The History of Tewkesbury

By James Bennett

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2015



THE connection between sepulchres and places of worship is of very great antiquity: the Greeks placed their tombs in and near their temples; and the Romans, until the law of the Twelve Tables restricted them, did the same; and no reasonable objection could perhaps be urged to the practice, if the dead were not, especially in populous cities and towns, sometimes so crowded together, as to endanger the health of the living.[226]


That our Saxon ancestors, in common with other northern nations, at one period burnt their dead, is unquestionable; but Turner, in his History of the Anglo-Saxons, observes, that, "the custom of interring the dead had become established at the era when their history began to be recorded by their Christian clergy". They did not however at first bury in towns, but frequently on the ridges of hills, upon open plains, or by


the road side, and many such places of interment are still visible in various parts of the kingdom.

Before the time of Pope Gregory, called the Great, about the year 606, the dead were always buried out of the cities and towns; but the recital of mass for the dead being then invented, sepulture became the source of great gain, as every one left largely to have masses said in order to pray his soul out of purgatory; and the better to secure their fees, the clergy made burial grounds round the churches.

Cuthbert, the eleventh archbishop of Canterbury, about the year 750, obtained a dispensation from the pope, for the making of cemeteries within cities and towns in England; and Lanfranc, a succeeding archbishop, in 1075, is generally said to have been the first who introduced the construction of vaults and interment near the high altar.[227] Sepulture in churches was speedily followed by the erection of monuments, with inscriptions engraved upon them, to perpetuate the remembrance of the dead.

In the reigns of Henry the eighth and Edward the sixth, commissioners were appointed in each county to deface every image, shrine, or relic, which tended to idolatry or superstition; and under colour of this authority, great devastation was committed on the sepulchral monuments in many of our churches. Queen Elizabeth, early in her reign, endeavoured by proclamation to prevent the "breaking or defacing of monuments of antiquity in churches or other public places for memory and not for superstition"; and finding this to be unavailing, she subsequently issued another proclamation, charging the justices of her assize to provide an adequate punishment for such offences. But in consequence of the growing spirit of


puritanism, these proclamations were of little effect. During the usurpation of Cromwell, these outrages were carried to still greater lengths: not only were monuments indiscriminately defaced, but churches were frequently converted into stables,[228] and every indignity which fanatical zeal could suggest was inflicted upon the sanctuaries of the dead.

Many of the monuments in the church of Tewkesbury were, during these unsettled times, either shamefully destroyed or mutilated; yet there are happily still remaining several to interest our feelings and excite our veneration, both on account of the richness of their decorations and the eminence of the persons to whose memories they were erected.

The total ruin of that fine appendage to the church, the Lady Chapel,[229] has rendered it impossible for us to describe the splendid monuments which were placed within it, to perpetuate the memory of individuals of the noble families of the Clares and Despensers; and perhaps the destruction of this beautiful portion of the sacred edifice may be partly attributed to the tempting riches which the tombs presented to the view of the sacrilegious visitors sent by Henry the eighth.

Between two of the large pillars, on the north side of the choir, is an elegant light chantry chapel of free-stone, erected by Abbot Parker, in 1397, over the tomb of Robert Fitz-Hamon, the founder of this church, who died in 1107, and was originally buried in the chapter-house, whence his bones were


removed by Abbot Fortington, in 1241.[230] The tomb is of variegated marble, on which was the chieftain's figure, engraved in brass, with the appropriate embellishments of his warlike profession, of which ornaments some sacrilegious hand has long since despoiled it. The tomb was opened while the church was under repair in 1795: at the head was a large stone, scooped out to receive a circular sheet of lead, in which were enclosed an arm and two thigh bones - probably the whole of the remains of the founder that could be collected at the time of their removal from the chapter-house.[231] This chapel has a ceiling of beautiful fan-work tracery, which was formerly painted and gilded:[232] a border of sculptured oak leaves surrounds the summit on the outside, beneath which is a fascia of roses. The following inscription, in old English characters, was observable until lately on the frieze of the cornice:-

In ista Capella jacet Dominus Robertus filius Hamonis
hujus loci fundator.

