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Tony Grist

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Archdeacon Sponne- Before And After [Jun. 11th, 2019|09:27 am]
Tony Grist
Cadaver tombs- otherwise known as transi tombs- were a fashion of the 15th century- a celebrity "must-have" in an age before yachts. Monarchs had them, great nobles had them, archbishops had them and Archdeacon Sponne thought he'd like one too. It's unusual to find one in a church as relatively modest as St Lawrence, Towcester.

(Is it pronounced "spon" or "spoon"? I do hope it's the latter.)

The deceased shares a bunk bed with his or her own decomposing corpse. The corpse has the bottom tier. If you tried to put one in a church today the ecclesiastical authorities would say it was in outrageously bad taste and forbid it.

I think they're fabulous (the tombs not the ecclesiastical authorities).

Sponne was a local good egg. He must have been alarmingly rich. He also gave his home town its grammar school. He died in 1448.

The effigies are made of a chalky stone called clunch- which is easy to carve. Sponne's head and hands are made of wood; they went missing in the 1880s but turned up again a hundred years later in a box in the vicarage attic.

The effigy has been repainted several times. A drawing of 1801 shows Sponne's vestments as black, whereas in 2006 they were reported to be red. In the 1980s someone who didn't know what they were doing went over him with Humbrol enamels- more commonly used for painting model aeroplanes. This will have been his red phase, I think. His present stripped back state is presumably the result of the restoration work that this necessitated.


[User Picture]From: mallorys_camera
2019-06-11 09:46 am (UTC)
Whoa! That is wild! :-)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-06-11 10:25 am (UTC)
Those medievals were really cool.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2019-06-11 01:53 pm (UTC)

That sort of tomb is a wonderful thing. We have some here in Spain but not nearly as many as I've seen in England.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-06-11 03:00 pm (UTC)
I think they were particularly popular in England- or perhaps it's just that more have survived. They seem to occur throughout western Europe.
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[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2019-06-11 02:45 pm (UTC)
I too hope it is "Spoon".

That is a particularly nice effigy, in spite all the "restorations".
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-06-11 03:06 pm (UTC)
It is nice. I think old Spoon was a decent sort. He certainly did a lot for Towcester.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2019-06-11 06:55 pm (UTC)
Have you seen the Royal monuments in St. Denis in Paris? All of your favourite powers that be have this kind of tomb, so you get the likes of Francois I and Catherine de Medici, glitz and really rotting below, including worms crawling in and out.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-06-12 07:58 am (UTC)
No, I haven't. I'd love to.
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