Monument of the Month

July 2014
Brecon Cathedral: a post-Reformation cross slab
Half hidden by the carpet in the St Keyne’s Chapel in Brecon Cathedral, tucked under the heating pipes on the north wall, is a seventeenth-century ledger stone. Battered and worn, with key parts of the inscription spalled off, it is nevertheless one of the most fascinating stones in a building full of interest for the student of monumental carving.

The stone commemorates a Richard John William who married Gwladis daughter of Phillip Price and died in the 1620s. The names of their children have all but disappeared. There is replacement stonework in a central panel, probably where the slab has been damaged by reuse. But the key features are plain to see. The first is that the stone has an ornate cross head. Crosses on memorials after the Reformation are extremely rare in England, but in south-east Wales they are virtually the norm on seventeenth-century ledger stones. Some are probably medieval stones recut with later inscriptions, but most are clearly later in style, with inscriptions that appear to be part of the original design.
The crosses on post-Reformation memorials in Glamorgan are plain to the point of austerity, often just parallel lines with a simple calvary base. In north Monmouthshire and south Breconshire, though, there is a range of ornate baroque styles, suggesting several schools of local stonemasons each with its own pattern book. The stone in the St Keyne’s Chapel at Brecon has a cross head with an elaborate design of interlaced hearts and square-based fleurs-de-lys. Other ledger stones in the cathedral have slightly simpler crosses with similar fleurs-de-lys. Some of the crosses in north Monmouthshire have very distinctive scrolled bases and endearingly naive figures flanking the cross shafts. Most of the Monmouthshire stones have incised text but the Brecon stones have false-relief capitals rather reminiscent of the false-relief Lombardic capitals that characterise the medieval slabs of north Wales.
The second significant feature on the Brecon stone is the IHS trigram at the centre of the cross head. The IHS trigram is common enough on later medieval stones, reflecting the increased popularity of the cult of the Holy Name of Jesus. But all the medieval examples are in blackletter script. On this stone, the trigram is in square capitals, in the form popularised by Ignatius Loyola as the visual identity of his new order the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits.
The Brecon ledger stone is clearly not that of a Jesuit: but did it commemorate a Jesuit sympathiser? IHS emblems are not as common in post-Reformation south-east Wales as cross slabs, but there are a number of other examples: at least two more in Brecon, five in Abergavenny and a scatter across northern Monmouthshire. As with the cross slabs, there are few outside south-east Wales and the western border of Herefordshire before the end of the seventeenth century. The IHS emblem was regarded by many as ‘popish’ but it had a marked resurgence in popularity in the early seventeenth century under the influence of Arminianism and the revival of ritualism in the established church. In spite of its Jesuit connections the square capitals style seems to have been more acceptable than black letter with its undertones of the medieval church. It appeared on church plate and furnishings, though much of the latter was destroyed during the Puritan resurgence in the 1640s and 1650s.
South-east Wales was one of the strongholds of Catholic recusancy after the Reformation. Some of those commemorated with cross slabs and IHS emblems were certainly Catholic, or had Catholic sympathies. One of the cross slabs in Brecon commemorates a Lewis Havard, who died in 1569. That one has a Latin inscription concluding with the prayer ‘cuius anime Deus propicietur’. The Havards were one of Breconshire’s leading Catholic families, though confessional lines were not as clearly drawn in 1569 as they would be after the bull Regnans in Excelsis in 1570. One of the IHS stones in Abergavenny commemorates a ‘RG’ who died in 1672. Could this have been one of the Gunters, Abergavenny’s leading Catholic family? But most of the people commemorated by these stones cannot be indentified in any of the lists of Catholics. One stone in the Havard chapel at Brecon has the full Jesuit emblem – IHS trigram, nails and pierced heart, set in a sunburst – but it commemorates Ann Bulcott, daughter of Lewis Morgan, who was vicar of Brecon in the 1620s. Some of the Bulcotts were Catholics but the Brecon branch of the family was ostentatiously conformist and Ann’s son served as sheriff of the county in 1679
The stone in the St Keyne’s Chapel is if anything even more conspicuously loyalist. Much of the text has spalled off but you can clearly see, under the cross head, the words ‘Honor the King’ – the second part of the motto ‘Fear God, Honour the King’. Most of the text on the stone is in false-relief capitals, but the motto is in blackletter, which could have been intended to emphasise its separate nature: the false-relief capitals are the family details, the motto has more to do with belief.
It is particularly unfortunate that the final digit of the date is missing. The memorial dates from some time in the 1620s: and we do know that from 1621 to 1627 the bishop of St David’s (the medieval diocese covering Brecon) was none other than William Laud. He was already one of the leaders of the ‘Arminian’ group in the Church of England (though his theology was never explicitly Arminian) and of course went on to serve as Charles I’s Archbishop of Canterbury and to be executed in 1645. If the memorial dates from his period at St David’s, it could be evidence for his encouragement of ceremonialism, visual ornamentation and the ‘beauty of holiness’ combined with loyalty to the Crown and the Royal Supremacy.  
However, this ledger stone is clearly in the tradition of the other memorials of south-east Wales. Some of the people who commissioned them might have had Catholic sympathies, open or covert, but in most cases one suspects they would have identified themselves as loyal members of the established church. The same kind of stubborn traditionalism can also be found in the religious practices of the period. Bishops wrung their hands and tore their hair over pilgrimages, candles, and what Robinson of Bangor called ‘lewde and indecent vigils’: but these were never a threat to the authority of church or state.
More about the cross slabs of south-east Wales
at,,, and
Maddy Gray and Rhianydd Biebrach are planning to organise either a study day or an excursion to Brecon to look at the medieval and post-medieval stones in the Cathedral and in Christ College (the former Domincan friary). Watch this space, as they say.
Dr Maddy Gray PhD
        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 . 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 -1 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