On the north side of the chancel, within the rails of the altar, is a monument of the most delicate sculpture, surmounted by an extraordinary fine piece of tabernacle work, consisting of four tiers of arches, gradually diminishing to one


at the top, carved in the finest style of filigree workmanship. On the tomb are the effigies of a knight and his lady, in white marble, in a tolerably perfect state: the former is represented in plated armour, with a gorget of mail and a round helmet, having a lion[233] at his feet, with a griffin's head for a crest. The lady has a dog at her feet, and appears in the square head dress so commonly seen on tombs which were erected in the reign of Edward the third.[234] Atkyns, Rudder, Willis, and others, have erroneously assigned these figures to George Duke of Clarence and Isabel his duchess; and some have considered the tomb to be that of Thomas le Despenser.[235] There is no inscription upon the monument, but it is evident, from a variety of circumstances, that it was erected to the memory of Hugh le Despenser the third, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of William de Montacute, Earl of Salisbury. Mr. Knight, speaking of this splendid monument, observes, "much injury from neglect, and the corrosions of time, this elegant structure has evidently sustained: the lace-work beneath the arches, and the pinnacles above them, are sadly dilapidated; but, whether our attention is fixed by the delicacy and symmetry of the parts, or by the airy and aspiring lightness of the whole, enough remains to entitle it to the character of the finest monument in the church: it is not overloaded with decorations; but distinguished by a chastity of execution far preferable to the gaudy and meretricious ornaments, which marked the latter ages of Gothic architecture".


On the opposite side of the aisle, at the entrance into St. Margaret's chapel, stands another light and elegant specimen of monumental architecture, something resembling that of Sir Hugh le Despenser,[236] and was erected to commemorate Sir Guy O'Brien,[237] a Knight of the Garter, and third husband to Elizabeth de Montacute, daughter of the Earl of Salisbury. "The knight is represented by a cumbent statue of alabaster, admirably executed, and in the attitude of drawing his sword, which is a departure from the general style of the period, but is frequently found in monuments of an earlier date: the figure is now much mutilated, but is a most valuable specimen of monumental sculpture, from the extreme richness and peculiarity of the armour: it has originally been painted and gilt, although little of that gaudy decoration is now to be discovered, even to the eye of an experienced antiquary. The armour is complete, but of the mixed kind; the head is covered with a conical basinet, to which, by a red lace, is attached the camail, formed in a very curious manner, apparently of wires, bent to take the form of rings extending all round, which is particularly explained in Meyrick's Ancient Armour, vol. II. Under the jupon was usually worn a convex


breast-plate, the form of which is evident in this figure. The jupon, itself of Arabic origin, and generally composed of silk or velvet, is represented as embroidered, or worked with the arms of Bryan, most curiously diapered with a raised composition, which is clearly to be seen under the right arm, where it is less worn than in the other more exposed parts of the figure; it reaches to the middle of the thighs; the arms are covered by the mail sleeves of the habergeon, and the vambrace of plate; the left arm is unfortunately broken. His military girdle of red and gold, sustained a sword and dagger, both also broken; his chausses are of mail, with slips of plate above and below the genouilliers, and his feet rest on a lion; the crest, under the head of the figure, is much mutilated, and appears to resemble a griffin's head; but from a monumental brass in Seale church, in Kent, to the memory of Sir William Bryan, knight, it seems that a bugle horn was the family crest. The canopy, or couronnment, exhibits a most elegant design of the pointed style, and consists of four stories of foil-headed arches, open, and supported by buttresses of an extremely light construction, terminating in small crocketted pinnacles; some of the buttresses are now out of the perpendicular, and some of the pinnacles gone".[238]

The monuments of Sir Hugh le Despcnser and Sir Guy O'Brien were in so dilapidated a condition, that the churchwardens, in 1828, in order to save them from destruction, were compelled to have them very extensively repaired. Many of the buttresses and pinnacles were entirely renewed, and the remainder underwent considerable reparation. The excellent manner in which the chiselling of the finer portions of the pinnacles is executed, reflects great credit on the talents of Mr. Thomas Holder, under whose superintendance the whole of the recent reparation of the church and tombs have been effected.

