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Archive of Monuments of the Month November 2013 to April 2014


Monument of the Month - April 2014

Robert Crane (d. 1500), Chilton (Suffolk)

One of Suffolk’s best-kept secrets is St Mary’s church, Chilton; now redundant and in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, it is marooned in the middle of fields and usually locked so presents a challenge to visit. Yet it is worth persevering to get in, not least for the fine tombs to the Crane family. This feature focuses on the alabaster tomb monument commemorating Robert Crane (d. 1500) and his wife, Anne Osgard, Lady Arundel (d. 1508), located between the sanctuary and the brick-built Crane chapel on the north side of the church. We know that Robert personally chose how he wanted to be depicted on his monument as his will reveals that he had commissioned the tomb in his lifetime. He specified ‘My body to holy sepultur that is to say in the tombe of alabaster standing in the chauncell of Chylton church’. A date in the early 1490s is confirmed by the fact that the effigies are very similar to two other pairs in East Anglia, at Wethersfield (Essex) to Henry Wentworth (d. 1484) and at Wingfield  to John de la Pole, 2nd duke of Suffolk (d. 1491). This last, which was probably commissioned after his death by his widow, Elizabeth of York (d. ?1503), sister of Edward IV and Richard III, is finer than the other two, but the basic pattern is the same. When his widow made her will in 1508 she asked for burial ‘in the chapel annexed to Chilton Churche by the Grace of Robert Crane sumtyme my husband’. This proves that the Crane chapel was built by her husband in the late fifteenth century, possibly at the same time providing a chantry there; certainly Anne refers to the chantry priest in the extensive plans for her funeral set out in her will.





(Fig. 1)

The effigies of Robert and his wife lie on a high tomb chest decorated with square foliated panels which have shields that are set within foliated lozenge panels. The heraldry on the chest is coloured with modern paint. The arms shown are: south side L-R (1) argent, a fess gules, between three crosses botonny fitchy gules [Crane], impaling azure, an estoile argent; (2) azure, an estoile argent, impaling gules, five bars wavy or; (3) gules, five bars wavy or, impaling azure billetty or, a fess dancetty or.

(Fig. 2)

Robert is shown straight-legged with the hands held in prayer and the feet resting on a unicorn, with the horn originally attached to the head by a dowel. The head, which is bare, rests on a mantled frog-mouthed helm with the crest originally secured by two dowels. The armour consists of standard of mail, vambraces, couters, breastplate, plate skirt, tassets, presumably the lower edge of the hauberk, cuisses, poleyns with large scalloped side-wings and two additional lames above and below, greaves and broad-toed sabatons. Worn over the armour is a tabard, which would originally have been painted with his arms. The remains of the dagger cord is attached to the skirt by a staple.


(Fig. 3)

Dame Anne is depicted in a cloak over a surcoat ouverte and wears an SS collar. On her head she wears an early version of the gable headdress which remained in fashion into the 1530s. Some of the original polychromy remains on it on the side facing the chapel, revealing an elaborate scrolling pattern in red and providing a tantalising glimpse of how richly such monuments were once painted.

(Fig. 4)

The iconography of Robert’s tomb is all about status and lineage, with no religious imagery. This accords with Robert’s will shows him to be a man of conventional piety. He was concerned for the fate of his soul, but not unusually so. He left 40s to find a good priest to say prayers for his soul so that he might speed his progress through Purgatory. He also provided for masses at various friaries, including at Sudbury, Cambridge, Syon, Shene and the London Charterhouse, and convents at Sudbury, Clare and Bruisyard. More ambitiously he asked for a mass of the Scala Celi at Rome, although oddly he provided only 6s 8d for this; his widow made the same provision but allowing a more generous 40s for it. The original Scala Coeli pardon was attached to an altar at the abbey of Tre Fontane in Rome. To visit the chapel and have a mass celebrated on behalf of an individual after death would give great benefits to the soul, variously described as freeing the soul from the pains of Purgatory at once or swiftly.  Its reputation was international, and from the end of the fourteenth century some Englishmen left bequests for pilgrims to visit the chapel on their behalf. Robert asked that all the friars at nearby Sudbury attend his funeral; each of them would receive 20d in recompense. On that day there were to be doles distributed to the poor of various Suffolk parishes. A personal touch concerning his peity is provided by his bequest ‘to my suster Appulton my Releqwikis aboute my nek’, which must have been holy objects in a little case.

