Church Monuments Society

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Hawise de la Barre d. 1385, heiress of the Pembrugge family of Clehonger (Herefordshire)

Month: December 2019
Type: Effigy  
Era: 14th Century

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All Saints
Church Road, Clehonger, HR2 9SE

More about this monument

A  miniature effigy of a woman with a goose as her footrest

One group of monuments difficult to interpret are those with undersized effigies. They can variously be interpreted as heart monuments, monuments to children or even small monuments to adults. One such is in the north chapel at Clehonger (Herefordshire), which was endowed by Sir Richard de Pembrugge I in April 1342 as a chantry chapel served by a single chaplain (National Archives, C 143/258/20). Richard died in February 1337/8 and his outstandingly fine military effigy visually dominates the chapel.

In the north-west corner of the chapel is another high tomb with an effigy of a woman just 105.5cm in length. She has long loose hair; traditionally this has been seen as a sign of virginity but, as Sophie Oosterwijk has demonstrated, this hairstyle is also seen on monuments to married women and even widows, especially those of high status. The effigy is thought by the parish to commemorate Petronilla, the widow of Richard de Pembridge, d.c.1348, but the dress indicates a later date of c.1370-90. She wears a cloak over a waisted supertunic with a narrow belt pushed down over her hips. Her head rests on a pair of cushions supported by angels. Of especially interest is her footrest: a goose which pecks at her gown.

The tomb chest on which she rests is also worthy of interest. The long side consists of two square panels enclosing shields hung by straps. The charges must have been painted on but unfortunately no traces survive or are recorded in antiquarian notes. They would probably have recorded the lady’s natal family and that into which she married. The end panel is more informative in helping to identify the person commemorated. The carving is best described in church notes dated 1665 by the antiquary Silas Taylor, who record that the Clehonger monuments has ‘a crest of very thick tomb of feathers bound about with a ring bezanted that is the crest of Pembrigg as on him yt lies in ye body of ye minster at Hereford’ (BL, Harley MS 6726 fo. 137d).  The effigy in Herefordshire cathedral to Sir Richard II d.1375, who rests his head on a great helm with his crest of a plume of feathers.

It is likely that the effigy of a lady commemorates Sir Richard’s sister, Hawise (d. 1385), the sister and co-heiress of Sir Richard II, whose only son Henry died childless in 1375. She married Thomas de la Barre, from a family who were originally citizens of Hereford, but had risen to gentility. Thomas served at various times as sheriff, escheator, justice of the peace, tax collector and (in 1355) knight of the shire for Herefordshire. Through Hawise Thomas acquired the manors of Clehonger along with other manors in Herefordshire and elsewhere. That the family valued their association with Clehonger is indicated by a brass to Sir John Barre d.1483 and his wife Joan in the chantry chapel and heraldic shields of the two families among a collection of fragments of glass in the north-east window of the nave.

Sally Badham

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