Church Monuments Society


Virtual Study Day at Burrough Green, Cambridgeshire

By CMS in Heritage

As a result of the Covid-19 outbreak the CMS in line with other societies has had to postpone several of its 2020 events. My favourite type of event is Study Days, which are based at a single church with an interesting collection of monuments and include talks on the church and monuments as well as time to examine them. This Blogpost is intended as a virtual replacement with a well-illustrated text on a church which could well have featured in such an event.

Sir Thomas de Burgh (d. 1199) was lord of the manor of Burrough Green in the twelfth century. In the fourteenth century it was held by Thomas de Burgh (d. 1322), his two sons John (d. 1329) and Thomas (d. 1334), and Thomas’s son Sir John de Burgh (d. 1393). When Sir John de Burgh’s son Thomas died in 1411 without issue, his estates were divided between his three half-sisters, the Cambridgeshire lands going to Sir John de Burgh’s eldest daughter Elizabeth, who had married Sir John Ingoldesthorpe in 1383. In 1420 Sir John Ingoldesthorpe was succeeded by his son Thomas, who died in 1422 leaving a son Edmund, aged one. The wardship of Edmund was granted to John, Lord Tiptoft, who married Edmund to his daughter Joan. Edmund died in 1456 leaving a daughter Isabel, (d. 1476), who married John Neville, marquess of Montagu. On Joan’s death in 1494 the Ingoldesthorpe lands were divided between Isabel’s five daughters. Burrough Green went to Elizabeth, wife of Thomas, Lord Scrope of Masham, and after her death to her niece, Lucy Brown. In 1574 the manor was sold to Sir Anthony Cage.


The church at Burrough Green

The parish church of St Augustine in Burrough Green (Cambridgeshire) is a Grade II* Listed Building. Built of field stones and rubble, it has a chancel, aisled nave, west tower, and south porch. The chancel, which is almost as long as the nave, dates from the thirteenth century. The two-stage tower and the aisles were added to the nave in the fourteenth century. The chancel was flanked by two chapels each stretching its full length. The fabric suffered badly from the mid-sixteenth century when the church began to fall into disrepair. When the Shepreth rector, John Layer, visited the church in 1618 it seemed still to be largely complete. In the early-seventeenth century the steeple was repaired, but the Cage family refused to repair the chapels, for which they were responsible. In 1663 the churchwardens reported to the Bishop of Ely ‘Our church is out of repair and we have nothing to repair it.’ Two years later a detailed account was submitted: ‘The two isels in the church and the middle thereof very much out of repair in the led timber and stonework, and partlie fallen down… Chancel out of repair in leds and stonework… The 2 chappels, the roof of that on the S. being fallen down and in all parts out of repair. The other out of repair in ledds, stonework and timber…’. The side chapels appear to have been demolished by 1684, for the churchwardens’ report of that year makes no mention of the need for structural repairs to them.

During the de Burghs’ and Ingoldesthorpes’ tenures a fine series of relief monuments was set up in the church to members of the families. The effigies are sadly damaged, in part because they are carved from chalk (clunch), a soft material, and also because of rough treatment. Nonetheless, they remain of considerable interest. There are several sets of antiquarian notes on the church and its monuments, dating from between 1618 and 1750, which show that there has been a degree of re-arrangement of the surviving effigies and that others have been lost. We cannot be certain, therefore, that what we see now is the original arrangement. Indeed, it is highly likely that it is not.

Fig 1

Fig. 1.

Extract from Richard Gough, Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain, 2 vols. (1786-96), I, p. 221.

In the eighteenth century one of the figures under the centre canopy was on the outside chancel wall. The antiquary Richard Gough was so impressed by an early visit to the monuments at Burrough Green that he was moved to start work on his seminal study, Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain (1786-96) (Fig. 1).


Fig. 2.

Three wall arches in Burrough Green church containing four effigies.

