Aldenham Church, St John the Baptist, in Hertfordshire - Monuments
Aldenham Church, St John the Baptist, is within walking distance –a couple of miles – from Watford, today the largest town in Hertfordshire, at one terminus of the Metropolitan tube line. Before looking at the monuments, a brief word on the Church building itself. It is of flint with the usual stone dressings, and a short west tower with a spire. This tower is 13th Century in its lower parts, along with the chancel, the nave mid-14th Century along with the south aisle, the wider northern one being a century later. Inside the Church there remain various elements of these dates, along with one Norman window. Furnishings are mostly 19th Century and later, with the stained glass and mosaics dating from the 1890s – see end of page. The ambience is quite dark and atmospheric, and brighter in the Lady Chapel.
We start with the two most significant monuments, each with statues, and then take the rest more or less in date order. These first two are outstanding works of art.
Crowmer monuments, late 14th Century figure sculpture
Something really special: a double monument end to end with two statues of recumbent female figures, each beneath a conjoined and heavily carved canopy. They are apparently the wife and daughter in law of Sir William Crowmer, twice Lord Mayor of London. They are similar, each in the normal attitude of praying, each reclining her head on two square cushions, the upper one at an angle to the lower, with to either side a pair of small angels. They wear long dresses, tied high above the waist, falling with horizontal gravity to the feet, typically medieval.
Their faces are much worn, but we can see narrow, elongate faces with gently rounded cheeks, smooth of brow and elegantly long of neck. The right hand woman, who is a little more slender, wears on her head a thin cap, padded to the sides, and with a veil hanging down on either side. The left hand woman has a more damaged face, less of a cap, and more of a veil which is somewhat pulled forward. She to the left has her feet entirely covered by her skirt, whereas she to the right has her soft pointed-toe shoes exposed. These rest against a small dog, emblem of fidelity, as does the unseen feet of she on the left, more ruined and of different breed.
The little angels are rather damaged, with broken limbs and have drapery wound around them like Tanagraean Greek pottery figures. Despite the worn appearance and the damage, there remains a fineness of carving to the principal figures: the shallow swelling of the breast, the delicate folds to the thin fabric of the headpieces, the embroidered edgings to the dress and sleeves.
The canopy above is finely carved too, with four-centred arches and hanging pendants bearing small flowers seemingly too thinly attached to survive more than 600 years. The chest tombs underneath are carved with shields of arms within quatrefoils, three to each monument; there are blind windows on the pillars and on the three small castle-like affairs on top.
The Crowmer monument is set in a little chapel, with south-facing windows behind so that the light streams in to give a fantastic ethereal ambience.
John Coghill, d.1714, and his wife Deborah, d.1714
A grand tomb with statues of the couple reclining in the style of Roman nobility. John Coghill lies in front and almost recumbent, leaning on one elbow far back, looking up and slightly back towards his wife, Deborah Coghill who raises herself higher and looks directly at him – an effective device so the viewer can conveniently see them both. The faces are expressive, as are the hands: one of his is gesturing expansively as if he is speaking, and she has one to her breast as if touched by some sad thought. Contrasting to the Crowmer monument, where the ladies are as if sleeping, her e we feel in the presence of the living, conversing people. He has a full periwig and many buttoned jacket open to show the kerchief around his neck, and she has a light dress ruffed at the front – nevertheless the drapery across his legs and the cloak around her shoulders and lower body give a dignified, Classical feel. There is no attempt at Grecian idealism in their faces, nor Roman toughness, but instead unidealised intelligent-looking portraits of the couple, who died within a few months of each other. There are many excellent details, and their shoes are super: high heels and fashionable squared off toes for him, and a more slender, higher-heeled version with patterning for her, peeping out under the tasselled edge of her robe. They recline upon a huge tomb chest, with the inscription in a framed panel, and the heavily undercut carving of Coghill’s coat of arms at the visible end, with much mantling and a crowing cockerel on top. Who made this grand sculptural piece? Pevsner notes that the sculptors Richard Crutcher and Thomas Carter the Elder have both been suggested, presumably on stylistic grounds, but there is no firm evidence.
