By Jean Sheehan

St. Mary’s church, Redgrave, is well known for the monuments contained within the church. One of the most important is to Sir Nicholas Bacon and his wife, formerly Anne Butts. The black marble table top tomb was designed in 1616 by Bernard Jansenn, the king’s engineer. The recumbent effigies of the couple carved in white marble were added in 1624 when Sir Nicholas died. They were commissioned by his son Edmund and made by Nicholas Stone, one of the most important stone mason’s of his day, at a cost of £200. They show the baronet wearing plate armour, and his wife wearing the dress of the period with a ruff around her neck. This Sir Nicholas was the son of the Lord Keeper to Queen Elizabeth, who was the first Sir Nicholas Bacon. He was was buried in St. Paul’s cathedral, with his two wives. Unfortunately most of his tomb was destroyed in the Great Fire of London and only his torso survives, now in the crypt.

In the sanctuary floor is one of the most perfect post reformation brasses in England. This was originally on a table top tomb for Mrs Anne Butts, the mother-in-law of Sir Nicholas Bacon, who died in 1609.

Sir Edmund Bacon had a monument erected to his wife in an aisle he had built on the north side of the chancel. He requested in his will of 1648 that after his death he should be buried in the same vault, and that the passageway to the vault should be bricked up after his burial. This vault is probably under the present vestry. He also requested that no funeral pompe should be bestowed at his funeral. Sir Edmund left £30 to the ‘Towne of Redgrave’ for the cleaning and maintenance of the tomb of his wife and the ‘Isle’ in which it was built, which sadly is no longer there.

The north wall of the chancel has a mural tablet erected by Sir Edmund Bacon in 1660 in memory of eight of his children. On the opposite wall is another mural monument erected to the sons and daughters of Edmund and Elizabeth Bacon erected in 1683.

A new vault for the Bacon family was made, and a chapel to the Bacon family in the north west corner of the north aisle was also fitted out by Nicholas Stone. This contained two alcoves and paving in black and white marble, with a raised lozenge in the paving with a black marble cross on it. On the walls in this chapel are several monuments to members of the Bacon family. One of these is for Elizabeth, the relict of Sir Edmund Bacon, who died in 1690. The tablet says she had 6 sons and 10 daughters of whom only 4 daughters survived to the state of marriage. The chapel was originally enclosed.

When David Elisha Davey made his notes after visiting the church in 1831, he mentioned that when the church of All Saints in Garboldisham became dilapidated the bodies of the Bacons buried there were transferred to the vault of the Bacon family in Redgrave Church in 1734.

Three hatchments of the Bacon family remain in the church which would have hung on the façade of Redgrave Hall on the decease of the relevant person for six months and then transferred to the parish church. They show the coat of arms and by the colour of the background the marital status and gender of the deceased, and the family motto. The hatchments in the church are for Sir Edmund Bacon, the 4th Baronet who died in 1685, another Sir Edmund, the 5th Baronet who died in 1755, and another one representing one of the ladies of the family. These hatchments were placed on the walls of the north aisle, but at the moment only one of these is still hanging there, the other two are in need of attention.

© Jean Sheehan, Redgrave Parish Magazine, March 2006.

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