Beneath one of the arches, on the north side of the choir, stands the elegant chantry chapel erected by Isabel Countess


of Warwick, grand-daughter and sole surviving heiress of Sir Edward le Despenser, to the memory of her first husband, Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Worcester, who was slain at the siege of Meaux, in France, in 1421. The countess, who died in December 1439, was herself interred in this chapel, which she had dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen. The following inscription, in gold letters on a blue ground, appears on the outside and inside ledges:-

Mementote dominae Isabellae le Despenser, Cometisse de Warrewyk,
quae hanc Cappellam fundavit in honorem Beatae Mariae Magdalene,
et obiit Londoniis apud Minores anno Domini MCCCCXXXIX. die
Sancti Johannis Evangelistae, et sepulta est in choro in dextra patris
sui; cujus animae propitietur Deus. Amen.

This chapel is a rich and beautiful example of what is termed the florid Gothic: the upper part of it is richly ornamented by arches, canopies and finials; but of six marble pillars which once supported it, only two now remain.[239] The roof is entirely composed of beautiful tracery, spread over the arches and pendents; and six niches, in two rows of three each, bound the screen. The buttresses on the sides of the tomb form seven divisions, with double canopies, for angels beneath, bearing shields of the several quarterings of the family of the deceased countess.[240] This lady by will directed that her


statue should be carved entirely naked, with her hair cast backwards; with Mary Magdalen, laying her hands across; St. John the Evangelist on the right side; and St. Anthony on the left. At her feet was to be an escutcheon, impaling her arms with those of the earl her late husband, supported by two griffins; and on the side, the statues of poor men and women in their humble array, with their beads in their hands. It appears, from the Abbey Chronicle, that this part of her will was literally obeyed; but the figures must have been long since removed, as they are wholly unnoticed by the earliest historian who mentions this tomb. This beautiful specimen of Gothic architecture, which is usually denominated the Countess of Warwick's chapel, is thus noticed by Mr. Knight: - "There can be but one opinion on the praise which belongs to the exquisiteness of finishing, by which the several parts of it are distinguished: the entablature, wedged between two of the old pillars of the choir, and appearing to rest upon light columnar buttresses of singular beauty, gives us an assemblage of fillagree and fret-work, which may vie with the finest specimens of similar workmanship in the kingdom: the elegant palm-leaved parapet, which occurs in the division between the stories, - the numerous escutcheons blazoned in


their proper colours, - the niches, and pedestals, under their respective canopies, once ornamented with figures which fanaticism has dislodged, - the slender shafts supporting a higher apartment, probably the rood-loft, in the inside of the fabric, from whence half figures of angels are seen to issue, the pendents dropping, like congelations in a grotto, from a roof adorned with the most delicate tracery spread over it like a web, - these, and a countless multitude of minuter beauties, almost distract attention, and overwhelm the judgment, with their different claims to notice".

On the south side of the choir is a chapel, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. It was erected by Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Bartholomew de Burghersh, as a monument to her husband, Sir Edward le Despenser, whose effigy in armour, finely carved in free-stone, in a kneeling posture, with his hands uplifted in prayer, and his face directed towards the high altar, is placed on the roof.[241] Over this figure is a rich spiral canopy of free-stone, supported by four buttresses, and adorned with pinnacles of exquisite workmanship. This unique specimen of Gothic masonry must at some distant period have been wantonly thrown down - probably by the sacrilegious partisans in the seventeenth century. The fragments of it lay scattered about the roof of the chapel, in utter confusion, and broken into upwards of two hundred pieces, until the year 1827, when they were carefully collected, assorted and cleansed. As more than one third of the buttresses and pinnacles were entirely lost, and much of what remained was in too shattered a condition to be useful, a great expense was necessarily incurred in restoring this canopy to its original beauty. The roof of the chapel is ornamented with fan-shaped tracery, in a tolerably perfect state, though the cusps of the pendents are lost. The altar is entirely removed, but some remains of the piscina may still be seen. The interior wall, at the eastern end, was once richly


