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December 2016

WW1 Memorial Tablet, The Tabernacle, Hayes, Cardiff

A memorial tablet to the members of the congregation of the Welsh Tabernacle, the Hayes, Cardiff who fell in WW1 comprises a plain framed lightly veined marble slab bearing an inscription in Welsh and the names of the fallen. This is set in an elaborate frame, the sides of which are pilasters of the heavily veined Pavonazzo marble with Penarth alabaster caps and bases, whilst the broken curved pediment decorated with a wreath and foliage and the base and supporting ornate corbels are all in Penarth alabaster. A plain marble slab beneath the memorial is an additional memorial to those who fell in WW2. A fine piece; Figure 1.

The inscription reads:






YN Y RHYFEL 1914-1918










The WW2 tablet reads:-



RHYFEL 1939-1945







The project started in November 1919 when Greg (Harry Gregory) made scale drawings of the monument, which suggests that the design may not have been Clarke’s. Work on the tablet itself commenced in May 1920 and was completed by late June. The day book records of its construction, which are rather more concise than usual, show that about 332 man hours was spent on the job. S. P. (Sidney Pollard) and Dando, together with unnamed masons with help from unnamed labourers were responsible for construction, with Ellis undertaking the carving and (Henry) Durnell the inscription. Dando and Horsley were responsible for fixing the memorial in place. Sharpening tools was contracted out to B. Jenkins. The only surviving drawing relating to this project  is in a very poor state of preservation and is certainly not a scale drawing. It may be a tracing of the original supplied by an architect; Figure 2.  

Total day works, materials and sundry expenses came to £71:14:0. F. Lloyd Jones of  105, Crwys Road, Cardiff was billed £100, representing a profit of 40%. A photograph of the completed item taken in Clarke’s workshop has survived; Figure 3. A comparison of Figure 2 and Figure 3 shows that the bottom member of the memorial between the two corbels was originally to be decorated but in the final version this piece was left plain..

A comparison of Figure 1 and Figure 3 shows  that in order to fit the WW2 memorial  beneath the original, this plain piece of alabaster   was  removed. Day Book and Bill Book records are appended; Figures 4 and 5.


Thanks to Mike Clarke for access to his archive and Prof. Maddy Gray for help with Welsh translation.

November 2016

A wapenbord of the Van Harn family of 1587

Just how difficult it can be to identify the original purpose of an early modern heraldic painting taken out of its original context is exemplified by a Dutch heraldic panel or wapenbord from the late sixteenth century (fig. 1) – was it commissioned to hang in a church as a rouwboard (mourning shield), or was it painted to document a marriage, birth, or any other important event in the family whose ancestral arms it depicts?

Dated 1587, this wapenbord is painted on a single wood panel measuring 42 x 33.5 cm without its later frame. Painted against a dark green background framed in black, the large heraldic achievement in the centre belongs to the Van Harn family. It is surrounded by the Van Harn (upper left), Zosius (upper right), Lyster (lower left) and Vool (lower right) arms, which are identified by inscriptions. This composition implies that the wapenbord was commissioned for a scion of the Van Harn family whose paternal ancestors are represented by the arms on the left-hand (dexter) side of the panel with the maternal ones on the opposite (sinister) side.

The Van Harn family originated from Rhenen in the province of Utrecht where Gerrit van Harn Jansz. (d. 1557) is recorded as mayor in 1540. His son Willem (c.1513-1580), who was mayor of Rhenen in 1557, married Catharina Henricsdr. Lijsters (c.1518-1598), and it is their arms that are displayed on the paternal side on the wapenbord of 1587. Their son Dr Joost Willemsz. van Harn (c.1556-1602) was married twice, first to Aeltge Cornelisdr. van Zijl (d. 1580) in 1578, and secondly to Josina Hermans alias Zoes or Zosius (1559-1598) in 1583. Josina was a daughter of Herman Joosten alias Zoes, a town councillor from nearby Amersfoort, and his wife Antonia Vool, whose arms are depicted on the maternal side.

