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Archive of Monuments of the Month April 2013 To November 2013


Monument of the Month - October 2013

Revd Theophilus Pickering (d. 1710) and John Dryden, Poet Laureate (d. 1700), Titchmarsh (Northamptonshire)

The church at Titchmarsh (Northamptonshire) contains two rare painted wooden mural monuments of the early eighteenth century, both painted by Mrs Elizabeth Creed (d. 1725), a talented amateur painter and writer of epitaphs. Born in 1642, she was the only daughter of Sir Gilbert Pickering by Elizabeth, the only daughter of Sir Sidney Montagu, and sister of Edward Montagu, first earl of Sandwich. On her father’s side she was the first cousin once removed of the poet John Dryden and on her mother’s side she was a second cousin of Samuel Pepys, in whose famous diary she is mentioned a good deal, although he disapproved of her marriage to John Creed of Oundle. John became deputy treasurer of the navy and subsequently Secretary for the Commissioners at Tangiers. The couple had eleven children, five of whom died in infancy and the eldest son, Major Richard Creed was killed at Blenheim; he has monuments in Westminster Abbey and at Titchmarsh, both with epitaphs written by his gifted mother. John Creed died in 1701 and during her widowhood, Mrs Creed resided many years in a mansion house at Barnwell, near Oundle, belonging to the Montagu family. Here she amused and employed herself in painting, instructed many young women in drawing, fine needle-work, and other elegant arts. Many of the churches in the neighbourhood of Oundle formerly boasted many good-quality monuments, altarpieces and other artefacts painted on wood and other media by her. Few now survive, but two wooden mural tablets can still be found at Titchmarsh.

Fig 1 Monument to Revd Theophilus Pickering

The bust on its pedestal sits under an arch adorned with delicate swags of foliage, which in turn is between two faux carved columns with urn-like pedestals and shields down the pillars. The painted panel is supported on a stone base with another inscription. The two stages of the pedestal, against which two cherubs rest, contain long inscriptions, the last of which reads ‘As the Last Testimony of the Esteem and Honour she had for Him, This was painted by his Afectionate and onely Sister to Preserve Ts [ie Theophilus’s] Dear Memory Amongst his Relations. E Creed: aged 68’.

The first monument, in the north chancel aisle, painted in Mrs Creed’s sixty-eighth year, was in memory of her brother the Revd Theophilus Pickering, D.D., prebendary of Durham and successively rector of Gateshead and Sedgefield (d. 1710). This huge grisaille panel shows a well-executed bust of Pickering on a lofty inscribed pedestal, flanked by cherubs.

Fig. 2 Close up of painted bust of Revd Theophilus Pickering

Fig. 3 John Dryden and his parents Erasmus Dryden and Mary Pickering  

The second tablet, in the north nave chapel, was painted in 1722 in memory of her cousin John Dryden and his parents Erasmus Dryden and Mary Pickering. John Dryden died on May 12, 1700, and was initially buried in St Anne’s cemetery in Soho, before being exhumed and reburied in Westminster Abbey ten days later in Poet’s Corner. He is commemorated there by a pedestal monument with a bust atop, as befits the English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was made Poet Laureate in 1668 and dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden. His memorial panel at Titchmarsh is a much simpler composition designed for contemplation by his family; it comprises a painted inscription in a carved wooden frame surmounted by a carved wooden bust of the poet, with the words ‘The Poet’ on its base.

Extracts from the inscription read:  ‘We boast that he was bred & had his first learning here [i.e. at the Pickering seat at Titchmarsh] where he often made us happie by his kind visits & most delightfull conversation … He recieued the notice of his approaching dissolution with sweet submission and entire resignation to the divine will. And he took so tender and obliging a farewell of his friends as none but he him self could have expressed (of which sorrowful number I was one) … The 80 year of my age. Eliza. Creed. 1722’. More of Mrs Creed’s monuments may be found in the church of All Saints Barnwell, including the painted decoration on the monument to her daughter Dorothy Creed (d.1714). It comprises a black arch-head tablet on west wall with ashlar surround, keyblock and moulded cornice surmounted by urn with torchere.  

Fig. 4 Close up of carved bust of John Dryden.

