Monuments in St Mary’s Church, Denham, Buckinghamshire, near Uxbridge, West London
Denham, just inside South Buckinghamshire, is a short bus ride from Uxbridge on the Metropolitan Line out to West London, and the church there is well populated by monuments.
The Parish Church of St Mary, which is faced in flint and with dressings of pale stone and built in Perpendicular Gothic style,
has as its main exterior feature a low, square battlemented tower. The nave and chancel extend for some considerable length
for what is a fairly small church.
Inside, the Church is long, narrow and high-roofed, with enough oak furnishings to give a historic atmosphere,
though the walls are whitewashed. Wall plaque monuments are scattered around the walls, with a particularly good selection
nearer to the altar, where stands also a grand altar tomb with two recumbent figures.
The Parish Church’s foundation was perhaps 12th Century, with a rebuilding in the 15th Century and various additions
and changes through to modern times which have left much of the 15th Century work extant.
Its history is that after the Dissolution of the monasteries, Denham, with its great house Denham Place
and its church as well, were granted to Sir Edmund Peckham, MP for Bucks, but the family came into debt, and in 1596
the Crown passed the estate to William Bowyer, and thence by descent to a certain Roger Hill and eventually to Abigail Lockey,
and by marriage of her daughter, also Abigail, to her husband Lewis Way. It then continued in the Way family.
The monuments preserve the memory of these various people, with the Way family being most numerous.
Altogether, there are well over 40 wall plaques, including one with a portrait bust and several with
minor sculptural adornment. The ensemble is particularly interesting because although there is a lack of
the popular marble girls with pots, the Church gives a good selection of many of the more usual types of mural monument:
varieties of the Classical tablet, ovals, cartouches, a couple of obelisk monuments, a couple of Gothic ones,
and the later white-marble-on-black simpler tablets. The great altar tomb is 16th Century,
and there are brasses from this time, and the wall monuments include one 16th Century one, three from the 17th Century,
almost 20 from the 18th Century, spaced out across the different decades, with the 19th Century also represented more or less
from beginning to end, and with a few from the 20th Century. The Church thus gives somewhat of
a little museum of changing styles of monument over several hundred years. We note them in the usual date order:
Monuments: The 16th Century tombs of Sir Edward Peckham and his wife, and Sir Roberte Peckham
By the altar is the pair of pale stone effigies of Sir Edmund Peckham, Knight, d.1564
and his wife, d.1570, lying recumbent on a heavy altar tomb right against the wall.
They lie in an attitude of praying, but the hands of Sir Edmund, and most of the hands of his wife,
are lost. Their faces are also worn and damaged. He is in many-jointed plate armour, but has removed his helmet
which forms his pillow, exposing his wavy hair. Some beast lies at his feet.
His wife reclines on two pillows, and wears a headpiece over most of her hair, and a high ruff.
She has heavy sleeves, and her dress hangs down to cover the feet; as usual in monuments of this date,
there is no effect of gravity on the drapery. The base tomb underneath has the look of a Greek temple,
with fluted free-standing pillars all the way round the exposed sides.
Altar tomb to Sir Edmund Peckham, d.1564, and wife.
We next note the tablet monument to Sir Roberte Peckham, d.1569,
with a long inscription in capital letters filling, or over-filling a large panel –
this was a common design feature of the times, as if stone were so expensive that every inch should be used.
The panel has the narrowest of borders, but above it is a high relief coat of arms in an architectural surround
of the same width: this includes Ionic side pilasters decorated with repeating patterns, and above,
a pediment enclosing a heart, for it was Sir Robert’s heart alone which was buried in the Church.
On top, the broken remnants of three pedestals, the centremost of which has some small device upon it.
It is likely that all this is the surviving part of some grander monument, perhaps with strapwork or more ornate borders.
Sir Roberte Peckham, d.1569.
17th Century wall monuments:
18th Century monuments:
- Diana Jennings, d.1708, wife of Philip Jennings of Dudleston, daughter of Sir William Bowyer of Denham Court,
Baronet, and his wife Dame Frances, grand-daughter of William, Earl of Salisbury.
A cartouche monument, thus the oval, slightly domed panel bearing the inscription is surrounded by a wide border
of carved scrolls and leaves, in a broad manner eschewing detail (see picture below left). At the top, a mini-cartouche
which once would have had painted upon it a coat of arms, and at the base, a low, wide apron bears a winged skull;
unusually the wings are feathery rather than bat-wings.