adorned with paintings; and in spite of the destroying hand of time, and the ignorance or carelessness of those to whom the preservation of the church has sometimes been entrusted, there is yet remaining enough of them to excite an interest even in the mind of the most common observer. Above the accustomed place for the altar, scriptural subjects, some of which may now be imperfectly traced, appear to have filled various compartments; and over these, in the centre, is still to be seen a somewhat mutilated representation of "the blessed Trinity personified",[242] in a sitting position. To the left of this is a winged female figure, in a costume of Grecian simplicity, holding an incense pot in her hand, with a knight in armour, kneeling, behind her; and on the right, is another similar figure, in the act of adoration, with an attendant female, on her knees, clad in armour. The two outside kneeling figures have uplifted hands, and are thought to have been designed for the foundress of the chapel and her husband.[243]- Elizabeth le Despenser died in 1409, and this chapel was built about the same time as that of Fitz-Hamon, to which it bears considerable resemblance, both in the interior and exterior. Not many years since, a stone coffin was dug up near this chapel, and the body which it contained is said to have been in almost a perfect state.

In the south aisle of the nave, against the wall, is an ancient monument, generally said to have been erected to the memory of Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, who was beheaded in the market-place after the fatal battle of Tewkesbury; but the arms on the tomb have no relation to the family of Beaufort, and the architectural decorations shew it to have


been of an earlier date. Mr. Lysons superintended the opening of this tomb in 1795, but it contained only pieces of stone and rubbish: he conjectures it to have been erected for one of the family of the Clares, Earls of Gloucester; but observes, that the Duke of Somerset's body might have been interred in the stone coffin, now placed upon the top, which formed no part of the original tomb. Mr. Knight thinks that it belonged to Baldwyn de Rivers, seventh Earl of Devonshire, who married Amicia, daughter of the first Gilbert de Clare.

Nearly opposite to the above, in the wall of the north aisle, is a rich flowered surbased arch, with a tomb under it, on which lies the effigy of a knight, with a lion at his feet. The armour is very curious: it has a gorget of edge-ringed mail, a surcoat emblazoned with a chevron between three leopards' heads, a mail skirt, fluted thigh pieces, knee-caps, legs and sobers of plate. Dr. Meyrick gives this figure as a good specimen of armour in the reign of Henry the fourth. This has usually been called the tomb of John Lord Wenlock, who was slain, in a moment of despair, at the battle of Tewkesbury, by the Duke of Somerset, under whom he commanded. Mr. Gough and Mr. Lysons have given sufficient reasons for discrediting this opinion; and besides, it is known that Lord Wenlock was buried at Luton in Bedfordshire, where his tomb still remains. Mr. Knight ascribes it to a chieftain of the name of Morley, who married one of the Despenser family.

At the entrance into the chapel which was dedicated to St. Edmund the Martyr, to the north-east of the high altar, is a gorgeous cenotaph, erected by Abbot Wakeman, with the intention doubtless of having his body buried beneath it. The person of the abbot is here represented by a cadaver, or emaciated figure, stretched upon a shroud, with snails and newts on various parts of it, and is usually called "the starved monk". The tomb is constructed with an open recess, beneath the slab upon which the enshrouded skeleton is laid, and here it is conceived that the cadaver would have been removed at Wakeman's decease, whilst a cumbent figure of the abbot, carved in stone, in the natural features of healthful life, would


