Monument of the Month

December 2014
 

Llancarfan and Carisbrooke: some thoughts on a seventeenth-century cross slab in the Vale of Glamorgan

 
 
The recent discoveries of medieval wall paintings at Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan have produced excitement on an international scale. Strangely, the church has no medieval monuments, not even a humble cross slab: but it does have a post-medieval stone of considerable interest. It sits just inside the south door, which is the main entrance into the church. Llancarfan’s church is almost always open, though it’s as well to check before making a visit. Cleaning and conservation of the wall paintings is continuing, and when work is in progress the church has to be closed to visitors.
 
If medieval cross slabs are the unsung heroes of the commemorative industry, post-medieval cross slabs are the unknown warriors. Along with requests for prayer for the souls of the dead, religious iconography was supposed to disappear from monuments after the Reformation. In spite of this, the churches of south-east Wales have any number of late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century cross slabs. Some, like the one described in July 2014’s Monument of the Month, are elaborate baroque designs with floriated or interlaced heads. In the Vale of Glamorgan, though, the standard design is much simpler, a plain four-line cross on a stepped base. The earliest surviving example of this design, at Llantwit Major, is dated 1534.
 
Most of these slabs have simple inscriptions with the details of the individuals commemorated. Several have evidence of recutting. The Llancarfan stone has obviously been reused. At the top it says
 

HERE LYETH THE BO
DY OF ROBERT
DAVID     1628

But underneath is

W R

7 5

and a final date which looks like 169... (the last number I cannot decipher).

 
What makes the Llancarfan slab so interesting is that it has a few lines of verse:
 
[MY HOPE] ON CHRIST
[IS FI]XED SURE
WHO WOUNDED
WAS MY WOUNDS
TO CURE     W R
 
This little poem is intriguing, to say the least. The Victoria & Albert Museum has a seventeenth-century window with the poem scratched on its glass. According to tradition it came from Carisbrooke Castle and was scratched by Charles I when he was a prisoner there (more about it at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/4726774/Treasure-island.html). A quick trawl with Google (how did we ever do research before the Internet?) shows that the poem is actually quite common on gravestones, often with some other lines. This fuller version is on the monument of Thomas Urquhart of Kinundie in Ross and Cromarty and recorded in Charles Rogers’ Monuments and Monumental Inscriptions of Scotland:
 
My hope shall never be confounded,
Because on Christ my hope is grounded,
My hope on Christ is rested sure,
Who wounded was my wounds to cure ;
Grieve not when friends and kinsfolk die,
They gain by death eternity
 
Thomas Urquhart died in 1633. So the poem predates Charles’s stay at Carisbrooke – but he could have come across it somewhere and felt that it expressed his own feelings in captivity.
 
Wales was predominantly Royalist in the Civil War, and conservative in sympathies after the Restoration. Whether WR (whoever he was – or whoever she was, for that matter) knew about the poem’s connection with Charles I we will never know.
 
The line about Christ’s wounds has a very medieval feel to it. Depiction of the Arma Christi, the Instruments of the Passion and the disembodied Five Wounds,  was common enough on later medieval tombs. But like the cross this does not necessarily mean that Robert David or the mysterious WR was a Catholic. The wounds also figure in eighteenth-century Methodist hymns. Perhaps the best known example is Charles Wesley’s Advent hymn ‘Lo! He comes with clouds descending’. We belt this one out with great enthusiasm in the weeks before Christmas but do we really think about the words of the third verse –
 
Those dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears,
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshipers.
With what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!
 
You find the same ideas in Welsh hymns. The great William Williams Pantycelyn, writer of ‘Guide me, O thou Great Redeemer’, had a wonderful image of making his nest in the wounds. So our two seventeenth-century inhabitants of Llancarfan were well in the main stream with their poem.
 
We know nothing else about them, or why they are commemorated by the same stone. It is just possible in spite of the long time between them that ‘W R’ was Robert David’s son and had taken his father’s Christian name as his surname. In the seventeenth century Welsh people were just moving over from the old patronymic form of names (William ap Robert ap David ...) to the English style of surnames. But there is a crossover period during which their names look like surnames but change with each generation – so David Edwards’s son could be Robert David, Robert David’s son could be William Robert, and so on.
 
They were probably yeoman farmers somewhere in the parish. Llancarfan had no resident great landowners: much of the land in the parish belonged either to the diocese of Gloucester or to Jesus College, Oxford. It was the lack of money in the parish which enabled the wall paintings to survive under their coats of lime wash: there was no-one with the money to ‘restore’ the church in Victorian Gothic style. The same lack of local money may explain the paucity of memorials in the church, but it has left us with this one intriguing reminder of the very complex local responses to the Reformation and subsequent religious change.
 