Early 18th Century monuments.
- Sir William Bowyer, Baronet, d.1709, erected by his widow Dame Anne Bowyer,
noting that he was the eldest son and heir of the previous Sir William Bowyer, Baronet, and that his mother, too,
was a Dame Anne, a daughter of John Stonehouse of Radley, Berkshire. It continues that
‘he was a Gentleman Who having been bred to the Army retired early from publick Life.
But was equally distinguished as esteemed during the Remainder of his Days for Strengths of Honour, Truth and Integrity.’
The white marble tablet has a narrow border of yellow marble, within an outer frame, also rather thin, of white.
On top, rather than entablature and pediment, is a simple black curved top-piece without a frame,
with upon it a relief of a pot with trailing, asymmetric drapery. At the base is a triangular apron,
rather shallow and rather like an upside down pediment – indeed, the whole monument would look more conventional
were the top and bottom reversed – with a small shield and little flourishes, which would once have been painted.
The backing here is of a yellow and black marble, and the monument exemplifies the 18th Century style of using a mix
of coloured marbles, something which vanished by 1800 – see the Introduction to Church Monuments page.
Finally, the little shield bears a gilded dove with wings uplifted which protrudes into the main panel.
- Edward Lockey, d.1711, with a tightly written inscription noting his descent and offspring.
A second inscription added on the apron is to his wife Abigail, who when widowed afterwards married Charles Edwin.
She died in 1757. The whole monument is in a white marble with fine dark lines.
The main inscription is on a panel with arched top, and to the sides are broad and solid fluted pilasters,
with acanthus leaf tops, then outer receding pilasters. Above the inscription, two bits of carved drapery
hang from a central knot, on a base rising in a curve to a short shelf, on which is the painted coat of arms on a cartouche.
To left and right on the pilaster tops are two small lumps, presumably once bearing pots or urns or maybe obelisks.
Beneath, the inscribed apron to Abigail is between curly fluted brackets with flowery termini.
At the bottom, centre, is a winged cherubic head as a corbel. Rather grand overall,
the pilasters with their width and oversized tops being the defining feature.
- John Maxwell, d.1711, ‘Gentleman usher to King Charles the Second, and to Katherine Queen Dowager’,
who left £400 to the Poor of Galloway, where he had been born. A plain panel with a domed top and the thinnest of edgings.
- Dame Alice Clayton, d.1718. She married first William Buggins, then Sir John Clayton, Knight,
and was the daughter of Sir William Bowyer, Bt. Among her children is noted the Rt Hon Charlotte,
wife of Lord John Lovelace, Governor of New York. The tablet has a curved top bordered by a shelf,
broken to emplace a large lozenge within crossed branches which would once have had a painted coat of arms but is now blank.
Two lyre-side pieces flank the panel at its base, and below a shelf is a baroque apron with a low relief carving
of several flowers, executed with a good eye for the desirable proportions and emphasis for the size of monument.
- Cecil Bowyer, d.1720, with a long, faint inscription noting his pedigree.
And added later, an inscription to his wife, Juliana Bowyer, d.1750. The panel is carved as a hanging drapery (see picture above centre),
with drop folds to the sides, hanging from knots, the drapes then rising to a summit held up by a pair of winged
cherubic heads. On top of this rests the coat of arms, painted, upon a small cartouche, with free-standing floral festoons
to each side, nicely carved. The drapes have tassels, and on the lower edge, a gilded fringe.
A delicately carved and elegant memorial of a type which was widespread at the time, but always rather rare.
- Sir William Bowyer, Baronet, d.1722(?), a worn inscription, rather lengthy,
noting that he helped set up a school and left £30 a year for its maintenance, and that his sole surviving son,
also William Bowyer, set up the monument. A briefer inscription below on the apron is to his wife,
the Hon. Dame France Bowyer, d.1723, daughter of Charles, Lord Visount Cranbourn,
son of William Earle of Salisbury. The main panel is arched, with a frame and scrolly side pieces,
a rather meagre outer embellishment around the curved upper edges where spandrels should have been,
and a thick upper shelf which could have borne something on top, but is empty.
Beneath the lower shelf is the apron already mentioned, between two corbels acting as brackets and carved with fruit
or closed buds. At the very base is a cartouche of arms, painted, small but nicely scrolly.