Copyright: Sally Badham Photographs: Tim Sutton



Monument of the Month - September 2013

Cholmondeley Monument, St Peter ad Vincula,

Tower of London

The chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, the ‘Parish Church’ of the Tower of London is the resting place of numerous famous characters from British history. Due to the nature of their deaths, few have marked graves, with the majority of known graves belonging to former residents of the Tower. The chapel is thought to have been the site of Christian worship since the Anglo-Saxon period and would have originally stood outside the walls of the Tower, before being enclosed during the 12th Century. The current structure is at least the third on the site, having been rebuilt twice since the White Tower’s construction, firstly by Edward I in 1286 and again in 1519 under Henry VIII.

View looking east of the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula. The Cholmondeley Monument is inside the railings in the left of the image.

 The oldest original tomb in the chapel is the monument to Sir Richard Cholmondeley, a former Lieutenant of the Tower of London, and his wife Elizabeth. The monument is constructed out of alabaster, with a limestone base and, based on the date of Sir Richard’s death is dated to 1521-1522. Due to the Tower being unaffected by the Great Fire of London, it is one of the few surviving pre-seventeenth century church monuments in the City of London.

The monument consists of effigies of Sir Richard and his wife Elizabeth, both lying-down and facing east with their hands clasped in prayer. Sir Richard is portrayed in full-plate armour with his feet resting on a lion and his head on a helm. Around his neck he wears a Lancastrian collar of Esses as a sign of his office and status. Elizabeth is supported on a cushion held by angels at each corner, with two small dogs at her feet. Sadly the monument has lost some of its original detail and has been damaged. Only small traces of the original polychromy can be seen under a microscope due to the monument being waxed by the Victorians, while Lady Cholmondeley’s nose was broken by a visitor in 1914.[1] The monument has also suffered due to being moved on at least three occasions since 1842, with the base especially affected due to being placed against a wall in the nineteenth century.

Close-up of the figures on the Cholmondeley Monument

Sir Richard is famous for two reasons. In his role of Lieutenant of the Tower he ordered that the Tower’s cannons be fired upon rioters in the City of London during the ‘Evil May Day’ of 1517. While in death he was immortalised as the Lieutenant of the Tower in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Savoy Opera, The Yeoman of the Guard. Amongst the current Yeomen of the Guard, Sir Richard’s major claim to fame appears to be that his tomb is now empty.  

 Details of his life are vague, indeed contemporary documents (including his will) refer to his surname as ‘Cholmeley’ suggesting that the plaque on his tomb may have been misspelled. He was born around 1460 and as a young man appears to have been a member of Henry VII’s Court. After receiving his knighthood in 1497 he gained several new appointments in the north of England. He relinquished most of these in 1503 and may well have moved south to a new appointment of the Lieutenant of the Tower in 1504. Although no official date of appointment can be established, Cholmondeley was certainly in position by Henry VIII’s coronation in 1509. In his role as Lieutenant of the Tower, Cholmondeley was responsible for organising the ordnance based in the Tower, helping to sending supplies and equipment to the English army in France as well as being personally responsible for any prisoners. His will, proved in March 1522, stated that he wished to be buried in the Chapel of our Blessed Lady of Barking beside the Tower of London (All Hallows) or if they would not allow it, then in the church of the Crutched Friars beside the Tower of London.[2] Recent work on burials at the Crutched Friars has shown that some monuments were relocated after the institution's dissolution in 1538.[3] It is likely that this is what happened to the Cholmondeley Tomb as an entry in the Chapel's burial register for “Sir Roger Cholmley's father” appears in the period 1554-1557.[4] Sir Roger Cholmley (c.1485-1565), judge and MP for Middlesex was the illegitimate son and sole heir of Sir Richard suggesting that he had used his influence to move his father's monument.

The monument gained its local fame, however, when it was moved during the renovations of 1876. When opened, the tomb was found to be empty, with the exception of the original Tudor font, which has now been re-instated to the chapel. The traditional (but un-sourced) story follows that a priest placed the font in the tomb for safe-keeping during the Commonwealth, before he was executed by Parliamentary troops,[5] ensuring it remained hidden for another 200 years. The font’s presence ensures the fates of their remains are unknown; were they inside the monument when it was relocated to the chapel, only to be replaced by a font during the 1640s and now in some unmarked grave? Or were they never there in the first place? A fact known to a desperate priest who hid a font in a monument he knew to be empty, never to return to reclaim it.


