Sunday 25 February 2024

Night Knight

I know that it's many hundreds of years since these three knights entered the final long sleep, but they do look very peaceful and the one with his head on the cushion really does look like he's merely slumbering. Of the three he's the one who most caught my eye because of the snake which is entwined around his sword. The carving on all of the effigies is very detailed, but unlike the many other examples I've showcased over the years these are not stone. Instead they were made from a complete oak trunk and hollowed out from beneath. Incredibly the first two are thought to be members of the Saint Clere [now Sinclair] family who owned the manor and paid for the now oldest surviving part of St John The Baptist's church in Danbury on the North side. It's thought that originally a chapel stood there built for the soul of William de St Clere in 1290. These two date from between 1272 and 1307. If you look closely the second one hasn't fared so well over the centuries as there's been a lot of beetle damage and there's a big hole near his legs. Hardly surprising given the age of him! The third one's origin is not known, but is a bit later from the style of mail he's wearing. It is entirely possible that the first two might have taken part in the crusades and there are mutterings about possible Templar connections.

Back in 1779 workmen discovered an unmarked lead coffin. The rector and warden decided to open it and found within it another elm coffin containing an embalmed body of a young man still in the liquor which had preserved him. It is quite possible that the cadaver they found could be one of these knights. He was resealed and reburied. I found the report of his discovery in The Gentleman magazine to be very interesting, but can appreciate that not everyone wants to read all the gory details. For those who do the link to the article is here Back in 2017 I wrote about how the hearts of the crusaders were kept and sent home to their loved one, but this latest information does lend itself to the theory that perhaps the crusaders had learnt how to embalm while they were away and some of the bodies did make it back. There is no proof, but it adds an interesting dimension to the discussions about this period of our history.

I've been doing mainly non blogging type activities over the last fortnight or so and generally catching up. One job has been to edit some more of the backlog of photos and thus today's post emanates from our trip away in the Autumn.




  1. Really interesting. Wasn't Nelson's body sent home in a barrel of brandy after the battle of Trafalgar?

  2. I did not know that those sort of coffins/effigies were made of wood and that they have lasted and still look good - in fact on the photos they look very stone like - amazing!

    1. Quite a lot were back in the day because it was cheaper, but they didn't survive in the numbers either. Arilx


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