon in the article which follows in the same issue) more plausibly in the vanguard of using this material for monuments. Old ideas of the date and identity of monuments tend to acquire increased authority by frequent repetition and it is quite possible that the Hanbury effigy is still labelled with the old name and date in the church. Perhaps one of your readers can tell us.

Mick Aston also mentions the Gylbert panel at Youlgreave and your readers may also be interested to know that the panel was the subject on an article in Church Monuments in 2006 (vol. XXI).

Philip Lankester, York

January 20th 2010 BBC Radio 4 Today Programme Body of King Alfred's Grandaughter Discovered
There was a brief note in the programme about the following.

January 20th 2020 The Guardian
The Guardian reports that a body believed to be that of Eadgyth ,daugher of the Wessex king Edward the Elder, was returned yesterday to Bristol for tests. She was the half sister of King Athelstan and was sent to Germany, together with her sister Adiva, to Otto, the future Holy Roman Emperor to seal an alliance. Otto chose Eadgth and her sister married another noble. She was born in 910 and had a least two children. Her body was found wrapped in silk inside a lead coffin which itself was inside a stone sarcophagus. Her monument in Magdeburg Cathedral, Germany, is much later and was believed to be empty until last year when it was opened. An inscription says she was reburied in 1510. Her bones had been moved at least once.

January 29th Radio 4 The News Quiz
Reported from the Frankston Times (no date) that there was a second hand tombstone for sale, standard gray, ideal for somone called Grayling

March 2010 BBC History Magazine Effigy of Countess of Worcester
In the Breaking News section is a photograph, head and shoulders only, of the effigy of Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester in St Mary's Priorr Church, Chepstow, Monmouthshire. The whole monument is also contains an effigy of her husband, the 2nd Earl. The article is about Anne Boleyn and not about the monument.

June 17th 2010 The Guardian, Main Section; BBC Today Programme; BBC Radio 4 News
Update Princess Eadgyth
Futher to the article about Princess Eadgyth, it has now been confirmed that it is highly likely that the remains are those of this lady, although this can never be actually proved absolutely. It was not possible to extract DNA, carbon dating was unsatisfactory but chemical analysis of the tooth enamel showed that the lady must have spent time in the Wessex uplands when she was a child when the tooth enamel was forming; this appears to be a specific marker. There is also a bird's eye photograph in the Guardian of the rather lovely effigy on her tomb.
If you are thinking of naming your daughter Eadgyth, it is pronouncec Edith.

King Henri IV's Head Reburied. Various sources January 2011
King Henri IV of France was assassinated in 1610 and buried with the kings in the basilica of St Denis, near Paris. In 1793 the tombs were desecrated by some revolutionaries and the bones thrown into a pit. It seems that the body of King Henri was in a remarkable state of preservation and a drawing was made of it at the time. King Henri's head was cut from his trunk and stolen. The bones were eventually returned to a charnel house in the crypt of the church. See the France, St Denis page for further information.

The head disappeared but resurfaced again in 1919 when it was bought by an antique dealer, since when it has been in private collections. At the end of 2010 various forensic tests were performed on this head. There was a certain facial lesion, a pierced right ear, a healed stab would and red and white head and facial hair. There were also three post mortem cut where the head had been severed from the body. Radio carbon dating gives a date between 1450-1650. All this points to the conclusion that the head is almost certainly that of the King. However DNA testing was not performed.

The head was reburied in St Denis in January.
A video of the identification of the head may be seen here:

Bunhill Fields The Guardian Main Section 22nd February
The article reports that Bunhill Fields - the London cemetery founded in the 1660's as a burial ground for non-conformists, radicals and dissenters - will be declared a Grade I park and scores of its monuments granted separate listings. The articles includes photographs of the grave of John Bunyan (an effigy lying on a tomb chest) and that of William Blake (a simple headstone), the former is to be listed as Grade II* and the latter Grade II. Unfortunately the sites of many burials were lost in the partial clearing and landscaping in the 19th century and others in 1960's landscaping to repair World War II bomb damage. Also buried in Bunhill Fields are Daniel Defoe and Eleanor Coade (of Coade Stone fame)

