Saturday, 15 September 2018

Tudor tomb effigies

Recently, when doing other things, I've fortuitously visited several churches with memorable memorials, making it seem I'm a bit fixated on death.  But that how life is.
The latest was St Briavels in the Forest of Dean, where are these effigies to William (died 1573) and his wife Mariana (born Catchmay) reclining on their elbows almost as if woken fully clothed from the marital bed.

William's left hand holds a bible or prayerbook, probably signifying the protestant faith, and his left hand rests on a now-damaged skull.  Their four children, including one still swaddled who presumably died while a baby, are represented on the tomb side.   

That's about all the information the memorial (and church) offer so I don't know who they were, except that both Warrens and more notably Catchmays were local gentry, and one may assume the memorial was erected by a surviving child.   Most striking are the strong sculptural lines of their robes with deeply incised folds and the expressive facial features,  William appropriately sombre, Marian with a curious half-smile.
Equally striking are the traces of colour on the stone, showing that William's gown and pillow were originally painted black, and Marian's lips and cheeks were rouged.  This, together with the skull and elbow poses, is similar to the female effigies in Hatfield that I saw back in July.  
So I'm now on a hunt for more painted  Tudors and Jacobeans.

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