As the wapenbord lacks an inscription that clearly identifies the event it was meant to commemorate, the only clue apart from the heraldry that might help to determine its original purpose is the date inscribed on the panel. The fact that Joost van Harn was appointed as the Count of Culemborg’s personal physician in 1587 does not seem to explain the commissioning of the wapenbord, but the same year also saw the death of Joost and Josina’s second child Willem (born 1585), for whose burial at Culemborg the wapenbord may indeed have been painted. As the early provenance of the panel is unknown, it is impossible to say if it was produced to hang in the church where Willem was buried or if the family took it with them as a memento when they moved from Culemborg to Zwolle in 1589. If the wapenbord remained in the church, it was probably taken down and passed into private hands at the time of the Batavian Republic (1795-1806) when the use of heraldry was forbidden. This was almost certainly the fate of the very similar wapenbord of Floris van Jutphaes van Wijnstein, which was hung in the Grote of Sint Laurenskerk at Alkmaar after his death in 1644 (fig. 2).

However, the case is not as straightforward as it seems, for there is another wapenbord of the Van Harn family that cannot be linked with a burial (fig. 3). Although smaller in size (30 x 27.5 cm), its overall composition is obviously based on the 1587 wapenbord, which it resembles down to the central Van Harn heraldic achievement and the painted black frame alongside the outer edge of the panel. Dated 1619, it shows the arms of the Van Harn (upper left), Graeff (upper right), Zosius (lower left) and Reidt (lower right) families and therefore must commemorate an event in the lives of Willem van Harn and his wife Clara, daughter of Johan van de Graeff and Elisabeth van Reidt, or of one of their children. Willem (1591-1653), the younger brother and namesake of the above-mentioned son of Joost van Harn, married Clara in Arnhem on 31 January 1619, and their firstborn son Joost was baptised there a year later on 9 January 1620. Although it is tempting to speculate that Joost might have been born very late in 1619 and that the wapenbord could therefore have been painted to commemorate his birth, Otto Schutte is almost certainly right when he rejects this idea for the simple reason that at the time most children were baptized within a few days of their birth. Thus, if the year 1619 is indeed the original date and not the result of a faulty restoration, it has to follow that this wapenbord was probably commissioned to document Van Harn’s marriage even though the arrangement of the arms seems to suggest otherwise.

These examples show that early modern wapenbord examples from the Netherlands need and deserve further study to distinguish between the various purposes they were commissioned for.



fig. 1: Wapenbord dated 1587, unknown Dutch painter, panel 42 x 33.5 cm (private collection, Germany).

fig. 2: Wapenbord (1644), unknown Dutch painter, panel 64 x 64 cm (Collection Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, The Netherlands).

fig. 3: Wapenbord dated 1619, unknown Dutch painter, panel 30 x 27.5 cm (present whereabouts unknown; formerly in the collection of the Historisch Museum het Burgerweeshuis, Arnhem, The Netherlands).


I wish to thank Dr Sophie Oosterwijk for her kind comments on this note. Furthermore, I’d like to thank Marjolein de Boer, Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, for the permission to reproduce Floris van Jutphaes van Wijnstein’s wapenbord, and Marijke Dijkers, Museum Arnhem, for trying to locate the Van Harn wapenbord of 1619.


Otto Schutte: “Een wapenbordje uit de familie Van Harn”, De Nederlandsche Leeuw 118.1-2 (2001), 229-247.

Van Harn Genealogy (; accessed 20 July 2015)

Wapenbord van kapitein jonkheer Floris van Jutphaes van Wijnestein (; accessed 20 July 2015).

October 2016

Brecon: cross slab commemorating Lewis Havard (d. 1569)

Members of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies are currently surveying the Havard Chapel in Brecon Cathedral, with its fine collection of ledgerstones. Results will be reported in the Newsletter ... meanwhile , here is a taster, another of those puzzling post-Reformation cross slabs which are so common in this corner of south-east Wales and so unusual elsewhere.