Dunfermline Abbey BBC History Magazine July 2011 In 'Out & About:100 Places the Made Britain'.
David Musgrove writes about Dunfermline Abbey and mentions that several kings and queens of Scotland were buried there but all that remains of their monuments is the base of the shrine of Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm III 'Canmore', who was also buried there. There is a photograph of this structure as well as one of a cast of the skull of Robert the Bruce who was buried in the Abbey in 1329. A vault containing his skeleton was discovered in 1818 during building works and the cast taken before the King was reburied. 80 years later a large memorial brass was place over the grave. The article describes this as 'a good Victorian effort at a medieval design'. Other Scottish kings buried at Dunfermline include Edgar, Alexander I, David I, Malcolm IV and Alexander III, although, as mentioned above and as Dunfermline is sometimes described as 'Scotland's Westminster', monument hunters will be disappointed.

Monuments at Tong, Shropsire. The Shakespear Blog. August 2011
Visit the site here Wind down page to Living Monuments: Shakespear's Epitaphs for photographs of and information about the monuments in Tong Church on Sylvia Morris's blog.

Return of lost Effigy. Guardian and Telegraph websites have this story (q.v.) Sept 2011
The effigy of Dr Peter Turner has been returned to the church of St Olave, Hart Street, London, whence it was looted after the blitz.

Purbeck Slab Uncovered. Various Norfolk Newspapers. Sept 2011
A Purbeck marble coffin shaped slab has been uncovered in the churchyard of Fishley, Norfolk. This operation was presided over by Vice-President Dr Julian Litten and the eagle eyed may spot him on the following link, which gives the full story:

Thanks to Jon Bayliss for drawing my attention to the above two references

Monuments to the Translators of the Authorised Version of the Bible
Article by Dr Jean Wilson in The Times Newspaper
2011 is the quatercentenial year of the translation of the Authorised Version or King James Bible and Dr Jean Wilson has written an article in The Times about the monuments to the scholars who completed this mighty work. The article may be accessed  here but this is not a free service and I have been unable to check it. A list of the translator, their monuments a several photographs may be found here.
Dr Wilson's article is an overview of the monuments and mentions several interesting and often rather curious features. Some have conventional monuments executed by provincial sculptors while others have very fine monuments by the greatest sculptors of the age: of the latter is mentioned that to James Montague in Bath Abbey by William Cure and Nicholas Johnson, and that to Archbishop George Abbot in (the porch of) Holy Trinity Church, Guildford by Mathew and Gervaise Christmas.
Rather surprisingly (to us now) only two surviving actually mention this great literary achievement: that to John Harmer, Warden of Winchester College and Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, has a plain tablet while that to Richard Brett, Rector of Quanton, Bucks and mundanely distinguished of these scholars makes the most of it! Indeed this may be considered a monument to the whole work. However several monuments show books but we may be reading into this what is not necessarily intended.
The only lay translators actually has three monuments: Sir Henry Savile, Warden of Merton and Provost of Eton is buried beneath a simple ledger stone in Eton College chapel, is remembered on his widow's monument at Hurst, Berkshire and on a splendid monument she erected at Merton.

September ongoing - BBC News and several newspapers
On the 12th September the articulated skeleton which had been discovered in the remains of Grayfriar's Church, Leicester was described. This church was the burial place of King Richard III, killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485; the foundations are now buried under a car park and an archaeologial dig has been underway for a few weeks to seek the King's body. The skeleton was of a male who suffered from scoliosis and there was damaged to the skull consistent with battle injuries as well as an arrow head in the vertebrae. The skeleton is to undergo DNA testing to confirm or deny that these are the bones of the King. However no coffin or remains of a monument have yet been described

Photographs of Stolen Items Mentioned in Article Referred to Below
Above: Two sides of a cross head from Grosmont
Below: The child's effigy at Foy

11-09-12 The Times
An article about the theft of chuch monuments appeared in today's times with an illustration of the Bishop of Hereford's heart burial (see below). It describes further thefts as well as those described below. It mentions that the monuments are probably being stolen to order and sent abroad to countries such as Germany where the right of ownership appears not to be the same as in the UK; that is if something is bought 'in good faith' it remains with the purchaser and is not returned to the original owner from whom it was stolen.

