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Victoria & Albert Museum
V & A Museum, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London SW 2RL
Entry is free but certain exhibitions may be charged for. Opening hours: Daily, 10.00 am until 5.45 pm except Friday, 10.00 am until 10.00 pm. But check the web site.
As well as a series of original effiges, obtained from several churches, in the Museum, there are many monumental effigies which are either plaster casts or electrotypes of the originals. These latter date from the mid to late nineteenth century and were made by leading cast makers of the day; they were bought by the museum to enable visitors to see these effigies without the then difficulty or high cost of travelling to see them. To some extend this still applies today and we must also now add the new additional problem of the ease or even possibility of access to the building housing them. Although it was never intended to do so these casts now allow visitors to see some of the effigies which are in Westminster Abbey without the high cost and restrictions of doing so.

Casting the Tombs


Plaster Casts

    The initial impression of the original was often taken in plaster. The original was coated with a thin layer of a separating material to prevent the plaster sticking to the original. Because plaster is rigid when set and because most effigies - other than those in very low relief - have projections and undercut areas, these impressions were taken in sections; otherwise it would be impossible to remove the impresson without it fracturing and probably causing damage to the original work. The sections  are called piece-moulds and are held together by a mother-mould, so that the sections can be reassembeled.These sections were then reassembled in an outer case and again painted with a separating material or mould seal, and the liquid plaster poured in. The plaster impressions were then removed leaving an accurate reproduction - other than the fine lines where the sections join- of the original effigy. The plaster impressions could be reused to produced a further cast.

   Impressions were also taken  a mixture of wax and gutta-percha or gelatin, which are slightly flexible, as well as clay.

    As someone who has used this technique on a small scale, I can only but greatly admire the amazing skill of these cast makers.  New rubber base materials which are highly flexible as well as very accurate would certainly make this process much easier today as well.



    This process produces a metal copy of the original.  Again an impression of the original is taken but now the impression is coated on the inside with a graphite to give a thin, electrically conductive layer. To add a layer of metallic copper to the inside of the impression, it is inserted into an aqueous electrolyte solution of copper sulphate and sulphuric acid, and then connected to a direct electric current source as the cathode, the anode being metallic copper. When the current is activated, the copper anode begins to desolve in the electrolyte and  deposited on the inside of the impression. When this copper reaches the required depth the current is turned off, the impression removed from the elctrolyte and, when the impression is removed from the copper 'lining' a copper copy of the original is produced.

   This process is rather similar to that used during the production of vinyl and shellac sound recordings
For a history of the V&A's cast collection - of all types of sculpture - click here.

Westminster Abbey, City of Westminster, London
A Collegiate Church and a Peculiar.  The most expensive church to visit in the world.

King Henry III

1. Both of the original effigies are of cast gilt bronze made by Master William Torel of London.
2. They were commissioned by Edward I, who was the son of Henry and the husband of Eleanor.
3. Edward I does not have an effigy on his monument, but his grandson, Edward III, does. There is a cast of this but it is 'in storage'.
4. Plaster cast. Room 46A

Queen Eleanor of Castile (Wife of King Edward I)

The Temple Church, London
A 'Peculiar' church. It belongs to two of the four Inns of Court: it is thus the Barristers' own chapel. It is thus not a parish church and the minister is titled 'Master of the Temple'
Do not let this deter you: it is open to visitors.

William Marshall (1219)
(RCHM no 10)

William Marshall II (1231)
(RCHM no 8)

(RCHM no 7

William de Ros (1316)
(RCHM no 12)

Gilbert Marshal (1241)
(RCHM no 9)
1. These effigies were always in the Temple Church, with the exception of that of William de Ros, which was brought from Yorkshire.
2. The plaster casts were made by Richardson after he had restored the effigies. His restoration was met with criticism.
3. They  were damaged by enemy bombing during World War II, some severely, others less so.
4. So we can see what the effigies looked like before bomb damage but after Richardson had restored them.
5. There are nine effigies in all, plus a coped grave cover. Richardson made copes of five of these, ironically those that were to become the most severely damaged ones he did not copy.
6. Further information will be on the page about the Temple Church, not yet on line

Formerly in Lesnes Abbey, Kent (The London Bourough of Bexley)
Lesnes Abbey is a ruined abbey and open to the public.