It might be that the monument originally had this cartouche above the top shelf, and it was moved to accommodate
above it the monument to Sir William Boyer, Bt, who died in 1767; see below.
- Rebecca Maria Stirpin, d.1723, grand-daughter of Sir Joseph Alston, Baronet, of Chelsea, Middlesex,
her husband, the Rector of the Church Revd. John Stirpin, d.1729, and son, John Alston Stirpin, d.1736.
Another grand wall panel, with vaguely Corinthian side pilasters and outer scrolly side pieces with fronds extending almost the full height (see picture above right).
Above, a shelf, no entablature or pediment, but a Cartouche bearing a coat of arms, painted, with an Acanthus
and scrolly surround, and to the sides, two small lamps. Beneath, a shelf with thick fluting,
as if the edge of a seashell, which is not uncommon, and beneath this, an apron with to its sides and at the base,
brackets with finely carved flowers, leaves and ribbons. This splendid edifice is constructed in a range of different types
of marble. The whole design is rather open, and the rich and varied silhouette adds considerably to the impact
of the monument.
Sir Roger Hill, d.1729, with bust.
- Sir Roger Hill, Knight, d.1729, the tightly scripted panel noting he was descended from Sir John Hill
of Hounston, who was knighted in the field of battle by Edward III, and that he himself was knighted by Charles II.
The monument also notes his various children and their marriages, including Hester Probert, see below.
An added panel inscription below commemorates his wife, Dame Abigail Hill, d.1737 –
see note at the top of the page. A grand monument with a central bust of Sir Roger, on a Baroque base,
under a canopy with hanging drapes, with coloured marble Corinthian pilasters to the sides,
scrolly outer borders to that – they really are a feature of monuments in the Church –
and on top of all, not a pediment, but a great vase decorated with carved flowers and with festoons of flowers
on either side. On the exaggerated capitals to either side of these festoons,
stand a pair of rather similarly painted coats of arms, each in a scrolly cartouche with a small lantern on top.
Under all this is a shelf, very wiggly, then the inscriptions, with side swirls and a final base corbel or bracket
carved with leaves. Thomas Bull was the sculptor. The bust shows Sir Roger with a full wig,
Classical cloak above period dress, looking rather severe (see also picture at top of page).
- Thomas Carter, d.1735, son of Dorothy, daughter of Sir William Bowyer, Bt, with a short eulogy and noting he married Clare,
daughter of Edward Alston. A cartouche, with the sides a mix of scrolls and drapery, a pair of winged cherubic heads
at the upper sides, and above, a coat of arms with two olive branches enclosing it; drapery emerges from behind this
to hang down to the cherubic heads, pulling the composition together (see picture below left). At the base, a terminal scroll and a small skull.
- Elizabeth Bowyer, d.1736, wife of William Bowyer, who erected the monument, with a eulogy. A panel on the base apron records that William Bowyer died in 1749. Here we have an obelisk or pyramid monument. The inscribed tablet has two borders, the outer one recessed, a shelf above, and upon that, the tall dark marble backing plate which forms the obelisk. U[pon this is a scrolly cartouche with a shield of arms upon it, and a flame on top. At the base, a thick shelf bearing stylised flowers carved in low relief, then below that, the aforementioned inscription to the husband, in an indented panel upon a rounded apron, between two fluted, curved brackets. A solid, chunky monument with some gravitas. The use of two opposing marbles – a white with dark grey streaks and a dark grey with white veins – was a feature of some number of monuments of this period.
Thomas Carter and Hester Probert: monuments with winged cherub heads.
- Hester Probert, d.1742, daughter of Sir Roger Hill, Knight, and Lewis Way, d.1743,
an infant, Abigail Way, niece of Hester Probert, d.1753, and her husband Lewis Way, d.1771.
A long inscription on a tall panel, with two pairs of side pilasters, the innermost in dark marble with a repeating pattern
upon the shaft and a round flower on the capital, the outer pair receding and plain bar some device on the capital (see picture above right - you will need to click to enlarge).
The pediment above is broken to accommodate a short pyramid or obelisk, truncated at the very top,
and upon this is a coat of arms, painted, in a nicely carved asymmetrical cartouche.
On the sloping sides of the pediment are two flaming conches. At the base, between two curved brackets is a shaped apron
with a winged cherubic head upon it, and below this, a corbel with carved foliage.