Maddy Gray

University of South Wales

 
 
        Monument of the Month - Contributions Wanted!
This page is designed for the general reader and is intended to feature monuments of all types and all ages: those to the famous and to the unknown, those by famous sculptors and those by unknown local craftsmen, the artistically spendid and the simple but beautiful or curious. So far mostly members of the Council have contributed but contibutions are welcome from everybody - members or non-members of the Society. We would welcome a photograph or two and a short text telling us why the monument interests you: it may be of an ancestor, of someone you admire, something you have discovered or just something you just like or find interesting.
Please send the text as a word document and the photographs as separate jpg files ; please do not send the photographs embedded in the text as I cannot then edit the document. However, it is always useful - but not essential - if an embedded version could be sent as well, as then I can lay out the document as you intended. Please send contributions to churchmonuments@aol.com . We will feature the monument for a month and it will then be archived.

Some tips on the photographs:
1. It is always polite to ask the vicar or rector of the church for permission to take photographs, stressing they are not for profit or commercial purpose. It is important to confirm when the church is normally open. Don't forget to enclose a stamped addressed envelope for your reply.
2. Cathedrals and some other large churches have a visitors' desk and permission may often be obtained there on the day; sometimes there is a modest cost. Some of these churches do not normally allow photography although permission may be obtained if one writes before hand. To date the only place that I have been refused  is Durham Cathedral. Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral also do not allow photography.
3. Try to carefully remove items that block the view of the monument if you are able. Especially don't leave your camera case in the way as I have on occasions! Or alter the angle of the photograph to minimise this problem.
4. Try to avoid excessive contrast in taking the photographs - dark shadows and bright sunlight. In other words, try to see what the camera sees, not your eyes! Flash can be difficult to use as it creates harsh shadows and burned out highlights; this is especially difficult when a photograph is taken of a subject of some depth when the foreground becomes too bright and the background too dark, because of the rapid falling off of the brightness of the flash with distance.
5. Please send photographs as jpg or gif attachments; do not embed them in the text where they cannot be edited and require a lot of memory space. If you wish I can scan printed photographs if they are sent to me; they will always be returned.
Click on the link below to see earlier Monuments of the Month
January 2010 Thomas Moore (d. 1586) & his widow Marie at Adderbury (Oxfordshire) Sally Badham FSA
February 2010 The so-called ‘Stanley boy’ monument at Elford (Staffordshire) Dr Sophie Oosterwijk  FSA
March 2010 William Shakespeare’s monument, HolyTrinity, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire Dr Adam White PhD
April 2010 The Lovell Tomb at Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire Dr Ellie Pridgeon PhD
May 2010 The chantry of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester 1391-1447 at the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban Jane Kelsall
June 2010 Thomas Babington of Dethick (d. 1518) and his wife Edith at Ashover (Derbyshire) Dr Kelcey Wilson-Lee PhD
July 2010 Baptist Noel, Third Viscount Campden (c. 1612-1683) at Exton, Rutland C B Newham
August 2010 Isabelle of Angoulême at Fontevraud Abbey J K Bromilow MInstP
September 2010 The Monument to Thomas Strode at Beaminster, Dorset Dr Clive J Easter PhD
October 2010 The cadaver monument of Guillaume de Harcigny (d. 1393) at  Laon (France) Dr Sophie Oosterwijk FSA
November 2010 The John Donne Monument (d. 1631) by Nicholas Stone in St Paul's Cathedral, London Dr Philip Cottrell
December 2010 Walter Helyon (d. c. 1357) at Much Marcle (Herefordshire) Sally Badham FSA
January 2011 Hungerford, Berkshire Dr Ellie Pridgeon PhD
February 2011 The Schaw Monument Dumfermline Abbey Church Dr Jenny Alexander
March 2011 Two wooden Epitaphien from Königsberg Jerome Bertram
April 2011  Abbot Adam of Carmarthen, Neath Abbey South Wales Dr Rhianydd Biebrach Ph D
May 2011 Sir John Newdigate, 1610, Harefield, Middlesex Jon Bayliss
June 2011  The joint tomb of João I of Portugal (d.1433) and his queen, Philippa of Lancaster (d. 1415) Founder’s Chapel, monastery of Our Lady of Victory, in Batalha, Portugal  Joana Ramôa
Photographs by  José Custódio Vieira da Silva