have occupied the upper tablet, had not his design been frustrated by the dissolution of the abbey, and his consequent removal to the see of Gloucester. In many of the cathedral and conventual churches, monuments of this description are to be met with,[244] and they have usually given rise to many ridiculous tales among vergers and others. The same author, from whom we have borrowed descriptions of some of the other tombs, thus concludes his account of Abbot Wakeman's:- "The whole cenotaph is composed of rich workmanship, light and florid screen-work, nothing solid. The basement, or altar part of the tomb, as we have observed before, forms an open recess, adorned with most curious perforated work upon the front, towards the ambulatory. The piers which support the canopy, are laced with light graduated buttresses, between which are lofty ornamented octangular pedestals, surmounted by niches, with their canopies for statues; and, between the piers, springs a light and beautiful arch, foliated at its lower edge, with the spandrils perforated with quatrefoils; from beneath the centre of this arch descends a very rich, but somewhat heavy pendent ornament, of an ogee form, immediately over the figure, a singular and bold deviation from the monumental style of the age. Above the whole are three projecting canopies, with their pinnacles and gables crocketed and under-wrought with tracery of the most delicate workmanship. It was hardly possible that such elaborate decoration could escape mutilation. A portion of the west end, or head of the monument, which originally projected beyond the piers, has been destroyed, and some of the tracery of the curious pendent arch has also suffered, but the whole may be considered as a tolerably perfect example of the richest and most elegant design of sepulchral monuments".[245] The cenotaph was partly repaired in 1&2S.


In the south aisle of the chancel, not far from the Trinity chapel, is an altar tomb, ornamented on both sides with quatrefoils and shields, having over it a very flat arch, the vault of which is decorated with rich carved tracery. This tomb, which forms the only part now remaining of the screen of one of the chapels, has usually been assigned to Abbot Fortington, who died in 1203. Willis describes it as having the effigy of a man, in full proportion, lying upon it; no doubt a figure was once upon the tomb, but it has long since been removed. Mr. Lysons notices, that the form of the arch and its decorations are such as were not used until the fifteenth century; and from the cyphers R.C. entwining a crosier, on the shields in each spandril of the arch, and at the intersection of the ribs of the tracery beneath, he thinks it evident that this monument was intended for Abbot Richard Cheltenham, who died in 1509. This tomb was, previous to its restoration in 1827, in a ruinous condition.

Opposite to the tomb of Abbot Cheltenham, at the back of the stone stalls, near the high altar, is another tomb of an abbot, consisting of a stone coffin, placed under a low flat arch, ornamented with a scroll of vine leaves and grapes, over which are two rows of niches with rich canopies. On the lid of the coffin, which is of a hard blue stone, the following inscription, in Lombardic characters, is deeply cut:


This has usually been ascribed to Abbot John Cotes, who died in 1361. Mr. Lysons thinks the decorations of the monument are of a later age, and therefore that the stone coffin originally occupied a different situation in the church. This coffin was opened in 1795, but, excepting rubbish and mortar, it contained only some pieces of rich gold tissue, probably parts of the sacerdotal habit.

Near to the tomb assigned to Abbot Cotes, is a black slab, under a flowered arch, which Mr. Gough supposes to be the workmanship of the fourteenth century, and is thought to cover the remains of another abbot, whose name is unknown. This coffin has also the appearance of having been


placed in its present situation after the original occupier had been dispossessed of it.

In the wall of the south chancel aisle, in a niche made for it, on the west side of the vestry door, under a channelled trefoil arch, surmounted with a straight-lined canopy, whose angle is considerably distended, is the tomb of Abbot Alan, who died in the year 1202. Mr. Knight considers this monument to be one of the oldest in the church. On the west end of it is inscribed,


The body is deposited in a coffin of Purbeck marble, which was opened in 1795; at the head of it another inscription, somewhat obliterated, was discovered, which, when perfect, is supposed to have been


Mr. Lysons states, that when the lid of the stone coffin was first taken off, the body appeared surprisingly perfect, considering that it had lain there for nearly six hundred years: the folds of the drapery were then very distinct; but when exposed to the air, the whole soon crumbled away, and left little more than a skeleton: the boots however still retained their form, with a certain degree of elasticity, and hung in large folds about the legs. On his right side lay a plain crosier of wood, neatly turned, the top of which was gilded, having a cross cut in it: the handle was five feet eleven inches in length, and remarkably light; and on his left side was the fragment of a chalice.