The monument is signed on one of the bases to the pilasters by the sculptor Samuel Huskisson,
who made a few rather grand monuments, including one at Petersfield Church.
- William Bowyer, d.1745, ‘Lieutenant to Admiral Medley, On board his Majesty’s Ship the Russet,
Dyed at Sea near Gibralter’, with a eulogy by the Admiral and officers noting his involvement in several engagements
in the West Indies. A squareish panel with a Roman patterned border, upper entablature and broken pediment enclosing
a small cartouche which would have been painted with his coat of arms. Below, the deep apron bears a carving in low relief
of the ship he sailed upon, a three master with many gun ports; it rides on a wavy sea,
and in the sky are carved various navigational instruments - see picture below left, and you will need to click to enlarge. Charming.
Monuments to two later Bowyers, 1745 and 1767 (see text).
- Mary Webb, d.1748, John Coggs, d.1751, Miss Mary Webb, d.1752,
daughter of the first one, and another Mary Webb, d.1733, daughter of Daniel and Mary Webb,
and Miss Sarah Webb, her sister, d.1783. A panel with semicircular top and a thin frame,
seated on a dark shelf. Beneath this is a larger, blocky tablet with little legs,
commemorating Joseph Webb, d.1785, Daniel Webb, d.1788, and Daniel Hale Webb, d.1816,
and his wife Jane Webb, d.1829.
- Elizabeth Holburne, d.1754, wife of Captain William Holburne RN. The inscription occupying just the top
of a tall panel with domed shelf on top, broken to admit a coat of arms with a leafy wreath.
At the base, two small scrolly side pieces, a shelf, and a baroque apron with a large flower and crossed flower stems
in relief. Rather similar in design to the Dame Alice Clayton monument noted above.
- Sir William Bowyer, Baronet, d.1767, erected by his son of the same name, and recording his marriage
and offspring. An unconventional panel monument, with the inscription on a pedestal with S-shaped wavy borders,
a shelf above, and on top, a rather small pot on a pedestal (see picture above right). Below the panel is a shorter shelf with tiny repeating patterns,
and a base with little legs on which is recorded his wife, Dame Anne Bowyer, d.1785.
All of this is attached to an almost oval but slightly quatrefoil orangey backing panel. To the sides are two small shields,
one still painted.
- William Cooke, d.1797, Rector to the Church for 48 years, and Provost of Kings College Cambridge,
and Dean of the Cathedral Church of Ely, white panel with upper shelf on shaped black backing.
- Revd. George Scott, d.1799, with upper helf and cut with little legs, on black backing panel.
19th Century monuments:
- Lewis Charles Way, d.1803, who died at Fort Johnston, British Central Africa,
on a plain pale marble panel, bevelled and slightly pointed.
- John Gaunt, d.1807, and wife Phoebe Gaunt, d.1790, and the motto ‘pursue virtue’.
White panel with upper shelf on shaped black background.
- Benjamin Way, d.1808, and wife Elizabeth Ann, d.1825. The inscription notes that he was of
Denham Place, Sub-Governor of the South Sea Company, President of Guy’s Hospital and Governor of the Company
for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England, and that they had seven sons and nine daughters.
The white tablet has a shelf at top and bottom, with added segment below the lower shelf with a Biblical quote.
The dark backing is cut to give receding pilasters to the side, a pediment at the top, of necessity unframed,
and curly apron below. The only sculptural adornment is a small shield of arms in the pediment, with broken ribbon,
and small pieces in the acroteria: a dove with a leaf in its beak on one side, a broken thing on the other.
- Hester Way, d.1824, youngest daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth Ann Way above.
White panel with upper shelf on shaped black backing.
- Sarah Webb, d.1835, and husband Daniel C Webb, d.1860, and three unnamed infant children,
simple white panel with upper shelf on a shaped black backing.
- Thomas Mellish, d.1837, a small white panel with upper shelf on a shaped grey marble backing.
Signed, but I could not read the signature.
- Revd. William Way, d.1845, rector of the Church and son of Benjamin Way. A fine Gothic monument,
styled as a window with the inscription on a white marble forming the window space, and the architectural surround
in pale stone. It features a complex, carved top, with many crockets, and two separate pinnacles.
The base, also fine, includes two brackets joined with vaulting. A shield of arms is painted in the centre above
the inscription, on a leafy low relief base. An excellent thing of its type. The sculptor was Clarke of Wigmore Street,
not a familiar name, though Gunnis, the sculptural historian, records he has done other work in Gothic style.
