Montagu Monuments at St Edmund's Church

World class monuments found in a small Parish church on Boughton’s Estate, in 2024 they will be open to the public for viewing, Thursday and Friday mornings throughout August, 10am – noon

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Montagu Monuments in St Edmunds Church

The Montagu Monuments:

2nd Duke of Montagu Monument

Monument to John, 2nd Duke of Montagu

The first monument sculpted was in commemoration of John, 2nd Duke of Montagu. The sculpture was created by French artist, Louis François Roubiliac, one of the most prominent sculptors working in England during the eighteenth century.

The 2nd Duke of Montagu, was the son of Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu- who was responsible for the rebuilding of Boughton House.  John died in 1749 at the age of 58, leaving his widow, Mary Churchill, to erect the monument. Mary has been depicted standing at the left hand side of the monument.

Surrounding the monument you can see objects such as a gun barrel, cannon balls and a flag, sculpted to symbolise John’s military career. Furthermore, there is a figure of Charity, standing to the right of the monument, to represent the fact that John was a forefather of the Foundling Hospital to the poor in London.  One of the children featured beside the monument is also seen to be holding an extinguished torch, symbolic of dying relatively young.

Monument to Mary Churchill

Monument to Mary Churchill

The second monument commissioned, was again sculpted by Louis François Roubiliac. This time it was dedicated to the 2nd Duke of Montagu’s wife, Mary Churchill, who died two years after John, in 1751, aged 61. It was John and Mary’s daughter, Lady Mary Montagu, who erected the monument.

Featured in the monument are figures representing the three fates of Clotho, Atropos and Lachesis, arranged to show the cutting of Mary’s life thread. Looking closely you can acknowledge Lachesis’ dismay at Mary’s life thread being cut short. Three putti are also displayed as part of the monument, one of whom holds the spindle from which the thread was cut.

This monument completes a harmonious pair of exquisitely executed monuments to husband and wife.

 

Montagu Monuments

Monument to Lady Mary Montagu

The third monument was created by Dutch sculptor Peter Mathias van Gelder. It commemorates Lady Mary Montagu, daughter of Duke John and his wife Mary, who inherited Boughton House upon their deaths.

Mary was known to be a free spirited lady, often travelling extensively and independently. She is responsible for collecting many of the finest paintings still found in the Buccleuch collection today.

The monument holds a neoclassical style, in which the influence of pre-eminent architect of the time, Robert Adam, can be recognised. The monument to Mary is Rococo in style and more decorative than that of her parent’s.

The composition  centres around an ornate funerary urn, which is seen to be surrounded by figures of grief stricken women and children. An angel on the left comforts the mourners, seen to be pointing to heaven.

Monument to Lady Elizabeth, Duchess of Buccleuch

Monument to Lady Elizabeth, Duchess of Buccleuch

The fourth and final monument is dedicated to Lady Elizabeth, Duchess of Buccleuch (daughter of Lady Mary Montagu – Monument 3). Scottish designer Thomas Campbell was commissioned to sculpt this monument.

Elizabeth brought the Montagu inheritance to the Buccleuch lineage after she married Henry, the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch. During her lifetime, she involved herself with a considerable amount of charity work and maintained a strong connection to her Christian faith, as highlighted in the quotation shown above her monument: “thine alms are had in remembrance in the sign of God”.

Elizabeth was also a patron of music, and was the main instigator behind the Montagu Music Collection, now held at Boughton House.

The Montagu Monuments at St Edmunds Church, Warkton

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