In a recess, a little to the westward of the above, is another tomb, erected probably for one of the abbots, but there is nothing to lead to any certain conclusion on the subject. There is a comparatively modern inscription upon it, from which it appears to ha\e been opened in 1697, and the body of a child interred in it.

Between the monuments of Abbots Alan and Cheltenham, on the east side of the vestry door, is another tomb of one of the abbots, consisting of a stone coffin, under an arch richly adorned with foliage and other ornaments. On the lid of the


stone coffin is carved a rich cross florée, having the figure of an abbot at the top, and a lamb at the bottom. On the opening of this tomb, by Mr. Lysons, the body was found in a similar state to that of Abbot Alan, but there was no crosier; and it is quite uncertain for which of the abbots this monument was erected. Mr. Knight says, "there is much richness in the wavy-lined foliated canopy, with a double embossed moulding, which covers this tomb, and terminates in a highly-wrought bouquet, wherein the artist has thought proper to shew his skill by the introduction of birds among the leaves". This tomb had been from time immemorial deprived of its original western pinnacle: a new one was carved and erected in 1829, and upon examination it will be acknowledged that the workmanship of the modern pinnacle is at least equal to that of the ancient one, which stands on the opposite side of the monument.

[226] On the subject of burying in churches, Dr. Hall, bishop of Norwich, observes, "I must needs say, I cannot but hold it very unfit and inconvenient, both: first, in respect of the majesty of the place; it is the Lord's House; the Palace of the King of Heaven; and what prince would have his court converted into a charnel-house? How well soever we loved our deceased friends, yet, when their life is dissolved, there is none of us but would be loth to have their corpses inmates with us in our houses; and why should we think fit to offer that to God's house, which we would be loth to endure in our own? The Jews and we are in extremes this way: they hold the place unclean where the dead lies, and will not abide to read any part of the Law near to aught that is dead; we make choice to lay our dead in the place where we read and preach both Law and Gospel. Secondly, in regard of the annoyance of the living; for the air, kept close within walls, arising from dead bodies, must needs be offensive, as we find by daily experience; more offensive now than of old to God's people: they buried with odours: the fragrance whereof was a good antidote for this inconvenience; ('she did this to bury me', saith our Saviour); not so with us; so the air receives no other tincture than what arises from the evaporation of corrupted bodies". "He", says Osborn, "that lies under the herse of heaven, is convertible into sweet herbs and flowers, that may rest in such bosoms as would shriek at the ugly bugs which may possibly be found crawling in the magnificent tomb of Henry the seventh". - "The gradual introduction of the present practice of burying in churches is traced by Bingham, with his usual erudition. It began in the respect paid to the remains of martyrs, which originated in a noble feeling, but soon degenerated into the grossest creature-worship, and produced frauds and follies innumerable. Churches were first erected over the ashes or bodies of saints and martyrs, or the remains were translated to the churches. As the devil began to act a greater part in hagiographic romance, it was thought good policy to be buried as near as possible to the remains of those great champions who had carried on the war against him with such heroism while they were living, and whose very dust and ashes he was believed to dread. Emperors and kings began by obtaining this protection for themselves, but they were contented with a place in the porch or galilee. In the sixth century the common people were allowed places in the church yard, and even under the walls of the church. By the time of Charlemagne, they had got into the church; and an attempt was made at the council of Fribur, a synod held in this reign, to put a stop to the abuse. It appears, however, from this synod, that the clergy had established for themselves a privilege of lying in the church, for it is the burial of laymen there which is prohibited. In the year 900, the emperor had repealed all former law s upon this subject: burial within the cities w as then expressly permitted, and graves in the churches were soon allowed to all persons w ho could pay for them. From that time, the manifold evils of this senseless custom have been repeatedly exposed: it continues to prevail, nevertheless, and \\ ill continue till the