On the north side of the chancel are three wall arches containing four effigies (Fig. 2). The central recess appears to be primary and the two flanking recesses secondary. The recesses each display a gabled ogee arch with ballflower finial, a style first known in the 1290s and remaining fashionable until the mid-fourteenth century. The central one has an ogee arch which can also be traced on the outside wall of the chancel; it is in its original position. The other two have four-centred arches, and all three have canopies with crocketed mouldings in ogee curves. However, at least the central recess seems to have been altered. Also there are the remains of a finial at roof level, suggesting that something massive once stood where the eastern recess is now, rather awkwardly squeezed in. The four effigies housed beneath the canopies are all later than the arches. The arms painted in the spandrels above the two outer arches are modern work but may be based on the originals. The eastern arms are de Burgh and Engayne, the western arms de Burgh. A further two effigies lie in the north aisle.


Fig. 3.

Monument memorialising Sir John de Burgh (d.1393) and his second wife, Katherine.

The monument positioned in the central arch set into the north wall of the chancel, which originally opened out into the Lady Chapel so that the monument could be seen from both the chancel and the chapel, contains the effigies of a knight and lady (Fig. 3). They lie on a tomb chest decorated with large blank shields within cusped panels, although the bottom of the chest appears to have been trimmed and the effigies do not fit it at all well. The effigies most probably commemorate Sir John de Burgh (d. 1393) and his second wife, Katherine, daughter of Sir John Engayne of Teversham and Stow cum Quy (d. 1409). Katherine founded a chantry in 1407 in the Lady Chapel on the north side of the chancel for the souls of her husband and herself. Her will records that Sir John de Burgh was buried at Burrough Green and instructs her own burial beside him. There is no mention of a monument, which was most likely already commissioned. Although their effigies may not have been the first to occupy the arch, it is highly likely that they were always positioned there, probably displacing earlier monuments.


Fig. 4.

Effigy of Sir John de Burgh (d. 1393).

Sir John’s effigy is partly embedded in the wall. He is shown resting on his right hip and turned towards the chancel, with the crossing of the legs exaggeratedly twisted. His effigy is crossed-legged with his right arm across his chest and with his feet resting on a lion. He is attired in armour dating from the later fourteenth century (Fig. 4). On his head, which rests on a great helm, he wears a bascinet with attached aventail. The coat armour is short and tight fitting with a fringe formed from leaf shapes. His hip-belt is constructed from lozenge-shaped plaques. He holds the remains of a spear.

What is especially unusual about Sir John’s effigy is that he lies on a bed of stones, one of only three effigies in England with this feature. The other two are in Norfolk. The earliest is at Ingham and commemorates Sir Oliver de Ingham (d. 1344). Oliver appears to be in the act of rising from the bed of stones, a vigorous pose which is not in itself exceptional, being characteristic of a wider desire in all manner of media in the mid-fourteenth century to show movement and life; variations of the pose appear both in effigial and in other sculpture. The bed of stones has variously been seen as a rock upon which the deceased lay; as being indicative of martial hardihood; as bivouacking or death on the battlefield; and as a cult of penitence. The example at Reepham most likely commemorates William de Kerdiston (d. 1361), who was closely connected to Oliver de Ingham. The precise way in which the stones are carved, the pose of the upper part of the main effigy and the detailing and pose of some of the ‘weepers’ all point to the Reepham tomb having been made in the same London workshop that was responsible for Lord Ingham’s monument, although the armour of the main figure, the dress of the weepers and the detailed design of the canopy all point to the Reepham memorial having been made later. In contrast, the Burrough Green monument stands alone.


Fig. 5.

Effigy of Katherine de Burgh (d. 1409).

In front of Sir John’s effigy is that to his wife Katherine. She rests her head on a cushion set diagonally, supported by something the upper part of which is lost and whose wings reach to her shoulders. This might be a single angel or more likely a bird. Looking at the side of the lady’s neck, part of what seems to be the bird’s body and tail are visible. Although badly damaged, the lady had widely spread hands which held something between the fingers. She is shown with her hair enclosed in a netted cap and has her ears exposed. The effigy is worn and details unclear but she wears a surcote ouverte with large studs down the front with a cloak over all (Fig. 5). This is consistent with a late-fourteenth-century date or slightly after, indicating that the two effigies probably are husband and wife. Her effigy now appears noticeably longer than his, suggesting that they could have been commissioned separately. Yet his original length is uncertain because he is badly broken across the middle and there may have been some material lost at the break, making him appear a little shorter than he was initially.


