Thursday, March 7, 2024

A Memorial to an Archbishop

In a notable contrast (in two different ways, better and worse) to the memorial to Archdeacon John Eyre we saw in our last post, today we are going to see the more impressive but also inferior (heraldically), memorial to one of York Minster's Archbishops.

This is the tomb of Richard Sterne (ca.1596-1683), Archbishop of York 1664-1683. He, too, has his own article on Wikipedia, at

As you can see from both the reclining figure of the Archbishop, the drapes above him, and the putti on each side, as well as the large and complex inscription (immediately below) to him, it far exceeds the rather simple memorial to Archdeacon John Eyre.

But this is where the comparison with the Archdeacon's memorial falters. While Archdeacon John Eyre's monument has a beautifully carved coat of arms in deep relief on it, the arms at the top of the Archbishop's monument are only painted onto the bare stone.

The arms are blazoned: Gules two keys in saltire wards upwards argent in chief a Royal crown or (See of York Modern), impaling Or a chevron between three crosses flory (sometimes crosses crosslet or crosses paty) sable (Sterne).

It seems a shame, at least to me, that with all of the beautiful stone carving that went into the creation of this monument -- I mean, just look at the carving that covers the Archbishop's mitre! -- that they couldn't have done better by the coat of arms than simply painting them onto the smooth surface of the stone here. It's better than leaving a blank cartouche where the arms should be, of course, but still, would it really have taken that much more work/time/money to carve the arms, as was done on the memorial to Archdeacon Eyre?

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