inconvenience of it becomes so great as to render an effectual change necessary". - Quart. Rev. No. 12, Bishop Burnet, in his Life of Sir Matthew Hale, asserts, that the conscientious judge desired to be interred in the church-yard of Alderley, in the county of Gloucester, observing that churches were for the living, and church-yards for the dead. Mr. Britton, in his "History and Antiquities of Bath Abbey Church", in which work is an interesting Essay on Epitaphs, by the Rev. Joseph Coneybeare, says, "the custom of interring bodies within churches is much to be deplored. It is not only injurious to the stability of buildings, but is repugnant to all the finer feelings of our nature. Can any thing be more unpleasant than a knowledge that the whole earth, beneath the flooring of a church, consists of human remains". - See also Wren's " Parentalia", wherein Sir Christopher Wren strongly reprobates this barbarous practice.
[227] "Thus began corpses to be buried in churches, which, by degrees, brought in much superstition, especially after degrees of inherent sanctity were erroneously fixed in the several parts thereof, - the porch saying to the church yard - the church to the porch - the chancel to the church - the east end to all - stand farther off, for I am holier than you; and, as if the steps to the high altar were the stairs to heaven, their souls were conceived in a nearer degree to happiness, whose bodies were mounted to be there interred". - Fuller's Church History.
[228] It has been ever traditionally stated, that Tewkesbury church was literally used as a stable by the soldiery during the civil commotions in the seventeenth century; and the large pillars which divide the nave from the aisles, even so late as the year 1790, presented an appearance which would give countenance to this idea. In many of these pillars, small perforations remained, in which portions of iron hooks or staples, such as would be used for tying up horses, were visible.
[229] Upon digging in the inclosnre, at the east end of the church, in the year 1828, a leaden coffin was discovered, at the distance of about 115 feet from the building, in which were the bones of a middle-aged person, in a tolerably perfect state. This coffin might have been removed from its original situation in the Lady Chapel, at the time of its destruction, and probably contained the bones of some distinguished member of one of the noble families who had been patrons of the church.
[230] "These sacella, or enclosed mortuary chapels, are not of very ancient date in monkish history: they were choirs in miniature; and had their raised altars, tapers, crucifixes, and all the utensils of catholic worship, only on a smaller scale than in the platform of the church. Their endowments were very considerable; varying according to the number of masses for the dead to be said in them by the appointment of their founders; which commonly had respect to their ancestors and descendants, as well as to the immediate benefit of their own souls". - Knight's Disquisition.
[231] Archaeologia, XIV. 150. - Gough's Sepulchral Monuments.
[232] In an old MS. in the editor's possession, it is said, that in the Founder's chapel there was curiously painted the story of the murder of Thomas à Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, at the high altar in his own cathedral; and that on the breasts of the four knights, his murderers, were their several coats of arms, which are therein minutely described. - The death of Becket happened on the 29th of December, 1170, and is attributable to William de Traci, Reginald Fitzurse, Richard Brito, and Hugh de Moreville, who were all gentlemen of the bedchamber to King Henry the second, and knights and barons of the realm.
[233] Lions at the feet of effigies are explained by several writers as emblems of vigilance and courage; but Mr. Gough doubts this etymology, and thinks the practice was derived from an allusion to the words in Psalm xci. 13. "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder; and the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet". - Dogs on monuments are thought by some to have been chosen on account of their reputation for watchfulness and fidelity. Mr. Gough supposes, that, when at the feet of ladies, they may allude to their favourite lap dogs; and adds, "that knights and nobles may have them at their feet as the companions of their sports, or a symbols of their rank".
[234] Lysons's Observations, in Archaeologia, vol. XIV.
[235] Gough's Sepulchral Monuments.