Rest of the Monuments
There is a good crop of panel monuments, mainly the familiar early 19th Century white-on-black panels, but also including a 17th Century kneeler, a couple of coloured pieces form the late 18th Century, a mid-19th Century marble girl, and Arts and Crafts alabaster.
Pre 19th Century monuments:
Meriall Eduardi Carey, d.1600, with a Latin inscription which I think says that he was son of Edward Carey and Katherine Pagett, emplaced by Thomas Cropton Junior. Slatey panel with a thin gilt frame, surrounded by a broad pinkish marble border with a tendancy to strapwork. Above, an entablature with two rosettes, a shelf, and then painted arms within a roundel, and two curly sidepieces.
Katherine Cade, d.1615, ‘descended of the auntient family of Throgmorton of Conton in Warwickshire’, with verses, and noting the monument was erected by William Cade, her husband, who has a second smaller panel below. A typical smaller kneeler monument, much ornamented and painted. The piece centres on the kneeling figure of Katherine Cade, who wears long skirts covering her feet, a fine large ruff, and a cap. She kneels praying upon a tasselled cushion before a faldstool (prayer stool). She is within an arch with carved doves in the spandrels (corners above the arch), and the supporting blocks below carved as angelic heads. To left and right, Corinthian pillars of red coloured alabaster supporting a shelf and curved, open pediment with central shield of arms, painted; whatever devices were to left and right have vanished. There is some strapwork on either side of the structure, and the inscribed black panels are below. All of this is quite typical of kneeler monuments of Jacobean and Elizabethan times. Two small panels above the arch note that her husband William Cade was one his Majesty’s Honourable band of Gentlemen-Pensioners, and they had seven sons and three daughters, and that she had previously married W. Coney of Yayly, by whom she had three sons and one daughter. A fine piece - more on kneeler monuments on this page.
Robert Hucks MP, d.1745, and his wife Sarah [Coghill] Hucks, d.1771, with a very long inscription, which oddly omits his date of death. Among other particulars, the inscription notes the marriage of a daughter, Anne, who married another Coghill, of Coghill Hall in Yorkshire. A rich monument, divided into upper and lower portions. The lower portion includes the inscription, a generous surround and apron of purple, grey and black marble, Ionic pilasters to the sides, and the painted arms of the couple beneath with carved decorative foliage in white marble. The upper portion, above a shelf, includes the double profile portrait of the couple, carved in high relief and with a patrician look, upon the side of a casket tomb with lion feet, in a yellow marble, perhaps Sienna. We see coupled wreaths on the lid, and on top, a flaming urn with festoons. The casket stands on a plinth, again of the red and grey and white marble, with thin-footed pots to either side. An excellent example of one of the more flamboyant 18th Century panels in coloured marbles. By the sculptor J. F. Moore, known for his grand monument to William Beckford in the Guildhall, London, who made a number of two-part panels with decorative sculpture, for example Faith Sawrey in Bradford Cathedral and William Baker in Bath Abbey.
Robert Lowther, d.1777, noting that he was youngest son of Robert Lowther of Meaburn, and Katherine [Pennington]. A two-part obelisk monument, with the upper obelisk with a large pot in front of it, and beneath the dividing shelf, a lower part consisting of the inscribed panel within a border and frame, with a carved tentacle-like device. Beneath, a shelf with corrugation and two stylised flowers. The obelisk and border are in dark serpentine, and the use of variegated or coloured marbles is characteristic of monuments up to 1800.
Revd Nicholas Charrington, d.1773, and other members of the Charrington family through to Anne Walker ,d.1788, continued in a second panel to Rear Admiral Nicholas Charrington, d.1803, through to Marian Charrington, d.1907. Two tall panels with domed tops, surrounds of pinky marble, a thin white frame and little supports.
John Charrington, d.1813, eldest son of the Vicar, Revd Nicholas Charrington, and his wife Katharine, d.1813, dying a few days after him and interred on the same day. Hefty white marble panel, with frame, entablature above bearing a repeating carved pattern and supporting a pediment; at the base, broad shelf with crossed branches, and supported on small blocks. By the obscure statuary Thomas Humphrey of London.