Copyright: Sally Badham. Photos: C.B. Newham. Thanks to Simon Cotton for help with wills.


Monument of the Month - March 2014

A son’s delayed memorial to his dead mother

The tomb of Catharine of Bourbon, Duchess of Guelders (d. 1469), Stevenskerk, Nijmegen (Netherlands).

Photo 1: Tomb of Catherine of Bourbon, Duchess of Guelders, in the choir of the Stevenskerk, Nijmegen (Netherlands)

Photo: Koos Willemse

The most prestigious place for a tomb in a medieval church is in the centre of the choir before the main altar. This is where we find the monument to Catharine of Bourbon in the church of St Stephen (Stevenskerk) in Nijmegen (PHOTO 1). From a distance it may seem a rather modest memorial, but a closer look reveals it to be a tomb covered in richly engraved brasses – rare survivals in the Netherlands.

Photo 2. Effigial brass on the top of the tomb of  Catherine of Bourbon, Duchess of Guelders, in the choir of the Stevenskerk, Nijmegen.

Photo: RCE

Photo 2a. Rubbing of effigial brass on the top of the tomb of  Catherine of Bourbon, Duchess of Guelders, in the choir of the Stevenskerk, Nijmegen.

Rubbing: Ronald Van Belle

The duchess herself is depicted on the tomb cover on a brass composed of four separate copper alloy plates, measuring 202 x 81 cm (PHOTO 2 & 2a). She is shown with her hands held in prayer, her feet resting on two lions, a brocade cloth behind her and a coat of arms on either side of her head. The inscription in raised Gothic textualis letters around the edge of this brass states her identity and concludes with a prayer:

Int Jaer unsers Heere[n] M CCCC LXIX / op den XXI dach In dem Maij starff d[ie] hoichgebore[n] Durchluchtige vermogede / fusty[n]ne vrouwe katharina / va[n] Burbo[n] hertochyn[n]e va[n] Gelre u[n]d Gulich Grevyn[n]e van zutphe[n] bit vur die sele

(In the year of Our Lord 1469, on the 21st day in May, died the high-born, illustrious, wealthy princess, the lady Catherina of Bourbon, duchess of Guelders and Gulik, countess of Zutphen; pray for the soul.)

Catherine was born into one of the noblest French families in or around 1440. She was thus barely thirty when she died in 1469. Her tomb is some four decades later in date, however. So why did she deserve such a prominent place in the church at Nijmegen and why did it take so long before she was honoured with a monument? The answers to these questions lie in the duchess’s bequests to the church and the political situation in the duchy of Guelders under her husband and their son.

Catherine was a daughter of Duke Charles I of Bourbon and Agnes of Burgundy, daughter of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy. It was Agnes’s elder brother Philip the Good who arranged matches for her four daughters to suit his own political ends. In 1463 Catherine married Adolf, son of Arnold van Egmond, duke of Guelders, and Catherine of Cleves (another niece of Philip’s). Catherine and Adolf had a daughter, Philippa (1465-1547), and a son, Karel (1467-1538), who was to become the most famous duke of Guelders.

 Meanwhile Burgundian influence in Guelders continued to grow and with that grew the desire to defend the duchy’s independence. Adolf first sided with Philip the Good and with his mother Catherine of Cleves to overthrow his father Arnold, whom he took prisoner in 1465. However, when Adolf himself then turned against Burgundy the new duke Charles the Bold restored Arnold to power, who promptly mortgaged his duchy to Burgundy and made Charles his heir. Adolf became Charles’s prisoner and his young son Karel was taken away to be educated at the Burgundian court. Yet it was the still captive Adolf whom the states of Guelders recognised as their new duke upon Arnold’s death in 1473. Adolf was liberated after the death of Charles the Bold in 1477, but he died that same year while leading the Flemish troops in the siege of Tournai. Catherine of Bourbon never witnessed these latter events, having died in 1469. It was not until 1492 that her son Karel was able to take over the government of Guelders, but he would be fighting the Habsburgs for power over his duchy until his death in 1538.

