Monday 12 May and we’re en route from Oli & Kati near Kettering to Deb & Larry in Oxford. We arranged to meet Geoff & Anne at Claydon House, a National Trust property, rebuilt between 1757 and 1771. First we walked along the front of the house, and pushed up the ramp into church.
The first Rector was John de Blarewich in 1251, and the Nave is C13 “much restored”. In 1509 the Chancel was rebuilt during a lease of 100 years granted by the Verneys to the Giffords – rebuilding the chancel took ten years. There was a restoration under George Gilbert Scott in 1871, and the porch and vestry date from then. Perpendicular tower.
Inside we have the most amazing tombs – lots of members of the Verney and Gifford families.
The guide leaflet puts it beautifully: “On the North wall of the Chancel is a large brass of a knight in armour. Roger Gifford, builder of the Chancel and the first holder of the lease of Claydon, with Mary Nansicles his Wife in coif and whimple by his side, 13 little sons in gowns kneeling at his feet and 7 little daughters in coifs at hers, small as befitted their inferior to their Parents ‘on whose Sowl’s J’hu have m’cy 1543.’ Roger seems to have had this brass made during his lifetime, leaving the blank the day and year of his death. None of the 20 children saw fit to scratch in the missing date (which is a warning of the futility of erecting a monument of erecting a monument to oneself during one’s lifetime).”
Opposite is the monument which Sir Ralph Verney erected to the memory of his father, Sir Edmund Verney, Standard Bearer to Charles I, killed at Edge Hill in 1642 and his mother, Margaret Denton, died 1641; below Margaret is Sir Ralph’s wife, “that incomparable person Dame Mary” who died 1650. These three busts were modelled from pictures in Claydon House. Below the Standard Bearer is Sir Ralph himself, a bust done from life: Sir Ralph lived until 1696. The contract for the memorial was signed in 1653 with the sculptor Edward Marshall, and cost £130.
Also in the Chancel is a brass of the last Chantry priest, Alexander Anne – the words “Miserere mei Deus” proceeds out of his mouth. The reredos is also rather splendid.
There are many other monuments in the Nave. Behind the pulpit is a memorial to Mary Verney. Below her is a brass to Margaret Lady Verney LLD (1844-1930). Her LLD was an honourary degree awarded by the University of Wales, having done a huge amount of work on the history of the Verney family. More about her here.
The cross on the left is to Parthenope Lady Verney (died 1890), 2nd wife of Sir Harry and a sister of Florence Nightiingale. She was born in Parthenope, the Greek form of ‘Naples’, Florence in Florence. She was another historian, and a writer of novels. Florence was a regular visitor at Claydon. More about her here.
This memorial is to Sir Henry Verney, the 2nd Baronet, he lived at Claydon for over 60 years, and was MP for 50 years. He died at the age of 92 in 1894. The sculptor of the monument was Henry Pegrain.
The church is quite a museum. I hope it manages to be more than this, though they only have a service once a month. I did like this notice in the porch:
When you were born … your mother brought you here,
When you were baptised … your parents brought you here,
When you were married … your partner caused you to come here,
When you were buried … your friends brought you here,
Why not come on your own … for a change.