[1] TNA Work 14/144 – Memoranda: Damage to Cholmondeley Monument in St Peter’s Chapel (10 May, 1914).

[2] TNA PROB 11/20/327 – Will of Sir Richard Cholmeley of Saint Mary Barking, City of London (24 March, 1522).

[3] Christian Steer, ' "better in remembrance": Medieval commemoration at the Crutched Friars London', Church Monuments, 25 (2011), pp.36-57.

[4] The Register of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London (Marriages: 1586-1752; Baptisms: 1587-1821 and Burials: 1550-1821)

[5] Mervyn Blatch, A Guide to London’s Churches (London, 1978), 404-405.

The Sixteenth-Century font discovered inside the Cholmondeley Monument in 1876

 Dr George Roberts


Monument of the Month - August 2013

Thomas and Mary Acton, erected 1581,

Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire

Erected in 1581 the handsome funeral monument commemorating Thomas Acton of Sutton and his wife Mary is very much a work of its time. The strap-work around the oval panels on the sides of the tomb-chest derive from Flemish prints and the pilasters separating them derive from the same source. The two effigies are very well cut. The panel on the wall nearby with the inscription and the achievement of arms is at first sight well done but the spacing of the inscription is certainly not of the best – words are run together even where there is space later in the same line and the the final letter of each of four lines is cut on the raised border:




Along the north sides of the chest are panels containing the images of the two infant sons, although not depicted as such but as kneeling youths. The centre panel of the south side has the kneeling image of Joyce, the daughter and heir who erected the tomb. She outlived her father by 49 years, dying at the age of 63 in February 1595/6. As the inscription relates, she was espoused to Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, Warwickshire at the age of 12. He commemorated her in the church at Charlecote with a monument from a London or Southwark workshop that has a long inscription written by him in her praise.

The west end of the chest is occupied by an achievement of the Acton arms. Unlike the other panels, the oval that contains it is set horizontally. It is derived directly from a print published in 1560 by Hans Vredeman de Vries. It comes from a set of architectural views set in ovals with strap-work 'spandrels' around them but the particular plate used, the front page, contained an achievement and a dedication instead and the oval was set vertically. However, when the set was republished coupled with another in 1601, this plate was re-engraved as the title page of Formæ Variæ Architecturæ, replacing the arms and dedication, with the oval horizontal, as on the tomb. The sculptor has inserted an oval of egg-and-dart inside de Vries's bead-and-reel to good effect.  He probably derived the pilasters from another work by de Vries, adapting features from plate 5 of Das Ander Buch but, as was so generally the case in England before the time of Inigo Jones, he did not understand the rules of classical architecture: he used features of both the Doric and Ionic orders (as de Vries did on his plate) and even turned his triglyphs into 'quadriglyphs'. I particularly like the gadrooning on the frieze, alternating oblong and rectangular shapes.


The monument must have been made in the Midlands but most monuments of this time in the area belong to identifiable groups and there is nothing else quite like it. The earlier monument with alabaster effigies to Blanche Parry at Bacton in Herefordshire, erected before she made her first will in November 1578 has an inscription panel which, like the Acton panel, employs letters largely lacking serifs, unusual for the period, although Bacton has incised lettering, while Tenbury's inscription is in relief. The general approach at Bacton is simpler but the guilloche pattern around the arch and the egg-and-dart decoration surrounding the panel on the tomb chest with their shields in strap-work suggest a sculptor who was aware of the same type of printed sources or was working from a design supplied by a Southwark sculptor. The likely explanation for the lack of other similar monuments is that the sculptor was generally employed on houses rather than monuments. It is possible he was John Tarbook of Bewdley, carver, who signed an alabaster incised slab at Pitchford, Shropshire, in 1587 and initialled a similar one in the same church the same year. The decoration on Thomas Acton's armour is, allowing for the difference between sculpture and engraving, very similar to that on the armours of Adam and Richard Ottley at Pitchford but the incised lettering of the inscriptions is very different. Perhaps Joyce Lucy turned to her cousin Henry Acton of Ribbesford, the parish in which Bewdley is situated, to find a local man to make the tomb for her, rather than use a man based nearer to Charlecote. The wooden monument to Francis Walsh, died 1596, at Shelsley Walsh in Worcestershire has similarly shaped pilasters to those at Tenbury Wells and may be the work of the same man.  

