Sunday, October 28, 2012

Late Middle Ages Tombstones

The Chapter house at the priory contains some interesting gravestones relating to the late Medieval period. The most important of which is that of Thomas Rayneford, Prior of Birkenhead. The original inscription (fig1.) reads 'Hic jacet Thomas Rayneford quondam bonus prior huis loci qui obiit viiio Maii anno domini mmo cccclxxiiio cuis anime propicietur Deus' meaning: Here lieth Thomas Rayneford a former worthy prior of this house who died on the 8th of May in the year of our Lord 1473, may God be gracious to his soul!.


In 1818 the stone was removed from its original resting place and inserted into the outside wall of the chapter house, as can be seen in the engraving in (fig.2). The stone was re-sited again in 1896 and finally in 1913 is was set in the Sanctuary of the Chapter House to the right of the alter. Another tombstone of a similar period can be seen to the side of the priors stone (fig.3) this stone is without text, just the ancient carved patterns giving a glimpse into its true meaning.

In the North wall of the Chapter house is another fifteenth century five-light window which is now filled with old stained glass. The other window at the west end of the north wall was originally Norman, but was changed to a pointed arch doorway, then in 1860 was filled with an old fourteenth century window. An ancient tombstone from the priory graveyard was used for its lintel on the inside, its inscription now hidden from our sight.(fig.4.)

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