The Northampton tomb at Trinity Hospital

Lisa.Ford | December 11, 2011


Trinity Hospital from the Thames, Greenwich

In October I visited Trinity Hospital, a lovely almshouse managed by the Mercers’ Company, which provides housing with support for Greenwich retirees. It also houses the remains of an early 17th century Howard tomb, that of Henry Howard, earl of Northampton (d. 1614), the founder of Trinity. Northampton is essential to my research, as he commissioned the tomb for Henry Howard, the poet earl of Surrey, his father, which is in St. Michael’s Church in Framlingham, and which is my primary focus.

Northampton’s own tomb was originally in St. Mary in Castro at Dover Castle, but was moved to Trinity and reassembled there by the Mercers’ Company, ca 1696, as the Dover Castle chapel was in disrepair and no longer provided a safe shelter for the tomb. But what you see today is not the same tomb! The original tomb stood 11 feet long by 7 feet wide and 15 feet high in its complete form, but was taken down again ca. 1812 when the Chapel was renovated, and not restored to its original form.

Effigy of Northampton, Trinity Hospital Chapel

Today, the only parts of the original tomb that one sees are the effigy of the Earl, which is set on a modern base, and four statues of the Cardinal Virtues, which stood at the corners of the tomb.

Also at Trinity but not on public view are these remaining fragments of the tomb, three statues of cherubim holding escutcheons of arms. Originally there were four cherubim; they have not stood the test of time as well as the other fragments!

Three cherubim from the Northampton tomb


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