06-09-12 '...Church warden Louise Manning has just contacted me to tell me that two heart effigies have been stolen from churches in Herefordshire in a matter of months (and asking if I knew about other cases). Unfortunately I do.
In the spring of this year the heart of St. Lawrence O'Toole was stolen from Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. I wondered if you could publish some kind of alert in the British Press. There seems to be a thief of hearts going around.
Here the link for the UK theft: And here for the Irish theft.
I attach a photo of Lawrence O’Toole’s heart which I took in 2008...' see below

04-09-12.  West Mercia Police 30-08-12
Stone Plaque Stolen From Herefordshire Church Police in Herefordshire are appealing for information from the public as they investigate a theft from a church in the county. The incident occurred at Abbeydore Church sometime between 7am on Sunday 26 August and 12.45pm on Tuesday 28 August. Sometime during the time period in question it appears that thieves entered the church - which is left open for visitors during the day - and approached a stone burial plaque that is on the wall inside. This stone burial plaque has been stolen from Abbeydore ChurchIt appears the thieves then removed the stone plaque from the metal brackets that held it in place and made off with it. The metal brackets were left in place so it appears the thieves came prepared and used tools of some sort to remove the plaque from the wall. A police spokesman said: "The stolen burial plaque commemorates Bishop of Hereford John De Breton and is extremely unusual. The value of the plaque is not known but due to its age it is essentially irreplaceable. "Local churchgoers are devastated by the theft of this stone and we are very keen to find not only the stone itself, but also the individual or individuals responsible for stealing it. "Removing the stone from the wall would not have been a straightforward job and therefore it appears likely that more than one person was involved in this theft. "We have released an image of the burial stone today in the hope that someone recognises it and might provide us with information that helps us return it to its rightful home. "Anyone with information about this theft is asked to contact police officers in Hereford on 101 or 0300 333 3000, quoting incident number 83N 280812. "Alternatively, please remember Crimestoppers can also be called anonymously on 0800 555 111 if you'd rather leave information without identifying yourself." Issued: Thursday 30 August 2012
photographs used by kind permission of  Brian & Moira Gittos

18-03-12. The Times Saturday 10/01/12 p 87. An excellent article by member David Meara extolling the virtues of church monuments as well as discussing the work of the Church Monuments Society and the launch of the new Guide Book competition. The article is illustrated with a photograph of the Beauchamp Chapel at St Mary's Church, Warwick

16-02-12. BBC2 The 30 minute programme, Britain's Heritage Heroes has a section of the tomb and effigy of Blanche Mortimer at Much Marcle; this should be available to see again on BBC i-Player (information from Dr Clive Easter)
18-05-12 The Times 11/05/12 reports the theft of a head from a monument at Coleford, Gloucestershire. The monument is of the thirteenth century and actually in All Saints' Church, Newland, near Coleford and is said to be of a former rector Robert de Wakering; he was the founder of the church and installed by King John. (information from Dr Clive Easter)
Futher information supplied by and photograph used by kind permission of Cameron Newnham

20-05-12 BBC on line News-Hereford & Worcestershire 18/05/12
Stone Statue of Knight Stolen from Ledbury Church. The articles continues stating that the effigy, which measured 22cms X 15cms was stolen from St Michael's Church, Castle Frome, Near Ledbury, Herefordshire. The article continued stating that the thieves obviously brought along the correct tools to carry 
out this theft and that the minature effigy was probably stolen to order.
describes this monument as reset on the SE chancel window and as a bust, small, crisply carved, wearing mail and holding his heart. Mark Downing in Military Effigies of England and Wales, Volume 3, dates it between 1280-1300 and identifies it as possibly Adam de Lacy (d. 1297). He includes a photograph which shows that it is indeed a bust set vertically on the window sill. (information from Cameron Newnham). Photograph kindly supplied by Sally Badham and used with permission
Theft of Monument from Foy, Herefordshire

