Monson tomb, St John's church, S. Carlton :: Shared Description
Sir John Monson lies with his wife under a classical architectural canopy with 6 grey Tuscan columns. The figures clearly show the move from a generalised effigy to portraiture.
Of Sir John Monson little is known. His Grandfather, William, d. 1558, had married Elizabeth Tyrwhitt. The son, John, d. 1552, married Mary Hussey, and the Sir John commemorated here was their second son and the heir, his brother Robert having died. Sir John is known to have been Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1577 and was knighted in 24th June 1585. In 1583 he was recorded as aged 37, thus making his year of birth 1546. He died on 20th December 1593 and was buried on January 12th. He had married Jane Dighton of Little Sturton, Lincolnshire. They had thirteen children four of whom, two boys (John and Robert) and two girls ( Jane and Joyce) died in infancy. The survivors were Sir Thomas, Sir William, John, Sir Robert, Anthony, Katherine, Anne, Mary, and Elizabeth. Following Lady Jane’s burial on 17th October 1624, Sir Thomas had the tomb erected in the Monson chapel, which appears to have been specially made to accommodate it. All thirteen children were depicted on it as kneeling figures on the sill, Sir Thomas probably being the one facing the prayer desk.
Sir Thomas was not the most respectable of men. He had a meteoric rise: in 1597 he was made MP for Lincoln, was Sheriff of Lincolnshire and was knighted. In 1599 he was made Surveyor of the Royal Lands, and later was made Master Falconer to King James I, and Chancellor to Queen Anne of Denmark. In 1611 he was made Keeper of Greenwich Armoury and of the Tower of London Armoury. And then the fall. The family were Catholic, or certainly high church with catholic leanings. 1611 was the year of a suspected Popish plot. Sir Thomas Monson was caught up in this and in 1613 accused of plotting to poison Sir Thomas Overbury. In October 1616 he was remanded in the Tower, but, with insufficient evidence to jail him, was freed but stripped of his offices.
So, we can see why he may have needed an advance on the tomb money, and that at just the right moment he had cash in hand to pay for the tomb for which, it seems, he paid £200 not the £150 allowed by Jane’s will. This is shown by the entry in the notebook of his chosen sculptor, Nicholas Stone. For the monument to be set up so soon after Jane’s will was proved – just seven months – the chapel must have been ready and this may have been a reason for the advance payment towards the tomb. The swiftness of its making with two portrait effigies, an elaborate architecture and thirteen incidental figures which are in several instances too wide for the sill they rest on. Perhaps these were stock figures (none is a true portrait) and a mistake was made in calculating the necessary space needed for the larger ones. The problem is not helped by the fact that the monument appears to have been mutilated during the Civil War. The Monsons’ Royalist allegiance would have made it a target and the faces of Sir John and Lady Jane appear deliberately damaged. The mutilated condition of the monument (comparable to its present state) was noted in Monson’s Church Notes of 1829. Since then, probably during church alterations of c1897, iron columns were inserted to support the canopy which may have been rebuilt at the same time.
Sadly, at the present time the tomb is in very poor condition.
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Created: Fri, 23 Mar 2012, Updated: Fri, 23 Mar 2012
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