Nicholas Harry Charrington,d.1822, and other Charringtons through to 1863, the date of the monument being perhaps 1831, with the last two added later. Tall panel with black surround, upper wavy pediment with scrolling at the ends, quite elegant, and a central painted shield of arms and motto. At the base, two curved supports, one signed by the mason, who is King of Chenies Street, London – he has a number of rather similarly proportioned tablets in London and the Home Counties.
Spencer Charrington MP, d.1904, great grandson to the vicar Revd. Nicholas Charrington, 1725-1773. Pale marble panel with Ionic pilasters supporting a sort of version of a pediment, curved and without entablature and with acroteria (‘ears’) too high, within which is a painted shield of arms; at the base, a curved apron and further arms within a circle. The free and wilful reinterpretation of an early 19th Century monument is not unusual in works of this period.
19th Century monuments
Now we are certainly on to the sequence of white-on-black panels so characteristic of the 1800s-1840s. Characteristic types are the tomb chest end: so the rectangular panel with the inscription has feet below, sometimes pilasters (flat pillars attached to the backing) to the sides, and on top a thin shelf and a ‘lid’, which may be cut to the shape of a pediment and may have acroteria – ‘ears’ to the sides. Also common are tall panels, sometimes with a quite solid blocky pediment above, and similarly heavy lower shelf or base: these are reminiscent of outdoor headstones, and the heaviness well conveys permanence and the everlasting memory of the deceased. Such panels are in white marble, and are generally on a black marble backing panel, or maybe a black surround, or maybe streaky grey marble. There is scope for modest decorative carving, but often these panels can be quite plain.
Henry Townley Ward, d.1810, and his wife Eleanor Ward, d.1800, noting that he was son of the Revd. Henry Ward Clerk, and Janet his Wife, a co-heiress of Henry Townley of Dutton Hall, Lancaster. Cut as a tomb chest end, with a corrugated apron and at the top, a painted shield of arms above with wreaths to the sides. On a black backing. See picture above left.
Lt Col. Leighton Cathcart Dalrymple, d.1820 and family, tall panel with broad pediment on top bearing a painted lozenge of arms; further arms are at the base. On a shaped black backing. There are others of the Dalrymple family commemorated in two later panels noted further down this page.
Robert Hucks, d.1814, a rather interesting panel. It is like an obelisk monument, but with the obelisk replaced with a pointed arch in black marble: in front of this is a pot or funereal urn, heavy with symbolism, with two crossed torches behind, downward pointing to indicate the snuffing out of life, and with the handles formed by entwined snakes, symbolising wisdom - see picture at top of page. Beneath, the lower part of the monument in white marble, has the inscribed panel flanked by heavy curved sidepieces, with an apron below for the painted shield of arms, crossed branches, and a terminus of an opening shell heavy with pearls. It has the look and feel of a rather earlier period.
Charlotte Jemima Pole, d.1822, Anna Maria Pole, d.1852, and their mother Dame Henrietta [Goddard] Pole, d.1842, wife of Admiral Sir Charles Morice Pole, Baronet, d.1830. Plain white panel on black backing, signed by Crake of London – he exerts himself rather more in the Denny monument noted below. Admiral Pole has a similarly plain panel, again by Crake, with a brief eulogy noting he was Master of the Robes to William IV, and Admiral of the Fleet.
The Hon. Mary Patience Denny, d.1823, youngest daughter of Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood, and her youngest daughter, also Mary Patience Denny, d.1839. Tomb chest end with a draped urn resting on top, carved in high relief, and a painted shield of arms at the base. On a grey, shaped backing, and signed by the maker, again Crake of London. See picture above, centre.
Elizabeth King, d.1826, with upper and lower shelf, a meagre eared pediment above, and leafy things below, on a grey and white marble backing panel.
William Marsden, d.1836, with a lengthy inscription noting that he went to Sumatra as a Civil Servant for the East India Company, and later was Secretary to the Admiralty, and donated a cabinet of Oriental medals to the British Museum, and a library to King’s Colllege London. Cut as a tomb chest end with upper and lower shelves, and curly supports, on a black backing.