Jon Bayliss


Monument of the Month - July 2013

An unusual saint

Floor slab of Jacopmine Huyghendochter, wife of Foert Christiaenszoon (d. 1553), Sint-Maartenskerk, Wemeldinge (province of Zeeland, Netherlands), Belgian hardstone, 185 x 114 cm

The Dutch coastal province of Zeeland is extraordinarily rich in medieval incised slabs. In some churches a large concentration of such slabs survive. A good example is the Sint-Maartenskerk in the picturesque village of Wemeldinge, now in the municipality of Kapelle. An independent parish was founded here in the eleventh century or even earlier, making it probably the oldest in the region. Yet the church is situated on the outskirts, rather than in the centre of Wemeldinge: a new dyke erected in 1134 to protect the area from the common threat of floods caused the inhabitants to move their village in that direction, away from the church. The church tower dates from the fourteenth century and the building itself from the fifteenth, with later modifications

Sixteen late-medieval incised slabs are still located in the former choir of the church. They would originally have been covered individual graves of people buried under the church floor, for intramural burial was customary among those who could afford it. However, the slabs are now placed against the walls, safe from the eroding effect of trampling feet, albeit that some had already suffered damage before. Six more slabs (or fragments) are located on the floor near the pulpit, which is nowadays situated in the nave.

The commemorative slab discussed here has suffered some wear, but is largely complete. Its overall design is very traditional for this period. The quatrefoils in the corners contain the four evangelist symbols, viz. (clockwise) the eagle for St John, the angel for St Matthew, the winged ox for St Luke and the winged lion for St Mark, all holding a scroll as an allusion to their gospels. In the centre above the central image is a shield with a six-pointed star. Along the edge of the slab an inscription in incised textualis letters reads:  

Hier leyt begraven / Jacopmine Huyghen dochter de huysvrouwe was van / Foert Cristiaens zoone / sterf anno XVc LIIJ den VIIJten Julyo bidt voer de siele.

(Trans. Here lies buried Jacopmine Huyghendochter, who was the wife of Foert Christiaenszoon, died in the year 1553 on the 8th of July. Pray for the soul.)

What makes this slab noteworthy is the incised figure in the centre, which is not a effigial image of the deceased, but represents instead a rather unusual female saint hanging on a Tau cross. She is shown wearing a crown and a long dress with a girdle around her waist. Her feet are bare, and her arms and ankles are tied to the cross with ropes. Her long flowing hair indicates her virgin state. Yet the slab has suffered some wear and the most unusual aspect of her appearance is not immediately obvious: she has a forked beard.


This crucified virgin martyr is known by a variety of names, including St Wilgefortis or Uncumber, Ontkommer (Dutch), Liberata (Italian), Librada (Spanish), Débarras (French), and Kümmernis (German). Her legend probably first appeared in the fourteenth century. The saint’s father is supposed to have been a pagan king of Portugal, but Wilgefortis converted to Christianity. When her father ordered her to marry a pagan prince, she prayed to God to help preserve her chastity, upon which she miraculously grew a beard  on her chin. This successfully repulsed her suitor, but so enraged her father that he had sher crucified. The legend may have been inspired by a medieval misinterpretation of the famous Volta Santo in Lucca, which presents the crucified Christ with a crown and dressed in a long robe. St Wilgefortis was believed to help those who invoke her in their hour of death to die without anxiety, but she was also popularly venerated by women who wished to be ‘disencumbered’ from their husbands. Her feastday is 20 July.

Why would a married woman have such a curious saint as the central feature of her tomb slab, especially as it was presumably her husband who commissioned her monument? A much plainer slab nearby commemorates Foert Christiaenszoon (d. 1569), who may have been Jacopmine’s husband. It is more modern in appearance with an inscription in Roman majuscules and roundels instead of quatrefoils, and also features a shield with an Agnus Dei carrying a banner and a six-pointed star below. The reason for showing St Wilgefortis on Jacopmine’s tomb lies in the name of her husband. Foert, Foort or Fort is a popular regional variation of the saint’s name: it occurs on a number of slabs in the church of Wemelinge. Moreover, an altar in the church was dedicated to St Wilgefortis.  