This magnificent (if rather battered) cross slab commemorates Lewis Havard, a local landowner who died in 1569. Unfortunately for the student of sixteenth-century ledgerstones, it is currently part hidden under the oak panelling of the memorial to the South Wales Borderers (the 24th Regiment of Foot) and the Monmouthshire Regiment. The panelling is itself of interest to students of church monuments, but it is a pity that it covers up the earlier stones.

Brecon was not of course a cathedral until the twentieth century. The church had been part of the Benedictine priory of St John and was converted to a parish church at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The monuments were pretty comprehensively moved around when George Gilbert Scott restored the building in the 1860s and 1870s, and we can’t be sure that this tomb slab is anywhere like its original location. Even more unfortunately, the panelling completely covers two medieval cross slabs  which have been tucked away under the radiators – not the best conservation practice!

There is a drawing of the slab in Theophilus Jones’s  History of Brecknockshire which is easier to interpret than the battered original, though if you look at it carefully you will see that the details of the heraldry are different.

The drawing was done by another Welsh antiquarian, the Rev. Thomas Price (better known by his bardic name, Carnhuanawc), who quite possibly made notes on the slab and drew it up afterwards: this might explain the inaccuracies. For example, the original slab has the Havard family’s own arms, the three bulls’ heads, at the upper part of the sinister panel. Instead of this, Carnhuanawc drew another coat of arms sometimes attributed to the Havards, a bull’s head between three mullets.

As well as the Havard arms, the slab has on the dexter side (reading from the top) the  chevron between three arrow-heads of the local Games family, a chevron between three birds (possibly the chevron between three cocks of the descendants of Einion Sais, one of the quarterings recorded for the Games family) and a stag (possibly the crowned stag of Owain Gethin, another quartering of Games).  Alas, the shields on the sinister side below the three bulls’ heads are too battered to identify them now. Carnhuanawc drew them as a boar’s head erased and a lion rampant. The lion could possibly be the lion rampant of Sir Davy Gam, ancestor of the Games family.

The heraldry on the slab makes it clear that family and lineage were important to the Havard family. More intriguing, though, are the cross head and the inscription. Crosses on tombs are unusual in post-Reformation England but surprisingly common in south-east Wales. They appear in so many different designs that they cannot be the work of one team of stonemasons. Crosses in the Vale of Glamorgan are simple, often only four intersecting lines. In north-east Monmouthshire and south Breconshire they are elaborate, floriated and sometimes interlaced. Some of the sixteenth-century ones  (like the Havard cross) are more reminiscent of late medieval designs but with the fleurs-de-lys getting squarer and more baroque by the early seventeenth century.

There is of course nothing in Protestant thinking to preclude a focus on the cross as the emblem of the redemptive sacrifice, but it was increasingly regarded as suspect. Even during the Commonwealth in the mid seventeenth century, though, tombs were explicitly excluded from Parliamentary ordinances for the removal of crucifixes, crosses and other visual imagery in churches. Nevertheless, they were clearly regarded as vulnerable. The memorial to Edward Hunter (d 1646) at Marholm, Northamptonshire, actually has the lines

Noe crucifix you see, noe Frightfull Brand

Of  Superstition´s here. Pray let me stand.

More clearly ‘Catholic’ in sentiment is the inscription on Lewis Havard’s tomb. In Latin and in blackletter script, it records his status and date of death and concludes with the traditional prayer ‘cuius anime propitietur Deus’. While not as defiantly Catholic as an outright request for prayer for his soul, this would have been regarded as distinctly suspicious by the church authorities. But was it actual evidence of Catholicism? Some branches of the Havard family were certainly reported as recusants in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Lewis Havard himself died in 1569, before the Papal bull Regnans in Excelsis which finally excommunicated Elizabeth and (among other things) ordered Catholics not to attend the services of the established church. This is the point at which Catholic sympathies are forced into outright recusancy. Lewis Havard, with his cross slab and his family’s concern for his soul, might well have regarded himself as a traditionalist but loyal subject of the Queen. As the NADFAS survey is proving, there were plenty more like him.