George Hibbert, d.1837, and his wife Elizabeth Margaret [Fonnereau] Hibbert, d.1841. Tall panel cut with a pediment, which has carved upon it a leafy frond in front of a cross - see picture above left. At the base is a shelf with a shall shield of arms, and the whole is on a streaky grey marble backing, signed by the sculptor, T. Tyley of Bristol. The Tyley family, which included several sculptors and masons, have their best work unsurprisingly in Bristol itself - more on the Tyley family here.
Anne Dalrymple, d.1838, and her husband, Gen. Sir Adolphus John Dalrymple, d.1866, 2nd and last Baronet of High Marr, County Wigton, made by Bedford of 256 Oxford Street, London, a fairly prolific and decent statuary. Tall panel with semicircular pediment above, with shield of arms and curly sidepieces, and thick base resting on two slightly-carved supports, on a shaped black background.
Thomas Jenkin Gee, d.1834, his wife Elizabeth Gee, d.1841, erected by their daughters, also commemorated: Elizabeth Mary Gee, d.1864, and Judith Gee, d.1875. Tall panel with pediment above with arms, and on the entablature, three small wreaths are carved; on the thick lower shelf is a painted shield of arms in front of crossed boughs, supported on two curly brackets. The whole is on a thin black backing - see picture above, centre. Carved by Sanders, New Road Fitzroy Square. Sanders used the same design for the panel to William Clare in St James Clerkenwell, London.
The Timins and Barkly families:
Four panels, which we need to take out of the chronological sequence:
Robert Anderson Gray Timins, d.1836, and six siblings through to 1876, including Elizabeth Helen, d.1857, wife of Sir Henry Barkly, Governor of Victoria, Australia. Carved as a Gothic window – one of three Gothic panels in the Church to the Timins family (see pictures below) – with light carving on the side pilasters, flowers at their bases, and a shield of arms in the apron below. On a shaped black backing, and signed by Whitelaw, New Rd, London.
Blanche Elizabeth Louisa Barkly, d.1842, an infant. White panel carved as a tomb chest end with upper shelf and lower feet, on a shaped black backing, again signed by Whitelaw, New Road.
John Fam Timins, d.1843, Commander of the Royal George for the East India Company, his wife Elizabeth [Anderson] Timins, d.1862, and their eldest son William Raikes Timins, d.1866, from the Bengal Civil Service. Identical to the Robert Timins monument, again by Whitelaw of New Rd. William Whitelaw was a fairly prolific statuary, usually working in a Classical idiom rather than the Gothic we see here - these ones are by his firm or the son of the original Whitelaw, who died in 1824.
Douglas Cartwright Timins, d.1872, son of Douglas Thompson Timins, his wife Eliza Henrietta Keir, d.1922, and their son Douglas Theodore Timins, d.1958. A similar piece to the earlier Timins monuments, but slightly simplified, and as Whitelaw's business seems to have been no more, this one is by Maile & Son Ltd, Euston Rd London.
Back to the chronological sequence:
Sir John Chambers White, d.1845, Commander in Chief at Sheerness, and his second wife Charlotte Elizabeth [Dalrymple], d.1830, erected by their offspring. A Victorian Gothic panel, quite unusual in having coloured decorations painted upon it: stylised flowers to each side, IHS with a cross above (short for ‘Jesus’) , and heraldic symbols below, all in red and green, whereas the text itself has the capitals in red and green: the style suggests it was put up rather later than 1845 I would think (though the sculptor-masons signing the monument, Poole of Westminster were a father and son and did span this period). The Gothic surround is ornately carved: ogee-shaped top with pendants, then a tall triangle with a small statue on top, painted shields in the spandrels to the sides, pilasters of several parts, battlements and with crocketed spires, and further battlements on top above Tudorish minor decoration; at the base is a line of carved foliage with the word’ Resurgam’ in front and naturalistically carved corbels to the sides, with oak leaves and acorns and the head of a monster on each: to the left we have too a chained anchor, and to the right, sail, compass and capstan. All in pale sandstone rather than marble, which is the done thing for Victorian Gothic panels. A picture is further up this page.