Photo 3: Burial vault with the coffin of Catherine of Bourbon under the choir floor  of the Stevenskerk, Nijmegen (Netherlands).

Photo: D. J. Dekker

A generous bequest to the church in Nijmegen led to Catherine being buried in the choir as befits a major benefactor: with the money she had bequeathed the Stevenskerk became a collegiate church in 1475. Yet the tomb we see today is really a cenotaph: Catherine’s body rests in a coffin in the specially constructed vault under the church floor, which was intended to house the remains of her husband and son as well. However, Adolf was buried in Tournai while Karel was laid to rest in Arnhem. The painted Latin inscription on the wall of the vault gives Catherine’s date as 22 (not 21) May 1469 (PHOTO 3).


It may have been his struggles with Burgundy that prevented her husband Adolf to erect a monument over his wife’s last burial place. Her son Karel was not yet two years old when his mother died, so he will have hardly known her. He also had other, more pressing concerns when he finally assumed government of the duchy in 1492, for his position was also far from secure, at least until the death of Philip the Fair (grandson of Charles the Bold) in 1506. Yet erecting a prestigious monument to his mother was both a filial and a political gesture. The stone tomb is decorated with seventeen engraved and polychromed brasses, which were commissioned from the engraver Wilhelm Loemans (d. 1512) in Cologne. (Loemans had earlier produced the large memorial brass in Geldern to Karel’s aunt, the regent Catherine, who had died in 1497.) In addition to the large brass on top of the tomb, twelve smaller plates along the sides show the apostles with the Latin text ora pro nobis (pray for us) while four brasses at the head and feet feature ‘weepers’ and the text requiescat in pace amen (may she rest in peace, amen) (PHOTOS 4-5). Above each of these sixteen figures is an ancestrial coat of arms representing Catherine’s high status and ancestry.

 The tomb thus does not fulfil its usual function of housing the body of the deceased. Yet even without a monument during probably forty years after her death, her generous bequest to the church will have ensured the duchess of prayers for her soul by the clergy. The tomb was originally positioned right above the crypt but it was moved slightly westward during the restoration of 1948-1965. It is also possible to visit the crypt where the duchess’s body still rests.


 See also:

● ID 2324 in the Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO) database at

●  Gerard Nijsten, In the Shadow of Burgundy: The Court of Guelders in the Late Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 2004)

●    More information on the tomb and the vault (in Dutch) by D.J. Dekker at and

Monument of the Month - February 2014


In the north aisle of St Marys and St Hardulph’s, Breedon on the Hill, Leicestershire are found three Shirley family monuments (fig 1).

Fig. 1

Two of the monuments are tomb chests from the Royleys workshop in Burton upon Trent. -2 The contract for Sir John’s monument still exists and dates the tomb at around 1585 (fig 2). Circumstantial evidence from the Stemmata Shirleiana would date the second tomb chest for Sir Francis Shirley and his wife Dorothy Gifford at around 1591. -3   The style and workmanship would suggest it is also from the Royleys workshop (fig.3). -4

By contrast, the third monument commissioned when Frances Berkeley first wife of Sir George Shirley died twenty years prior to his death, is a large tiered monument (fig.1) with kneeling effigies of the family, including two infants who died in childbirth (fig4), a cadaver (fig.5), and achievements (fig.6). It is dated 1598 on the side of the monument. This monument has been attributed to the Hollemanns’ Burton-upon-Trent workshop.-5

Fig. 4

It would be hard to ignore the difference in styles of these three monuments placed so closely together. However, rather than get distracted by debates on which is the superior tomb and by which standards this conclusion is drawn, it may be more useful to consider the monuments together as a whole and their location when trying to understand their function.

George Shirley 1st Bt (1559 – 1622) commissioned all three monuments within a space of 13 years. Therefore, their difference in style cannot be accounted for by a change in commissioner. Neither can it be explained by a change in the availability of craftsmen. The Royleys, a local family of alabaster craftsmen, produced the traditional forms of funerary monuments from around 1546 – 1614; whilst recent émigrés from The Netherlands, the Hollemans. ran a workshop introducing the new Italianate style from 1568 -1628. Thus both workshops were in production when George Shirley was commissioning his monuments.-6 This suggests that it is not a change in availability that decided stylistic choices.