An unknown knight of the Lucy family (1340-50)
This effigy was discovered during excavations at the abbey and is now housed in the V&A. It is thought to represent a member of the Lucy family. The effigy is of Totterhome limestone with gesso, painted and gilded: this can be seen in the photograph on the left which was mainly in daylight. Medieval and Renaissance Room

Worcester Cathedral
A Cathedral Church. Open to visitors

King John
1. King John died at Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire during the civil war with the barons who had invited the Dauphin Louis to lead them against the King.
2. He was buried in Worcester Cathedral
3. His effigy is of Purbeck Marble and, as can be seen from above, the slab with which it is integral is coffin shaped. John would have been buried in a stone coffin in the ground and the slab and effigy laid on top, that is, at ground level.
4. Much later the coffin was placed in a tomb chest and the slab with effigy placed on top. This is what we see at Worcester today.
5. Plaster cast. Room 46A
6. The Fontevraud effigies are painted; that of Queen Berengaria shows traces of original paintwork; that of John shows no paintwork now although in the 19th century it was gilded.

Church of St John the Baptist, Lewes, Sussex
A parish church
Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Gundrada de Warenne (1085)

Roger le Poer, Bishop of Salisbury (1102-1139)

1. Gundrada is said to have been a daughter of William the Conqueror.
2. She and her husband, William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey, founded Lewes Priory but their remains and monuments were lost over the years.
3. Gundrada's tomb slab was found in Isfield Church covering a 16th century burial. It is of Tournai marble and dates from the later 12th century
4. Two lead chests containing the remains of Gundrada and William were found when the priory was excavated. The remains were sealed into new chests but the original ones are, together with the tomb slab, to be seen in the church indicated above
5. Plaster Cast. Room 46A

1. This is a 12th century coffin lid of Tournai marble integral with the flat effigy of a bishop.
2. The head is in higher relief but this is a 14th century replcement and of Purbeck marble.
3. The slab came from Old Sarum, near Salisbury, where Roger was buried and late brought to the new cathedral at Salisbury to where the see was transferred.
4. Roger was a very wordly bishop and held the important secular posts of Lord Chancellor and Chief Justicicar
5. Plaster Cast. Room 46A

York Minster
A cathedral church open to visitors

Archbishop Walter de Grey (1255)

1. The monument is of Purbeck marble.
2. He is robed as a bishop rather than an archbishop
3. Under the effigy is a coffin with a painted effigy on the lid.
4. He was Lord Chancellor under King John
5. He was appointed Archbishop of York under the influence of King John and the Pope but the canons of York rejected his, feeling he was too poorly educated, and elected the brother of the Archbishop of Canterbury (an enemy of the King) instead. Walter eventually paid over £10,000 in papal fees to have his appontment confirmed.
6. Plaster Cast. Room 46A

Church of St Mary and St Barlock, Norbury, Derbyshire
A Parish church

Sir Ralph Fitzherbert (1483) and his wife Elizabeth
1. The original monument is of alabaster. There are other monuments of interest in the church
2. Plaster Cast. Room 46A

Chichester Cathedral, Sussex
A Cathedral Church, open to visitors

Joan de Vere c. 1300 (uncertain)

John Nicholls Raynsford (1746)
White marble and gilded and painted wood
From Lamport with Faxton church
Signed: John Hunt Northampton fecit
Sculpture Room 24
  Sir William Hillman  Kn (1793)
'Of His Majesty's Board of Green Cloth'


Sir John Tyrell Bart (1766 at 40)
Dame Mary (1766 at 31)
Emily Georgiana (1849)
Wife of George William, Earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham
Buried at Ewerby Church, Lincolnshire

Parish of Eastwell and Broughton Alph

Frances Lady Finch (Bell) (1627)
Marble made in England c 1627 by Nicholas Stone the Elder. Frances was the first wife of Sir Heneage Finch and by him  had seven sons and four daughters in fourteen years of marriage, of whom three of the former and one of the latter survived infancy. The monument was intended for both Lady Frances and Sir Heneage, the Latin inscription being left blank so that his date of death could be inserted later: 'He himself...' However Sir Heneage remarried in 1629 and is commenorated by a separate monument. Room 24
Sir Heneage Finch (1631)

Abbaye Royale, Fontevraud l'Abbey, Maine-et-Loire
This is no longer a working abbey of the Order of Fontevraud (or a prison) and is open to the public. It acts as a cultural centre.