George Watlington, d.1848. A rare figure piece by R. Brown of 58 Great Russell Street, London: the only other one by him I am aware of is in Sunderland, and his normal output consisted of very decent but much simpler panels with only minor carving. Despite Watlington’s profession as Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas and recorder of St Albans, we see an allegorical girl resting one hand on a large anchor; her other elbow is propped on a monumental plinth, in a casual style popularised originally in pre-Victorian times. Her figure and pose are well-conceived; she is seen in Classical drapery, leaving her shoulders and arms bare, nice, broad lines to the folds, and a Victorian face. A good work, and a shame it is hung not to best advantage.
Revd. Edward Benbow, d.1850, Vicar of the Parish. A tomb chest end, with upper and lower shelves, a lid on top with carved Bible, cross and crown of thorns, and feet carved with stylised flowers or leaflets - see picture a little further up this page. On a black backing, signed by no less than the sculptor Edward Hodges Baily, RA. Alongside grand sculpture, he carved a number of monuments, another one of the modest tomb chest end scale being that to the Revd. Thomas Roberts in All Hallows Tottenham (see this page).
Marianne Mellusson, d.1852, black metal panel with a border with a repeating design of wild roses. It looks like iron, which is unusual.
Henrietta Maria Sarah [Pole] Stuart, d.1853, and her husband William Stuart, d.1874, son of the Archbishop of Armagh. With a thick frame of coloured alabaster; unusual for the period, unless this piece was erected rather later.
20th Century monuments:
Lieut.Richard Charles Barnett, d.1902, killed in the Boer War, painted wall panel with border, cross fleury and motto: an unusual style of monument.
Lieut. Ronald Charles Melbourne Gibbs, d.1914, killed in action at Ypres. Pinky-brown alabaster panel with thick frame, and at the top, crucifixion scene in high relief within a small arch, with flaming urns on either side. The first of several panels using coloured alabaster and serpentine, which is typical of many monuments in the Arts and Crafts style from 1900 or a bit before up to after World War I.
2nd Lieut Peter Francis Kent, d.1918, killed in action in an air fight. Panel with thick frame, pediment without entablature above, bearing gilt winged wreath, on a serpentine backing.
Rosa [Ormathwaite] Barnett, d.1923, another piece made in Arts and Crafts style of pearly grey alabaster with an orange and white alabaster frame. Late of its type.
Arthur Henry Holland-Hibbert, 3rd Viscount Knutsford, d.1935, and his wife Ellen, Viscountess Knutsford, d.1949, modest panel carved with a frame, and a carved painted coat of arms. Also Thurstan Holland-Hibbert, d.1976, 4th Viscount Knutsford, plain stone tablet carved with frame, and a similar panel to Julian Thurstan Holland-Hibbert, d.1986, 5th Viscount Knutsford, and his sister Diana, d.1992.
Apparently there are several, but I saw only one with figures:
Man and two wives, inscription lost but 16th Century, and two daughters. Bold, simple designs; he facing directly forward, praying as usual for such things, with long sleeves and robe, all trimmed with fur; youngish wife with a hood, belt with three buttons, and hanging bells I think, simple folds to her skirts; the daughters nicely clustered together, much simplified. Other wife hidden almost entirely under a carpet. A picture of the daughters is below (you'll need to click to enlarge to see it properly); and of the man at the top of this page, far right.
1889 panel to Sir Edward Carye, d.1618, his wife Catherine [Knevett], d.1622, who was widow of Henry, First Baron Paget, their son Sir Henry Carye, d.1633, first Viscount Falkland, and a son of the Second Viscount Falkland, Adolphus Carye, d.1640. Difficult to read black panel with embossed lettering, and coat of arms in a quatrefoil above.
1889 panel to the Revd. William Pope, d.1724, with blackletter style inscribed text.
1890 inscription to Ann Carye, d.1671, daughter of Sir Philip Carye of Stanwell, Middlesex, wife of William, Sixth Baron Willoughby of Parham. With rather elaborate border of entwined foliage, and at each corner, a roundel with a winged angel. Signed by the maker, Barkentin and Krall.