- John William Drummond, Lieutenant of the 70th Bengal NI, who was in the East India Company’s Service
from 1840, and died at Groefenberg, Silesia. Panel with carved shield of arms, within another stone Gothic surround.
Mid 19th Century Gothic monuments: Revd. William Way and Henry J. Stevens.
- Henry James Stevens, d.1855, and son in law Revd. Charles Leeson Bingham, d.1856.
White panel with arched top, slightly pointed, with thick base and pendant below, on a shaped black backing,
rather austere overall. Signed by John Tomlinson of Uxbridge, one of the significant local stonemasons.
- Benjamin Way, d.1859, and wife Susan, d.1875. He was the eldest son of a Colonel Way of
Denham Place. The white marble plaque is carved as an unrolling vertical scroll, with emblem of an arm clutching a scroll
or stick and a motto on a ribbon above, within the pediment shape of the black, shaped backing.
It is signed by T. Sharp of 50 Connaught Terrace, Hyde Park London.
- A Gothic inscribed panel in black, on a rectangular backing in stone, which I could not read.
A painted coat of arms occupies the upper portion. The border has slender attached pillars, and at the top,
the spandrels are carved with leafy designs.
- The 10 Children of Benjamin Way and wife Mary, daughter of Thomas Smyth who died in 1860,
emplaced by a grandson, John Hugh Way, Vicar of Wenbury and Hon. Canon of Bristol.
A 19th Century brass plate in the style with black Gothic lettering and red capitals, quite common,
but unusually enhanced by a plate with a coat of arms, angled, and accoutrements, painted (or perhaps enamelled) in red,
white and black.
- Sir William Bowyer, Baronet, d.1893, grandson of Admiral Sir George Bowyer, Baronet, d.1794.
The inscription notes that as well as being 8th Baronet of Denham Court, he was 4th Baronet of Radley Hall, Berks,
was buried in a mausoleum erected by Lady Bowyer at the Extra Mural Cemetery in Brighton, and had a memorial at
Radley Church, Berks, and a sculptured record in St Martin’s Church, Brighton.
The inscription is on an oval, slightly tilted plaque, held up by a statue of an angel,
whose arm stretches over the top of the plaque, with the hand holding a downward tilting torch,
which frames the inscription on the other side; the downward torch of course being emblematic for the snuffing out of life’s
flame. The angel’s other hand holds a wreath. She stands, youthful and pretty in a late Victorian way,
wearing long drapery down to cover her feet. At the top, a little coronet, and at the base, under the shelf,
a carved heraldic griffin in high relief and a motto. Rather a dashing monument overall, and our only one in the Church with an angel.
Last of the Bowyer monuments: Baronet Sir William Bowyer, d.1893.
20th Century monuments:
Also in the Church:
We may note a medieval Piscina, crudely cut in Gothic style with a visible basin, and apparently the oldest thing
in the Church. There are several early brasses, 15th and 16th Centuries, including two clerics,
one a tall, thin figure of with his hands hidden in his sleeves, the other praying.
The detachment from the original fabric makes it uncertain if the figures relate to the difficult-to-read texts
associated with them. Also in the Church is the brass to Dame Agnes Jordan, Abbess of the Monastery of Syon
when it was dissolved.
There is also a section of wall painting, in red, black, yellow and blue-grey on a white background,
some scene with figures, some in various hand-waving poses, perhaps in water.
Above, centre, is a large angel blowing a trumpet, and smaller angels may also be discerned.
The picture would thus seem to be a Last Judgement.
There are two oil paintings, in richly carved, gilded frames, one of which is a Virgin and Child,
the other less obvious.
With many thanks to the Church authorities for permission to show pictures of the monuments inside; their website is
A casket tomb in the churchyard, early 19th Century.
Top of page
Beaconsfield Parish Church, also in South Buckinghamshire, // and High Wycombe Church, likewise in S. Bucks
Hillingdon Church // West Drayton Church, Hillingdon // Uxbridge Parish Church // Ruislip Church, also in Hillingdon // Sculpture on the Uxbridge Line
Monuments in some London Churches // Churches in the City of London // Introduction to church monuments
Angel statues // Cherub sculpture
London sculpture // Sculptors
Visits to this page from 31 May 2014: 7568