The lower half of this monument, which is broken into two parts, was stolen from St Mary's Church, Foy, Herefordshire in November last; the upper half was stolen two years ago. Presumably the two parts were stolen by the same thief and intended for the same middle man or collector. There have been a number of similar items stolen in this area suggesting someone is collecting minature monuments.
The coffin shaped slab is 1.1 metres in length and shows an unknown female figure in low relief, wearing a cloak over her gown. One finger holds the cord of her cloak while the other rests on her abdomen. Heer fet rest on a grotesque figure and her head in surrounded by a canopy. Although sometimes said to be of a child, it is more likely to represent a heart burial. It is probably late 13th century.
Tombs from Thetford Priory
Thetford Priory in Norfolk was destroyed after the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Tudor tombs reconstructed in the parish church in Framlingham. The University of Leicester has been working on a project to reconstruct these tombs in their original form. For further information on this project click here and here.
Stolen funerary helmet
 Around the beginning of August a funerary helmet (picture attached) was stolen from St Giles’ church at Stoke Poges (Buckinghamshire).  It incorporates part of a late 16th-century burgonet. If anyone spots it please contact the Buckinghamshire police.
MeMO Database: Further Announcement
After the launch of the MeMO database by the end of January 2013, the MeMO project entered a transitional phase. At the beginning of 2014 a new European grant application will be filed for a follow-up project. This will mean a new phase for MeMO, in which the scope of the project will be greatly expanded to include not only sources from the Netherlands, but from across the borders as well. With the European grant research groups in Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Austria will aim to set up projects similar to MeMO.   Meanwhile the MeMO project continues its current activities, with Corinne van Dijk (Objects) and starting on 1 September Rolf de Weijert (Text carriers) as its project leaders. Over the past few months a lot of work has gone into updating and expanding the database. For an overview of this, please see the update archive, which was recently placed on the home page, The next update is expected to be ready by mid-July.
Further Information of Richard III Monument
20th September 2013 BBC News Leicester Cathedral have published further information about the burial site and design for King Richard's tomb. Click here for further information and illustration of the latest proposed monument design.
May 2013 Design Brief for Re-interment of King Richard III
Leicester Cathedral has published its design brief for the re-interment of King Richard III (available here, by scrolling down the page
13th March 2013 BBC Leicester. The Dean and Chapter of Leicester Cathedral have rejected the design of a table tomb to cover the remains of King Richard III, but instead propose a simple ledger stone. For details click here.
12th March The Times Click here to access a copy of our President, Sally Badham's letter to The Times about the on going problem caused by bats in churches; a problem that should be easy to solve but isn't.
2nd March 2013 Council member Dr Jean WIlson has written an article for The Times of 2nd March this year: Let memorials bring the past to dazzingling life. This is a call to churches to end the dull uniformity of monuments today and discusses how monuments of the past have often brought that past alive to us today and the great value of their doing so. The article may be accessed by clicking here.

Announcement: the new MeMO database is available
Sophie Oosterwijk  
    The MeMO (Medieval Memoria Online) database was officially launched on Thursday 31 January 2013. It contains a wealth of material on medieval (or pre-Reformation) memorial culture within the present-day Netherlands.[i]   
   The database incorporates both memorial texts and objects up to c.1580, including tomb monuments and slabs. There is an extensive introduction that explains the aims and objectives of the project and instructions on how to browse or search in the database. All entries are in English and contain descriptions, measurements, locations, inscriptions (with translations), biographical information on the persons commemorated, literature, and photos where available. It thus offers scholars internationally a wonderful new research tool that is freely available to all.   
   Some 800 tomb monuments and slabs across the country were professionally photographed especially for MeMO. Throughout these photographic sessions the ‘Tomb Team’ received tremendous cooperation from churches, staff and local volunteers. Their help was often vital in locating slabs, which were sometimes found in more unusual places, and not just inside churches. An example is the slab of 1547 commemorating Ritscke Boelema, founder of a local hospice, which was discovered in the inner courtyard of the modern-day Ritske Boelema Gasthuis in Leeuwarden, now a nursing home for the elderly. Another interesting feature of this slab is that it was signed by Benedictus Gerbrands, a sculptor known through his initials B.G. to have been responsible for slabs elsewhere in Friesland, such as in Dokkum. In Maastricht (Limburg) four slabs are still hidden in the lobby of the Kruisherenhotel (formerly the convent of the Crutched Friars). In Rijnsburg (Zuid-Holland) the verger of the Grote Kerk kindly disassembled part of the wooden floor in the nave to reveal two spectacular slabs to two abbesses of Rijnsburg Abbey, including that of the last resident abbess, Stefana van Rossum, who died in 1603, i.e. long after the demolition of the abbey church in 1574.      
   More time (and funding) is still needed to complete the mammoth task of checking and expanding the entries for all extant Dutch medieval monuments, but the present database is already an impressive result. And there is scope for yet more work, as there is a wealth of information in antiquarian texts and drawings waiting to be researched and added. The MeMO database can be found at Users are invited to submit comments, corrections and additions to in order to help improve the database.  

