Memorials in the Chancel

In the floor, near the vestry door, are five black ledger slabs, which were re-set here from various parts of the church at the 1873 restoration. They commemorate:

  1. Thomasin Dowsing (+1695), widow of Edward Davies of Rendham. (Originally in the south aisle)
  2. Peter Lawes (+1770) son of a vicar of Hales, Norfolk. Latin inscription and fine coat of arms. (Originally in the south aisle)
  3. John Dawson (+1721). (Originally near the font)
  4. Susanna (+1833), widow of the Revd Thomas Brown and mother of the Revd Lancelot R Brown (rector here).
  5. The Revd Gilbert Collier, rector 1707 until his death in 1716.

David Elisha Davy in the early 1800s recorded at least 12 ledger slabs (including the five above) in the floors of the church, also the indent for a brass inscription in the nave. This was one of two such inscriptions which were removed in 1644 by order of the Puritan William Dowsing who regarded their inscriptions as ‘superstitious’, probably because they asked for prayers for the deceased person.

The wall memorials in St John’s are rather special because, in addition to Saxmundham’s very own Thomas Thurlow, other sculptors of national repute are represented here. Those in the chancel commemorate:

  1. Charles Long (+1812) and his two infant sons, Charles and Dudley. A large and very poignant weeping putto sits on a sarcophagus, backed by a dark obelisk, on this memorial, by the renowned sculptor, Joseph Nollekens.
  2. Susanna Mayhew of Fairfield House (+1853) and Thomas (+1861) have a plaque by Thomas Thurlow, displaying their coat of arms and a dove with an olive-branch.
  3. The profiled head of the Rt Hon Sir Charles Long MP, Baron Farnborough (+1838), adorns his memorial, by the distinguished Sir Richard Westmacott. He is actually buried with his wife Amelia in her home churchyard at Wormley, Herts, where Westmacott created a memorial to them both in St Lawrence’s Church.
  4. The Revd William Brown, rector, whose death in 1826 was the result of a fall from his horse. The effusive inscription was composed by the Revd John Mitford, rector of Benhall and the monument, which was made in the town, cost £50.
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