Fig. 6.

Effigy probably memorialising one of the sons of Sir John de Burgh (d. 1393).

Under the arch to the west of the pair of effigies is a single military effigy resting on a tomb chest of the same design as that supporting Sir John and Lady Katherine. Again, the shields are blank. It has previously been thought to memorialise Sir Thomas de Burgh (d. 1334) but the armour shown is too late for such an attribution. The knight is straight-legged with the hands held in prayer and he has a lion at his feet (Fig. 6). His head rests on a helm with a crest of a man’s head; he wears a pointed bascinet with an attached aventail. His coat armour is short and tight-fitting with a tasselled fringe. The hip-belt is made of square plaques; it had a dagger attached by a cord on the right and a sword on the left. Although the pose is very different from that of the effigy of Sir John de Burgh (d. 1393), the armour is similar, pointing to a date towards the end of the fourteenth century or the beginning of the fifteenth century.


Fig. 7.

Heart casket held by effigy to one of the sons of Sir John de Burgh (d. 1393).

This effigy has a feature of considerable interest. He is shown holding a pointed object with a flat top, which can only be interpreted as a heart casket (Fig. 7). This must indicate that, although the effigy at 165 cm long is full-sized, the monument covers a heart burial. An important doctrine of Catholicism in this period was that of Purgatory, which held that the soul had to be refined or purified before it could enter heaven. Testamentary evidence in particular demonstrates that it was believed that multiple prayers speeded up the attainment of salvation. Hence, while normally a person would have just a single monument, some people chose multiple memorialisation in order to increase the number of locations in which the priests and congregation could be prompted to prayer by the sight of a monument. In consequence, in the period to 1300 in particular, some of higher status favoured division of their bodies, providing for their heart and entrails to be buried separately from their flesh and/or bones and setting up monuments at two or more locations.


Fig. 8.

Monument with a military effigy probably memorialising another son of Sir John de Burgh (d. 1393).


Fig. 9

Detail of heart casket held by military effigy probably memorialising another son of Sir John de Burgh (d. 1393).

The frontal of the eastern monument is lost. An antiquarian drawing made in 1750 by the antiquary and vicar of Milton, William Cole, shows that it was the same height as the other two, with a clear space between its side shafts and those of the central monument, and had a matching heraldic frontal. Today the monument stands more than a foot higher than the others and rests on a post-medieval brick plinth (Fig. 8). It too houses a single military effigy, although at 175 cm it is longer than the knight in the western recess, so was presumably commissioned separately. It is traditionally believed to memorialise Sir John de Burgh (d. 1329), but the armour is again far too late for this. Like the western effigy, the figure is straight-legged and has his hands held in prayer, again holding a heart casket, albeit less well preserved than that on the other single knight and therefore less clearly defined (Fig. 9). The armour is slightly different from that of the knight in the western monument. His head rests on a helm with a crest of a man’s head; he wears a pointed bascinet with an attached aventail. His coat armour is short and tight-fitting with a mail fringe below. Again, the hip-belt is made of square plaques, with a dagger attached by a cord and a sword on the right.

Examples of heart monuments as late as that at Burrough Green are rare. The bodies of those memorialised must have been buried elsewhere, perhaps at a religious house, although there is no documentary evidence regarding this. The likelihood is that they commemorate the two sons of Sir John de Burgh and Lady Katherine. The first heir, John, died in 1370 and the second, Thomas, in 1411. The former’s heart monument may have been commissioned by his parents, perhaps retrospectively as the armour shown is later than the 1370s. It would have been appropriate for the pair to be memorialised next to their parents. However, it is impossible to be certain which effigy commemorates which son.


