St Margaret Church, Barking, London/Essex - Monuments
St Margaret’s Church, Barking, now London, previously in Essex, contains a very good selection of wall monuments, especially 18th Century, the collection including several portrait busts, early alabaster pieces, monuments with pediments, Baroque, cartouche and obelisk monuments, and four 17th Century monuments and a group of more modest 19th Century white-on-black panels. The Church is associated with the demolished Barking Abbey next to it – foundations, fragmentary walls and one gate survive – and from there, contains one ancient slab from around the time of the Norman Conquest, and one great tomb chest to the steward to the last Abbess.
Barking Church, today and 200 years ago.
Barking Church is one of a group of about 20 interesting churches within ‘Essex in London’ – the area of Essex transferred to London in 1965, along with bits of other adjoining counties and the loss of ancient Middlesex. A few words on the Church itself. It is of pale stone, flint and rubble, and is notable for the breadth of the low building – nave, one south aisle and two north ones – and a typical 3-stage 15th Century tower with a little newell tower at one corner. Some of the building – the chancel, some portion of the nave (some features visible inside) – date from the 13th century, when the Church was erected within the precincts of the Abbey, the tower and much else was added in the 15th Century, the second, larger north aisle came in the 16th Century, and 18th Century changes were mostly reversed in Victorian times, which saw something of a makeover. The large monumental panels are scattered round the interior, and we take them in date order.
Barking Church interior: nave and chancel.
Maurice, Bishop of London 1085-1108, and Alfgive, Saxon Abbess of Barking in 1066 and after. Heavy, dark stone slab set in the wall with incomplete inscription to these two: information in the Church says that Alfgive entertained William the Conqueror within the abbey. The slab is blank of any decoration, but of course is of remarkable historical note.
Panels to Abbess Alfgive and Bishop Maurice, and Vicar Martinus.
Martinus, First Vicar of Barking, 1315-28. Stone slab found in the Nun’s Cemetery in 1912 when the Abbey site was being excavated, and set in to the wall by the altar. It bears the inscribed half figure of a man, whom from the label we must assume is Martinus, shown with hands together in an attitude of praying. The face is in a well delineated medieval style but without much by way of characteristic features; Martinus is shown with curled locks of hair, not so long, framing the ears, which unfortunately gives the impression that the ears themselves are large and sticking out. He has a thick neck but thin shoulders, and wears a tall clerical collar – making the neck improbably tall – and some loose garment with folds over the arms; these folds over and around the bent elbows are conventional but well done. Nothing is indicated below the arms; there seems to be remnants of some inscription. How interesting to see such an old carving.
William Pownsett, d.1553. A great altar tomb with moulded sides, a piece of masonry rather than anything sculptural, with a heavy black marble slab on top noting that the tomb was repaired at the expense of All Souls College, Oxford, 1784 - see picture at top of page. Pownsett was steward to the last abbess of Barking, and All Souls received the living of the rectory and advowson, purchased by the executors of Pownsett’s will.
Elizabeth Powle Hobart, d.1590, small black panel with alabaster surround and two shields of arms above, doubtless a fragment from some larger monument.
Charles Montagu, d.1625.
Sir Charles Montagu, d.1625. He was brother to the first Earl of Manchester. With a carved alabaster scene, most detailed. Sir Charles rests in his tent, leaning on his elbow, wearing plate armour over pantaloons, his helm and gauntlets beside him, his painted arms above. A pair of guards stand on either side of the entrance, each holding a long musket, and wearing a flamboyant hat; behind on the left is a horse and page-boy (click to enlarge and see full detail on picture above right). In the background, carved in low relief, are the pointed roofs of many more tents, each with its flag flying from the top. The piece is within a streaky brown alabaster frame, with upper entablature and curved pediment, broken at the top to include a cartouche with painted arms, and a tiny winged cherub head carved at the top. A heavy shelf at the base, and the inscription, within a nice scrolly surround, with small flower at the base and cutouts at the sides. Super.
