Hales, James (biog)

This striking memorial in alabaster on the north wall of the nave relates to four members of the influential Hales family in Kent.

What to see:

  • Sir James Hales (grandfather of Sir James Hales mentioned below) drowned himself in the River Stour in 1555 in old age following imprisonment and torture in the Fleet prison – the painting backdrop to the central panel of the memorial provides an overview of the Stour at Thannington where this took place (writers have disputed whether the square towered church is St Mildred’s or Thannington)
  • the grandson, another Sir James Hales, died at sea following the attack on Cadiz in 1589, a reprisal for the Spanish Armada attack the year before – he is shown here as an armed figure being lowered into the water (Image 2 – the only example of such a scene in English cathedrals)
  • Alice (Image 3) the wife of the grandson kneels at a priedieu or prayer desk in front of (unfortunately obscuring the painted overview of the Stour)
  • Cheyney Hales, son of the above, survived his father by only 7 years – he appears in the lowest panel of the memorial as a young Elizabethan gallant
  • Note that Alice and Cheyney face west (those at prayer in church memorials normally face east) but there is evidence that the entire memorial was once located in St Michael’s chapel

Sources:  see standard cathedral sources