Church Monument of the Month - August 2021 - St Mary's, Chilton

One of Suffolk’s best-kept secrets is St Mary’s church, Chilton.  It is marooned in the middle of fields and usually locked so presents a bit of a challenge to visit. Yet it is worth persevering to get in, not least for the fine tombs to the Crane family. This feature focuses on the alabaster tomb monument commemorating Robert Crane (d. 1500) and his wife, Anne Osgard, Lady Arundel (d. 1508), located between the sanctuary and the brick-built Crane chapel on the north side of the church.

The two alabaster effigies lie on a high tomb chest between the sanctuary and Crane chapel, which is decorated with square foliated panels which have shields that are set within foliated lozenge panels.  The shields are decorated with heraldry, represented by modern paint: south side L-R (1) argent, a fess gules, between three crosses botonny fitchy gules [Crane], impaling azure, an estoile argent; (2) azure, an estoile argent, impaling gules, five bars wavy or; (3) gules, five bars wavy or, impaling azure billetty or, a fess dancetty or.

A unicorn with no horn attached sits on the end of the monument with Robert Crane's feet resting on it
A peculiar looking unicorn with no horn attached sits at the end of this monument

Robert’s feet rest on a unicorn with the horn originally attached to the head by a dowel.  The head, which is bare, rests on a mantled frog-mouthed helm with the crest also originally secured by two dowels.  Robert’s armour consists of standard of mail around the neck, vambraces and couters protect the arms.  Protecting the body is a breastplate and skirt of plates; tassets protect the groin area, and the lower edge of a mail skirt.  The legs are protected with plate defences together with broad-toed sabatons for the feet.  Worn over the armour is a tabard, which is rarely seen on three-dimensional monuments, whereas more common on brasses.

Around Anne’s, neck she wears an SS collar, which is the badge associated with the Lancastrian Household.  Worn on the head is a gabled headdress, which also has the remains of original polychromy.  The effigy wears a gown over a surcoat ouverte, which is held around the waist by a narrow-belt and is decorated with a square quatrefoil motif.

A side view of the effigy of Anne Osgard displaying her headdress and SS collar
If you look closely, you can still see the patterns on her headdress, displaying the high quality of these monuments

Robert commissioned the monument during his lifetime, specifying in his will that he wanted an alabaster effigy and wished to be buried in Chilton Church, dying in 1500 and his wife in 1508.  The workshop that made the monument is not known but it is very likely a product from either Burton-upon-Trent or Nottingham.  There are two other similar monuments at Wethersfield (Essex) to Henry Wentworth who died in 1484 and at Wingfield (Suffolk) to John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk who died in 1491.

A huge thank you to The Church Monuments Society for researching and writing this blog. Find out more about their work: 


You can find out more about this fascinating church and its history here


Watch our Church tour of St Mary's Chilton here