It was not unusual for medieval memorials to feature name saints. Frank Greenhill illustratated three slabs in Zeeland with images of name saints, viz. St Gertrude of Nivelles on the slab of Gheertruyt Claesdochter Loets (d. 1539) in Hulst, St Adrian on that of Adriaen Cornelis Clayssenzoon (d. 1524) in Kapelle, and St Bartholomew (patron saint of butchers) on the slab of butcher Cornelis Piersen (d. 1538) in Biezelinge. There are more examples, and records of others no longer exant. Greenhill mentioned two fragments of the incised slab of the wife of Cornelis Wouterssen (d. 1531) in nearby Biezelinge: when last recorded these served as a doorstep to a nearby house and as part of a garden path.


Further reading:

● ID 2528 in the Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO) database at

● F.A. Greenhill, Incised Effigial Slabs. A Study of Engraved Stone Memorials in Latin Christendom, c.1100 to c.1700, 2 vols (London: Faber & Faber, 1976), vol. I, esp. 49, 195 (fig. 22), 305.

● G.J. Lepoeter, Kerk in perspectief. Verleden en heden van de Sint Maartenskerk te Wemeldinge (Kapelle/Wemeldinge, 1989).

● Hans van Dijk, ‘Vloerzerken in Zeeland. Vloerzerken met persoonsvoorstellingen, ca. 1300-1600’, 3 volumes, unpublished MA dissertation supervised by Dr Harry Tummers, (University of Nijmegen, 1989), esp. vols II (catalogue) and III (plates), nrs 147 (Wemeldinge) and 25 (Biezelinge).

Copyright: Dr Sophie Oosterwijk FSA


  1. Floor slab of Jacopmine Huyghendochter, wife of Foert Christiaenszoon (d. 1553), Sint-Maartenskerk, Wemeldinge (Zeeland, Netherlands). Photo: Chris Booms, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE).

 2. Detail of the incised image of St Wilgefortis on the floor slab of Jacopmine Huyghendochter, wife of Foert Christiaenszoon (d. 1553), Sint-Maartenskerk, Wemeldinge (Zeeland, Netherlands). Photo: Chris Booms, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE).

  3. Post-medieval devotional print of St Wilgefortis.

  5. The exterior of the Sint-Maartenskerk, Wemeldinge (Zeeland, Netherlands).


Monument of the Month - June 2013

'Left for dead'

Major Thomas Price


The Siege of Gloucester 1643 has been claimed to be a pivotal point in one of the most important events in English history: the English Civil War.  Gloucester sided with the Parliamentarians leading to the city being besieged by Royalist troops commanded by Charles I.  Today few reminders of this stirring event remain. There is however a large baroque monument to Major Thomas Price, a Royalist officer, the only monument on the north wall of the chancel of St John's church in the city.  It is believed that the monument is by one of the Reeves, the local long-established family of masons.

Major Price, who died in 1678, is shown as a demi-figure in the uniform of a Major of the Lancers at the time of the Civil War.  His left hand grasps the pommel of a sword while his right holds the short truncheon of a commander.   Above, two cherubs lean on skulls while holding laurel wreaths of victory symbolising eternal life.  Between them a cartouche contains a coat of arms of Price impaling Driver.  He married Dorothy, the widow of Robert Windowe of  Avening and daughter of John Driver of Ashton-in-Avening, who out-lived him, eventually dying in 1722 aged 94.  It has been erroneously recorded that there are also two inverted torches.  These are in fact cornucopia, the usual symbol of a full and bountiful life.  And what a life he had.

The Latin inscription on the monument, along with a recorded inscription on a lost ledger stone,  describe Major Price as alderman, twice mayor, and Major of Horse to Charles I.  During the Civil War he was said to have been often wounded, and on one occasion left for dead.  From other sources it is known that prior to the Siege of Gloucester he was one of the stewards of the city and his name was recorded on the list of 104 citizens of Gloucester with Royalist leanings drawn up by Sir Edward Walker, Charles I's Secretary of  State.  On the outbreak of the Civil War he left Gloucester and fought for the King.  He eventually returned to the city and became prominent again in local affairs, serving both as mayor and sheriff.  His standing was such that he was granted the right to issue in his name a farthing token which could be used as currency within the city.  It is interesting to note that although he was mayor, sheriff and a successful business man he chose to portray himself on his monument as a Royalist officer in armour.