Fig 5

Since they are consciously placed together by one commissioner it can be assumed that there is a narrative. After all the creation of a monument is a symbolic act. Sir George Shirley was actively preserving his family’s lineage and claims to social status. However, Sir George had no need to manufacture his heritage. His grandfather, Francis Shirley, had bought the priory and its lands during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, with the express purpose of using the church as a resting place for the family.At the same time, the priory church, St Mary and St  Hardulp’s, replaced the adjoining parish church, which was in a ‘ruinous state’, and the priory buildings were used as a school, all funded by the Shirleys.-7 The family had had connections with the priory since the twelve century and buying the lands consolidated an already large land ownership. The Shirley’s were able to claim a family lineage back to the Norman Conquest, when a Norman knight married a local Saxon Lady.

The placing of the monuments together in this church creates a sense of continuity. The church is full of Norman and Saxon carved detail. The monuments commissioned for his grandparents and father are in a traditional style, they look back to pre-Reformation times, whilst the memorial built for him and his first wife is of a contemporary style celebrating the continuation of the line. The family are present as kneeling figures.

Fig 6

 The Latin inscription on Frances’ memorial provides a clue to why this confirmation of status was so important to George Shirley. George makes sure that his connection with Thomas Howard 4th Duke of Norfolk, the uncle of his wife, is made clear and by this claim he both attaches himself to a powerful family but also affirms his own recusancy. Regardless of the Reformation, a Catholic Squire has placed himself in a newly converted protestant church.

It is George Shirley’s recusancy that is essential to the understanding of the significance of these monuments. Shirley was preoccupied with maintaining his place amongst the honour community of the gentry.-8  He not only commissioned these monuments but the huge illuminated family tree, the Stemmata Shirleiana, and was the first to buy a baronetcy from King James in 1611. As Cust, argues the Catholic gentry of this time faced a dilemma: rejecting a state imposed religion whilst staying loyal to the King and maintaining power in the area whilst suffering slights, such as being disarmed.


The irony cannot have been lost on the congregation. In a small church, recently stripped of rood screen and other images, there in the north aisle are the ever present brightly painted effigies of the Squire and his family in attitudes of prayer. This in a church they rarely attended.

Fig, 2

Fig. 3

 -1 ‘Grieving and sorrowing’, part of the inscription on Sir George Shirley’s monument

-2  Bayliss (1991) pp.21-41

-3  Shirley (1873) pp.80-101

-4  Bayliss ibid

-5  Bayliss (1993) pp.45-56

-6  Bayliss (1991) pp.21-41 & (1993) pp.45-56  

-7 Williams (1996) p.13

-8 Cust (1988) pp.40 – 70


· Bayliss, J.C., (1991). ‘Richard and Gabriel Royley of Burton-upon-Trent, Tombmakers’, Church Monuments Vol.6  pp.21-41

· Bayliss, J.C., (1993). ‘A Dutch Carver: Garrett Hollemans I in England’, Church Monuments Vol.8 pp.45-56.

·  Cust, R., (1988). ‘Catholicism, Antiquarianism and Gentry Honour: The Writings of Sir Thomas Shirley,’ Midland History Vol. 23 pp.40 – 70.

·  Shirley, Sir S.E. Bart, (1873) ‘Stemmata Shirleiana: or the Annals of the Shirley Family, Lords of Nether Etindon in the County of Warwick and of Shirley in the County of Derby,’ [online] London, Nichols & Son. Available at (accessed 06.08.13).

·  Williams, B.C.J., (1996). The Story of St Hardulph Church, Breedon on the Hill. Nottingham. Hawthorne Printers Ltd.

 Special thanks go to the volunteers who ensure that St Mary and St Hardulph’s is open to the public.In twenty years of visiting this little gem of a church it has never been locked.