Bryant Mason, d.1809, lost at sea with his second son, Frank; and his wife Elizabeth, d.1822; he was a civil servant in the East Indies Company. Border of trangles, with quatrefoils at the corners. Also a panel to John Finch Mason, d.1853, eldest son of Bryant Mason, and his wife Mary Mason, d.1819. With simplified quatrefoil border in red and black. And a panel to Revd. John Mason, d.1874, long thin panel with the text in blackletter, main capitals in red, the first of which is three lines deep, and a thin border with red and black dots with quatrefoils at the corners. It seems likely all three panels were made after his death.
Gordon Lennox Gilbert, d.1878, of Aldenham Grammar School, with repeating border of flowers and leaves, and the text with red initals. Very typical.
Eric Fitch, d.1883, a pupil at the Aldenham Grammar School, plain brass with line border, fleur de lys at each corner, and red initials.
Edith Julia Williams, d.1890, modern brass with wide border of leaves and flowers and religious admonitions at top and base.
Revd. Kenneth Francis Gibbs, d.1913, Vicar of Aldenham for 29 years, embossed red brassy panel, in Arts and Crafts style, noting that he installed the electric light in the Church.
Lt. Robert Arthur Walton Williams, d.1915, killed in action at Ypres, with a leafy border.
Ernest Neild Kent, d.1922, plain oval.
Frank Trelevan Sharpe, d.1964, church warden and verger. Plain oval.
Nellie Beryl Whitley, d.1995, and her sisters, Nancy Croshaw, d.1970 and Agnes Hedges, d.1982, plain brass oval.
Floor slabs: This website does not cover floor slabs, but to note at least Antonii Yardlii [Anthony Yardley], d.1670, with an unusually lengthy inscription, part Latin, part a poem in English, which begins ‘Reader a while contemplate on,// What lyes beneath this marble Stone; // And if thou canst but spare a teare, // Thou mayst do well to shed it here.’ Also Joscelyn Deane, d.1780, MP for Balimore in County Cork, with a good carved shield of arms with leafy surround.
Also in Aldenham Church:
Font, square basin supported on a squat central plinth with four smaller pillars around, the base reset. Mid-13th Century and made of Purbeck stone.
To the right of the altar, thus the south, is a three-arch arcade, apparently 1260 and 1300, above a covered base, as if some Easter Sepulchre.
An extremely long ancient chest of blackened wood bound with iron. It feels like two or three chests end to end, and only in Ruislip have I come across one approaching it. Dating from the 14th Century according to the Pevsner architectural guide to Hertfordshire.
Carving on the pillars, of repeating simple flowers etc.
Woodwork, including the fine screen to the Lady chapel, 15th Century, and sympathetic later work, including the 15th Century Nave roof and 19th Century pewing.
A Della Robbia style semicircular panel showing the annunciation – I would guess this to be from the 19th century factory of that name in Northern England.
A small collection of old prints and photos of personages linked to the Church.
Two mosaic panels in the chancel to the left of the altar, 1890s. They show St Stephen and St Alban, very competent work in Italian smalti mosaic, set in traditional manner, but with the figures made in a reverse technique and the gold backing set directly into the adhesive cement. The faces are a little too clean for modern taste, but the hands are excellent, and the draperies good in colour and composition. More mosaic on the floor in front of the altar, with roundels bearing the symbols of the Evangelists, and floral borders, set in a more restless style. Simpler designs with crosses to left and right, and flowers around the altar. Pevsner gives Heaton, Butler and Bayne, ecclesiastical outfitters, as the makers.
The stained glass windows, mainly Kempe, 1890s, and again by Heaton, Butler and Bayne; the East window was replaced after World War II damage.
Of the other late 19th Century decorations, we may mention the Pulpit, hexagonal, with stone base and wooden upper, in mild Gothic; the usual brass eagle lectern; and the altarpiece itself, with scenes from the life of Christ, with many sculpted figures, all brightly painted, which is good for viewing by the congregation but does not bear examination from close up. Lots of gilt Gothic window frames above.
World War I memorial panel listing the fallen, with a stone border hung with painted shields and a carved apron.
With many thanks to Aldenham Church authorities for permission to show pictures from inside the Church: their website is at http://www.aldenhamchurch.com/church-history.html.
Nearby: Cheslyn Gardens statue, Watford