Have you seen…?

Lisa.Ford | May 8, 2013


The coronet in its current place on the Surrey Tomb at Framlingham.

The coronet in its current place on the Surrey Tomb at Framlingham.

The most intriguing piece of iconography I have encountered in my study of the Surrey tomb is the coronet that rests next to the Earl’s left knee.  As I have delved into its meaning, it has become one of those eternally expanding queries that one often runs up against in the course of historical research.  Received wisdom is that the coronet sits next to the Earl’s knee, rather than on his head where one typically finds it on tombs of this type, as a marker of his execution and degradation from his earldom. A source for that notion has proven elusive. Queries to the College of Arms and members of the Church Monuments Society have produced fascinating discussion but no definitive answers, and to further complicate things, images of the tomb over the four centuries of its existence, including photographs, indicate that the coronet has not always been in that same spot, and indeed has been completely absent from the tomb at times.  I have begun to look round for other examples of coronets not resting on the heads of the effigies or tomb sculptures to which they belong, particularly if the coronet in question possibly bears the same interpretation. The Church Monuments Society members helpfully directed me to examples such as that of the 1st Earl of Coventry at St. Mary, Elmley, where the coronet rests near or next the owner, but so far I have discovered no other example of such a symbol on the effigial monument of an executed traitor. Have you seen such a representation?

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