Moira Ackers


Monument of the Month - January 2014

Lady Elizabeth Clinton (d. 11 September 1423)

Haversham (Buckinghamshire)

 In her will, dated 1422, Elizabeth, ‘lady of Clynton’, requested ‘my body to be beryet in ϸe chauncel of haversham before ϸe ymage of oure lady Seynt Marie’. She makes no mention of a tomb monument, but one survives on the north side of the chancel of St Mary’s church at Haversham. Although there is no inscription or surviving heraldry it is of the right date to commemorate her.

Fig. 1 General view of tomb monument to Lady Clinton.

 Lady Clinton lies recumbent with her hands held in prayer, her head resting on two pillows supported by angels and with a large lion at her feet. She is dressed in a wide-necked surcote ouverte (usually, although incorrectly, called the sideless cote hardie), close-fitting to the waist, below which it hangs in graceful folds.  The large openings at the sides are bordered by a wide band decorated with a floral motif.  Thorough the large openings at the sides can be seen her tight-fitting kirtle, low at the neck and girdled at the waist. From her shoulders hangs a mantle, which reaches to her feet; it is tied by tasselled cords which loop elegantly over her breast. Her neck and chin are covered by a pleated barbe and her head is covered by a kerchief which extends low over her brow and falls behind her head in folds to her shoulders. The last two features indicate that she is a widow.

Fig. 2 Lady Clinton’s effigy.

 Lady Clinton rests on a tomb chest, now somewhat damaged. On the front are six panels. The first and last two have figures of angels dressed in clerical attire and holding large square shields on which arms would originally have been painted. The middle two panels have male figures in fashionable dress. They wear houpelandes with high collars and long wide sleeves; the garment is held tightly by a belt, at waist level on the figure on the left and higher on the figure on the right. This distinction may have been intended to suggest that the right-hand figure died earlier and is therefore shown in dress of a slightly earlier date. The figure on the left has puffed sleeve heads and the edge of the sleeves are dagged below which can be seen the sleeves of the garment below which are full and gathered at the wrist. This more elaborate detail perhaps indicates that the person represented was of a higher status than the second figure. On their heads they wear hoods with a padded roll or bourrelet. Once again, that of the figure on the left is more elaborate.

Fig. 3 Detail of tomb chest figures.

What is the significance of these figures? One carries a rosary and the other a prayer book, hence they function as mourners. The distinction between the two suggests that they were intended to represent specific men, undoubtedly kinsmen of Lady Clinton. When in 1347, her father William de la Plaunk, lord of Haversham manor, died, he left two daughters Katherine and Joan, aged four and two, while Elizabeth, was born after his death. By 1361 Elizabeth was the wife of John son of Fulk de Birmingham, but this was the least prestigious of her three marriages. By 1356 Joan was dead and Katherine seems to have died without issue sometime after 1372, when a second inquisition was held as to her father’s property, and Elizabeth was seised of the whole by 1389, when she was the wife of John, Lord Clinton. He must have died within the next ten years as sometime between 24 December 1398 and 15 January 1399 Elizabeth married Sir John Russell of Strensham (Worcestershire), who died in 1405 and is commemorated by a brass in Strensham church. Elizabeth left no issue at her death in 1423, although that she had borne at least two children is indicated my directions for prayers to be said for various kinsmen including ‘my children soules’. The likelihood is thus that the two weepers represent her second and third husbands; perhaps the more elaborately dressed figure on the left represents Sir John Russell and the plainer figure on the right John, lord Clinton.

  Fig. 4. Monument to Ralph and Katherine Greene at Lowick.

   Elizabeth’s appointed seven executors to carry out her will, but had no widower or child upon whom she could rely to set up her tomb monument. It may well be that she had it made in her own lifetime. The weeper figures on the tomb chest are unusual and indicate a special commission. Her own effigy bears a close resemblance to that of Ralph Greene (d. 1417) and his wife Katherine at Lowick (Northamptonshire). The contract for its manufacture survives showing that it was ordered in 1419 by Katherine Greene from Thomas Prentys and Robert Sutton of Chellaston (Derbyshire). Lady Clinton’s monument is another likely product of this workshop, probably made in the closing years of her life.  

