Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Heathfield Memorial: Once despised?

Excerpt from " A guide to St Andrew's Church, Buckland Monachorum"

"Behind the chapel altar, and now rather difficult to see, is a huge monument, once despised, but now recognised as an outstanding example of the work of John Bacon, the 18th Century artist whose monuments also appear in Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral. The subject of this particular monument is General Elliott, who successfully defended Gibraltar during the long siege by Spain, from 1770 to 1783. As Baron Heathfield he is buried at Heathfield in Sussex. He had married Lady Anne Drake, and their son inherited the Buckland Abbey estates when the last surviving male of the Drakes died childless. The monument to Francis August Elliott, second Baron Heathfield which was designed by John Bacon, Junior is to be seen on the wall adjacent, next to that of Francis Henry Drake, whose estates he inherited.

At a time when this country's fortunes were at a very low ebb, General Elliott's defence of Gibraltar became a symbol of steadiness, courage and endurance. The amazing details depicted on his memorial well repay careful scrutiny. In order to position the memorial, a door and a window of the chapel had to be blocked up and their outline can be seen from outside. The faculty was granted on condition that a new door on the south wall was made. This little door is still there, but is not used nowadays."

Why was the memorial "once despised"? Was it because of the structural changes that were made to the chapel in order for it to be installed? Was it that the subject matter, miltary defense/war, was deemed inappropriate for the house of God?

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