Madeleine Gray

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September 2016

St Bridget's Church, Llansantffraed and St Cynog's Church, Dyfynnog Breconshire

The famous poet Henry Vaughan, “The Silurist”, (1621-1695) died at Scethrog House, Llansantffraed, near Brecon and was buried in the churchyard of St Ffraed's. In 1897 a memorial fund raised sufficient money to have his grave repaired.

Click here for a .pdf file to download, read and printout the full particle and view the pictures.

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May 2016

St Michael's Church, Michaelston super Ely

St Michael's church, Michaelston super Ely is an ancient structure originating in the 12th or 13th century but was altered substantially in the 1860s by David Vaughan and the interior was rearranged by F. R. Kempson in 1908. A full history of the church has been presented by Vile.1 The church has been de-consecrated and is currently in the process of being converted to a domestic dwelling.

Click here to download and read the full article on St Michael’s church, view the photographs and access the footnotes.

April 2016

The ledger to Mary Jackson (d. Jan. 20 1676) at Allesley, Warwickshire, and the grave of William Shakespeare

It is usually supposed that William Shakespeare composed the inscription on his ledger-stone in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon. It was first printed by William Dugdale in Warwickshire (1656):

Good freind for Ieƒus ƒake forbeare

To digg the duƒt incloƒed here

Bleƒt be the man that ƒpares theƒe ƒtones

And curƒt be he that moues my bones

This is substantially what is now on the stone, the differences possibly because Dugdale was only precise with heraldry. Most scholars agree that this represents a fear of consignment to the charnel-house. If these were the last lines that Shakespeare wrote the fact that he was on his deathbed could explain their poetic inferiority. Another explanation is that the inscription is not by Shakespeare and he may not have known anything about it.

Before Dugdale, the lines are recorded in manuscript by John Weever, perhaps as early as 1617-18, more probably in the mid-1620s, and (in part) by Francis Fane in the earlier of his two Commonplace books (1629-1672), as 'Shax epitaph'. After Dugdale’s 1656 printing (Dugdale's field-work might have been done much earlier, in the 1630s and early 1640s, but the fact that he records the inscription on the grave of Shakespeare's daughter, Susanna Hall, suggests that he visited after her death in 1649) there are mentions of the inscription by Fane, in a later MS Commonplace Book, (contemporary with Dugdale), as  'Shakespeare on himself’, and in a Commonplace Book begun in 1669 by Henry Newcombe, where the lines are said to have been placed on Shakespeare’s grave ‘by his own appointment’. Later still come Robert Dobyns, recalling a visit to Stratford in 1673; Mr Dowdall (1693); William Hall (1694) and Mr Roberts (1729). Of these, Dowdall and Roberts agree with Dugdale’s transcription, while Dobyns and Hall give slight variations:

Dobyns reads it as

Good friend, for Jesu sake forbeare

 To digg the Dust that lyeth incloased here

 Blessed is the man that spareth these stones

Cursed be he yt moveth these bones

while Hall has

Reader, for Iesus's sake forbeare

To dig the dust enclosed here

Blessed be he that Spares these Stones

And cursed be he that moves my bones.

A late-seventeenth-century note in a copy of the Third Folio (1664) maintains that the inscription was 'ordered to be cutt by Mr Shackspeare' (1693). While the identification of the inscribed stone as marking Shakespeare’s grave is very early (possibly within a year of his death), the information that he ordered it to be cut on his stone dates to 1664 at the earliest, reinforced after 1669, and the tradition that he wrote it himself dates to c.1655/6: the verses are not ascribed to Shakespeare until forty years after his death.

As the gravestone was either repaired or replaced in the mid-eighteenth century the discrepancies in the transcriptions may be due to difficulties in reading a worn stone, and Dowdall and Roberts may agree with Dugdale because they used to Dugdale to help them decipher the inscription.