Fig. 10.

Monument to Sir John de Ingoldesthorpe (d. 1420) and his wife Elizabeth de Burgh (d. 1421).


Fig. 11.

Monument to Sir John de Ingoldesthorpe (d. 1420) and his wife Elizabeth de Burgh (d. 1421).

The final monument in this series is positioned against the north wall of the north aisle, although in 1750 Cole recorded the effigies damaged and lying in the north-east corner of the chancel. It comprises effigies of a military figure and a lady on a modern brick tomb chest (Figs 10 and 11). The effigies are in poor condition, having suffered exposure and mutilation when the church was reduced in size and the original Lady Chapel on the north side of the church demolished, probably in the seventeenth century. Despite the damage, it is clear that the effigies were originally of very high quality and were rich in detail and highly decorative.


Fig. 12.

Effigy of Sir John de Ingoldesthorpe (d. 1420).

The knight is shown straight-legged, with the hands originally held in prayer and with his feet resting on a lion, although this is now broken and detached (Fig. 11). He also appears to have a beard. His head rests on a helm. He is bare-headed, thus showing his tumbling, bobbed hair confined by a circlet adorned with flower heads. He wears an SS collar and mail collar. His plate armour points to a date around 1420. The underside detailing of the north side of the figure is incomplete, indicating that that part of the figure would not have been intended to be seen; it was presumably designed to be against a wall and perhaps with a partly concealing canopy.


Fig. 13.

Effigy of Elizabeth de Burgh (d. 1421).

The lady rests her head on a pair of crossed pillows. Her hands were originally held in prayer, but are now lost; regrettably the parish has in the last decade rested a modern and highly-inappropriate flower holder between them. She wears a cloak over a long, closely-pleated gown confined above the waist by a belt and with a large folded collar over the shoulders. Her hair appears to have been confined within a caul and is covered by a veil held in place by a jewelled band (Fig. 12). This dress dates the effigy to c. 1420. That and the detailing of the effigy as a whole confirm that the two effigies were always together.

There can be no doubt that the couple commemorated are Sir John de Ingoldesthorpe (d. 1420) and his wife Elizabeth de Burgh (d. 1421). In his will Sir Edmund Ingoldesthorpe made provision for the enlarging of Katherine de Burgh’s chantry in the north chapel to include prayers for his own family. That Elizabeth is not shown in widow’s weeds may indicate that the monument was carved in the couple’s lifetime, although this is not certain.

The Ingoldesthorpe family continued to be buried and commemorated at Burrough Green into the later fifteenth century. A large altar-tomb in the middle of the chancel bore a brass to Edmund Ingoldesthorpe (d. 1456) depicting the deceased wearing armour, flanked by four shields inlaid with coloured enamel. There was also an image of his widow Joan Tiptoft of Burwell, sister to John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester and Constable of England (d. 1470). The epitaph recorded that the tomb was commissioned by Joan. The altar-tomb with its brass has since disappeared, probably during the seventeenth-century alterations; it fails to appear in William Cole’s account of the Burrough Green monuments. A drawing in the College of Arms shows this brass with the arms on a banner, and also those of Neville, Waldegrave, Engayne, Cromwell, Bradstone, de la Pole, and France and England. Edmund was shown without a helmet, his head resting on a bull’s head couped, in a coronet. He also wore an SS collar. In his will, Edmund enhanced the provision at Katherine de Burgh’s chantry for the souls of Katherine and others, including his own family. The chantry lasted until the Reformation, the last chantry priest, Thomas Bayley, having been appointed in 1527. Edmund was the last male of the Ingoldesthorpe line and on his death the manor, and with it the connection to St Augustine’s church, passed elsewhere.


Comments (2)

  1. What a pity the sources and MSS references are not stated here.

    Mark Duffy

  2. Sorry – I’ve only just picked this up (we get a lot of spam on the blog and I had to disable the thing that sends me an email when I get a comment). It was Sally’s blog post and she’d probably be happy to send you the references.


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