Church Monuments Society Spring online lectures 2022: ‘The Stories Monuments Tell’

The Church Monuments Society is for everyone who is interested in the art of commemoration – early incised stones, medieval effigies, ledgerstones, brasses, modern gravestones. The Society was founded in 1979 to encourage the appreciation, study and conservation of church monuments both in the UK and abroad. The Spring series of online lectures will be on the topic of ‘The Stories Monuments Tell’.

All lectures will take place via Zoom, and begin at 5pm GMT. To register for a lecture, please click on the title link.

26th March: The Eloquent Dead: Elizabethan and Jacobean Monuments in Gonville and Caius College Chapel, Cambridge: Dr Christina Faraday

The Chapel of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, contains four impressive Elizabethan and Jacobean monuments: to John Caius, re-founder of the College; William Webbe, Fellow Commoner; Dr Stephen Perse, Fellow and benefactor; and Dr Thomas Legge, Master and successor to Caius. This talk will analyse the monuments alongside nearby contemporary examples, and consider them as indicative of the College’s desire to consolidate its corporate identity in the first half-century after the refoundation, and of the deep diffusion of classical and rhetorical influences in a post-Reformation Cambridge College.

2nd April: The Farnham Monuments: Myths, Legends and Family Fables: Moira Ackers

This is a story about the Farnham family who were pretty average members of the early-modern Leicestershire squirarchy. They were neither particularly prominent in the honour community nor very wealthy. So why do they have a chantry chapel in Quorn crammed with monuments? Between 1502 -1587 the Farnham’s commissioned nine memorials. Why did they suddenly engage in this expensive elite activity? What were they trying to tell their contemporaries and how do we read their monuments today?

9th April: Medieval child memorials: myths and mistakes: Dr Sophie Oosterwijk FSA

There is a tenacious belief that monuments to children did not exist in the medieval period because high child mortality rates left parents resigned or even indifferent to losing offspring. Such claims have been convincingly dismissed by scholars, however. For one thing, there is plenty of evidence that parents did mourn deceased children. And for another, there are numerous example of medieval children being commemorated and memorialised. Yet memorials are not necessarily proof of affection and some of these ‘child tombs’ are not what they are claimed to be, having become the focus of local legend and misinterpretation over time. This talk will look at some well-known and lesser-known monuments, from the presumed ‘Boy Bishop’ in Salisbury Cathedral and the dubious ‘Stanley Boy’ in Elford (Staffordshire) to examples on the Continent.

16th April: Piety and power in the Welsh march: the story of Gwladus Ddu and William ap Thomas of Raglan Castle: Professor Madeleine Gray

Not a love story – but a couple who rose from relative obscurity to found one of the most powerful dynasties in Wales. William ap Thomas (d. 1445) may have fought at Agincourt, and he built much of Raglan Castle, Wales’s most spectacular late medieval stronghold. Gwladus (c. 1380 – 1454) was commemorated by the Welsh bards, and her tomb tells us a lot about the priorities and beliefs of women in late medieval Wales.

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