There is another possibility. The great scholar E.K.Chambers reports that the nineteenth-century scholar Halliwell-Phillipps, arguing that the inscription is a conventional one, recorded "an analogy of c.1630 from a Rawl.[inson] MS":

   Epitaphe on a Bakere

For Jesus Christe his sake forbeare

To dig the bones under this biere;

Blessed is he who loues my duste,

But damned be he who moues this cruste!

Chambers says that he 'cannot identify' Halliwell-Phillipps's manuscript source, and seems wary about its authenticity. If Chambers could not find it, then it is unlikely (though not impossible) that later scholars will be able to do so, and the spelling as recorded looks rather ersatz 'olde'. However Halliwell-Phillips, although questionable in his dealings in books and manuscripts, has not been convicted of being unscrupulous in reporting their contents, so it is feasible that the manuscript does - or did - exist.

Certainly there is at least one other version of Shakespeare's grave inscription.

At the east end of the south aisle of Allesley Church (Warwickshire) is a battered ledger stone. The inscription reads

Here lyeth the Body of Mary

Jackson who Died Jan.y ye 20th 1676 A

D. Good friend for Jesus ƒake forbear

To dig the Dust Inclosed Here.

Bleƒsed be the man that Doth

Prosper These Stones Cursed be

The man that Doth Disturb my


Gaps at the ends of lines are filled in with scrolled decoration.

The material appears to be the local ironstone, the lettering only moderately accomplished, the setting-out deplorable. The stone is aligned north/south, suggesting that it has been moved from its original location, and set in a repaved floor, perhaps when the south aisle was rebuilt in 1863. It may simply be derivative of the inscription on Shakespeare’s gravestone, as published by Dugdale, and a reflection of Shakespeare’s growing fame. In this case, why was Shakespeare’s verse as found in Dugdale rewritten (to its detriment)?

Allesley is 17 miles from Stratford; possibly both this and Shakespeare’s stone are examples of a mortuary verse in use in the seventeenth century - there may be more examples in the area. This does not preclude Shakespeare’s being the original author, although it does make it more unlikely. Formulaic inscriptions are most usually found on the grave-markers of the middling sort: there seems to be no record of a Jackson family as land-holders in Allesley at any period and the stone does not suggest that its commissioner was more than modestly prosperous. Another grave-inscription which uses at least some of the words found on Shakespeare's is at High Ercall (Shropshire) to John Hotchkiss, vicar, 1689 and there are others from Shropshire (1797), and Manaccan (Cornwall) (1766).

The first claim that Shakespeare wrote and ordered the words to be carved on his gravestone post-dates 1655. They were first published in 1656. While the eighteenth-century reuses may derive from Dugdale, the seventeenth-century variants, particularly the 1630s one - if it existed - suggest that what is carved on Shakespeare's grave is a formula of the 'As I am now so shall you be' type, and not by Shakespeare at all. This would explain the variations in the early reports of its wording - what was written down was a formula that the recorders already knew and they supplied the illegible bits of the inscription from their own knowledge of it. Allesley is the earliest comparator after Dugdale and gives weight to the formula argument.

Shakespeare's gravestone is modest. It is not a fine heraldic ledger like those of his grandson-in-law, Thomas Nash, son-in-law, John Hall, and daughter Susanna, which adjoin his slab in a row to its right (facing east). Halliwell-Phillips is the source of the statement that Shakespeare's slab had sunk, and was replaced - this is usually taken to mean that it was substituted, but it might have simply been put back where it should be and that what we see is the original inscription - it is certainly more plausible as an early seventeenth-century inscription than a mid-eighteenth-century one. It is possible that no more was done by Shakespeare's heirs because of the state of the chancel (ruinous in 1618). If it was anticipated that the floor would be replaced, why waste money on an expensive ledger? By 1623 when Anne Hathaway was buried - and by when Shakespeare's wall-monument had been erected - the chancel had been repaired. This would explain the posh armorial ledgers enjoyed by his descendants. It might also explain the use of a conventional warning against disturbing the body: if it was anticipated that there was going to be a lot of fossicking about in the floor of the chancel in the near future Shakespeare's heirs may well have wished that his corpse remain undisturbed.