Francis Fuller, d.1636, ‘of Bee Hive in the Countie of Essex Esq: one of the Justices of the Peace in the said countie, & Clarke of the Estreats in the Kings Ma[jes]ties Court of Exchecker’. A Caroline portrait sculpture, of a round-faced man with full beard and whiskers, curled hair, and owlish eye sockets. His neck is hidden by a large ruff, and he wars some garment with many buttons under some robe with a furred hem. The piece is more than head and shoulders, going down a full head’s length into the chest, and we see the top parts of the arms. The bus t sits within an oval niche, surrounded by a segmented border with rings, made, like the rest of the monument, in red-brown alabaster. Above to left and right are painted shields of arms; to the lower sides are carved flowers. At the top, without an entablature, is a curved pediment with a painted cartouche of arms in front of it. Underneath, the bust’s base sits within a swan-necked pediment capping the inscription within a frame; there are outer scrolls, and flowery termini at the base to the sides, and a central winged cherub head. Between cherub and inscription, the border has written on it that Fuller’s body was interred in the parish of St Dionis Backchurch, London – that church was destroyed in the Great Fire just 30 years later, and rebuilt by Wren, and pulled down in 1878. This work was suggested as being by the sculptor Nicholas Stone the Elder by an early 19th Century correspondent to the Gentleman’s Magazine, but Adam White, chronicler of early London tomb sculptors, deemed the claim as being without sufficient substance.
Fuller and Alice Bertie: larger 18th Century panels
Alice [Bernard] Bertie, d.1677, with a Latin inscription. The inscription is flanked by black-shafted Ionic pillars and has a black support under it; the rest of the monument is streaky, stained white marble. We see receding pilasters with curls and flowers, an entablature, and curved pediment enclosing crossed, flowering branches. On top recline two well-carved cherubs, with the word ‘Reviviscant’ [as in ‘will be brought back to life’] between them. Below, there is a blank apron flanked by two brackets with small carved shields of arms; a festoon of carved flowers forms the base of the monument.
John Fanshaw of Parsloes, d.1699. Alabaster panel in moulded surrounding frame, with a pediment resting directly on top without entablature, broken at the top to admit a pot or urn. Instead of pillars or pilasters at the sides, knotted drapery hangs somewhat over half way down, carved as hanging in straight drop-folds, and with fringing. At the base, a curved apron with painted shield of arms.
18th Century monuments:
Robert Bertie, d.1701, Earl of Lindsey, next to John Fanshaw’s monument, similarly sized and of almost the same date, but more sculptural. Here are fluted Ionic pilasters [flat pillars in relief] to the sides, and a Baroque ornament on top, carved in high relief with open and closed books, small instruments unclear in the gloom, ears of corn and flowers. On top and on either side are the thin stems of now-vanished pots. Also to the sides are receding capitals and scrolling. The whole sits on a gadrooned shelf (i.e. corrugated like the edge of a shell), which sticks out to the sides to support two architectural trophies: hese each have a suit armour – skirting, chest and helm – in front, carved mounted on a pole bearing a crown at the top, and behind, crossed weaponry. Beneath the shelf is a smaller panel, and then a plain shelf with a curved apron below – both of these are covered with a further inscription, the upper one of which is rather faint, the lower clearer, listing out the various charitable activities of the deceased. To the sides of this lower panel are great moulded supports to the pilasters above, each bearing a shield and ribbons in low relief, and to the sides, further broken ears of corn and books or scrolls; and below the shelf, a corbel with winged cherub head. At the very bottom, central, is a winged death’s head, one of the better ones, with the emphasis on the batlike wings and the rounded dome of the skull – as is common, there is no lower jaw.
