St Augustine, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire - Monuments

The approach to St Augustine Broxbourne is straight towards the noble battlemented tower, faced with flint, with its corner turret and several supporting buttresses. From the churchyard, we see it is rather long and low, with a central tile roof over the nave, and crenellated aisles, and with a chapel at the rear of stone, with crocketed pinnacles – it is the Saye Chapel of 1522, and beneath the parapet is an inscription to 'Pray fot eh welfayr of Sir Wylyam Sae, knygt wych fodyd yis Chapel in honor a ye Trenete the yere of our Lord God 1522'. The whole Church was built in the 15th and 16th Centuries according to Pevsner, and is in the Perpendicular Gothic style. Nothing remains from previous times, when the manor was in the possession of the Knights Templar. The interior of St Augustine is dark, atmospheric, with its dark wooden ceiling, ligher wooden pews, and tall clustered pillared arches separating the nave from the aisles. And all along the walls are an abundance of panel monuments, and one grand one with reclining effigies.

St Augustine Church, Broxbourne.


We start with the monument to Sir Henry Cock and then look at the rest in date order.

Sir Henry Cock, d.1609. and his wife Ursula Cock, d.1611:

Monument to Sir Henry and Ursula Cock, early 17th Century.

A grand monument with two effigies. Previous generations had had husband and wife effigies next to each other as if on a bed, but for a while the fashion was as here, to have the wife in front, lying on her back, and the husband behind but raised up, and on his side, so giving a better view to the spectator. They lie between blocky pillars supporting a grand arch, within which is the inscription on a black panel, surrounded by a characteristic space-filling design of low relief carving, including scrolls, flowers, a little skull and fruit. Above this, a pointed arch of the window, blocked out by the coat of arms of Sir Henry, in a circle with strapwork, and to each side, free-standing obelisks with ball feet and balls on top, evocative of the Egyptian cult of the afterlife. On the lower front panel beneath Lady Ursula are their descendants – apparently two being the daughters, and the others the grandchildren, according to a note within the Church (oddly, older references mention sons as well as daughters). These small kneeling figures are on the right, two grown females with large ruffs and astonishing headpieces, and four miniature offspring, replicas of the adults. All bar the rear larger figure had died by the time this monument was made, as shown by the skulls they carry, and there is enough of a broken remnant in the praying hands of that last survivor that we must wonder if she too had not once held a skull. On the left hand side are a boy and a girl, the boy with his own faldstool (prayer desk) bearing a book and covered with a hanging drape. Both of them have skulls too, so it seems that almost the whole family died out at this time. (More on skulls on this page).

Kneeling figures of the Cock children and grandchildren.

Back to the main figures of Sir Henry and Lady Ursula. Sir Henry is in beautifully inscribed plate armour, highly drapery, and the figure, though partly reclining, and with much naturalism to the face, legs and hands, shows him in a stiff pose, especially the upper arm and the positioning of the calves. Lady Ursula, lying with her hands raised in prayer, her bonneted head resting on two tasselled cushions, is even stiffer, with the folds of her skirts hanging almost horizontally (i.e. with the line of the body) and no discernible gravity. Regardless, an excellent and noble work of sculpture.

Massed panels along the aisle wall.

Monuments, 16th and 17th Centuries:

Monuments of the 18th Century:

Monuments of the 19th Century:

There are also several modern brasses in the Church, and we may note that to Elizabeth Stanford Searle, d.1895, with its border of little flowers and leaves, as exemplary of the more ornamental sort. Also that to Captain Walinsley? Donat O’Brien, d.1900, who died in the Boer War, South Africa. This is an example of an Arts and Crafts brass, with excellent embossed text and decorative side elements.

Also in the Church:

Outside the Church:

The churchyard is extensive, and includes examples of many of the familiar types of churchyard memorial, including an interesting hexagonal tomb chest, various other tomb chests with thickly carved decoration, including a Bosanquet one from the 19th Century, and a good variety of crosses with ornamental carving – see this page for more on churchyard monuments, and particularly on crosses. Also another font, with three pillars around a centre, abandoned under a tree.

Churchyard, sample celtic and decorated cross monuments.

A little way off from the front of the Church, on the common, is the main Broxbourne World War I memorial, a cross raised on a tall shaft, on several steps, and surrounded by railings. It bears relief carving of a sword with a wreath over it, and a winged ornament with another wreath.

With many thanks to The Revd Charles Hudson for kind permission to use pictures from inside the Church; see the Church website at

Broxbourne War Memorial.

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Also in Hertfordshire: monuments in other Hertfordshire churches, including Tring Church, Wheathampstead Church, Aldenham Church and Abbots Langley Church

Cheslyn Gardens statue, Watford

Introduction to church monuments // Angel statues // Cherub sculpture

Sculpture in some towns in England


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