A recent televised archaeological survey has suggested that Shakespeare's grave was disturbed, and that this might have been due to grave-robbing. The disturbance could equally well have been the eighteenth-century repair mentioned by Halliwell-Phillips. Apart from this the programme's 'revelations' contained nothing to surprise scholars of Early Modern burial practice: he was buried in a comparatively shallow grave, possibly brick-lined, not in a vault, and in a woollen (as was required by law) not in a coffin.

This is a summary of what we know about Shakespeare's grave and the consequent likelihood of his authorship of the inscription:

1. Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 (MI) and was buried in the Parish Church on 25 April (Church Burial Register), in the chancel (he was one of the lay-rectors) on the north side (location of the monument and of family graves). At this stage the chancel was ruinous and walled off from the church.

2. In probably the mid-1620s, but possibly as early as 1617/8, John Weever recorded the inscriptions on both the wall-monument and the grave-slab, but did not say they were by Shakespeare, or that he ordered them. They might not have been taken down on the spot, but transmitted by a third party: the transcription implies that only the last two lines are on the slab, see 9 below.

3. The chancel was repaired 1621-2.

4. Anne Hathaway was buried on 6 August 1623 on the north side of the chancel, in the space between Shakespeare's stone and the wall. This (assuming that the interments faced east) would put her on her husband's left, the correct position. The monument to Shakespeare was almost certainly in place in 1623 (It is mentioned by Leonard Digges in his commendatory verse to the First Folio).

5.1634 Lieutenant Hammond visits Stratford: he remarks Shakespeare's monument, but not the floor-slab.

6. 1635 John Hall (Shakespeare's son-in-law) dies: his ledger-stone is in the chancel next-but-one south to Shakespeare.

7. 1647 Thomas Nash (Shakespeare's grandson-in-law) dies: his ledger-stone is in the chancel next south to Shakespeare, possibly in the place left vacant for Susanna Shakespeare Hall, who would thus have been between her father and her husband, and on the latter's left.

8. 1649 Susanna Shakespeare Hall dies: her ledger-stone is in the chancel next to John Hall.

9.  In Francis Fane’s earlier Commonplace Book (1619-1672+) he records the last two lines of the inscription as “Shax Epitaf”: this might have been based on Weever, or on a joint source.

10. Post-1649 Dugdale visits the church (?again): he records both inscriptions but does not attribute them to Shakespeare.

11. In a Commonplace Book compiled ca.1655/6 for his son Henry, but with the last entry 1663 (Folger Library) Fane includes the grave-verse again, this time ascribing it to Shakespeare. This also occurs in a similar Commonplace book compiled for his son Francis.

12. 1676 The ledger to Mary Jackson at Allesley.

13. At some point after 1673 Robert Dobyns claims that in 1673 he transcribed the epitaphs to Shakespeare and John Coombe, and that the Coombe epitaph (satirical and widely ascribed to Shakespeare) has been razed by the time of writing. This cannot be true, he can only have transcribed the Coombe ‘epitaph’ from a paper attached to the grave, and even this seems unlikely. So he is unreliable.

14. 1693. Mr Dowdall, describes the epitaph on a plain free stone, saying it was made by Shakespeare 'a little before his death. His informant was the then parish Clarke 'aboue 80 yrs old’, who also said that grave remained inviolate because of curse, although his wife and daughters wanted to be buried with him. (The clerk was probably William Castle, born 1614). Dowdall also includes the claim that Shakespeare was a butcher’s boy who ran away and joined the stage. Anne Hathaway Shakespeare and Susanna Shakespeare Hall ARE buried with Shakespeare, although not (judging by the ledgers, and confirmed by recent the archaeological survey) in the same grave. Judith Shakespeare Quiney (1583-1662) was not buried with her parents, but in the churchyard. The interments in the chancel represent the line of descent of Shakespeare's fortune, not his genetic line.