Copyright: Sally Badham

Monument of the Month - December  2013

Maria Rebekka Schlegel, 1736, Stadtmuseum, Meissen, Germany

fig. 1

The city museum in Meissen is a fragment of a former monastic house. The main building is part of the original church and has cloisters (kreuzgang) attached that house a variety of funeral monuments gathered from former city churches and churchyards. Among them are a number of eighteenth-century memorials, some of them free-standing. One that is fixed to the wall is that to Maria Rebekka Schlegel, who died in April 1736, aged 40. (Fig. 1) She was the wife of Johann Friedrich Schlegel, whose monument is also in the cloisters, and the mother of Johann Elias Schlegel, a playwright, and Johann Adolph Schlegel, a poet and clergyman. She is seated to the left of the inscription tablet, turning towards the inscription and pointing with her right hand (now gone) while somewhat  inadequately supporting a crying baby against her skirt with the index finger of her left hand. To the right of the tablet the figure of Time strides towards her raising an hourglass high in his right hand while clasping the long wooden handle of his scythe in the other. It is a dramatic composition, very much of the same era and content as memorials in England by Louis François Roubiliac, although the figure of Time lacks the characteristic tuft of hair above the forehead that such personifications in England have prominently displayed since the early seventeenth-century.


fig. 2

 The monument is signed:    Io:Ioach:Kandler       Kon:Modelmeister

  fecit                             (Fig. 2)

Johann Joachim Kändler was born near Dresden in 1706 and trained as a sculptor in that city. From 1723 he was a pupil of Johann Benjamin Thomæ. In 1731 he was appointed court sculptor to Elector Friedrich Augustus I (Augustus the Strong), as his master had been in 1712. Shortly after his appointment he was summoned to the Meissen porcelain factory to work as a modeller, nominally under Johann Gottlieb Kirchner, although he was paid considerably more than Kirchner. He became chief modeller (modelmeister) on Kirchner's resignation in 1733, a position he held until his death in 1775. It was under Friedrich Augustus's sponsorship the secret of making hard paste porcelain in the manner of the Chinese was discovered and put into practice at Meissen. From 1764 Kändler shared the post of chief modeller with the much younger French sculptor Michel Victor Acier. Other than that to Frau Schlegel, Kändler's only other signed monument is that to Alexander Miltitz, died 1739, in the church at Naustadt near Meissen, although others in the cloisters of the Stadtmuseum are attributed to him or his workshop.

The major sculptural programme in Saxony during the early eighteenth-century was at Augustus's new palace, the Zwinger in Dresden. The programme was under the control of Balthasar Permoser, appointed court sculptor in Dresden in 1689 following an Italian training. Because of the sheer size of the programme, which ran from 1708 to 1728, Permoser needed  assistance from other sculptors, who included Paul Heermann, Johann Benjamin Thomae, Johann Christian Kirchner (appointed as court sculptors by 1705, 1712 and 1717 respectively) and Kändler himself. It is no wonder that Dresden became a centre of attraction for sculptors and it is known that Roubiliac underwent some of his training there around 1718-20.

Although it may seem that Kändler's career took the reverse course to that of John Bacon the elder, Bacon beginning as a modeller at Nicholas Crispe's Vauxhall china manufactory and working as such for Wedgwood and the Chelsea-Derby concern until turning to large-scale sculpture after 1769, Kändler retained an interest in larger scale work. When the poet Christian Fürchtegott Gellert died in Leipzig in 1769, there was great interest in producing a monument to him. Kändler's porcelain model, with Gellert's profile hung on a tall obelisk (Fig. 3), stands in a cabinet in the factory museum in Meissen next to Acier's model of the monument that was originally erected in a private garden in Leipzig, designed by Gellert's friend Adam Friedrich Oeser and executed by Friedrich Samuel Schlegel. The latter was responsible for Gellert's monument in the Johanniskirche in Leipzig,  of which a Meissen model by Acier is in the British Museum. Although a number of porcelain examples of Kändler's design survive, it was seemingly never executed as a full-size monument. One wonders whether porcelain models for existing monuments by Kändler survive in the Meissen factory stores

                fig. 3

Jon Bayliss

Monument of the Month - November 2013

Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, 12th Baron de Ros of Helmsley (c.1492 – 1543) Bottesford, St Mary (Leicestershire)  

Fig 1 – General view of the monument

In front of the high altar in the crowded chancel of St Mary’s church, Bottesford (Leicestershire) stands the tomb-chest of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland (d. 1543) and his second wife Eleanor Paston, daughter of Sir William Paston of Norfolk (fig 1). The monument is of exceptional quality, and due to the survival of the extensive Belvoir Castle records, it is known to be the work of Richard Parker of Burton upon Trent (Staffordshire).

