Church Monuments Society

clehonger crop

Hawise de la Barre d. pre 1381, 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

(What follows is a revised version of the December posting, following further research. We never think we have the last word on anything – there is always room for more work and more debate.)

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 bird which pecks at her gown. This was formerly interpreted as a petrel as a play on the name Pertonilla, but as argued below is actually more likely to be a goose.

The tomb chest on which the lady 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 described in church notes dated 1665 by the antiquary Silas Taylor, who record that the Clehonger monuments has ‘a crest of very thick comb 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). Actually, what is shown is somewhat more than this, being a (goose) feather panache facing forward and resting on a ragged staff mount and mantling shown in low relief at the bottom of the panel). While a panache of feathers is a standard adjunct on helms rather than a meaningful crest in its own right, there is good reason to link this with the Pembridge family. The effigy in Herefordshire cathedral to Sir Richard Pembridge II rests his head on a great helm with a plume of feathers.

It is likely that the effigy of a lady at Clehonger commemorates Hawise, the daughter of Sir Richard Pembridge I and sister and co-heiress of Sir Richard II. 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. His marriage into the Pembridge family assisted his rise socially. Thomas went on to acquire more lands through his second marriage, establishing him even more firmly in the ranks of gentility. His heir, Sir Thomas de la Barre II, born of his marriage with Hawise, was knighted ( Hawise’s brother, Sir Richard Pembridge, died in 1376, his only son Henry having pre-deceased him. Richard’s lands passed to the sons of Hawise and her sister Amy Burley. Sir Thomas de la Barre’s share included the manors of Ayot St. Lawrence (Hertfordshire), Mathern (Monmouthshire), and Clehonger and Mere Court with other manors in Herefordshire, as well as the manor of Burgate and the hundred of Fordingbridge (Hampshire). Hawise’s date of death is uncertain, but it must have been before 1381 by that year Thomas had taken as his second wife, Elizabeth (d. 14 Dec. 1420), daughter of Sir William Croyser of Stoke d’Abernon (Surrey).

Perhaps it was because Hawise’s natal family was of greater consequence than that she married into which led her to be buried at Clehonger. Yet, the de la Barre family nonetheless valued their association with Clehonger. This 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