Visit to Sheffield Cathedral

Kirsten Claiden-Yardley | January 29, 2012

I spend a lot of time reading books. Or in an archive looking at documents. Or at home looking at documents that have been digitised and put online. Of course that is all part of being a historian and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But it is still fun when I have the chance to get out and make use of sources that aren’t in an archive or on a computer. On this project, I have the chance to visit the various Tudor noble tombs that are located in parish churches scattered across the country and which provide a context for the Howard tombs at Framlingham.

Shrewsbury Chapel, Sheffield Cathedral

The Shrewsbury Chapel

The latest tomb that I have been to visit is that of George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury which is in the Shrewsbury Chapel in Sheffield Cathedral. Originally the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, Sheffield Cathedral is an unusual building blending late medieval, Victorian, 1930s and 1960s architecture. The Shrewsbury Chapel was founded as a chantry chapel by George Talbot and contains his tomb plus that of his grandson the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. It passed into the hands of the Howard family and was an anomalous, private Catholic chapel until 1933 when the Duke of Norfolk handed it over to the Cathedral.

The tomb of George Talbot is fairly typical of English noble monuments in Henry VIII’s reign – a tomb chest supporting effigies of the Earl and his two wives set under a beautifully carved arch. The tomb itself is very weatherworn in places and only a couple of the brass heraldic shields survive. The alabaster effigies, however, are in a much better state and are absolutely beautiful. The detail of the carving is incredible right down to the veins in their hands and the tiny Talbot dog on the Earl’s ring. The Talbot dog appears on both tombs and carved into the surrounding architecture, a constant reminder of the family identity of the individuals buried there.

My thanks have to go to the Friend of Sheffield Cathedral representative who took the time to outline the history of the cathedral and who allowed me closer access to the Shrewsbury tombs. I’m back in libraries at the moment researching funerals but more on that later…

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