Tuesday 31 January 2017

And Monuments

That's all very well, but what about monuments? Have you no church monuments to report on?
 Very well, then... Here is the unicorn (sans horn) that lies at the feet of Elizabeth, Lady Williams, whose grand tomb chest stands in St Mary's church, Thame.

And here, equally beautifully carved, is the unicorn's canine companion, a greyhound, who lies at the feet of Lord Williams. The effigies are of alabaster...

And, talking of alabaster, here we are in Derbyshire, in the church of All Saints, Ashover, at the tomb of Thomas Babington and his wife, Edith, erected around 1511 when Edith died. The figures, which have been knocked about a bit, are of alabster, and still retain their original colouring, albeit much refreshed over the centuries. The Babingtons' plain dress belies the grandeur of their tomb.

Thomas's feet rest on what is presumably intended to be a lion.

But the main interest of this monument is in the exquisitely carved, characterful and remarkably lively figures that line the sides of the tomb chest. Pevsner describes them as 'small figures of saints, angels and "mourners"' (and, surely, at least some of the Babingtons' fifteen children). Some are single figures, others are grouped in twos

and in far from mournful threes, all under pretty ogival arches.

Thomas Babington's great-grandson was executed for his part in the 'Babington plot' of 1586. His wife, Edith, was the daughter of one of those Fitzherberts whose magnificent tombs stand in the church of SS Mary and Barlok in Norbury - about which I have written elsewhere.

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