Walton on Thames St Mary’s Parish Church Monuments

Walton on Thames Parish Church is notable in terms of its memorials above all the vast Viscount Shannon monument by Roubiliac, and about a dozen and a half other memorial pieces, including good figure sculpture by Chantrey and Gott and some other sculptural work - see pictures of mourning females above.The Church building itself, dedicated to St Mary, is enclosed enough by trees that in summer at least, no distant view of it can be seen. The Victorians would not have minded, for 19th Century accounts of the exterior are not flattering, referring to anything from the restrained ‘externally far from handsome and hardly picturesque’ to the crueller ‘so greatly deformed by repairs... that it is only noticeable for its ugliness’. Yet to the modern eye, mine at least, it does have a picturesqueness, with the tower, with its fine flint walling brutally brick-repaired on the edges and top, giving a feel of a semi-ruin poking up above the shrubs within the churchyard. The Church is on a Norman plan, originally without aisles, but then the northern aisle added in about 1160 - the pillars can be seen inside - and the southern aisle in the 14th Century. The short tower dates from the 15th Century, and much of what we see outside and inside is apparently of these 14th and 15th Century dates. At least our 19th Century critics approved the inside of the Church: with its beamed roof and massive Norman pillars, it exudes an air of antiquity and the ambience of nearly a millenium - here some reused brick from Norman times, there a medieval recess or window letting in shafts of light.

Walton on Thames Church of St Mary, external and internal views.

We start with the Shannon monument, and then take the rest in date order.

Richard Boyle, Viscount Shannon Memorial, by Roubiliac

Roubiliac's monument to Viscount Shannon.

Robert Boyle, Viscount Shannon, d.1740, the monument erected later in the next decade. The Viscount Shannon memorial occupies a whole arch-width of the north aisle of the Church, and stands in several tiers well over 20 ft high. The roughly pyramidal composition of the sculptural elements includes a statue of the Viscount standing on top of a short pillar, with on one side the seated figure of his wife, Grace, Lady Shannon, and on the other, a cannon, barrel of gunpowder, and a heap of cannonballs. The statue of Viscount Shannon is flamboyant and prideful: he is dressed in uniform with a wide robe on top which gives mass and gravitas to the figure. Lady Shannon - if it is her and not the daughter - is seated, one arm around the top of a funereal urn.

This splendrous sculptural group is by Louis-Francois Roubiliac, French by birth and early training, but who made his career and lived for most of his adult life in London. Roubiliac’s oeuvre included several grand works in Westminster Abbey, and this monument in Walton on Thames is the equal of any of them. More on this statue on this page.

Viscount Shannon memorial: main sculptural elements.

Other monuments

There are a couple of modern panels, including Alison Jardine, d.1936, a plain panel with a nice letter font, and Robert James Pearce, Priest, d.1974, completely plain as is now the custom.

John Frederick Lewis monument, Orientalist and almost Pre-Raphaelite.

Also in the Church

There is much for those knowledgeable on architecture to see, with building and rebuilding particularly in the 14th and 15th Centuries, and the gallery in the 18th, but not for this website. We note the following within the Church:

New Zealand memorial in Walton Church, eagle lectern, and pulpit.

Churchyard

Walton on Thames Church still sits surrounded by its churchyard, containing the usual sorts of small monument, mostly headstones including several with low relief carving of cherub heads, flowers, pots, trumpets and the odd memento mori. Also a number of crosses, including several of the different variants (see this page for lots more on crosses; and this one for churchyard memorials in general). There are a number of larger pieces, tomb chests and the like, the odd column, even a sundial (though the dial is lost) mostly 19th Century, columns. But there are two important pieces to see:

George Virtue, d.1868, publisher, memorial by Joseph Edwards.

With many thanks to the Church authorities for permission to show pictures of the monuments inside; their website is http://www.waltonparish.org.uk/about/st-marys/our-story.

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Viscount Shannon memorial

Also in Surrey: St John the Evangelist Church, Guildford // All Saints Church, Carshalton // St Martin's Church, Epsom // and formerly in Surrey: St Mary the Virgin, Merton // St Mary, Battersea

Monuments in some London Churches // Churches in the City of London // Introduction to church monuments

Angel statues // Cherub sculpture // London sculpture // Sculptors

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