[i] See also S. Oosterwijk, ‘Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO): introduction and appeal’, Church Monuments Society Newsletter, 26:2 (Spring 2011), 14-15, and ‘An emblem of faith, fidelity, wealth and good taste?’, Church Monuments Society Newsletter, 27:2 (Spring 2012), 15-17.
Richard III's Reburial
25th February 2013 CMS members undoubtedly have a variety of views on the issue of where Richard III’s remains should be re-buried, whether it is at Leicester, York or elsewhere. The Society as a whole has no stated preference. There is no evidence as to where Richard III might have chosen to be interred had he not died on Bosworth Field. His brother, Edward IV, chose burial at Windsor and Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was buried in Westminster Abbey, while his father, Richard, Duke of York, and brother Edmund, were buried in the Yorkist mausoleum in the collegiate church at Fotheringhay (Northants). Much has been made of Richard’s links with the north, especially York. Richard’s son, Edward of Middleham, was formerly though to have been buried in the parish church at Sheriff Hutton, near York, whose castle was one of Richard’s great strongholds, but the monument there has been proved to date from much earlier in the fifteenth century. Richard planned to found a great college of over 100 priests who would say masses in York Minster for the king and his family, but it came to nothing as a result of his death in 1485 and this does not necessarily mean that he would have been buried there. Modern church law and established archaeological practice both favour disturbed human remains being reinterred as close as possible to the place they were found, and ideally within the same ecclesiastical parish.
13th February 2013 Monument Fit For A King A proposed design for a monument to cover the remains of King Richard III has today been unveiled by the Richard III Society. It combines a mix of the medieval and modern in its design and may be seen on the Richard III Society website. The plan is for the King to be buried in Leicester Cathedral which is near to the site where his skeleton was excavated. There is already a modern floor slab in the Cathedral which actually covers no remains.
2nd February 2013 The Times An article by David Meara about the church at Abergavenny winning our guide book competition and something about the excellent series of monuments in that church.
4th February 2013, 10.00 am BBC News It was announced today by a team from the University of Leicester that the skeletal remains discovered last year on the site of Gray Friars Church, Leicester are beyond reasonable doubt those of King Richard III, killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
Contemporary chronicler John Rouse states that the King was buried in the choir of the above church, the site of which - although not the actual layout of the buildings - appears on maps as late as 1612. There is a local tradition that the body of the King was removed from his grave and thrown into the local river at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries; however, this has now shown to have been false.
The skeleton was discovered in the west part of the choir in front of the stalls in a grave which was roughly cut and too short for the body. There was no evidence of a coffin (such as nails), shroud or clothing. All of this indicates a hasty burial.
The skeleton is that of a male of slender build aged between the late 20's and early 30's and 5' 8" in height, although the apparent height would have been less because of the presence of scoliosis; this latter condition - a curvature of the spine - in this case was not present at birth but would have developed after the age of ten. Radio carbon dating indicates that the skeleton dates from between 1455 - 1540.
There are ten wounds consisted with battle injuries on the skeleton, eight on the skull and two elsewhere, all of which were inflicted around the time of death; a large injury to the skull would have brought about death, indicating that the helmet was lost at some point earlier. Some of the injuries - such as those on a rib and on the pelvis - appear to be insulting injuries inflicted on a body stripped of armour.  Richard III was stripped and his body thrown over a horse where his enemies could have perpetrated such injuries. What was thought to have been an arrow head was rather a much earlier nail.
All this points to the fact that this skeleton could well be that of Richard III and today it has been announced that the DNA which was fortunately recovered from the skeleton, matches that of two descendents of Richard's sister, Anne of York, so proving beyond reasonable doubt that the skeleton is indeed that of King Richard III.
The skeleton will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral, where there is already a modern ledger stone commemorating the King.

