Monday, 23 September 2013


The  Huntrodds’  Memorial


On the south east side of the parish church at Whitby in North Yorkshire, close to the entrance to the Cholmley Pew, is the  Huntrodd’s  Memorial  1600 – 1680.  The inscription tells us :

‘ Here lie the bodies of Francis Huntrodds and Mary his wife who were born on the same day of the week, month and year (viz) Septr ye 19th 1600
marry’d on the day of their birth and after having had 12 children born to them
died aged 80 years on the same day of the year they were born, Septr ye 19th 1680

the one not above five hours before ye other.’

‘Husband and wife that did twelve children bear,

 dy’d the same day; alike both aged were.

Bout 80 years they liv’d, five hours did part,

(Ev’n on the marriage day) each tender heart, so fit a match,

surely could never be, both, in their lives, and in their deaths agree.’

Fact is indeed stranger than fiction.

Huntrodds Tomb

The watery grave.
Colonel and Mrs John Harrison, who lived in Kirby Malham in North Yorkshire in the 19th century, were separated for long periods due to the Colonel’s frequent overseas service, with the result that his wife Helen decided that as water had separated them for so much of their married life, so it should in death. To that end she arranged for their burial plot to be situated in a corner of the old churchyard where a small stream runs. This stream would separate the double plot. Helen died in 1890 and she was buried on the south side of the stream. John died in 1900 and, it is said, when the gravedigger attempted to dig the grave on the other plot on the north bank, he hit impenetrable rock. The result was that John had to be buried with his wife and so in fact they were united. The stream still runs through the plot which is marked by a stone kerb and a very fine marble cross.

Nuptial discord

The church of St Lawrence in the tiny village of Ayot St Lawrence in Hertfordshire (the last home of Sir George Bernard Shaw), is  like a Greek temple, with Doric portico and two colonnaded wings leading to pavilions on each side, a perfect example of the Paladian style.   The front of the church is stuccoed, but the back has been left in plain brick, whilst the roof is of copper sheeting.   The very fine interior is in keeping with the structure and the altar is at the west end.

Sir Lyonel Lyde of Ayot House and Lord of the Manor in 1778, was responsible for this curious edifice, having decided to build a new church for the village.  Actually, he decided that the old medieval church obstructed the view from his house  and decided to demolish it and to build the new church to the west of his house where he could see  and admire it from a distance.   Before he could demolish the old church, the Bishop intervened with an injunction, but the old building was never restored and was left in ruins as seen today.

The appearance of the exterior of the new church is due to the fact that Sir Lyonel could only see the front of the building and this also explains why the altar is at the west end of the church, i.e the opposite end to the front.

The tombs of Sir Lyonel and his wife are under the two side pavilions, one on each side.  It is said that these unusual separate mausoleums were the outcome of a life of nuptial discord.   Sir Lyonel had apparently vowed that since the church had united them in life, it should make amends by separating them in death.

The faithful wife

A desciptive tablet in the parish church at Tenby in South Wales tells its own story:

Margaret Mercer's fine memorial

Nine  husbands


A tablet in the church at Birdbrook in Essex records :

 ‘ Martha Blewitt of the Swan Inn at Baythorpe End in the parish of Birdbrook,

who died on May 7th 1681.

She was the wife of 9 husbands successively, but the 9th outlived her.’


The funeral text was :  ‘Last of all the woman died also.’  

 Which was recorded in the register.  
It was also recorded that,

‘Robert Hogan of this parish  had 7 wives successively.’

He married his 7th wife, Ann Livermire, , January 1st 1739



The  Pudsay  family


An unusual family tomb can be seen in the lovely church of St Peter and St Paul at Bolton-by-Bowland in Lancashire.  It commemorates local Lord of the Manor, Sir Ralph Pudsay (died 1468), his three wives and  twenty five children! The figures of each one of the family are carved in relief on the huge grey marble slab, together with the names of each of the 25 children


The King’s barber


Edmund Harman also had a large family, nine boys and seven girls, and their images are carved on his fine memorial in Burford Parish Church in Oxfordshire.  Harman prepared the monument himself and part of the inscription, which is in Latin reads :


Whom God from his earliest years blessed with countless benefits,

Put this monument to the Christian memory of himself

and of his only and most faithful wife AGNES

and of the 16 children whom, by God’s mercy, she bore him.


As barber and personal servant to King Henry V111 he was trusted to hold a razor to the King’s throat and once when he was ill with no doctor available, Harman successfully ‘bled’ the King.  Harman was also a witness to the King’s will, a close servant indeed.    Figures of Red Indians and strange fruits also adorn the monument which are thought to commemorate discoveries made by Harman’s brother on voyages abroad.


The Bradshaw Memorial
In about 1600, Anthonie Bradshaw erected his own memorial in his parish church at Duffield in Derbyshire. Although he described it as a ‘little monument’ it was in fact 12 feet tall and commemorated his living self, his two wives and his (then) 20 children. Born of an old Derbyshire family, Bradshaw became a successful London lawyer before returning to his native Derbyshire.
His monument is of sandstone, with obelisks and rusticated pillars, and is inset with alabaster panels. They are full of inscribed information, some in Latin and some in  English, about Bradshaw and his family. He and his family are portrayed  in half-figure incisions identified by initials with full names above and at the foot of the monument is an acrostic of his name. The whole thing is topped with his coat of arms and crest.   One thing missing is the date of his death in 1614.
Bradshaw had a further three children before he died.
The monument was restored in 2002.

 Duffield Parish Church

Another large family
The church of St Martin was a Collegiate church until 1547 when it became the parish church and in the late 18th century the church was reduced to its current standing of the medieval nave, leaving the old chancel in ruins.  A striking gravestone can be seen inside the church having been removed from the ruined chancel for preservation. It depicts the figures of a man and a woman draped in a cover over which a tree is growing. Shields are at the roots of the tree and at the ends of its branches are the heads of 13 children, 7 sons on the male side and 6 daughters wearing caps on the female side. It is thought to commemorate Sir Thomas de Heslerton and his wife Alice and their children.



The Stonemason's family


Back in the 18th century, James Faichney was a stonemason living at Inverpeffray near Crieff in Perthshire.  During his lifetime he carved a large elaborate stone depicting himself, his wife and each of his ten children and he built it into the churchyard boundary wall.    Apart from the images, dates of birth, marriage etc., are included, making a complete record of his family.

In 1994 the stone was removed from its original position and after restoration it was place inside the interesting pre reformation church at Inverpeffray.


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