Captain John Bennet, d.1706, and wife Mary Bennet, d.1711, and their son, also Captain John Bennet, d.1716, by whose will the monument was erected. A fine monument with a half-figure portr ait in white marble. He wars a full wig, open jacket with extravagantly wide cuffs, and a ruffed shirt under htat; One hand is cocked against his side, the other holds some small thing which according to information in the Church was originally a sword. This portrait is rather small on the monument, no more than a quarter of the height and width. He is within a tall arch, with side pilasters, fluted and Corinthian, and a raised, open curved pediment. Filling the space behind and above him is the inscription, carved as a hanging drape held at top and sides. On top is a carved cartouche of arms, now blank, with mantling and a variety of carved weapons behind it: cannon, muskets, axe, curved sword etc – this arrangement is called a martial trophy. The statue is seated on a broad, gadrooned (corrugated) shelf, and to the outside of the pillars are separate panels showing the prow and stern ends of large ships. Underneath, the space is again divided into three, with curly brackets. To each side is a navigational globe, and in the middle is carved a sextant and other navigational aids, with a little bat-winged skull at the base as a memento mori. Splendid.
Captain John Bennet, d.1706, different views.
Elizabeth [Bennet] Bertie, d.1712, wife of the Hon. Robert Bertie, and daughter of Sir Thomas Bennet, Baronet of Babram, erected by Mrs Catherine Fetherston, her niece and executrix. An interestingly carved monument – it is in the form of a hanging drape again, held up to the sides on the heads of two cherubs, and with a raised centre with three further winged cherub heads: the overall shape is almost oval, thus approaching a cartouche, thus a sort of transitional monument. Below this is a shelf, and then a further inscription recording her charitable bequests, with carved acanthus leaves, and a thinner lower shelf, then a little cartouche with a central lozenge, and two more winged cherub heads, bringing our count to seven. A little shell at the very base. Back on the main shelf, we have two outward-facing skulls, and right at the top is a single pillar capital supporting a small urn. See picture further up page.
Sarah (Meadows) Fleming, d.1715, noting also her father, Robert Meadows, d.1679, and added later, husband Thomas Fleming, d.1722. Another panel carved as a hanging drape, held up to the sides on two winged cherub heads. Here, the drape has behind it at the top a painted shield of arms, and the top is like that of a tent. At the base, a single winged skull or death’s head, well carved, as indeed are the cherub heads.
Sir Orlando Humfreys, d.1737, and details.
Sir Orlando Humfreys, d.1737, noting his marriage and offspring, including two who died young, and son Robert Humfreys, d.1736. Another very grand monument centred on a bust of the deceased. As with the Bennet monument, there is a sideboard-like base, and the bust stands upon this flanked by tall pillars with a massive pedimental group above: the height is such that a full statue could have been accommodated. The portrait bust shows Sir Orlando clean shaven, wearing a Dutch-style cap, a loose shirt, and cloak above this. Above, filling the rest of the space within the niche, is the inscription, carved as a hanging drape with a fine fringe and drop folds to the sides; at the top it is knotted to the sides, and has a carved group of three winged cherub heads with central all-seeing eye and sunburst: the eye is unusual. The pillars to the sides, fluted Corinthian, are completely detached, and there are receding pilasters behind. Above, an entablature, and that great pediment, curved, broken at the top, and very baroque. Within is the shield of arms, carved with much mantling and hanging festoons of flowers. Seated above are a pair of cherubs, one looking down at the monument, the other up to heaven. Outside the pillars to the sides, on a level with the bust, are standing cherubs; much carved detail too, including relief carvings of skulls with drapes and other memento mori. Excellent.
Captain Joshua Banaster, d.1738, ‘brought up to the sea service from his Infancy’, Commander of his Majesty’s Yacht, Charlotte for 13 years, and benefactor to the Parish. The inscribed panel is flanked by black pilasters, supporting a broken curved pediment with a heap of crossed nautical things carved en ronde: cannon and anchor to the font, muskets and pilsols and sabres and a mast, and several cannonballs. This supports and stubby pot, and to the sides are two cherubs, one with hand to breast in a melodramatic gesture of sorrow, the other dabbing at his eye with a drape. At the base, a black marble shelf and curved apron, and at the very base, a death head, looking to the side: this view emphasises the fact that the skull is missing its lower jaw, which was the fashion of the time.
