We have been contacted by the art historian Deborah Gage, who is curator of the art collection at Firle Place, Sussex (more about the Gage family and Firle Place at https://firle.com/ ). In the churchyard of St Peter’s, West Firle, she has found two sets of monuments to servants of the family. The first set commemorates the Budgens, father and son. The earlier one is so badly worn that the inscription cannot be read, but she can just make out the name of Thomas Budgen, presumably the father. The second, illustrated below, commemorates Thomas Budgen junior, who died in 1835, the gamekeeper of the 4th Viscount Gage, who was devoted to him, hence the following text, which is legible:
To the memory of Thomas Budgen
Ob September 19 1835
Who for many years was the gamekeeper to the GAGE family during which while his regularity of conduct and sober strength of mind combined with manly sincerity and in the goodness of his heart won for him the love and esteem of all who knew him and rendered him less the servant than the confidential and respected friend of his late employer who in sincere grief records his long expression of the departed and deep sadness at the magnitude of his own loss
Below is a photograph of a lithograph of Thomas Budgen by F. Pollard from a painting by A. Archer. The lithograph is in the collection at Firle Place.
The second group of tombstones is traditionally said to commemorate servants from the Gages’ London house. The first is now completely illegible. The second, illustrated below, has an inscription to
John Francis, House Steward
April 20, 1841 Etatis 77 years
Deborah Gage has been told that monuments like this to servants are unusual. She is keen to collect other examples, and to know more about them. If you know of any, you can contact her at email@example.com .
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