Church Monuments Society

The effigies of Robert and his wife lie on a high tomb chest

Robert Crane (d. 1500)

Month: April 2014
Type: Stone carving  
Era: 15th Century

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St Mary’s church

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One of Suffolk’s best-kept secrets is St Mary’s church, Chilton; now redundant and in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, it is marooned in the middle of fields and usually locked so presents a challenge to visit. Yet it is worth persevering to get in, not least for the fine tombs to the Crane family. This feature focuses on the alabaster tomb monument commemorating Robert Crane (d. 1500) and his wife, Anne Osgard, Lady Arundel (d. 1508), located between the sanctuary and the brick-built Crane chapel on the north side of the church. We know that Robert personally chose how he wanted to be depicted on his monument as his will reveals that he had commissioned the tomb in his lifetime. He specified ‘My body to holy sepultur that is to say in the tombe of alabaster standing in the chauncell of Chylton church’. A date in the early 1490s is confirmed by the fact that the effigies are very similar to two other pairs in East Anglia, at Wethersfield (Essex) to Henry Wentworth (d. 1484) and at Wingfield to John de la Pole, 2nd duke of Suffolk (d. 1491). This last, which was probably commissioned after his death by his widow, Elizabeth of York (d. ?1503), sister of Edward IV and Richard III, is finer than the other two, but the basic pattern is the same. When his widow made her will in 1508 she asked for burial ‘in the chapel annexed to Chilton Churche by the Grace of Robert Crane sumtyme my husband’. This proves that the Crane chapel was built by her husband in the late fifteenth century, possibly at the same time providing a chantry there; certainly Anne refers to the chantry priest in the extensive plans for her funeral set out in her will.

Copyright: Sally Badham. Photos: C.B. Newham. Thanks to Simon Cotton for help with wills.

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