Church Monuments Society

MiltonAbbasBaronHambro†1877J O ScottdesArmsteadsculp crop

The monument to Baron Carl Joachim Hambro, 1807-1877 at Milton Abbas, Dorset

Month: May 2020
Type: Effigy  
Era: 19th Century

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St Mary, St Samson and St Branwalader
Milton Abbey Church, Blandford Forum DT11 0BZ

More about this monument

Carl  Joachim Hambro’s monument at Milton Abbas integrates his Jewish and Christian background with the history of the Abbey which he restored.

The Hambros are one of the great English banking dynasties. The founder of the British Hambros Bank, Carl Joachim, Danish by birth, came from a Danish- Jewish merchant and banking family[i]. His mother was subject to depressive illness (which also affected Carl Joachim in later life), so Carl Joachim was fostered by the family of the zoologist Professor Johannes Christopher Hagemann Reinhardt. The Reinhardts were members of the Church of Denmark (Evangelical Lutheran) and in 1822 Carl Joachim was baptized and confirmed into this church.

Hambro’s early adulthood was peripatetic, following the demands of his family business.  He eventually settled permanently in Britain in 1838, and bought the Milton Abbey estate in 1852, following the death of his first wife. He remarried in 1861 and in 1862 employed George Gilbert Scott to restore the Abbey church, the work taking three years and costing £50,000[ii]. Although Milton Abbey was not his favourite house, he was buried in the Abbey church of St Mary, St Samson and St Branwalader. [iii]

Hambro’s monument is fascinating (and cheering) in its incorporation of Hambro’s own Jewish/Christian background and its celebration of the history of Milton Abbey. It is situated between the north choir aisle and the choir itself, a prestigious position often chosen for a founder’s monument, and appropriate for Hambro as the restorer of the Abbey. It is thus adjacent to the monument to Sir John Tregonwell †1565, who had purchased the Abbey at the Dissolution but retained the church for his and his tenants’ use (presbytery N.aisle), and the indented slab to Walter de Sideling †1315, who was abbot during the repairs to the church necessitated by its partial destruction by a storm in 1309 (presbytery)[iv].

The monument is Gothic in style. Hambro lies on a tomb-chest under a canopy, itself surmounted by a cross. There are Hambro crests in the outward gables, a lion south and a falcon north. Hambro’s feet rest on a lion, possibly a reference to the lion in the Hambro arms. The Hambro achievement, with supporters, is shown inside the canopy arch above the head of the effigy[v].  Shields along the sides of the tomb-chest show Christian symbols.

On either side of the canopy are supporting figures in canopied niches: north east above St Branwalader, below Athelstan; north west above Moses, below St George; south east above ?Aaron, below St Michael; south west above St Samson, below St Mary. Sts Mary, Samson and Branwalader are the dedicatees of the church, Athelstan founded the Abbey in 933, and donated relics of Samson and Branwalader[vi]. Moses and Aaron are, obviously, central to both Christianity and Judaism, their figures often flanking representations of the Ten Commandments in post-Reformation churches.

Hambro himself is represented wearing a kittel[vii], the traditional Jewish burial garment for men. It has fringes, which are usually associated with the talit, also a Jewish burial garment[viii], although, like the kittel, used on other occasions. Over the kittel Hambro wears a long cloak, with tassels on long cords, and his feet are clad in buckled shoes over stockings – the cloak is too long to permit ascertaining whether he is wearing trousers or knee-breeches.

The whole monument thus celebrates Hambro’s Jewish and Christian background, the history of the Abbey, and Hambro’s place among its saviours. Hill, Newman and Pevsner ascribe the design to John Oldrid Scott, who by 1877 had taken over most of his father’s work (Sir George Gilbert Scott died in 1878)[ix]. Whichever of the Scotts was responsible for the design (possibly it was a joint effort), the sculptor responsible for its execution has not yet been identified. The most likely candidate is Henry Hugh Armstead (1828-1905)[x]. Armstead frequently collaborated with Sir George Gilbert Scott, notably on the Albert Memorial. They collaborated on funerary monuments, for example those to Dean Howard †1868 in Lichfield Cathedral, and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce †1873 in Winchester Cathedral. The design of the monument to Archdeacon Moore † 1876 (monument 1879), also in Lichfield, is ascribed to Sir George Gilbert Scott, but dates from the period when John Oldrid Scott was effectively running the Scott business. Archdeacon Moore’s buckled shoes bear comparison with Hambro’s. Similar shoes may be seen on the designs for the monuments to Lord Winmarleigh for Warrington Church, ca. 1893-4, and Bishop Ollivant †1882 in Llandaff in the Armstead sketchbooks in the Royal Academy.[xi]

Another candidate for the execution is the Scottish sculptor James Forsyth (1827-1910), also, with his brother William, a collaborator with the Scotts, but the carving of the foliage on the Hambro monument is less exuberant than that generally associated with Forsyth[xii].


[i] All information about Hambro’s life, except where otherwise indicated, comes from the ODNB.

[ii] Thus ODNB: Hill, Newman and Pevsner date Scott’s restoration to 1864 and c.1870 (op.cit., 406)

[iii] Except where indicated otherwise, references to the history and architecture of Milton Abbey are taken from Michael Hill, John Newman and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Dorset (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2018), 404-411.

[iv] <>. Accessed 30.01.2020.

[v] The Hambro barony is Danish. The arms seem to exist in slightly different Danish and English versions.

[vi] <>. Accessed 30.01.2020.

[vii] <>. Accessed 30.01.20

[viii] <>. Accessed 30.01.2020.

[ix] For the Scotts, see ODNB entry “Sir George Gilbert Scott 1811-1878” by Gavin Stamp, and the family website <>, [Accessed 30.01.2020], which ascribes the design for the monument to Sir George Gilbert Scott.

[x] See Ingrid Roscoe, Emma Hardy & M G Sullivan, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660-1851 ( New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2009) 22-25; ODNB entry “Henry Hugh Armstead, 1828-1905”, by Walter Armstrong, rev. Emma Hardy.

[xi] <>. Accessed 30.01.2020.

[xii] For the Forsyth brothers, see <>. It is a national disgrace that the reputation of many of our greatest sculptors should have to be maintained by their descendants (see <>.