Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wait for Me!--Going to Church

A continuing series of Neels-ian excerpts from the autobiography ("Wait for Me!") of Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire:

We went to church of course, at St. Mary's, Swinbrook. Muv and Farve sat on the short pew at the back and we directly in front of them. The effigies of the Fettiplace family on the north wall near the alter fascinated us: six life-sized stone men lying on their sides, heads supported by their hands, elbows resting on stone pillows. John Piper described 'intelligent, wicked-looking former lords of the village, lying on slabs like proud sturgeon.'....
My parents made several contributions to the church, replacing the Victorian tiled floor with stone flags and installing oak pews. Farve had promised to give the pews should he ever have an unexpected windfall. This unlikely event came about in 1924 when he placed an ante-post bet at huge odds on Master Robert in the Grand National and the horse won...My father had originally wanted a horse's head carved on the end of each pew to record how the munificent gift had been paid for, but the Bishop refused. Farve thought this hypocritical of the Prince of the Church as he knew perfectly well where the money had come from.

Araminta's eyes wandered away from her regular perusal of the wicked-looking Fettiplace men and met the mocking expression of the vast Dutchman...


    At the door she paused and looked back at the Professor, standing in the hall still. 'Thank you for—for finding me,' she said. 'You've been very kind.'
    She didn't much care for his smile. She drew a heartening breath and opened the door.
    Mevrouw Nauta made light of the matter. 'Oh, I quite understand,' she told Sarah, 'and it was most thoughtful of you to give us the opportunity to spend the day together. It was only by chance that Radolf discovered that you weren't at the vicarage and that you had been seen going towards Swinbrook. You poor child, your day off hasn't been very successful. We must do better next week.'
    That left supper to get through, thought Sarah as she went to her room.

  2. The Fettiplace Monuments *
    On the south side of the chancel are two sets of monuments to the Fettiplace family, who held the manor of Swinbrook during the 17th century. The family was immensely wealthy and owned estates in 15 counties. No trace now remans of the family manor, but the monuments are a striking reminder of just how powerful and wealthy the family was.

    Each tomb shows three male Fettiplaces, recumbent, stacked as if on shelves, one above the other. The earlier tomb is nearest the chancel arch and dates to 1613. The effigies are arranged with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. So you will find the bottom Fettiplace wearing an Elizabethan ruff, but his son, Alexander, wears a high collar, as does his son and heir, William (d. 1562).
    This 1613 tomb is relatively simple by comparison to the second monument north of the altar, built in 1686. It is fascinating to see how the style of the memorials changed in the space of 70 years, from undecorated Renaissance sculpture to richly ornamented Carolean fashion. Here, every surface appears to be gilded and painted, and the effect is stunning. This is 17th century style at its most ornate and grandiose.

    The 1613 monument

    The 1686 monument
    On the top is Sir Edmund Fettiplace (d. 1686), and under him Sir John Fettiplace (d. 1672), and on the bottom is John Fettiplace (d. 1657). Again, these are arranged with the oldest at the bottom and newest at the top.

    * excerpts from Swinbrook, St Mary's Church