Church Monuments Society

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The monument to Edward, Arabella and Henrietta Montagu in Horton Church, Northamptonshire

Month: March 2020
Type: Board / Plaque / Tablet  
Era: 18th Century

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St Mary Magdalene
Horton, Northamptonshire NN7 2AP. Church currently closed and difficult of access.

More about this monument

Horton Church, currently for sale, contains four monuments of national importance. The church is unfortunately closed and difficult of access: we are trying to remedy this situation.

The most obviously important monument is the one with royal connections, that to Lord Parr †1546, uncle of Queen Catherine Parr. This has reasonably been ascribed to Richard Parker of Burton-on-Trent. There is a fine brass to Roger Salisbury †1591 and two wives, and an accomplished hanging wall-monument of c.1580 to Sir William Lane and family, which has been associated with the Hollemans workshop.

The most intriguing and least-appreciated monument is, however, that of 1756 to Edward, Arabella and Henrietta Montagu.  It is a charming and accomplished piece, signed by the sculptor James Lovell. Lovell (fl 1747-77) was a talented sculptor, best known for his ornamental architectural work at houses such as Croome Court (chimneypieces) and Stowe. He seems to have worked principally to the designs of others, such as Sanderson Miller and James Stuart. The high-status nature of his commissions shows the degree of his skill. Only seven funerary monuments seem to be known from his hand, and one of these, the monument to General James Wolfe at Westerham (Kent) is a plain inscription tablet[1].

He worked on two funerary monuments for Horace Walpole: that to Galfridus Mann †1756 (monument 1758) at Linton (Kent) which was designed by the writer and designer Richard Bentley, and consists of an elaborate urn set in a Gothicising surround – John Newman remarks that

‘The learning and taste of the Walpole-Mann-Bentley set is excellently expressed by the preciously simple inscription and by the monument, a marble urn on a tomb-chest under a crocketed arch, its soffit panelled with quatrefoils, a Gothic columbarium, as it were. All the forms are misunderstood, as if their appetite for Gothic had been fed on bad engravings and they had never seen a genuine C14 monument in their lives’[2]

The monument might, more accurately, be described as a charmingly eccentric fusion piece. The inscription celebrates Walpole’s patronage.

With the Montagu monument Walpole was the designer, rather than the patron[3], although his choice of Lovell for the Mann monument shows that he was satisfied with the execution. The monument is inaccurately described in the CIS document for Horton, a measure of how little the CofE respects the important art in its care – or perhaps merely the inadequacy of those employed by the church at translating even the most simple Latin. The monument, executed in grey and white marbles and alabaster, is in the form of an architectural tablet, with two chaste alabaster urns in niches, the whole contained in a pedimented frame, the sides fluted columns, the pediment containing an achievement of arms flanked by pretty garlands of fruit and flowers. The niches are surmounted and punctuated by swags, supported in the middle by an elaborate scallop shell, and supported on flowerheads of differing designs. Lovell’s signature is on an oblong panel below the sill of the main compartment, and the rather complicated apron, a lugged oblong with a lower semi-circular projection, supported on acanthus brackets at the lower corners and with an asymmetrical acanthuslike support at the bottom of the curve, carries an inscription and a representation of an elaborate renaissance-style parade helmet with a feathered crest. The description in the Northamptonshire Pevsner accurately describes it as having ‘just a touch of Rococo’[4].

The urns bear the inscriptions ‘HENRIETTA M’ [dexter] and ‘E A M’ [sinister].

The inscription reads

[dexter]

EDW. MONTAGU G. COMITIS DE HALIFAX FRATRI UNICO
ET ARABELLÆ TREVOR, CONJUGIBUS
EX ANTIQUIS COMITIBUS DE SARISB.& HEREF. ORIUMDIS,
OPTIMIS PARENTIBUS;
ET HENRIETTÆ SORORI DILECTISSIMÆ,
GEORGIUS MONTAGU P.
ANNO MDCCLVI.