The full story will, of course, be told elsewhere.

I note that the incisor teeth of the skeleton meet edge to edge and this is consistent with portraits of the King which show him with a slightly protruding lower jaw  giving him a somewhat determined appearance.

July 9th
Repairs to the tomb of John, 1st Baron Poulett in St George's Church,
Hinton St George, Somerset

Sensitive repairs to an extraordinary seventeenth-century family monument in the Poulett Memorial Chapel of St George’s Church at Hinton St George in Somerset have won the prestigious 2014 SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) John Betjeman Award.  Unusually, the SPAB has also announced commendations for the conservation of the exquisite embroidered dossal hung behind the altar at Lanercost Priory, Cumbria, and for impressive consolidation work to the remains of the former south cloister at Tewkesbury Abbey.

The award honours the memory of church enthusiast and SPAB member Sir John Betjeman and is made for outstanding repairs to the fabric of places of worship in England and Wales completed in the last 18 months. Importantly the award is always made to the winning church / chapel rather than to individuals. 2014 has a particular significance as it marks the 60th anniversary of Betjeman’s involvement with the SPAB and it was fitting that this year the award attracted a strong field of entries.

The SPAB judging panel visited the three shortlisted projects in May and found themselves faced with a tough decision. There can only be one outright winner and ultimately the meticulous and beautifully executed work on the Baroque memorial to John, 1st Baron Poulet – the final phase in a programme of conservation repairs to the Poulett Chapel – nudged ahead.



For further and fuller information about SPAB John Betjeman award click here.

July 11th
Angels from Cardinal Wolsey's Monument

Click here for an article in the Daily Telegraph about angels which were intended for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey's monument, although later appropriate by Henry VIII

May 9th
A monumental bust stolen

It is reported that a monumental bust fo William Crowe was stolen from Holy Trinity Church, Caistor-on-Sea, Norfolk on May 8th 2014 bewteen 2.00 pm and 7 p.m. Details are given in the local newspaper here and photographs are given below. Update: recovered but damaged


May 4th
Brass stolen at Kindesley, Herefordshire

This brass is to a former rector, William Leviot (1421) The inscription also states that he was a Bachelor of Canon Law

May 1st 2014
Brasses stolen at Wentworth (Yorkshire) on 26th April

Three inscription brasses have been stolen from Wentworth Church, Yorkshire. The first is to Thomas Wentworth (photograph below) and the other two  to members of the Wentworth family; the photograph is to the left.
The police have been informed of these thefts.

April 2014
Sale of Wooton St Lawrence helmet refused
The Court of Arches has 'upheld a challenge by the Church Buildings Council to the sale of a rare 16th century Flemish helmet or armet that used to hand in a church in Hampshire' This refers to the church at Wooton St Lawrence. The CBC commented further that the sale of such 'treasures'...'could lead to cultural plundering on a scale of European collectors two centuries ago'
This is good news indeed for these sale of such items in churches does not only lead to a cultural loss but is also disrespectful as these items are part of a monument to the dead.
An article originally appeared in The Times on 15th April. There is a longer article in the Church Times (here) and another in the Sunday Times (here). Another article on this subject appears in the Daily Telegraph here.

March 2014
Article on Much Marcle (Herefordshire)
Click here for a further article on Blanche Grandison's tomb at Much Marcle. llustrated.

Jan 2014
The 100 Church Treasures

Our 16,000 parish churches are among Europe’s finest historic buildings and display an unparalleled array of treasures, rivalling the collections of the world’s great museums and attracting millions of visitors. The Church Building Council has identified the 100 artworks currently most in need of conservation. These treasures, which include monuments, wall paintings, stained glass and textiles, are at risk of permanent damage and loss and the CBC estimates their total cost of repair at £3 million. The 100 Church Treasures campaign was launched on 31 October 2013 at Westminster Abbey, at a reception hosted by the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster.