July 2011 Today and not tomorrow’ Doctor James Vaulx and his two wives Editha and Philip   St Mary’s Church, Meysey Hampton Joan and Robert Tucker
August 2011 The Bourchier Monuments in St Andrew’s Church, Halstead (Essex) Mark Duffy
September 2011 Two Monuments in Bedfordshire Cameron Newham
October 2011 Floor slab of Joost Corneliszoon van Lodensteyn, burgomaster of Delft (d. 31 April 1660), his wife Maria van Voorburch, and their descendants, Oude Kerk (Old Church), Delft (Netherlands), Belgian hardstone, 223 x 136 cm. Dr Sophie Oosterwijk  FSA
November 2011  Berengaria of Nevarre, Queen of Richard the Lionheart in L'Épau Abbey J K Bromilow MInstP
December 2011  The Watton Monument at Addington, Kent Dr Clive Easter
January 2012  The monument of Lady Margaret  Grey (d. 1330) at Cogges  Oxfordshire Sally Badham
February 2012 The Effigy of Walter Stewart, Earl of Menteith, at Inchmaholme Priory, Scotland Mark Downing FSA
March 2012  Thomas Walwyn (d. 1415) and his Wife  at Much Marcle (Herefordshire)   Sally Badham 
April 2012  Lady Barbara de Mauley, St Nicholas, Hatherop   Joan and Robert Tucker  
May 2012 The tomb of John Marshall in Llandaff Cathedral Dr Madeleine Gray PhD FRHistS
June 2012 The double tomb monument to Reinoud III van Brederode (d. 1556) and Philippote van der Marck (d. 1537) in Vianen (Netherlands) Trudi Brink
July 2012 Lowsley Family Tomb, Hampstead
Norris, Berkshire
Dr Andrew Sargent
August 2012 Oliver Cromwell's Coffin Plate J K Bromilow MInstP
September 2012 A Monument in Holy Trinity Church Hull Sally Badham FSA
October 2012 East Worldham (Hampshire) Sally Badham FSA
November 2012 Floor slab of Cornelis Pietersze (d. 1532) and his wife Jozijne van Domburch (d. 1557), Sint-Maartenskerk, Sint Maartensdijk (province of Zeeland, Netherlands), Belgian hardstone, 254 x 141 cm. Dr Sophie Oosterwijk  FSA and Kees Knulst BA
December 2012 An exercise in white marble and whitewashing: Cenotaph of Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam (d. 13 June 1665), by Bartholomeus Eggers, situated in the choir of the Jacobskerk, The Hague (Netherlands), white, red and black marble and wood. Dr Sophie Oosterwijk  FSA
January 2013 Martin Kistenmaker and his Parents
Heiligenkreuz, Rostock
Jerome Bertram
February 2013 The monument to Archbishop James Sharp (d.1679) in Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews (Fife) Phoebe Armstrong
March 2013 The Monument at Sheriff Hutton (Yorkshire).
Is this the tomb of Richard III’s son?
Dr Jane Crease
April 2013 Zacharias Johannes Szolc, 1682, and Stanisław Bużenski, 1697 Frombork Cathedral, Poland Jerome Bertram
May 2013 The monument to Dr Thomas Turner, died 1714. Stowe-Nine-Churches, Northamptonshire  Dr Clive J Easter FSA  
June 2013 'Left for dead' Major Thomas Price Robert Tucker
July 2013 An unusual saint: Floor slab of Jacopmine Huyghendochter, wife of Foert Christiaenszoon (d. 1553), Sint-Maartenskerk, Wemeldinge (province of Zeeland, Netherlands), Belgian hardstone, 185 x 114 cm Dr Sophie Oosterwijk  FSA
August 2013 Thomas and Mary Acton, erected 1581, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire Jon Bayliss
September 2013 Cholmondeley Monument, St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London  Dr George Roberts
October 2013 Revd Theophilus Pickering (d. 1710) and John Dryden, Poet Laureate (d. 1700), Titchmarsh (Northamptonshire) Sally Badham FSA
November 2013 Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland, 12th Baron de Ros of Helmsley (c.1492 – 1543) Bottesford, St Mary (Leicestershire)   Edward Higgins MA BSc (Hons)
December 2013 Maria Rebekka Schlegel, 1736, Stadtmuseum, Meissen, Germany Jon Bayliss
January 2014
Lady Elizabeth Clinton (d. 11 September 1423) Haversham (Buckinghamshire)
 Sally Badham
February 2014 LUGENS MŒRENSQUE Moira Ackers
March 2014 A son’s delayed memorial to his dead mother: The tomb of Catharine of Bourbon, Duchess of Guelders (d. 1469), Stevenskerk, Nijmegen (Netherlands). Sophie Oosterwijk and Trudi Brink
April 2014 Robert Crane (d. 1500), Chilton (Suffolk) Sally Badham
May 2014 A monument with a story
Double monument said to commemorate Lady Constantia and her son John, St Leonard’s church, Scarcliffe (Derbyshire).
Sophie Oosterwijk and Sally Badham
June 2014 A military effigy
St James's Church, Iddesleigh, Devon
John K Bromilow MInstP
July 2014 Brecon Cathedral: a post-Reformation cross slab Dr Maddy Gray PhD
August 2014 The monument to Lady Wolryche, 1678: the Lady with the Lute Dr Clive J Easter FSA  
September 2014 Row On Row (1) Robert Tucker
October 2014 A Fool’s Monument?
The Tomb Slab of Hans Has at Wertheim, Germany
Dr Martin Spies
November 2014 A Ledgerstone at Aldenham, Hertfordshire Dr Jean Wilson
December 2014 Heaven under our feet: the Laleston triple cross Dr Madelaine Gray PhD
 


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