Church Monuments Society

The Journal

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This volume covers a range of territories and periods - a Portuguese monastery, the inventory of a Parisian tomb-maker, Welsh poetry at Brecon, the Halsey monuments in Great Gaddesden and the bale tombs of the Cotswolds.

It is a particular pleasure to publish Giulia Rossi Vairo's study of a monument in the Portuguese monastery of Odivelas, which she suggests commemorates the young grandson of the founder. This was the runner-up entry in the 2020 CMS Essay Prize. Details of the current essay competition are at

We are currently looking for a new co-editor for the Journal. This is a great way to get involved with the work of the Society - and you get first look at all the new research. More details at .

The Journal is free to members. If you are not a member - to whet your appetite, these are the articles

Monumentum and Memento: The tomb monument of the Infante Dinis (1317–18) in the monastery of St Dinis and St Bernardo at Odivelas, Portugal

An inventory of a Parisian tomb-maker’s workshop made in 1522

Bale tombs in eastern Cotswold churchyards

Honouring the past and observing the future : Henshaw Halsey’s chapel and monuments in the church of St John the Baptist, Great Gaddesden (Hertfordshire)

Poems in Welsh on gravestones in Brecon Cathedral

and the abstracts are below ...


Giulia Rossi Vairo, Monumentum and Memento: The tomb monument of the Infante Dinis (1317–18) in the monastery of St Dinis and St Bernardo at Odivelas, Portugal

Built at the command of King Dinis of Portugal (1261–1325), the Cistercian monastery of St Dinis and St Bernardo in Odivelas, near Lisbon, is today renowned for housing the same king’s own imposing sepulchre. Yet the abbey church, at one time intended to be the royal family pantheon, contains another remarkable tomb. Its effigy, apparently a boy of perhaps ten to twelve years old, is highly misleading, for when the sarcophagus was opened in the late nineteenth century the remains of a baby of approximately twelve months were discovered inside. The identity of this noble infant has been the subject of considerable dispute since the monument lacks an inscription and no documentation relating to its construction or installation has yet come to light. Nevertheless, through a scrutiny of the evidence provided by the tomb itself and by analysing its location in Odivelas and contemporary Portuguese royal politics and affections, this article makes the case that the child is in fact Infante Dinis, the third child and second son of the then heir to the throne Prince Afonso and his wife Beatriz of Castile. The iconographic programme of the tomb, laden with political overtones, is not only unique in Portuguese art but also provides a clear prototype for the representation of deceased children in Portuguese Gothic funerary sculpture.


Paul Cockerham, An inventory of a Parisian tomb-maker’s workshop made in 1522

This brief analysis of the contents of the workshop of André Prisé, a Parisian tomb-maker, taken after his death in 1522, goes some way to opening up our understanding of how such a business might have operated. The subject is further explored by examining contracts drawn up by Parisian notaires which specify the production of incised slabs by Prisé’s contemporaries, and a comparison is made with a similar inventory compiled in 1382 for the noted and prestigious sculptor Jean de Liège.


Sally Badham, Bale tombs in eastern Cotswold churchyards

Bale tombs, chest tombs characterised by a hemi-cylindrical capstone termed a ‘bale’, are unique to England within an area largely restricted to the eastern Cotswolds. There are 106 known extant examples, most in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, dating from c.1660 to the early twentieth century. Many are packed with ornamentation, including winged cherubs’ heads, fruit and foliage, as well as memento mori symbols. Eighty-seven are within a ten mile radius of Burford, around which town there were quarries of high-quality oolitic limestone. Three important mason families were based there: the Strongs, Kempsters and Beauchamps. They worked closely together on building projects, both locally and in London. Although only three bale tombs are signed, these workshops probably also produced headstones and chest tombs, including bale tombs, for local churches.


Andrew Skelton and James Bettley, Honouring the past and observing the future: Henshaw Halsey’s chapel and monuments in the church of St John the Baptist, Great Gaddesden (Hertfordshire)

The Halsey Chapel at Great Gaddesden (Hertfordshire), full of family monuments from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries, is typical of landed gentry mausolea attached to the parish church near which the family lived. Recent research has shown that Victorian rearrangement of the monuments has disrupted the deliberate disposition of four near-identical monuments erected after 1739, which looked forward to the future of the family while mirroring the burial plan in the vault below. One has long been attributed to Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770), the other three to Giovanni Battista Guelfi (1690–1736); all four are here ascribed to Rysbrack.


G.M. Awbery, Poems in Welsh on gravestones in Brecon Cathedral

The inscription on a gravestone in Wales may be in English, the language of business and administration after Wales was incorporated in to the English state in the sixteenth century, or it may be in Welsh, still the language of religious observance. Regardless of the choice of language for the factual part of the inscription, it will often include a poem in Welsh. The earliest surviving examples date from the seventeenth century, and the practice is still widespread today. Some of these poems are found across a wide area, and were used over a long period, while others were specially composed to commemorate a particular individual. They vary too in how they fit into the two strands of the Welsh poetic tradition. Some are composed within the constraints of strict metre ‘cynghanedd’ poetry, while others display patterns of rhythm and rhyme, but are not subject to the rigid rules of the strict metres. This paper looks at how the three Welsh poems which have been found on gravestones in Brecon Cathedral fit into this wider tradition.


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We welcome contributions on a range of topics related to monuments and commemoration. Initial enquiries about substantial articles for possible publication in the Journal should be sent to the Editor. Shorter articles and news items can be published in the Newsletter. We also welcome less formal contributions for Monument of the Month and the Blog.

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