By mid-January 2014, £138,100 had already been secured through donations and pledges. The CBC will commission a detailed survey for each treasure by professional conservators and ensure repairs are conducted to the highest conservation standards. As a result of the donations they have already received work we will start working on three projects. This includes the early-14th century de Septvans brass at Chartham (Kent), thanks to a generous gift from the Pilgrim Trust.

Other monuments on the 100 Church Treasures list are:

Medieval coffin lid at Snead (Powys);
Late-14th century Courtney monuments at Sheviock (Cornwall);
1419 and 1421 Lyndewood brasses at Linwood (Lincolnshire);
c. 1415 Woodville incised slab at Grafton Regis (Northamptonshire);
c. 1440 alabaster tomb at Merevale (West Midlands);
c. 1530 terracotta Jannys monument at St George Colegate, Norwich (Norfolk);
16th and 17th century Cornewalle monuments at Burford (Shropshire);
16th-18th century Denton monuments at Hillesden St Mary (Buckinghamshire)16th-18th century Smith monuments at Theydon Mount (Essex);
16th and 19th century monuments at Scropton (Derbyshire);
1605 Nedham monument at Norton in Hales (Shropshire);
1606 Sadler monument at Standon St Mary (Hertfordshire);
1626 Keighley monument at Ault Hucknall (Derbyshire);
1635 Smalman monument at Kinnersley (Hertfordshire);
1635 Markham monument at Laneham (Nottinghamshire);
1638 Scott monument at Ecclesfield (South Yorkshire);
1676 Horner hanging wall monument at Cloford (Somerset);
1712 Peck monument at Little Sampford (Essex);
1777 Milner monument at Chipping (Lancashire);
18th century monuments at Stanford le Hope (Essex);
18th century monument (currently dismantled) at Faversham (Kent);
1815 Hutton monument at St Margaret Ward End, Birmingham;
1900 Watts monument at St Botolph Aldersgate, London;
WW1 war memorial at Tostock (Suffolk).

The campaign page on ChurchCare ( now has a map of England giving the location of the 100 treasures. You can also follow progress on the new ChurchCare Facebook page: (

To donate or for more information contact: Dr Pedro Gaspar, Senior Conservation Officer or +44 (0) 20 7898 1889.

Jan 2014

Fig. 1

The monument to Blanche Grandison (d. 1347) at Much Marcle has been the subject of a complex conservation project undertaken by Michael Eastham. Conservation usually tells us much about the construction of the monument, but in this case there was also a remarkable discovery, knowledge of which was highly restricted until late January 2014 when the conservation was nearing completion. In December 2012, Michael had been given permission, with the assistance of a county archaeologist, to dismantle the tomb chest and excavate its filling so that the front panels could be re-assembled on a firmer base to provide better support for the effigy. Imagine their surprise when within they discovered Blanche’s body, shrouded in lead sheet, totalling1635mm in length.

Fig. 2

Although the chests on which effigies often rest are called tomb-chests, such evidence as is available suggests they do not normally serve as tombs to hold the body, but just have rubble infilling, especially in the medieval period. There are some documented exceptions. Mostly, however, the bodies of those commemorated by monuments with tomb-chests are probably buried underneath or under the floor near the monument.  

Fig. 3

At Much Marcle part of the north wall of the chancel was knocked out to provide a recess into which the monument was partly built. Blanche’s body rested on a rough shelf of rubble and earth, but without any trace of mortar, above the then ground level. Michael re-constructed the shelf using stone and lime mortar to provide a sounder platform for her body. Above it he inserted a specially-designed marine grade stainless steel frame to provide extra support for the large stones bedded within the wall on which her effigy was, and would again be, supported, leaving a more securely protected space into which the body has been returned intact. A fuller assessment of the discovery will appear in the Church Monuments Society spring Newsletter.

This extraordinary discovery was handled with great care and sensitivity by Michael Eastham, the parish and the DAC. Yet it is not an experience that Michael at least is keen to repeat; he observed when I visited, ‘I am a conservator, not an undertaker’.

Please check with the parish before visiting Much Marcle to see the conserved tomb. Work has not yet been completed and the tomb is still boarded up.

Fig. 1 The tomb to Blanche Grandison (d. 1347)
Fig. 2 Blanche’s lead-sheathed body as it was revealed.
Fig. 3 The lead sheath after it was taken out.