Tuesday, April 16, 2013

St Oswald's Church, Ashbourne

At the moment the church interior  is undergoing lots of work to update and improve the wiring and lighting so when we visited recently the nave was full of scaffolding with men working high up in the ceiling.   We visit the town of Ashbourne quite often and have many times driven by and walked by the church but had never been inside.  The author George Eliot once declared the spire 'one of the finest in England' and the church yard  is like a small nature reserve in the middle of the town.
It is quite a large church, almost cathedral like inside and there are lots of interesting historic monuments to see in the Boothby Chapel in the North Transept which was where we headed once we were inside.

I'd left my usual camera behind and only had my little camera in my bag but I think that the images aren't too bad considering as the lighting wasn't too great.   Here are some of the monuments mostly to the local families of Cokayne and Bradbourne.

Above is the tomb of Sir Humphrey Bradbourne who died in 1581 and his wife Elizabeth

Around the tomb are carvings of the couple's six sons and six daughters - the three seen below in 'chrisoms' represent the three who died in infancy.

Below is a detail from the foot of the carving

Below is the tomb of Sir John Cokayne of Ashbourne who died in 1447 and his wife Margaret

The carving below of is of John Bradbourne and his wife Ann Vernon.  The faces had been defaced but had be reconstructed with what looked like a plastic resin.

Below the effigies are of Sir John Cokayne who died in 1372 and his son Sir Edmund Cokayne who died in 1403 at the Battle of Shrewsbury fighting for King Henry IV.

 
The brass monument  below is to Francis Cokayne, his wife Dorothy and their six children.

The most poignant of the tomb carvings is a later one to five year old Penelope Boothby.  It was carved by the sculptor Thomas Banks from Carrara marble.  I remember on a trip to Tuscany being taken up into the hills to see the marble quarry at Carrara.  On the day of her funeral it rained heavily so, according to 'Matters of Life and Death' by George Shaw, six little girls carried the coffin and six little boys walked with umbrellas.  Penelope was a much loved child and was painted aged 4 by the artist Sir Joshua Reynolds.


It is said that when the little girl died her parents separated and never spoke to one another again.  Her father Sir Brooke Boothby wrote sonnets to the little girl after her death at Ashbourne Hall in 1791.   Here is a  link  to more about Penelope and Sir Brooke Boothby it is quite a tragic tale. I'd heard of Sir Brooke Boothby in connection with the members of the Lunar Society so was intrigued to find out more about him.
 Next time we visit I want to take a longer look at some of the tomb stones in the church yard.





24 comments:

  1. Your little camera has done a grand job. I've often passed by this church but never looked inside; something which I shall be sure to do if I'm in the area again.

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    1. Thank you John, I'm often surprised by how much detail my little camera can capture:)

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  2. Your post has motivated me to go and visit Ashbourne in the near future. There seems to be so much of interest and fascinating stories connected with the families represented in the tombstones and effigies.

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    1. There is a lot of history there! It was visited on occasion by Erasmus Darwin, Dr Johnson, Jean-Jacques Rousseau to name just three connected with Sir Brooke Boothby:)

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  3. Ive been to Ashbourne a fair few times as I love it, but Ive never been to the church. I'll make sure I pop in next time. xxx

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    1. Good idea - it looks aas if the interior work is going to take a while but there is still quite a lot to see:)

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  4. There are certainly some interesting tombs and carvings in the church. And it seems the sadness around the death of Penelope Boothby can be felt there even now, centuries later.

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    1. Yes, one couldn't really feel so sad about the lives of the earlier people depicted in the effigies but little Penelope certainly did stay in your thoughts:)

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  5. How very poignant. Churches always fascinate me so much to see and so many stories. Thanks for sharing.
    June

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    1. I always think that churches tell us so much about the local and social history of an area and they were of course, far more than just places of worship at one time - more the hub of the community than they are now:)

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  6. Sounds like a really interesting place. There's always something poignant about churches and tombs. Makes me think of the poem 'An Arundel Tomb' by Philip Larkin..
    'Side by side their faces blurred,
    The earl and countess lie in stone,'

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    1. The Larkin poem exactly describes the effigies in the chapel:)

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  7. The monument to Penelope Boothby is lovely - it's always so sad to see these tiny tombs belonging to young children.

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    1. It is very sad - she was obviously a little girl surrounded by love and hope:)

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  8. What a fascinating church. Penelope's tomb was particularly poignant and such a sad story about her parents separating.

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    1. Yes, that certainly did hit home how deeply they were affected by her death:)

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  9. Your camera performed very well. That was a fascinating story, thanks Rosie. x

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the visit, I often forget to use the little camera but it is handy just to pop in a bag:)

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  10. A very interesting post and a sad tale regarding Penelope Boothby. Like you, we visit Ashbourne fairly often and we've walked around the church yard but never even thought about going inside. Perhaps I will next time I'm there.

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    1. It is lovely inside although the work in there at the moment stops you going to some of the areas in the church:)

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  11. There's some fascinating history linked to this church. I was particularly taken with Penelope's tomb. It's very unusual for a young child. Jx

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    1. It is one of those churches that feels steeped in history even before you learn of all the well known people who worshiped and visited there:)

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  12. I like 'a small nature reserve in the middle of town'. Some wonderful craftmanship in the church with the carvings on the tombs. The marble tomb of Penelope Boothby is quite exquisite and befitting of such a beloved child. x

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    1. Yes, I want to explore the churchyard more when we next visit - there were some interesting memorial stones and lots of lovely spring flowers and little birds:)

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