By Brian Kemp
(Shire, Paperback, 9780852637685, 32pp.)
Publication Date: March 23, 2010
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Church monuments are memorials in various forms within the church itself (this was more prestigious than being buried in the graveyard, and so the most important people tended to have memorials inside the building). They can take the form of chest tombs, often with an effigy of the deceased atop it, and can have ornamental canopies over them, usually reflecting the architectural fashions of the time. Particularly from the sixteenth century, monuments might be recessed into the walls of the church, and might feature a bust of the deceased rather than a full effigy. There is always some form of epitaph included, and particularly from the eighteenth century, effigies were less prominent, a wall-mounted cartouche with an epitaph being more favored.
Church Monuments provides a basic introduction to the subject of English church monuments. An enormous number of monuments dating from the twelfth century to the twentieth century can be seen in cathedrals and churches throughout England. In addition to making visits to these places more interesting and rewarding, taken together they make up a valuable part of the country's cultural heritage. Not only are they often important as works of art but they also throw light on many aspects of English history and life. After dealing with matters such as conservation the book considers the historical development of monuments, the changing forms and attitudes of effigies, the symbolism of death and immortality and the making of monuments. It concludes with a list of English cathedrals, churches and chapels where interesting collections of monuments can be seen, and suggestions for further reading.
Brian Kemp is Emeritus Professor of History at Reading University, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His interest in monuments began in his teens with the hobby of brass-rubbing, from which, realising that brasses were but one type of church monument, he soon widened his interests to include all forms of monuments. In 1980 his book English Church Monuments was published by B. T. Batsford Ltd. He was President of the Church Monuments Society, 1991-6, and is now one of its Vice Presidents. He is deeply committed to the proper conservation of monuments and to englarging public awareness of their importance.