All Saints Church
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All Saints Church, Hollingbourne
Many of the old English churches
have impressive memorials honoring one or more of their
prominent historical families. However, few such churches have
a family testimony any more impressive than that found at
Hollingbourne to the Culpepers.
The oldest memorial at Hollingbourne is to
Francis Culpeper11, one of the sons of William
Culpeper10 of Hunton and Wigsel. The American
Culpeppers descend from John Culpeper11 of Wigsel,
who was a brother of Francis.
Photograph by Keith Pearce,
The most noteworthy monuments and treasures at
Location: On the main street in
the middle of town. (14 miles NE of Goudhurst.)
National Grid Coordinates:
TQ 843 551
The Elizabeth, Lady Culpeper
Chapel and Monument
by Warren Culpepper, October 1999
|When Lady Elizabeth died in 1638 Sir Thomas
Culpeper12 built a new chapel in Hollingbourne Church. He intended it to be a memorial to his wife and all the
The monument to
Lady Elizabeth occupies the central space of the chapel and is one of
the finest works of the important 17th century sculptor Edward Marshal (1598-1675).
Marshall was twice Master of the Masons'
Company and became Master Mason to the Crown in 1660. The late Rupert
Gunnis in his authoritative Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1660-1851,
considered that his monuments were of the first importance and that the
finest was 'the noble recumbent effigy of Lady Culpeper, 1638, at
Lady Elizabeth Culpeper was the daughter and co-heiress
of John Cheney of Guestling, Sussex.
Lady Culpeper Monument
The Cheney Family's heraldic beast
at the feet of Lady Culpeper
One of several shields on the walls
The Cheney Family's heraldic beast,
a theow or thoye, is shown at her feet. (photograph at left.) It was a strange, toothy animal
with cloven hoofs and a cow's tail, the whole covered with heraldic
spots. Lady Elizabeth's hands each bear a ring tied to a cord, which
disappears into the sleeve of her dress.
The Chapel in which Lady Elizabeth rests was intended by
her husband not only as a memorial to her, the best of women, the best
of wives, the best of mothers ( the inscription 'Optima Fæmina,
Optima Coniux, Optima Mater’ is on the side of the tomb). It was also
intended as a cenotaph (a monument erected in honor of a person, or
group of persons, who are buried elsewhere) to the Culpeper family as is
proclaimed by the shields on the walls, most of them plain because the
family left the district.
Under the Chapel is a vault, which still contains
several lead coffins of the Culpepers. The brick opening to this in the
east wall is now sealed up. Local tradition has it that the coffins
sometimes moved about the vault unaided.
with the Chapel is the stained glass window bearing the arms of Culpeper
and Cheney and of families related to them.
Culpepers at Hollingbourne.
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27 Mar 2004