This is the only documented work by Richard Parker “the alabasterman”, and as thus is an important source of information on the work that he was producing in his workshop in Burton upon Trent during the mid-sixteenth century. The records show that Parker was commissioned to produce the sculpture and oversee its setting up within the chancel of St Mary’s church, along with John Lupton and his father, two local masons who were employed to undertake other elements of the work, including the strengthening of the floor in order to take the weight of the monument. The survival of both the documentation and the monument is important and allows us to produce a list of other stylistically similar monuments that can be attributed to Parker’s workshop (see Bayliss, J., 1990). Parker was paid £20 for his work.

The monument to the first Earl was the first burial within the chancel at Bottesford, and it was he who was responsible for having the monuments to his ancestors moved to Bottesford from Belvoir Priory and Croxton Abbey at the dissolution. The chancel of the church at Bottesford houses a fabulous collection of monuments to eight Earls of Rutland from 1543 to 1679. The first Earl’s monuments stands at the centre of the chancel and is overshadowed (in more ways than one) by the imposing monument to Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland, KG (1573 – 1632), the ‘witchcraft’ tomb.

Thomas Manners was the son of George Manners, 11th Baron de Ros of Helmsley and his wife Anne St. Leger, the daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, he therefore had connections through blood to Edward IV and Richard III, and through marriage to Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Thomas succeeded his father as 12th Baron de Ros at his death in 1513. His father’s monument is also a product of the alabaster workshops of Burton upon Trent, and stands in the Rutland Chantry Chapel at St George’s Chapel, Windsor (Berkshire). As well as being Baron de Ros, Thomas Manners was created the 1st Earl of Rutland by Henry VIII on 28th June 1526.

Fig 2 – Detail view of the Earls effigy showing his coronet and the mantle of the Order of the Garter

The monument consists of an alabaster tomb-chest with recumbent effigies of the Earl (fig 2) and his wife, with figures of weepers around the sides of the chest. There are the beginnings of Renaissance details appearing on the monument; however the style and the lettering are still entirely in the medieval tradition. This was to be an element of the work produced in Burton upon Trent until the end of the sixteenth century.

Fig 3 – Detail of the tilt-heaume with ‘Cap of Maintenance’ and Peacock (note traces of colour)

The Earl is shown in full mail and armour with a tabard, over the tabard he wears the mantle of the Order of the Garter. He wears a coronet and his head rests on a tilt-heaume, which is complete with the ‘Cap of Maintenance’ and Peacock (fig 3). His feet rest against a Unicorn. The countess is shown wearing a long gown and cape, whilst her feet rest against a Griffon. The whole monument would have originally been highly decorated, and traces of the original colouring can still be seen, especially on her dress (fig 4) and on the Peacock head-dress on his helmet.

Fig 4- Evidence of original decoration on the countess’s dress

As well as documenting the construction of the monument, the Belvoir Castle records describe in detail the care that was taken of the Earl’s body to preserve it prior to the burial. Initially the body was embalmed with spices from Nottingham, and then a surgeon encased it in wax. Following this a plumber was employed to encase the body in a close fitting lead shell.

This fabulous mid-sixteenth century monument and its associated documentation allow us to develop a greater understanding of the processes involved at the time, whilst allowing the study of the products of a high quality alabaster workshop in the midlands. It also stands as the initial phase of the development of the chancel of Bottesford church by successive generations of the Manners family as a spectacular collection of the monumental masons’ art.

 Further Reading:   Bayliss, J. (1990) Richard Parker ‘the alabasterman’, Church Monuments 5: (pp. 39 – 57 )

 Text and Photographs:   Edward Higgins MA BSc (Hons)