[236] "The principal difference between the monuments of Sir Guy Bryan and that of Hugh Lord de Spenser, consists in the decorations of the basement, or altar, upon which the figure reposes: the latter is panelled in small trefoil-headed arches, while that of Bryan is divided into three large quatre-foiled compartments, the centre of which is charged with the armorial shield of Sir Guy Bryan, Or, three piles, in point, azure, and those on each side with the same arms impaling the coat of Montacute, Argent, three fusils in fess, gules". - Neale's Views.
[237] "The name of Sir Guy Bryan must be joined with that of De Spenser as a great benefactor to this church, in putting up the ceiling under the tower, in enlarging the windows, and perhaps in completing several designs begun and prosecuted by Elizabeth's former husband, till death overtook him; and to which, with singular delicacy, Sir Guy Bryan might have allowed only the arms of the original projector to be affixed: a resemblance, doubtless, has been intended between their monuments, but the copy will not bear to be examined with the original; under any other association it might obtain praise. It has, however, the advantage of being placed in a better light, and a more commanding situation". Knight's Disquisition.
[238] Neale's Views.
[239] Whilst some assert that six pillars once adorned the interior of this chapel, others conjecture that there were never more than two, from the circumstance of there being no appearance in the floor of the bases of such additional pillars. Any increase in the number of them would certainly have obstructed the performance of divine worship in so confined a place; and therefore, that which now appears in the ceiling to be the remains of other pillars, might have been only pendents, the bottoms and more ornamental parts of which have been surreptitiously removed.
[240] Arms upon the side of the chapel next the choir, over the door, 1. France and England, quarterly, King Edward III. 2. Castile and Leon, quarterly, Peter King of Castile and Leon. 3. France and England, quarterly, Edmund of Langley, Duke of York. 4. France and England impaling Castile and Leon, Isabel of Castile, Duchess of York. 5. Clare quartering De Spenser, Thomas De Spenser, Earl of Gloucester. 6. Clare quartering De Spenser and impeding France and England, Constance, Countess of Gloucester, who was the daughter of Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, and mother of Isabel, Countess of Warwick, the founder. The armorial bearings upon the side of the chapel, next the aisle, are as follow: the basement, in three divisions, contains, in the first, three angels under canopies bearing shields, 1. France and England, quarterly, King Edward III. 2. The bearings upon this shield are entirely destroyed. 3. France and England, quarterly, Edmund of Langley, Duke of York. In the second division of the basement are two angels bearing shields. 1. France and England, quarterly, impaling Castile and Leon, quarterly, Isabel of Castile, Duchess of York. 2. Clare and De Spenser, quarterly, impaling France and England, quarterly, Thomas de Spenser, Earl of Gloucester. In the third division, two angels, bearing, 1. France and England, quarterly, in chief, and Castile and Leon, quarterly, in base, impaling Clare and De Spenser, quarterly, Constance, Duchess of Gloucester. The arms on the fascia and ever the door are, in each compartment, three, 1. The Royal Arms of England. 2. The Arms of Clare, Earls of Gloucester. 3. Clare impaling England, Isabel, Countess of Gloucester, and John, afterwards King of England. 4. De Spenser, Hugh, Lord De Spenser. 5. De Spenser, impaling Clare. Eleanor, Countess of Gloucester, wife of Hugh, Lord de Spenser. 6. Clare and De Spenser, quarterly, impaling, Burghersh, Sir Edward De Spenser, K.G. - Neale's Views.
[241] Mr. Fosbroke thinks this figure appertains to the last Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, who was killed at the battle of Bannockburn, the style of the armour not being, he says, of the æra of Sir Edward le Despenser. - Gent's. Mag. Supp. part 2, 1826.
[242] "A few years ago we might have seen depicted, upon the eastern wail of this chapel, the blasphemous exhibition, still often witnessed in catholic countries, of the blessed Trinity personified: an old man, with a cross on his breast, and a dove perched on the top of it, was to give the semblance of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,- entirely regardless of God's own expostulation with his people: 'whereunto will ye liken me'". - Knight's Disquisition.
[243] These figures are engraved in Lysons's "Collection of Gloucestershire Antiquities".
[244] Designs of this class occur in the monuments for Bishop Fox, at Winchester, and Bishop Beckington, at Wells. See Britton's Histories of those Cathedrals.
[245] Neale's Views.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in October 2015.

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