Alfred Deller CBE (1912-1979)


Alfred Deller was born in Margate and sang in the choir of Canterbury Cathedral from 1940 to 1947. He is described as a counter-tenor singer of unique quality and he went on to found the Stour Music Festival in 1963.


The wall tablet in the south choir aisle is the work of David Kindersley of Cambridge. It is made of blue-grey Delabole Slate, a good quality slate of Upper Devonian age from North Cornwall. The slate was once a mudstone that was deposited on a sea bed some 360 million years ago. The stone later underwent metamorphism and the numerous platey mica minerals were squeezed into parallel bands to form a well-defined cleavage.  Consequently the rock can easily be split into thin slices.


Slate has been produced from a number of quarries in the vicinity of Delabole for over 1,000 years. More recently the large Delabole Quarry has incorporated several smaller workings and the open pit is now over 130 metres deep.  Quarrying continues to this day where slate is split and dressed on site. Finished stone products from the quarry include roofing tiles, flooring stone and memorial headstones.


Walter Reynolds (died-1327)


Archbishop of Canterbury (1313-1327)


Walter Reynolds started life from humble surroundings at Windsor as the son of a tradesman.  He became chaplain to King Edward I and, was later appointed preceptor to his son, who was crowned King Edward II. Reynolds became Treasurer of England in 1307. He was a prebend of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and later promoted to the bishopric of Worcester in 1308, at the king's request. He was installed as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1314, the year following his appointment.


He died a few months after officiating at the Coronation of Edward III. He was buried in the south wall, beneath a window. The effigy, now sadly in poor condition, is carved from Caen Stone, as is the base. The large single slab on which the effigy lies is of Purbeck Marble. Traces of paintwork have been identified on the tomb and effigy and the monument would once have been colourful and resplendent with polychromy.


Henry Eastry (c.1239-1331)


Prior of Canterbury Cathedral (1285-1331) – for more click here


The tomb of Prior Eastry, now much mutilated, was sited on the south choir wall beneath a window and is the only extant freestanding tomb commemorating a prior within the cathedral. In Christopher Wilson’s words it is a tomb that “commemorates a head of wholly exceptional calibre and was itself unmatched by any of his successors’ monuments.” Nevertheless, the monument does appear to be uncomfortably squeezed into its given space. Wilson also considers the tomb to be of higher quality than that of Archbishop Reynolds under whom Eastry served and whose tomb he lies immediately eastwards of.

Prior Eastry’s tomb chest appears to be made from Caen Stone upon which lies an effigy also seemingly of Caen Stone. The condition of the monument makes identification problematic, but from what can be seen one would be hard pressed to consider an alternative material. The effigy is rendered naturalistically showing a human figure in advanced years. Two canted pinnacles adorn the monument, one to either side, rich in ogee arches and other architectural detailing. The niches may have contained weepers, while the table top retains evidence of a stone screen that once faced the monument.



Thomas Neville (high upon south wall) (c1548 – 1615)


Dean of Canterbury Cathedral (1597 – 1615) - for more click here


The memorial was planned and executed nearly two decades before Neville’s death. It was originally sited in the Brenchley Chantry Chapel, on the south side of the nave, which was to be a place of burial for Thomas and other members of his family. It was removed to the Lady Chapel when the chapel was demolished at the end of the eighteenth century and later relocated to its present position in 1925.

The Dean is on the left kneeling at a reading desk and his brother Alexander on the right in the "fame devout posture". Originally the monument had a canopy supported by three Corinthian columns, as described by Duncombe in 1783. The effigies are carved from alabaster. Paint has been applied to parts of the monument. Unfortunately the location does not allow a close look at the "black stone" used for the inscription and other decorative features. The Neville motto Ne vile velis (Incline to nothing base) is inscribed beneath the family coat of arms.



John Kemp (1380-1454)


Archbishop of Canterbury (1452-1454) – for more click here


John Kemp (or Kempe) died near Lambeth in 1454. The on-line Catholic Encyclopedia summarises his life thus: “More statesman than bishop, he was accused with reason of neglecting his dioceses, but his private life was distinguished by wisdom, learning and uprightness.”


His tomb chest has been accommodated into the choir screen by dismantling the south entrance to the choir and repositioning the doorway further to the west. His tomb is sited opposite the tomb of his patron and close friend Archbishop Chichele.


Archbishop Kemp’s tomb chest is a simple panelled affair with modest decoration, constructed from panels of Purbeck Marble. It is now sadly lacking an effigy. Overhead is an elaborate canopy with three tall pinnacles surmounted by an elaborate wooden tester (an upper canopy) supported by four shafts. The Friends of Canterbury Cathedral funded a restoration of the tomb in 1947/48. There were 277 carved replacement pieces inserted into the canopy to create a whole. The work was carried out by Harold Board of Wandsworth. The original colour and gilding had been removed some time ago and the canopy had been painted in what was described by Professor Tristram as “stone colour”. Under his supervision the canopy was “enhanced” with gold and colour as part of the restoration.


John Stratford (c.1275-1348)


Archbishop of Canterbury (1338-1348) - for more click here


In June 1348 John Stratford fell ill while at Maidstone. He died two months later at his manor in Sussex and was later buried in his cathedral on 9th September. His tomb monument has been slotted into the choir screen on the south side of the choir, as requested in his will, but somewhat awkwardly. The tomb is thought to have been designed by William Ramsey, King Edward III’s master mason.


Sadly, the tomb has been badly vandalised by iconoclasts, but the former splendour of the monument can still be glimpsed. The tomb is built from panels of Purbeck Marble. The badly damaged effigy is of alabaster (link to Stone page) and may represent the earliest known effigy made from this material. Alabaster has also been used for ornamentation around the tomb with some of the stone ornament reinstated during the restoration of 1906. Some medieval detail still survives, in particular note the small finely carved animals positioned as corbel heads beneath the truncated gothic arches in the tomb’s south side. The delicate canopy and side panels are of Caen Stone.



Simon Sudbury (1316-1381)


Archbishop of Canterbury (1375-1381) – for more click here


Simon Sudbury met an ignominious end in London during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 when he was decapitated. His headless corpse was later interred within a large tomb in Canterbury Cathedral, positioned in the choir screen, close to the High Altar. The exulted position of the tomb perhaps reflected the fourteenth century perception of Simon Sudbury as a holy martyr.  The table tomb once supported an effigy and was described in John Leland's Itinerary (c. 1538–1543) as, "Symon Suthebyri lyith in the highe tumbe of coper and gilte ..."; the copper figure was no doubt removed and melted down. The depression on the west side of the marble top would appear to be that for the stone cushion on which the head of the effigy lay. The table tomb is composed of panels of Purbeck Marble and has five side niches said to be for private prayer, perhaps indicating that the tomb also served as a shrine. The "ceiling" of each niche is vaulted in Caen Stone. Viewed from the north the tomb can be seen to be less elaborate and clearly it was designed to be viewed from the south choir aisle. The low plinth on which the tomb stands is composed of five slabs of Purbeck Marble, the central stone containing several prominent white shells of the freshwater mussel Unio. Above the tomb is a slightly damaged canopy carved from Caen Stone.






Memorial and Fittings stones in South Choir Aisle



> STONES INDEX FEATURES STYLES BIBLIOGRAPHY deller reynolds-1 eastry-2 nevil-1 kemp-1 stratford-2 sudbury-1

©  Geoff Downer  2019


click to enlarge and read captions