Church of St. Michael the Archangel.

Framlingham, Suffolk.

Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Framlingham, Suffolk.

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Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Framlingham, Suffolk. Photograph: Peter Fairweather, 19-May-1984.

Tomb of Thomas Howard 3rd Duke of Norfolk

The most outstanding monument amongst all those at Framlingham is the tomb of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. This stands immediately to the south of the high altar. Archeologically it bears comparision with anything in Northern Europe, if not perhaps Italy.

Around the four sides are the figures of the twelve apostles together with Aaron and St. Paul. These represent the last major display of religious imagery in England before the full weight of Reformation theology made such things impossible. The design of the tomb is part-Franch and part-English and it is significant that it was commissioned not by the crown, but on behalf of the then greatest nobleman in England.

Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Framlingham, Suffolk. Photograph: Peter Fairweather, 19-May-1984.

It is thought that parts of this tomb may have been incorporated in another which was at Thetford for Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, victor at Flodden. In turn, this man's father had been John Howard, who had died fighting for Richard III at Bosworth and for whom the Dukedom of Norfolk had been created in the Howard name. I is known that there are three male bodies interred in the 3rd Duke's tomb, and it is an unproven supposition that these are the bodies of his father and grandfather, removed to framlingham after the dissolution of Thetford priory.

Thomas howard succeeded to the title in 1524 upon the death of his father, the 2nd Duke. One of the last of the 'old nobility', howard found an early enemy in Cardinal Wolsely, for whose destruction he worked. He was active in battle and diplomacy throughout the whole of the reign of Henry VIII. He was present at Flodden; at the suppression of the 'Prentice Riots' in 1517; in the varying skirmishes against the Scots; in Spain and France; and in Ireland where he was Viceroy for about two years.

Norfolk rebuilt the huge family mansion at Kenninghall, near Norwich because Framlingham, like other castles had become outdated as a domestic residence. Norfolks private life was disturbed by contensions with his second wife, Elizabeth Stafford, daughter of the 3rd and last Duke of Buckingham. Although it is her effigy which rests serenely beside his on their tomb and not that of his first wife Anne, a daughter of Edward IV, Elizabth's letter's to Thomas Cromwell show that she was subject to much unhappiness in her life with Norfolk.

The 3rd Duke seems to have been as cruel and uncompromising in his dealings with his relatives as he was with his enemies in and out of court, his treatment of the Catholics during the Pilgramige of Grace being the subject of an apology from the King himself! Though he promoted two of his nieces, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard to be Queens of England for purposes of family advancement, he felt able to abandon them -and indeed pass sentence of death on Anne, in their timeof need.

At the end of Henry's reign, when the succession was of doubtful continuance in the light of two daughters being declared bastards and an only son who was sickly, inter-Court rivalry reached a peak over the protectorate of Edward (VI). On the one hand were the Seymour brothers, Edward's uncles, and on the other, Norfolk and his son the Earl of Surrey. Surrey acted rashly in the matter of armorial bearings (heraldic arms) and charges of treason were successfully, if unreasonably, pressed. Surrey lost his head and his father would similarly have died had not the King himself died during the night prior to the day fixed for Norfolk's execution. The 3rd Duke spent the next six years in the Tower until Mary was proclaimed Queen at Framlingham itself. She released him, aged 80, and he died at Kenninghal within the year. His was a momentous life. He has been called a cruel man ...but one who lived in cruel times. For over thirty years he was one of the most powerful and active men in Tudor England, and perhaps his greatest triumph was that he survived in his important offices so close to a despotic King, dying in his bed and not upon the block.

Tomb to Mary and Margaret, wives of 4th Duke of Norfolk

Heraldic Lion damaged on 2-May-2000. Photograph: Peter Fairweather 19-May 1984. One of the heraldic lions on this tomb was so badly damaged in an attempt to steal it on 2nd May 2000 that it has had to be removed for restoration at an estimated cost of 10,000. There is a news report from Suffolk Now. Anybody with any information should contact the police.

The tomb in the north east corner of the chancel commemorates two of the wives of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk.

The 4th Duke was widowed three times and attempted to procure a fourth marriage with Mary Queen of Scots. For this he was executed on Tower Hill on 2nd June 1572, his body still lies in St. Peter-Ad-Vincula in the Tower of London.

Tomb of first two wives of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Framlingham, Suffolk. Photograph: Peter Fairweather, 19-May-1984.

The tomb has a fine display of heraldic quarterings and the two effigies are shown in their robes of state. They rest their heads and feet on emblems connected with their Houses. It would seem that at some former period there were columns which supported a canopy over the tomb which must have rendered it highly magnificent. There is a large space between the effigies and it has been suggested that this was reserved for Norfolk's third wife or himself, or even Mary Queen of Scots.

Thomas Howard first married Mary FitzAlan, heiress after her father's death to the Arundel Estates (west Sussex). She died after a year of marriage having given birth to Philip, Earl of Arundel (who was canonised in 1970 for refusing to renounce his Catholicism under Elizabeth I). It is from this marriage that the present Duke of Norfolk takes his name of 'FitzAlan-Howard' and why his seat is in Arundel. Mary FitzAlan was never buried at Framlingham, but first at the church of St. Clements Without, Temple Bar, and then under the direction of her grandson's will, at Arundel.