15. 1694 William Hall reports the ledger inscription & the tradition that Shakespeare ordered it to be inscribed. He accepts Shakespeare’s authorship & tries to explain the bad versification by the fact that Shakespeare was addressing ‘clerks and sextons, for the most part a very ignorant sort of people.' He says Shakespeare was buried 17 feet deep (this has been recently disproved by a GPR survey). This is almost certainly too late for any first-hand memory of the burial, and sounds like a local tradition, perhaps again transmitted by William Castle.

There are four possible conclusions

1. The epitaph was by William Shakespeare and circulated widely after his death in both MS and print and is used accordingly

2. The epitaph is not by Shakespeare but circulated as above and was chosen by him. Allesley in both these cases provides evidence of Shakespeare's early posthumous fame.

3. The epitaph, whether chosen by Shakespeare or not, is commonplace and widespread around the country. In this case biographical speculations based on it collapse.

4. The epitaph has nothing to do with Shakespeare, but marks another person's grave, and was in place at the time of his interment, somewhere else in the chancel. It has been assumed to be Shakespeare's because of its proximity both to his wall-monument and to the named graves of his widow and descendants.

- If anyone has any other examples of the use of this verse, I would be most interested to learn about them. I am grateful to Jon Bayliss for his help with this. If anyone would like a fuller, sourced, version, e-mail me at

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September 2015

Ralph of Shrewsbury, Bishop of Bath and Wells (d. 1363)  

Wells Cathedral (Somerset)


Fig. 1        

Fig. 2     One of the earliest surviving alabaster effigies to a member of the higher clergy is that to Ralph of Shrewsbury, Bishop of Bath and Wells (d. 1363), in Wells Cathedral (Somerset) (Fig. 1).Bishop Ralph’s effigy was originally in a place of high honour in the middle of the choir before the high altar in Wells cathedral. However, it was apparently moved out of the choir about 1550 and appears to have been in its present position in the North Choir Aisle at least since the early eighteenth century. The graffiti pattern and dates indicate this. It is very dense on his left side but almost absent on his right side, against the wall (Fig. 2). Apart from this, the effigy is relatively well preserved.

Fig. 3

Bishop Ralph is shown lying recumbent, with his head supported by a pair of pillows and his hands held in prayer. The carving is very well executed and the head of his staff, which is broken off, was originally fully undercut. His most curious feature is his mitre, which is shown hinged at both sides and secured by pins (Fig. 3). The effigy was evidently used as a model for that of Bishop Harewell (d. 1386), which is also alabaster and again has a hinged mitre. A special difference is at Harewell’s feet where the two collared dogs shown with Bishop Ralph are replaced by two hares, as a pun on Harewell’s name.

Previously Chancellor of Oxford University 1328-29, Ralph of Shrewsbury, a man of obscure origins, was the unanimous choice of the monks of Bath and of the canons of Wells when elected to that see in 1329. His consecration took place without the assent of the Pope, for which unfortunate haste Bishop Ralph had subsequently to pay 2,000 florins into the Roman treasury. His legacy rests on his pastoral activities during the years that he was diocesan bishop, as a result of which he gained a reputation for sanctity. Bishop Ralph also restored many of the palaces belonging to the see and surrounding, with lofty walls and a deep moat, the episcopal palace at Wells. It is probable also that the recasting of the eastern limb of Wells Cathedral was mainly the work of this bishop. Although not closely linked to Edward III’s court, Shrewsbury’s contribution to the monastery doubtless led to his commemoration by a fine monument in the latest fashion, which for some thirty years after his death was a popular place of veneration.