Susanna (Collett) Pytts, d.1742, her mother, also Susanna Collett, d.1745, and father Captain Jonathan Collett, d.1746, and Captain Thomas Collett, d.1743, his daughter Susanna Court, d.1757, and another daughter, Grisel Pelly, d.1759, and her husband, Captain John Pelly, d.1762, one of the Elder Brothers of the Trinity House. A grand Classical monument in white marble with a streaky black-and-white marble surround. There are fluted pilasters to the sides, supporting an entablature and broken pediment above, enclosing a small shield of arms. Outside the pilasters are carved scrolls, reaching two thirds up, and these rest on a broad gadrooned (corrugated) shelf below. Beneath that is a curved apron, with supports on either side, each terminating in a bell-shaped base.
Elizabeth Eyres, d.1746, Robert Eyres, d.1746,, Sarah Eyres, d.1751, all children, and George Eyres, d.1755, and Sarah Eyres. d.1772, presumably the parents, and Sarah Norton, d.1778. A sombre Classical monument, with black frame around the central inscribed panel, outer recessed side pieces of yellow-orange streaky marble of the antico rosso type, each bearing a carved drape hanging from the top. Above, a broken pediment containing a ball-shaped flaming vase with small drapes in carved relief upon it. At the base, a shelf supported on two curved brackets, and below, an apron of streaky black and white marble with gadrooning (corrugation) at the bottom, and with a small cartouche upon it, which would have once presumably borne some painted arms. The use of several colours is characteristic of the middle of the 18th Century.
William Stephens, d.1751, Vicar of Barking, and his sister in law, Mary [Simpson], undated. Plain stone panel with upper and lower shelf, and moulded supports.
Bamber tomb, 1736.
Joseph Bamber, d.1756, and his wife Maria Bamber, d.1736. A combination of different usual types of monument: a casket tomb on a heavy plinth, a carved bust on top, and an obelisk behind, the whole being surrounded with railings. The twin inscriptions, in Latin, are on the base, carved as if on hanging drapes. The bust is in the style of a Roman senator, with drapery rather than contemporary clothing, somewhat at odds with the portrait, which is so English, and has an expression around the mouth so different from any Roman. We see the casket tomb, with its outward slanting sides, as if length on, and it is supported on two great lion’s feet. The dramatic dark marble of the casket contrasts with the lighter, equally turbulent obelisk above and behind; this obelisk goes down further and is more broad at the base and sharp at the top than would be usual in a conventional obelisk monument – see for example the Crisp Gascoyne monument noted below. The carved drapes below on the base are knotted together, with twisted folds at the top, helping frame the inscriptions. A large, eye-catching and interesting monument.
Sir Crisp Gascoyne, d.1761, Lord Mayor etc, with an eulogy, also noting the death of his wife, Margaret [Bamber] Gascoyne, undated, the monument being erected by their offspring. An obelisk monument, typical in its features but at the more richly decorated end of the scale. The tall, black obelisk forms the upper part of the monument, and is divided from the inscription and lower part by a shelf with receding sides. On this shelf sits a mourning cherub, wearing and sitting on a cloak, and leaning against an egg-shaped funereal urn and dapping his face with a cloth. Above are crossed branches. The inscription below in pale marble is surrounded by a band of yellow and black, then receding sides with outer scrolling in red and white marble. A carved lower shelf, curly brackets, and a baroque base with inlaid darker orange marble completes the colour scheme; a now blank cartouche of arms is set upon this base. Such use of coloured marbles is often found at this period, and in bright light and when clean is most arresting to the view. See picture below.
