Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Sackville Monument, Withyham

St Michael and All Angels, Withyham is another church that got itself wiped out by a lightning strike. The rebuild, though it looks plausibly medieval, was accomplished in the 1670s. It's a big, gloomy building, with a capacious private chapel tacked onto its north side- the burying place of the Sackville family- who were variously Earls of Dorset and Lords de la Warr and stuff like that. The ashes of the writer Vita Sackville West are tucked in under the floor, there are pleasing neo-classical tablets mounted on the wall- and the space is dominated by the tremendous- in all senses of the word- monument to Thomas Sackville who died aged 13 in 1677.

The sculptor was Caius Gabriel Cibber, father of the more famous Colley (the actor-manager, playwright and poet laureate who had the misfortune to get up the noses of Alexander Pope and his Tory friends.) Cibber pere was a leading artist of his day (he worked with Christopher Wren) and the Sackville monument is his masterpiece. Young Thomas reclines on a pallet, clutching a skull, while his parents- and this is the really original touch- lean against either side of his catafalque. Dad is in armour and wig, Mum is in Restoration finery. Everything life-sized.

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