Norfolk's second marriage was to another heiress, Margaret daughter of Thomas Lord Audley of Walden (north Yorkshire?) She also died young and was buried at St. John the Baptist's church at Norwich. Whether, and if so, when her remains were reinterred at Framlingham is uncertain. In 1842 this vault was opened and found to be empty but for a skull and some ashes. Tradition has it that the inhabitants of the town hid some of their valuables in the tomb during the rebellion of 1745 and swept it clean. It thus remains a mystery as to what the contents were. It would seem more probable that Margaret's body would have been reburied at Arundel in preference to Framlingham by this time. Margaret's children by her marriage to Norfolk were two boys and two girls.

Norfolk's third wife Elizabeth play's no part in the story of St. Michael's. She was a widow when she married him, her late husband being Thomas, 4th Lord Dacre of Gillesland. Norfolk made remarkable marriage plans whereby Elizabeths three daughters by Dacre became the wives of the sons of his own first two marriages. Thus Anne Dacre married Philip Earl of Arundel; Mary Dacre married Thomas who was created Earl of Suffolk (his descendants bear the title today) and Elizabeth Dacre married William Howard whose descendant was the ancestor of the present Earl of Carlisle.

Tomb of Henry, Earle of Surrey, and his Wife, Frances de Vere

In order to get into perspective the succession and order of seniority of the line of Howard the best tomb to look at is that brightly coloured tomb next to the North wall of the chancel.

This is the tomb chest of Henry Earl of Surrey and wife Frances de Vere the daughter of the 15th Earl of Oxford to whom he was betrothed when they were both just 15 years old. Surrey was born in 1517 at his father’s house at Kenninghall. His father being the 3rd Duke of Norfolk.

Surrey had a classical education with the best classical tutors of the day. He particularly studied Virgil and this gave him a poetical talent said to be 200 years ahead of his time. He is still referred to as "The Poet Earl". He found favour with King Henry VIII whilst a youth and also formed a friendship with The Duke of Richmond. In later years Surrey is said to have inherited his father’s military tactical genius and eventually distinguished himself at Boulogne and Landrecy. He was immensely proud of his ancestry but was foolhardy in the days of the end of the reign of Henry VIII which afterwards proved to be his undoing in the hands of those who were plotting for being Top Dog in the court of the day. Surrey was arraigned on trumped up charges of treason by them and was tried at Guildhall on January 13th 1547 and on the 21st of January he lost his head! His remains were buried in the Church of All Hallows in Tower Street near Tower Hill, London.

After Surrey was executed Frances de Vere was "relieved " of the bringing up of her children who were given into the care of the Duchess of Richmond During the reign of Edward VI Frances married Thomas Steyning of Woodbridge and they lived at Earl Soham Lodge about three miles from Framlingham. They had a daughter Mary and Frances died at Earl Soham in 1577 but was buried in Framlingham in the ‘Howard’s church’.

On his tomb in Framlingham church the latin inscription refers to Surrey as being the son of the Second Duke which is technically correct as after the battle of Bosworth the Dukedom was rendered extinct and the Second Duke became the First Duke of the new creation. All very confusing. The line is taken from the John Howard, First Duke of Norfolk.

Surrey’s Tomb chest is not a religious example but rather extolling the virtues of who was who. The effigy at the foot of Surrey on the tomb is Thomas who became 4th Duke of Norfolk and kneeling at his side next to the wall is Henry Earl of Northampton.
At the head end are three girls, Jane who wears a coronet who became Countess of Westmoreland, in the center is Katherine who married Henry, Lord Berkeley and next to the wall is Margaret who married Lord Scrope of Bolton.

Before his own death in 1613 Henry, Earl of Northampton, Surrey’s youngest son made arrangements for his father’s remains to be removed to Framlingham and this monument to be erected in 1614.

After the death of the 3rd Duke in 1554 his grandson Thomas (eldest son of the poet Earl) became the 4th Duke of Norfolk but did not have any of his grandfather’s guile and Low cunning nor his Father’s quicksilver brilliance. He was married and widowed three times and it was his fourth attempt at marriage that got him into deep trouble, for this time it was to Mary Queen of Scots. This cost him his head just as it had his father. He was executed on Tower Hill on 2nd of June 1572 and buried just nearby in St Peter-ad-Vincula in the Tower of London. He still lies there.

This tomb had become a real mess by about 1976 with the whole thing subsiding in the center and the ends coming up to meet it. The restoration was entrusted to John Green and the tomb was duly cleaned and restored to its full brilliance. It was when it was being cleaned that Mr Green found the dowell holes next to Surrey’s calf where the Coronet belonged showing he died in disgrace. A new coronet was made of lead casting with large fish weights for the baubles, the whole thing was then painted, gilded, and placed in position.


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