Anna Maria (Raymond) Newte, d.1783, with a poem. An elegant, light monument, with curly side pieces, with low relief floralities carved on the surface, and hanging from the tops, little bell shaped flowers carved en ronde. There is a thin shelf at the top, supporting a relief of a wide-bodied pot with curly handles of Acanthus and an acorn-topped lid. There is a narrower shelf at the base, under which is an apron, with a shield upon it, now blank, bearing low relief festoons of flowers on each side, tied by ribbons and then hanging down. All rather Louis Quatorze.
Sir Charles Raymond, Baronet, d.1788, and wife Sarah (Webster), d.1778, erected by their surviving daughters Sophia Burrell and Juliana Boulton. Panel with broad, fluted side-pieces, upper shelf, and on top, a dark semicircular panel on which is a broad lamp in high relief, rather oriental in style, and carved with a flame coming from the top. With a thick lower plinth of streaky marble, on a lower plinth of stone.
19th Century monuments and later:
Thomas Newman, d.1802, and his wife Elizabeth Newman, d.1810, and son Walter Newman, d.1820. Black panel on a backing cut with small feet; a moulded upper shelf is at the top.
Mary Ellen Cuff, d.1807, husband Joseph Cuff, d.1817, and son Joseph Cuff, d.1836. An obelisk monument. The inscribed panel has fluted side pieces, thin upper and lower shelf, and below, a shallow apron with small shield of arms and relief carving of crossed branches, all in white marble. Above is the obelisk, cut in black marble, maybe 60 per cent of the whole height of the monument. Upon it is a high relief pot with a narrow stem on a plinth. Above, we can see the outline of a now-missing bird swooping downwards; the small leafy twig it had in its beak is stll in place. To the sides of the obelisk, above the pilasters, are small acroteria or ears, white marble with black borders. See picture above.
Charles Pelly, d.1811, ‘Post Captain of HM Frigade Bucephalus, who fell a sacrifice to the effects of the climate of Java’, son Charles Hinde Pelly, d.1810, daughters Emma Pelly, d.1823, Arabella Pelly, d.1829, and wife Mary Pelly, d.1830. Tall panel with room for many names, cut to pediment shape at the top, and with little feet at the base. With a black border of similar outline.
Edward Smith Biggs, d.1833, as a low tomb chest end, with little feet, and supporting a Roman lamp, partially draped, carved in low relief, and on a black backing. Signed by John E. Hinchliffe, the younger. See picture further down page.
Patrick Macdowell's portrait bust of Robert Hall
Robert Westley Hall, d.1834. White on black monument with a portrait bust on top of a casket tomb. The bust is of the proper Roman senator type, showing a late middle aged man with tightly cropped hair, prominent nose and ascetic features, with a robe over one shoulder, leaving his chest bare on the other side. Excellently carved and characterful. The bust stands on the casket, which is attached rather than in relief, and has a lid, anthemion styled acroteria to the sides, and the inscription on the front, flanked by low relief carvings of slender amphorae. It stands on blocky feet, and the whole is on a black backing cut to a broad obelisk shape. Signed by no less than Patrick MacDowell RA, London, a prominent sculptor best known for his ideal nudes and his group of Europe for the Albert Memorial, along with much portrait sculpture. See pictures above; full monument at top of page.
George Glenny, d.1839, blocky little monument in landscape format, with the inscribed panel framed by two broad pillars, supporting blank entablature, shelf and low pediment with two acroteria; below is a thick shelf, and the whole is on a dark panel of streaky marble.
Work by local stonemason Druitt of Stratford.
William Francis Whitbourn, d.1860. Squat panel with thick pilasters to the sides, with embellished bases and capitals, supporting a fluted shelf, on which sits a plinth bearing a high relief pot of the Aladdin lamp type. This is nicely ornamented and is partly covered with a drape. To the sides are protuberances, not in the usual acroteria shape. At the base, another shelf, and legs cut with upside down pyramids. On a black backing panel, signed by the mason, Druitt of Stratford, whose work - it was a company with two or three generations of the family - can be seen in several churches in the area. Picture above left.
