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Glentworth

The Monument to Sir Christopher Wray

Church of St Michael, Glentworth, Lincolnshire.

 

Sir Christopher Wray was the judge who passed sentence on Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587. He did not go to the execution, however, as he was said to be ill at the time. It has also been said he was absent because he feared the reaction of Elizabeth I when she was told of Mary's death.

The chancel was an Elizabethan rebuild to take the Wray monument and was given a fairly large south window, presumably to light the monument to the best effect. This south window appears to have been removed about 1714 to enable space to be provided for the church’s other fine example of tomb work, the Saunderson Monument. The trace of an outline showing roughly the size of this square headed south window is visible in the wall outside.

Christopher Wray, painter unknown. Pictue courtesy the Spital Chantry Trust of St. Edmund.
Photograph: Peter Fairweather, 6-Aug-88. Sir Christopher Wray’s tomb on the north wall of the chancel is truly an Elizabethan gem in alabaster. He and his wife are both portrayed lying on their backs with hands clasped together seemingly in prayer. This is rather a presumptuous pose however as the real meaning of it is that they are ready to be inducted into heaven by the over-clasping of their hands as a priest is inducted into the church.

Sir Christopher is shown dressed in his black cap and red gown of office whilst his wife Anne is in a black "Habit-like" dress with a curious cowl head-dress!

She was the daughter of Nicholas Girlington of Normanby, Yorks and her mother was the heiress (name unknown) of Grenville, of Barnboro’ also in Yorks.

Above them on the canopy kneels their son William dressed in armour but without a Helm, and across the front of the chest beneath them kneel four young ladies in ruffs and farthingales although Sir Christopher and his wife only had one son and two daughters who reached maturity. They did in fact have four daughters but two of them died at a very young age and very little is known about them.

Normally these two deceased would not be represented on the tomb except perhaps as two babes wrapped in swaddling clothes or tiny infants dressed in the same fashion as the bigger girls and carrying a skull. The number and size of the girls depicted on this tomb is really to balance the visual rather than the factual presentation and can be best interpreted as artistic licence in a similar way to the nine small children described later on the six poster bed at Snarford. None of the girls kneeling in front of this Glentworth Tomb chest has any hands. I can find no plausible explanation for this other than the speculation that they have never been fitted at all, have been knocked off by accident, or perhaps stolen by a handy thief! Photograph: Peter Fairweather, 6-Aug-88.

The inscription is in a black panel on the wall under the arch in a frame decorated with strap work just above Sir Christopher’s effigy. In it is a play on the word Vrai, meaning true in French, and the word Re, pronounced ray meaning in business and one discovers that he was not only fair in business but true by name.—Justice was a business?!.-- All clever stuff this, but I wonder if the poor soul who lettered this inscription ever understood the subtlety of it, or indeed could even read it?

The Iconography of the Wray monument has, amongst other items, a coped lidded coffin of typical Elizabethan design. Life size Examples (made of stone and painted black) can be seen in Burton Agnes Church near Bridlington, on the Griffiths tomb chest in the position where one would normally expect to find the funerary effigies, and just to the east of the church porch in the churchyard of Aston - cum - Aughton, just off the A57 between Worksop and Sheffield, South Yorkshire, is a finely carved body stone which is a coped lidded coffin complete with Grips at each end and an inscription carved on the lid. This rare example dates from the early 18th century.

Also on the Wray monument is a mattock and spade indicating the final destiny of the earthly shell, plus an hourglass and winged skull depicting the flight of time and approach of death. The closed book of life with a shut pen case and stoppered inkwell dangling from the strap work also indicate that the last words of mortality are written.

Of the two older girls previously mentioned kneeling on the front of Sir Christopher Wray’s Tomb, Francis was the younger and her story will be told in the section on St. Lawrence’s church, Snarford. The older girl was Isabel whose date of birth has eluded me up to now. She is known to have married three times into "very good families". This normally means that they were very influential or rich or usually both. She has also been described as being a "woman of more than ordinary goodness and generosity to the poor and oppressed".

Not much is known of Isabel’s marriage to Godfrey Foljambe except that he died in 1595 some three years after Isabel’s father.

 

 

 

CAPITAL . IVSTIAR
ANGL
QVISQVIS ES (Q HOSPES) MANES REVERERE SEPULTOS QVI JACET HIC, NOSTRI GLORIA IVRIS ERAT. CHRISTOPHERVS WRAIVS. RE IVSTVS, NOMINE VERVS QVIQVE PIA MICVIT. COGNITONE, FIDE.
EN FVIT: EN NON EST: RAPIDVM ROTAT OMNIA FATV:
HEV MORITVR NOBIS: IPSE SIBI SVPEREST:
TERRAM TERRA PETIT CINEREM CINIS AETHERAQ AETHER
SPIRITVS AETHEREI POSSIDET ASTRA POLI
OBIIT DIE SEPT. MAII
ANNO D 1592
& R ELIZAB
REG. 34



The Chief Justice Of England
Whoever thou art (or a stranger too ) pay your
respects to those who are buried.
Christopher Wray, who lies here was the glory of
our legal system.

Fair in business, true by name who shone forth
in duty, understanding and faith.
Lo, he was here, Lo he is not. Swift fate
overturns everything.
Alas, he is dead to us but he himself survives.
Earth to Earth, ashes to ashes, the heavenly to
heavenly things.
A spirit of the celestial world he occupies the
stars of heaven
He died the seventh day of May.
A.D.1592
and in the thirty fourth year
of the reign of
Queen Elizabeth.



Note:- Line 5 of the transcript.
Two puns on the name Wray.
Re (pronounced ray ) meaning in business.
Vervs means true and the French word for the word true is Vrai.


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