Directly opposite the monument to Major Price, on the south wall of the chancel, is the monument to his daughter Dorothy (d. 1693), erected by a second daughter Bridget (d. 1753).  The marble monument shows Dorothy as though asleep while beside the bed weeps a second woman.  Could this be Bridget?  If so, Major Price has stood guard over his two daughters for over two hundred years.

The Siege of Gloucester lasted  26 days from10th August to 5th September 1643.  Accurate numbers of those killed are not available.  Royalists claimed to have lost 100 while the Parliamentary sources put the Royalist losses as high as 1500.  By contrast the city claimed to have lost only 50 although this is likely to be a low estimate.


Given the possible number of deaths it is surprising that there is only definitely identified monument to a casualty of the siege.  A table tomb in the graveyard of St Swithun's church at Hempsted just south of Gloucester records the death of John Freeman.  The Latin inscription states that he died, aged 23, on the 14th August just five days into the siege.  It continues,  “Here lieth John Freeman, Captain of horse.........pierced through by the stroke of a gunner's bullet at the siege of Gloucester, in the camp of the King”.  There is no comparable monument to any of the townsfolk who were killed during the siege.

Indeed only one monument is known to a member of the Town of Gloucester Regiment who fought in the siege and lived to tell the tale.   This is to Thomas Pury the younger (d. 1693) who was a captain in the regiment and became an MP for the Monmouth Boroughs during the Commonwealth.  Appropriately for a parliamentarian he is buried in the churchyard of the 'Puritan' church of St Lawrence at Taynton.   The original Norman church was destroyed during the Siege of Gloucester and the present church built in 1647-8 by an act of parliament during the Commonwealth.  It is a very rare example of a church built at this time and it is oriented in the puritan fashion, north-south.

The most lasting effect of the Siege of Gloucester is however what cannot be seen.  On gaining the throne Charles II ordered in 1662 that the walls of Gloucester should be razed so that the city could never again defy the Monarchy.  This began the destruction of the walls, and today all that remains above ground is a 4 metre long section.

Robert Tucker

Monument of the Month - May 2013

The monument to Dr Thomas Turner, died 1714

Stowe-Nine-Churches, Northamptonshire

On the north chancel wall of the church of St Michael at Stowe-Nine-Churches, Northamptonshire is the large monument that commemorates Dr Thomas Turner, an acclaimed academic and churchman who died in 1714. The monument is signed ‘Thos Stayner fecit’

Carved from a variety of marbles, the monument has a large central inscription placed on fringed drapery which is knotted at the upper corners and positioned beneath the cap of a balacchino. Flanking this arrangement are two fluted pilasters with two standing figures at the ends of the composition. The figure on the viewer’s left is that to Dr Turner, while that on the right is Faith who holds a model of a circular church. Above a moulded cornice is a segmental pediment. In the area beneath the curve is the unusual feature of a panel carved with clouds and an eye set within a sunburst. Beneath the main sill are two console brackets with a pair of oval cartouches of arms set on a plain panel.

Thomas Turner was born in Bristol in 1645, the younger brother of Francis Turner who became Bishop of Ely. On 6th October 1663 he was admitted to Corpus Christi College Oxford. He graduated with a B.A. degree on 15 March 1665-6 and took his M.A. in 1669. In 1677 he graduated Bachelor of Divinity and in 1683 graduated as Doctor of Divinity. In 1672 he was elected Fellow of Corpus Christi College. He held various clerical posts including being archdeacon of Essex (1680) canon of Ely (1686) canon of St Paul’s London (1682) and Precentor of St Paul’s (1690). The vast majority of his preferments were resigned at or just after his election as President of Corpus Christi College on 13th March 1687. His election as President took place only one week after the death of his predecessor, Robert Newlyn, possibly to prevent any interference from James II.