King Henry II

1. Although it is not (and cannot be) obvious from examinations of the casts, the original effigy of Isabelle is of wood while the others are of tuffeau, a soft limestone of the Loire Valley, which is used extensively as a building material in the area. Isabelle's effigy is also smaller.
2. In the Abbey church Isabelle lies next to Richard and, although they are clearly labelled, you hear visitors comment and even write on the internet that she is Richard's wife. She is his sister-in-law; his wife is elsewhere. See below.
3. The eagle eyed will spot that Richard holds a scepter on these cast but does not hold such an item on his actual effigy. All the old drawings show him without a scepre so, although it may have been lost before the drawings were executed, he may have not have originally  held a sceptre at all, or, more likely,  held one in his left hand only with the upper part of the shaft  resting on his shoulder, in the manner of the effigies in St Denis, Paris. A sceptre was added for a while during restorations but later removed; and this is what we see here. Incidentally his hands are in rather an awkward position to hold a sceptre, unlike those of Henry.

Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Wife of Henry)

King Richard I (Richard the Lion Heart)

Queen Isabelle of Angoulȇme  (Wife of King John)

L'Épau Abbey, Yré-l'Évȇque, Le Mans, Sarthe
Very much like Fontevraud Abbey but smaller: l'Épau is no longer a working Cistercian Abbey and is open to the puplic. It also acts as a cultural centre.

Queen Berengaria of Navarre (Wife of Richard I)
1. Berengaria died at Le Mans and was buried in the nearby abbey of L'Epau which she herself had founded.
2. She is buried in a vault in the chapter house and the monument has been relocated there over the vault after having spent some years in le Mans Cathedral,  originally at least, for safe keeping.
3. The story of Berengaria's tomb and effigy may be read here.

Rouen Cathedral, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Normandy
This is an active cathedral and open to the public

King Richard I
1. Richard died at Châluz, Haute-Vienne from a cross bow wound suffered while laying seige to the castle. His entrials were buried in the chapel of the castle. There is no medieval monument there but a 20th century one and a peculiar one at that!
2. His body was buried at Fontevraud, as he had willed.
3. His heart was buried at Rouen, again as he had wished. This second effigy, then, covered the heart burial. The fragments of the heart and the casket in which it is held are in the museum but not on display.
4. Note the difference in physical appearance in the two effigies.
5. Note the manner in which he holds the sceptre (apparent in the right photograph but not the one above) and compare this with the Fontevraud effigy.
Originally in the Church of St Pedro Ocaña, near Toledo

Don Garcia de Osono (1502) and his wife, Doña Maria de Perea (1499)

These effigies were removed from the church listed above, when it was declared unsafe in 1906. They are of alabaster and constructed 1799-1505.

Römhild (near Rotermund), Hildburghausen, Thuringia, Germany

Elisabeth von Hehenzollen & Herman VIII Graf von Henneberg

This is painted plaster cast made in 1873 by Jacob Rotermund.  The original is cast bronze by Peter Vischer the Elder based on a drawing by Albrech Dürer. Room 46A

Church of St Sebaldus, Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany

St Sebaldus, the Patron Saint of Nuremberg
The original was designed to hold a silver reliquary housing the remains of St Sebaldus, and cast in bronze by Peter Vischer the Elder in 150-19. The plaster cast was made by Jacob Rotermunt in 1869.
Room 46A

Magdeburg Cathedral, Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Ernst, Duke of Saxony and Archbishop of Magdeburg
The original was cast in bronze at Magdebury by Peter Vischer 1497. The plaster cast was made in Berlin in 1904. Room 46A
Church of San Francesco, Bologna

Tomb of a lector at Bologna University. Identity not known. Made of Istrian stone 1425-1450.
The condition suggests it was set in the wall rather than in the floor.
Room 50a

Either from Church of Maddalena, St Cosma or St Giacomo, Venice
This effigy, of an unknown knight, was removed from one of the churches above, probably at the time of their suppression in the late eighteenth century and then found its way into an English private collection before being donated to the V & A. It represents an unknown knight and was carved 1370-75 in Istrian stone. Effigies of this type, period and place were wall mounted on a sarcophagus and tilted towards the observer so the could been seen. Room 50a

To Be Assigned

Edward Nicholls Bt 1682


All the photographs in this section were taken by Amanda Miller and the Web Master
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