Church Monuments Society

Lambeth Vault mitre discovered Feb 2016 Photo Stephen White

Archbishop Tenison’s Funerary Mitre

Month: June 2019
Type: Mixed  
Era: 18th Century

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St Mary-at-Lambeth (now the Garden Museum)
5 Lambeth Palace Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 7LB

More about this monument

The funerary mitre of Archbishop Thomas Tenison (d.1715) was found in the Archepiscopal Burial Vault at St Mary’s, Lambeth.

Funerary accoutrements - helms, tabards, etc – were often associated with funerary monuments. Of particular interest is this, the funerary mitre of Archbishop Thomas Tenison (d.1715) in the Archepiscopal Burial Vault at St Mary's, Lambeth. The vault was discovered in February 2016 ( and in September 2017 one of our Vice-Presidents, Dr. Julian Litten, was asked by the Garden Museum (who occupy St Mary's) to conduct a full examination of the vault.

Dr. Litten was able to establish that the mitre was provided by the College of Arms as part of funerary achievements of Archbishop Tenison and, as with all such things, ended up in the vault atop his coffin. It was accompanied by a funerary crozier, but that has long gone. The mitre is an interesting item, probably made by one of the many tin-smiths of the time working in Southwark, By 1715 the College of Arms were merely marshalling the funerals of nobles, with the literal undertaking (coffin etc) being contracted out to local cabinet-makers and joiners in the Blackfriars area, which is how the description of "undertaker" was created. The most prominent contractor used by the College of Arms at that time was William Russell, and it may well be that it was he who provided all that was required for Tenison's funeral.

Julian Litten

Photo (c) Stephen White.