Fig. 4

However, Ralph’s principal benefactions at Wells were in support of the minor clergy.He founded the college of vicars, procuring license of incorporation for them, building them dwellings, a chapel, and hall, in ‘the vicars close,’ that they might live together; providing them with an endowment separate from the capitular estates, and drawing up rules for their conduct. The close survives (Fig. 4). At Wells Cathedral is a commemorative panel painting, dating from the later-sixteenth or early-seventeenth century, in which the vicars are seen kneeling at the feet of the bishop, with this inscription attached: ‘Per vicospositivillae, pater almerogamusUtsimuluniti, tedante domos, maneamus [We are lodged in the streets of the town, but beseech you, dear father, that if you give us houses, we may be able to live together]’. The bishop benignly responds: ‘Vestrapetuntmerita, quod sintconcessapetita, Utmaneatisita, locafecimus hic stabilita [Your merits plead for you that what you ask should be granted; we have built permanent lodgings so that you can live as you ask]’ (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5

Copyright: Sally Badham Photos 1-4 Brian and Moira Gittos Photo 5:  Jez Fry (by permission of the Chapter of Wells Cathedral)


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Archive of Monuments of the Month July 2012 to March 2013  7

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April 2013  Zacharias Johannes Szolc, 1682, and Stanisław Bużenski, 1697 Frombork Cathedral, Poland  Jerome Bertram

May 2013  The monument to Dr Thomas Turner, died 1714. Stowe-Nine-Churches, Northamptonshire   Dr Clive J Easter FSA  

June 2013  'Left for dead' Major Thomas Price  Robert Tucker

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  Dr Sophie Oosterwijk  FSA

August 2013  Thomas and Mary Acton, erected 1581, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire  Jon Bayliss

September 2013  Cholmondeley Monument, St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London   Dr George Roberts

October 2013  Revd Theophilus Pickering (d. 1710) and John Dryden, Poet Laureate (d. 1700), Titchmarsh (Northamptonshire)  Sally Badham FSA

November 2013  Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, 12th Baron de Ros of Helmsley (c.1492 – 1543) Bottesford, St Mary (Leicestershire)    Edward Higgins MA BSc (Hons)

December 2013  Maria Rebekka Schlegel, 1736, Stadtmuseum, Meissen, Germany  Jon Bayliss

January 2014  Lady Elizabeth Clinton (d. 11 September 1423) Haversham (Buckinghamshire)

Sally Badham

February 2014  LUGENS MŒRENSQUE  Moira Ackers

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).  Sophie Oosterwijk and Trudi Brink

April 2014  Robert Crane (d. 1500), Chilton (Suffolk)  Sally Badham

May 2014  A monument with a story. Double monument said to commemorate Lady Constantia and her son John, St Leonard’s church, Scarcliffe (Derbyshire).  Sophie Oosterwijk and Sally Badham

June 2014  A military effigy

St James's Church, Iddesleigh, Devon  John K Bromilow MInstP

July 2014  Brecon Cathedral: a post-Reformation cross slab  Dr Maddy Gray PhD

August 2014  The monument to Lady Wolryche, 1678: the Lady with the Lute  Dr Clive J Easter FSA  

September 2014  Row On Row (1)  Robert Tucker

October 2014  A Fool’s Monument?  The Tomb Slab of Hans Has at Wertheim, Germany  Dr Martin Spies

November 2014  A Ledgerstone at Aldenham, Hertfordshire  Dr Jean Wilson

December 2014  Heaven under our feet: the Laleston triple cross  Dr Madelaine Gray PhD

January 2015  Llancarfan and Carisbrooke: some thoughts on a seventeenth-century cross slab in the Vale of Glamorgan  Dr Madelaine Gray PhD

February 2015  A medieval miniature adult? An unidentified female miniature effigy at St Giles’s church, Coberley (Gloucestershire)  Sophie Oosterwijk

March 2015  Monument to William Villiers died 1643  Dr Clive J Easter FSA

April 2015  An Effigy in the Porch of Beaumaris Church  Dr Madelaine Gray PhD

May 2015  Edward, the Black Prince, d. 1376, Canterbury Cathedral, Kent  Sally Badham MBE, FSA

June 2015  The Farnham Monuments: Myths, Legends and Family Fables (Pt.1)  Moira Ackers

July 2015  The Farnham Monuments: Myths, Legends and Family Fables (Pt.2)  Moira Ackers

August 2015  The monuments to Charles Leigh and Francis Longe at Spixworth, Norfolk Dr Jean Wilson