Francis Whitbourn, d.1888, and wife Silvia Ann Whitbourn, d.1901. As a small Classical monument on a black backing. Thus to the sides of the inscribed panel are small attached pillars, somewhat leafy at the tops, bearing a shelf with many mouldings above, on which is semicircular top, or mini-pediment, with upon it inscribed a circle containing a shield, now blank. The base is a heavy block with more mouldings and supported on two blocky feet. Picture above right. Again by Druitt of Stratford.
Sergeant Kenneth Chetwynd Harvey-George, d.1917 in WW1, a metal panel with inscription in capital letters, and an embossed border with a design of twisting branches of oak, with leaves and acorns.. At the top left is an enamel plaque in basse taille, showing a shield of arms, most colourful.
Panels to Sergeant Harvey-George and Edward Biggs.
Daniel Thomas Jackson, d.1928, plain wooden tablet with moulded surround.
Douglas Hewett, d.1941, and brother Graham Hewett, d.1927, erected by Hope Hewett, daughter of Douglas. Bronze panel with nice text, borders of oak leaves and acorns, and a small panel with low relief yacht sailing on wavy sea, with a small coat of arms above it.
Adelaide Worboys, d.1997, a wooden monument with a tall panel shaped to fit a Gothic window, bearing an inlaid wood rendering of a Gothic building, presumably the Sunday School where he taught.
Also in the Church
A few ancient brasses from the larger number once within the Church survive.
A cabinet of fragments of pottery and stone from the Abbey, including a couple of tiles and some decorative carving.
Carved font of around 1635, octagonal bowl with fanciful designs, on a scrolly shaft, and with an early Victorian wooden cover. It was replaced for a while by a Victorian Gothic font, but restored to the Church in the late 1920s.
Font, stained glass details
A dark panel listing 17th Century and early 18th Century charitable donations to Barking.
A few pieces of ancient furniture, nice darkened wood with fretwork.
A lozenge inscribed with a notice of extra seating in 1842 following a grant from the Incorporated Society for Promiting the Enlargement, Building and Repearing of Churches and Chapels, signed by the then-Vicar, Robert Liddell.
Decent 19th Century stained glass windows.
A random collection of small wooden figures, painted, including St Nicholas, Elizabeth Fry, two fishermen etc. Early 20th Century perhaps.
A brass panel to those who fell in WW1.
Outside, the Churchyard contains some memorials of note, including 18th Century pieces among the headstones, and some number of tomb chests, including one to Captain John Bennet, d.1716, whose memorial panel we met in the Church (see picture above left): this one too is decorated with a relief carving of a ship in full sail. Note too, the tall monument (picture above right), three stages of which the top one is a tall obelisk raised on skull feet, with decayed cherub heads on the sides.
Barking Abbey ruins:
The Benedictine Barking Abbey, one of the most powerful, had been founded in the 7th Century, and consisted mostly of 12th and 13th Century buildings. Today, we see mostly the foundations marked out, with one long section of rubble wall, without remaining carving: however, a sense of the large size of the Abbey can be gained. The one significant survival is one of three Abbey gates, called the Fire-Bell Gate. This however was rebuilt in 1460 or thereabouts, so is of similar date, and look, to the Church tower. The upper chamber within this gate is called the Chapel of the Holy Rood, and therein stands a 12th or 13th Century stone rood, with figures of St John and the Virgin, and an in indistinct central figure of Christ. Another, smaller gate survived in the early 19th Century, and was recorded by Elizabeth Ogborne in her unfinished History of Essex.
Barking Abbey Fire-Bell gate, and a lost minor gate.
St Margaret, Barking Church's website is at https://stmargaretschurchbarking.com/the-church/.
North-West to Leyton Church or Wanstead Church // or West to West Ham Church or Stratford Church // or East to Hornchurch // Essex-in-London churches