Two Recliners

Bath Abbey, May 2017.

I am partial to reclining effigies like the Fettiplaces and this is a cracker in the South Transept of Bath Abbey. I saw it yesterday.

She is Jane Waller, wife of Sir William Waller. They had two children, both depicted but my picture only shows one, looking distinctly bored sitting on an uncomfortable chair for eternity. Jane, on the other hand, reclines on a plump, embroidered pillow looking affectionately at her husband. Talking of hands you might notice that he is deficient in that department. He fought gallantly in the Venetian army, in the Thirty Year’s War and the Civil War as a Roundhead. (Digression; at Castle Park and probably every other prep school we were either Roundheads or Cavaliers.)

However, he did not lose a limb. Jane died in 1633, probably in childbirth and he erected this vainglorious monument. Another digress – I have observed that they who pay for these memorials put their own names in big lights. Well, Sir William did just that in this memorial to his wife. However, he came a cropper in the Civil War and after losing the Battle of Lansdowne the Royalists took Bath and used the abbey as a hospital. Rather meanly they chopped off his sword arm from his effigy so he could not raise it against them again.

Above the monument there is this inscription on the left and poignantly on the right there is a blank panel where he expected to be commemorated. However, he long outlived Jane dying aged 71 having remarried twice. He was buried in London.

“Sole issue of a matchlesse paire
Both of their state and vertues heire
In graces great, in stature small
As full of spirit as voyd of gall
Cheerfully grave bounteously close
Holy without vainglorious showes;
Happy and yet from envy free;
Learn’d without pride, witty yet wise
Reader this riddle read with mee.
Here the good Lady Waller lyes.”

My picture seems to be in focus, surprising after lunch at a Greek restaurant where ouzo, retsina and seven star Metaxa were liberally served and then, as a freebie, a cranberry and ouzo shot.