Turner died on 29th April 1714 and is buried in the chapel of Corpus Christi College but the obvious question is why is he commemorated by a monument at Stowe-Nine-Churches? The lengthy inscription mainly concerns the disposal of his property, but his executors bought an estate at Stowe, the income of which would have helped provide further funds for the relief of the widows and orphans of poor clergymen who were the main beneficiaries of his will. He was also very generous towards his college, as in 1706 he paid for the erection of what is now called the Fellows’ buildings, the design being attributed to Dean Henry Aldrich with William Townsend as the contract mason. This work is estimated to have cost £4,000 and Turner is thought to have left an estate worth in total about £20,000.

Thomas Stayner (the elder) was born in 1665, apprenticed in 1683 to Michael Todd and became free of the Mason’s Company in 1690. He was elected Master of the Mason’s Company in 1709. As early in his career as 1694 he had two apprentices working under him including his younger brother Anthony, while two of his own sons were also apprenticed to him. Although only nine monuments have been positively identified as by Stayner, he very probably made more which remain to be identified. He employed elements of the baroque in his work and demonstrates at least an understanding of some of the finer points of the style. The Turner monument is certainly one of his most ambitious but what makes the monument unusual is the positioning of the principal figures. That to Turner himself is quite controlled and simply shows him in clerical costume and carrying a book. It is the figure of Faith that is much more in the baroque style, especially her right hand brought up to the face in a dramatic gesture. The treatment of the drapery, particularly the end of the over gown that is gathered under her left hand, is firmly in the baroque tradition as is the head turned away from the spectator. Stayner has also placed the standing figures on spheres that display the constellations, another very unusual feature. The sphere beneath Turner also has his crest on the front while that beneath Faith carries a Bishop’s Mitre.

Stayner was quite an ambitious sculptor and the Turner piece is probably his most remarkable. Another of Stayner’s monuments is that at Quainton, Bucks, to Richard Winwood and his wife erected in 1689. This lively monument shows the male figure in armour lying on a mat, the rolled end supporting a cushion on which he rests his head. The body is turned away from that of his wife who reclines on the left elbow and gazes down at him in a pose of melancholy, her interlocked fingers being particularly beautifully rendered. This monument is also unusual in having an engraving of a recumbent skeleton, complete with hour glass under its raised knees, running the length of the tomb chest.

Thomas Stayner died in 1733 at West Hampton in Essex. In his will his widow Dorothy was to inherit his house and other property and after her death the estate was to pass to their daughter Mary. Stayner was an important sculptor. Although one of the lesser known mason-sculptors, he was highly imaginative and a contemporary of some of the great names of the period including William and later Edward Stanton, Abraham Storey, Thomas Cartwright, John Bushnell and others and his work ranks amongst the best of the London sculptors operating at the end of the seventeenth and during the early eighteenth centuries.

 Dr Clive J Easter FSA


Monument of the Month - April 2013

Zacharias Johannes Szolc, 1682, and

Stanisław Bużenski, 1697

Frombork Cathedral, Poland

Frombork Cathedral, on the eastern shore of the Bay of Gdańsk, contains a very large number of incised slabs and other monuments to members of the Cathedral Chapter.  Frombork (otherwise Frauenburg) was in the little Catholic enclave of Warmia (otherwise Ermland) surrounded by Protestant Prussia.  Although much of the population was German speaking, these two late seventeenth-century Canons were obviously Polish.  Their peculiar interest is that they are shown as skeletons leaning on inscribed plinths.  Canon Szolc is on the north side, on the eighth pillar from the west, Canon Bużenski on the south, on the fourth pillar from the west.  One is a mirror image of the other, both facing east.

Above: Canon Szolc

Above: Canon Bużenski

Canon Szolc came first; he was custodian of the Chancellary of the Diocese of Warmia, and prepared his slab in 1682, “being alive and well”.   Canon Bużenski followed two years later; he was Dean of Warmia.   Both died in 1692, the dates being added to the slabs.

Above: Vesalius engraving

What is remarkable is that they are clearly copied from an engraving in a book of anatomy, De Humani Corporis Fabrica, by Andreas Vesalius, 1543, as shown on the temporary hording surrounding the Bodleian Library’s extensive transmogrifications.   The only significant difference is that the Frombork skeletons ponder an hourglass instead of a skull.  That such a book was in the Chapter library need not surprise us: the Canons of Frombork were very erudite, indeed one of them, Mikołai Kopernik, received a special commendation from the Pope for his interesting astronomical discoveries in the 1540s.  

Jerome Bertram.