[sinister]

EX ARABELLA SUSCEPIT EDWARDUS VI FILIOS, III FILIAS,
EDWARDUM, GEORGIUM,
EDWARDUM ALTERUM IN AGRO DE FONTENOY
FORTITER OB PATRIAM PUGNATEM OCCISUM,
CHRISTOPHERUM IN GERMANIA EXTINCTUM,
JOHANNEM, CAROLUM,
ARABELLAM NATH. WETENHALL DE HANKELOW
IN AGRO CESTRIÆ NUPTAM,
ELIZABETHAM,
HENRIETTAM, VIRTUTE, MORIBUS, INDOLE
NUNQUAM NON DESIDERANDAM.

[George Montague placed this to Edward Montagu, only brother of George, Earl of Halifax and Arabella Trevor, a married couple sprung from the ancient  earldoms of Salisbury and Hereford, the best of parents; and to Henrietta, a most beloved sister.

By Arabella Edward had six sons and three daughters, Edward, George, another Edward, killed fighting bravely for his country on the field of Fontenoy, Christopher who died in Germany, John, Charles, Arabella, married to Nathaniel Wetenhall of Hankelow in the Country of Chester, Elizabeth, [and] Henrietta, always mourned for her virtue, character and talents].

This makes it clear that the patron of the monument is not George Montagu, Earl of Halifax (1684-1739), brother of Edward Montagu[5], but another George (1713-1780), son of Edward and Arabella and brother of Henrietta, a close friend and correspondent of Horace Walpole. Edward Montagu (aft.1684-1738) was a professional soldier (hence the helmet) and MP. Of his sons George, patron of the monument, was also an MP, and Charles a professional soldier. John went into the navy, but ‘was still a midshipman at the age of sixty’[6].

While the design of the monument is Walpole’s it does have some affinities with Lovell’s most distinguished funerary piece, the monument to Earl Fitzwalter †1756 in St Mary the Virgin, St Peter and St Cedd, Chelmsford (now Chelmsford Cathedral)[7]. This post-dates the Horton monument, which may therefore have influenced the design.

Walpole was pleased with the progress of the monument during its construction, and reassured George Montagu:

‘I saw Lovell today, he is very far advanced, and executes to perfection; you will be quite satisfied; I am not discontent with my design, now I see how well it succeeds’.[8]

Walpole’s satisfaction is well-merited. The monument is charming, well-executed  and elegant. Walpole is an important figure in the history of British art, architecture and letters. This rare example of his work should, as a matter of urgency, be preserved for the nation.

[1] Ingrid Roscoe, Emma Hardy & M G Sullivan (eds), A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660-1851 (New Haven & London, 2009), 758-9.

[2] John Newman, The Buildings of England Kent: West and the Weald (New Haven and London, 2012), 368.

[3] Roscoe, et al loc cit

[4] Bruce Bailey, Nikolaus Pevsner and Bridget Cherry, The Buildings of England Northamptonshire (New Haven & London, 2013, 339-341.

[5] As stated in VCH Northamptonshire < http://www.britishhistory.ac.uk/vch/northants/vol4/pp259- 262 > [Accessed 13.03.2020]

[6] http://www.histparl.ac.uk/volume/1715-1754/member/montagu-george-1713-80 [accessed 13.03.202]

[7] James Bettley and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England Essex (New Haven & London, 2007), 206.

[8] Letter to George Montagu 28 August 1756. Quoted Bailey, Pevsner & Cherry, loc.cit. In both this and Roscoe, Hardy & Sullivan, loc.cit., this is said to be to Frederick Montagu, but this is a mistake, based on the fact that some of Walpole’s letters to George Montagu ended up in the possession of Frederick. For the text see < http://images.library.yale.edu/hwcorrespondence/page.asp?vol=9&page=195http://images.library.yale.edu/hwcorrespondence/page.asp?vol=9&page=195> [Accessed 13.03.2020]

 

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