Shireburne Chapel Memorials
The present chapel replaced a previous chapel whose structure was pulled down in 1594. Sir Richard Shireburne of Stonyhurst, (c1523-1594), planned and built the present chapel as a family mausoleum. Though you will see from the dates that it is likely the chapel was not completed until after Richard's death.
Richard intended the Chapel to reflect his family’s status as one of the most wealthy, powerful and prestigious in north-west England. The Shireburnes also remained immovably loyal to their Roman Catholic faith throughout the most dangerous political and religious crises of Tudor and Stuart England. They intended this fidelity, also, to be reflected in the Chapel, although this had to be done more subtly.
All Hallows’ Church and Shireburne Chapel lie in a direct line of sight, almost due east from Stonyhurst (now Stonyhurst College and previously the ancestral home of the Shireburne family), which is a mile and a half away. Stonyhurst Hall, too, no less clearly represents the Shireburnes’ wealth and commitment to Catholicism.
The memorials in the Shireburne Chapel are dedicated to five generations of the Shireburne family, other members of the family are interned in the family vault below the chapel. Also in the chapel is a memorial to Peregrine Widdrington and this demonstrates the family's strong links to the Jacobite cause.
Some of the memorials are classed as outstanding examples of recumbent figures and created by some of the finest craftsmen of the time.
Above: Two views of the alabaster tomb to Sir Richard Shireburne and his first wife Maud
The tomb came from the Burton-on-Trent workshop of Richard and Gabriel Royley (or Roiles), arguably the country's leading craftsmen in this field at that time.
NB. Richard, father of Gabriel , died in 1589.
On the sides of the tomb chest are shields and standing figures - the children of Richard and Maud. Sons are on the South side and daughters on the North side.
There is no mention of Richard's second wife, Isabel, though an inscription on the tomb, since removed, did record that she "erected this tomb according to her husband's mind, at her own charge."
In the memorial pictured above, Richard Shireburne, (born c. 1546/7 and died 1629, aged 82) and the son of Sir Richard, is depicted kneeling at a prayer desk facing his first wife, Catharine (the spelling of whose name varies), daughter of Lord Stourton. She died in 1591. Their children are depicted in panels below. There is no longer any inscription.
There is a wall mounted memorial above the West door to the Chapel. This is to Katherine, the daughter of Richard and Catharine, detailed above. Katherine was born in c1590, shortly before the death of her mother. She married William Pennington on Manchester and died in 1628, aged 38.
The linked altar tombs along the north wall are the work of William Stanton (c1639-1704), of Holborn, London. The recumbent effigies here have been judged to be 'among his most beautiful works. ... The draperies are handled with easy assurance, but are so designed that in spite of their naturalism, they do not detract from the peace of the figures; and the heads are sensitively cut.' (M. Whinney, Sculpture in Britain 1530-1830, 1964, p.64).
The male figures lie with their legs crossed like knights of the 14th century. The four monuments - judged by Pevsner to be among the last of their type before the 19th century - were commissioned by Isabel (second wife of Richard - d.1689) and cost £253, which was paid in 1699.
Richard (d.1689) died in Manchester "in prison for loyalty to his Sovereign [James II]". Therefore he was among the founders of Jacobitism.
Above, is a detailed view of two of the linked tombs. These are the tombs of Richard (the fourth of that name) and his wife Isabel. This image demonstrates the detailed depiction of the clothing.
To the left of the altar in the Chapel there is a wall-mounted memorial to Sir Nicholas Shireburne, Bart., son of the fourth Richard Shireburne and younger brother of the fifth. Sir Nicholas was born in 1658 and died 16 December 1717. His wife, Lady Katharine Shireburne (nee Charlton) died in 1727/8.
On the Memorial there is a long inscription provided by their daughter Mary, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and the last of the Shireburne line; she also “set up” the “monument”. The inscription includes a statement that their daughter “designs to be interred” in the vault with her parents. All three are interred in the vault.
The wall mounted memorial above (on the West wall of the Shireburne Chapel) is to Richard Francis Shireburne, who died in 1702, aged nine. He was the only son of Sir Nicholas Shireburn and died, reputably, from eating poison berries. His father paid £160 for this memorial to his only male heir.
....'the child who is commemorated starts back in horror from the skull at his feet'. (Whinney, op. cit., p.64).
The final memorial which is mounted on the wall to the right of the Chapel altar, is shown above and is to Peregrine Widdrington, youngest brother of William, Lord Widdrington. He was born in 1692 and died in February 1748. This memorial was also set up by Mary, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk who, on his death, brought Peregrine's body to Stonyhurst to be buried ion the Shireburne Chapel. His coffin lies beside hers in the vault.
She is also wrote the Inscription on the Memorial, which reads:
In this Vault lies the body of the Hon. PEREGRIN WIDDRINGTON
The Hon.ble Peregrin Widdrington was Youngest Brother of WILLIAM LORD WIDDRINGTON who Dyed April the 17th 1743. This PEREGRIN was a man of the strictest Friendship and Honour with all the good Qualities that accomplish a fine Gentleman, he was of so amiable a disposition and so ingageing (sic) [engaging] that He was belov’d and esteem’d by by all who had the honour and happiness of his Aquaintance, being ever ready to oblige and to act the Friendly part on all occasions Firm and Steadfast in all his Principles which was delicately fine & Good as could be wish’d in any Man, he was both sincere and agreable (sic) in Life and Conversation.
He was born May the 2nd 1692, and dyed February the 4th 1748/9.
he was with his Brother in the Preston affair 1715, whear he lost his Fortune with his health by a long confinement in Prison.
This Monument was set up by the Dowager Duches (sic) of Norfolk in memory of the Hon.ble PEREGRIN WIDDRINGTON