Church Monuments - Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire Church Monuments - a sample

This page links to the several Hertfordshire churches whose monuments are described on these pages. It is a selection rather than more: Hertfordshire contains many churches, mostly really rather small, often containing just a few monuments, which may however be of great ornateness and interest. So far, then, I have put just 12 or 15 Hertfordshire churches onto this site, containing maybe 300 monuments, choosing a spread across the county from Tring and Aldbury in the West to Hunsdon in the east, and several in the south of the county, including Watford to represent a big town church, and Barnet and East Barnet to represent a bit of old Herts swallowed up in London; I have not taken examples from the northern part of the county.

Monuments you can see in these Hertfordshire churches include early grand tombs with full size recumbent statues (effigies), represented by the 14th Century Crowmer monument in St John the Baptist, Aldenham and the monument to Sir Robert Whittingham, d.1471, in St John the Baptist, Aldbury. The early 16th Century has the Easter-sepulchre like tomb to Francis Poynz, d.1526/8, in St Dunston, Hunsdon, and the Sir William Say monument in St Augustine, Broxbourne and the 17thC has Henry Cary, Earl of Monmouth monument in Rickmansworth; these are without figures, but pairs of grand figures may be found in the Verney monument in All Saints Kings Langley and later is the Brockett monument in St Helen, Wheathampstead, and we have later examples in another Cary monument, 1627, in Hunsdon, and the monument to Thomas Ravenscroft, d.1632, in Barnet. The next main type of figural sculpture is the kneeler monument, with kneeling, praying figures typically under a canopy; the examples in our Herts churches include one in St Mary, Watford from around 1580, Katherine Cade, d.1615 in Aldenham, and the monument to Anne Combe, d.1641, in Abbots Langley, as well as an early and unusual inscribed drawing of two kneelers and their children in the Heyworth monument in Wheathampstead. Early panel monuments include the grim skulls of the Hyde monument, 1580.

From the 17th Century, our recumbent figures begin to lever themselves up on their elbows, thus becoming reclining figures - the earliest samples in our representative Herts churches are the 1611 Cock monument in Broxbourne, and more naturalistically, the Morison memorials by the early English sculptor Nicholas Stone in St Mary, Watford, from 1619 and 1630, the Garrard monument from 1677 or earlier in Wheathampstead, the Gore monument from 1707 in Tring Church, and the Coghill monument in Aldenham, and later still and still very grand, Henry Cheere's Raymond monument, 1732, in Abbots Langley.

Aside from grand figure pieces, we also have portrait busts, represented by the Anderson Monument, 1699, Aldbury, the Monson portraits, d.1726, 1734, in Broxbourne Church, and the Jane Chester, d.1736, relief portrait in Hunsdon Church, and a small double portrait to Hucks, 1771, in Aldenham.

The monument to Dame Anna Raymond, d.1714, in Abbots Langley has a Classical figure which seems less portrait than allegorical, and later examples in our selection of Herts churches include Scheemakers' girls for Lord Raymond, d.1756, in the same church, and 19th Century examples in Thorwaldsen's pure figures for the Garrard monument, 1817, in Wheathampstead, Flaxman's ones to Prof Christian, d.1823, in Broxbourne, J. Browne's girl with pot to William Kaye, d.1843, in Tring Church, and R. Brown's mourning figure to George Watlingon, d.1848, in Aldenham. And cherubs of course, many of them, starting with those on the Garrard monument, already mentioned, in Wheathampstead.

So much for the figure sculpture. Early panels had alabaster surrounds to black, gilt inscriptions, and the panels to Carey, d.1600 in Aldenham and Ravenscrofte, d.1611, in Barnet are earlier examples; the last in our sample Herts churches are to Hyde, d.1665 (stone surround rather than alabaster) in Aldbury, and Ewer, d.1667, in Watford. Next come grand Classical panels with pilasters (flat pillars against the backing) to the sides, pediments and carved accoutrements, the earliest in our sample churches being a Garrard monument in Wheathampstead, dated 1686 or 92, and the 1688 Monson double panel in Broxbourne. A particularly grand pair from the early 1700s in Hunsdon Church are by the eminent sculptors Robert Taylor and Edward Stanton.

Cartouche panels - oval or round panels with complex surrounds - are represented in St Mary, Watford (3 examples) and another Garrard monument in Wheathampstead. Another alternative to the Classical panel is carving the monument as a hanging drape, as done in Jane Chester's monument in Hunsdon Church already noted, and in three panels in Watford. Obelisk monuments include a couple of the big figure pieces already mentioned, and the very large John Gore, d.1765 monument in Tring, and further, smaller examples elsewhere. From late in 18th Century we have the white-on-black panels which dominate from 1800; good early examples are the Robert Lowther, d.1777 obelisk in Aldenham, and Ann Denne, d.1790 in Watford, by the stonemason John Golden; among many later examples we can mention pentagonal-backed ones styled as tomb chest ends in Broxbourne, and in the same church a tall one to Henrietta Williams, d.1819, by the sculptor Henry Westmacott. In the 19th Century, we see too the re-establishment of Gothic panels, including two white-on-black examples to members of the Timins family in Aldenham, and a late Victorian portrait piece to Edward Pope, d.1898, in Tring.

Finally, we should mention the revival of colour in Arts and Crafts panels, with the nicest examples in our sample Herts churches being to the Chittenden family, 1904-5, in Broxbourne, and to John Chalk, d.1916, in Abbots Langley, and a metal panel example in Kings Langley.

Links to all the Herts churches on this website:

We may also note a couple of things of non-church sculptural interest in Herts on these pages: