Fulke Greville's mysterious ‘monument without a tombe’
The Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick. The small chapter house has seats for 8 canons and the Dean of St Mary's, but it is hard to see the canopied seats properly because the chamber is filled almost to the ceiling by the monument built by Sir Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke. The monument is quite plain, with a large black marble sarcophagus and pillars. It is unusually aligned North/South.
Extracts from The Master of Shakespeare
Stratfordian Profile 8
In one of the strangest references in the First Folio poem, Jonson referred to his friend as ‘a Monument without a tombe’. As [John] Michell pointed out; the line, ‘if taken literally, implies that the author was still alive in 1623’. Literal interpretation of Jonson’s words dictates the next line of the profile: The man of Stratford had a monument without a tomb
Greville Profile 8
It is an extraordinary fact that in 1623, the Recorder of Stratford-upon-Avon did have a ‘monument without a tomb’. Greville had built this ‘monument’ (consisting of a huge black marble ‘double bed’) in St Mary’s Church, Warwick, and it has been called ‘a document’ and ‘a history’. The only inscription reads: ‘Folk Grevill, Servant to Queene Elizabeth, Concellor to King James, and Frend to Sir Philip Sidney. Trophaeum Peccati’. It is generally agreed to represent ‘a double monument’ to Greville and his beloved friend, Sir Philip Sidney. Greville had originally planned to ‘immortalize’ the legendry friendship between himself and Sidney in ‘a magnificent tomb in St Paul’s to house Sidney’s body and his own’. His ‘mysterious monument’ in St Mary’s does not contain a tomb. Greville is buried in the family vault in the room beneath it. Greville fits the First Folio profile: Greville had a monument without a tomb.
Fulke Greville’s monument ‘robbed out’ in 1901
An endoscopy on Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke’s monument was carried out by a leading expert in the field, Guy Edwards of Cliveden Conservation of Maidenhead. The endoscopy was carried out on the 29th of April 2010, in the presence of church officials and distinguished experts. It was discovered that the monument had been ‘robbed out’ in 1901 and filled with rubble. It is unknown what happened to the contents. What a pity for posterity! The conclusions of Cliveden’s report dated the 4th of May, 2010 were:
The investigations and detailed observations made were conclusive of the following facts:
The sarcophagus has been previously tampered with as evidenced by the broken marble moulding under the marble lid which itself appeared to be slightly out of line.
There was no mortar bonding the sarcophagus lid to the marble sides. The cavity within the sarcophagus was filled with sandstone rubble loosely bound with lime mortar.
There was evidence of repair to the marble cladding of the columns at the southern end of the monument. This cladding would have had to have been removed if the sarcophagus lid had been slid off longitudinally. There was further damage to the marble cladding of the central columns immediately above the sarcophagus lid.
That the lid was lifted or ‘slid along’ in the summer or autumn of 1901 is proved by scientific analysis of samples of plaster/cement taken from the sarcophagus and date tested. The samples have been dated to circa 1900 as it contains Portland cement. Portland cement was developed in the early part of the nineteenth century.
In addition, the two entrance facing columns of the monument have been sawn out and then replaced at some point. This may have been done to see if the columns were hollow. Removing them also made it possible to slide the lid along the top of the body of the sarcophagus.
Repairs to Fulke Greville’s monument were discussed by Lord Warwick and the PCC of St Mary’s Church, Warwick, between 1900 and 1901. Entries in the Vestry Book from those dates show that there were meetings and discussions between the PCC and the Earl of Warwick regarding pressing repairs to the Chapter House, which were believed were the earl’s responsibility under the terms of the grant of 1618.
Lord Warwick expressed himself less than keen to spend money on these repairs and raised the question of ownership of the Chapter House. Remarkably, the Vicar was required to consult ‘the Trustee of Henry’s VIII’s Estate’, who in turn sought legal advice. Lord Warwick was not required to pay for the roof or other repairs. However he exercised his right to ‘renovate’ his family’s famous monument.
Having ‘repaired’ the monument, he then gave up all rights to it on the condition that the monument would never be opened again. The agreement between the Church and Lord Warwick is recorded on a brass plaque on the wall by the sarcophagus.
In 1901, under normal circumstances, repairs to any common grave stone or funerary monument would have required a faculty but no such faculty was ever applied for. It is clear from the correspondence that the PCC felt that they did not wish to upset Lord Warwick because he was not only the patron of their church and the ‘owner’ of the family ‘tomb’, but he was also the Deputy-Grand Master of All the English Freemasons and sole representative in England of all the German Masonic Lodges. It was Lord Warwick who had arranged for and had dedicated the Masonic Pulpit in St Mary’s Church in 1897 dedicated to ‘The Great Architect of the Universe’ (the only Masonic pulpit ever placed in an Anglican Church).
It is clear that some ‘deal’ was then made to ‘accommodate’ Lord Warwick and he was allowed, without any faculty, to instruct his castle mason to saw out the two columns on the front of the monument in order to slide the lid out. It is also clear that Elliot would be allowed to ‘remove for repair’ anything he found. On the 21st of May, 1901, H. G. Godfrey-Payton, of the Warwick Castle Estate Office, wrote to S. W. Cooke Esq. (an officer of the church) that:
It will be necessary for our contractor, Elliot to have access to the Chapter House for the purpose of removing for repair, and re-instating portions of the tomb.
Elliot opened the monument shortly afterwards, removed the contents and filled the sarcophagus with rubble.
Detail of Fulke Greville’s ‘Rose’ sword now in the Mary Magdalene Chapel in Warwick Castle
The ‘Rosicrucan’ Sword which lay on the monument (now in Warwick Castle), identified by the V & A as an early 17th century ‘Robe sword’.