One of the glories of the St Laurence church are the Washbourne tombs. One originally lay within the altar rails and was moved at the 1863 Restoration to the west end of the church. Commemorating John Washbourne who died in 1615, it would appear to also contain his wife, Alice, whose effigy lies next to his. But his widow re-married and moved to Pytchley, Leicestershire. She took with her a large black marble inscription that had been part of the memorial. It remains to this day in Pytchley church!
The magnificent double tomb within the chancel belongs to John Washbourne, and his two wives, Mary Savage and Eleanor Lygon and, beneath him, his father Anthony.
The original inscription was cut short when the last renovation took place. In 1744 John Moulding recorded it as:
This monument was erected by John Washbourne Esquire in pious memory of his father Anthony Washbourne Esquire, as also of himself and his two wives. The 1st Mary daughter of Francis Savage of Elmley Castle Esq: the 2nd Eleanor, the daughter of Richard Lygon of Madresfield Esq, descended from one of the co-heiresses of the Lord Beauchamp of Powick, the said John Washbourne being at the time of this inscription of the age 84 years: within which time he has been 60 years in the Commission of the Peace and twice High Sheriff of this County and Deputy Lieutenant to 4 Lords Presidents of the Principality of Wales & Marches of the same, the Lord Eure, the Lord Gerard, William Earl of Northampton and John, Earl of Bridgwater, now living anno domini 1632.
Descriptions of the lost memorials in the church
We are fortunate to have had various enthusiastic antiquarians visit the church at various times over the years.
Thomas Habington included a fulsome description of the interior whilst compiling his Notes on the History in the first quarter of the 17th century.
John Moulding of Cockshoot in 1744 also described the interior, borrowing heavily on Habington’s notes, which at the time were unpublished, so Moulding must have had access to his manuscript. He also added notable tombs that had been erected in the intervening years.
And finally Peter Prattinton in 1810 not only left a delightful sketch of the exterior but also listed memorials of the 18th century.
Habington on the lost Washbourne tombs to which Moulding added notes
“In the North side of the chancel is an ancient tomb of alabaster on the ground. Upon it was delineated a man armed, all but his head, under which lyeth his helmet with a wreath and thereon a flame of fire; at his feet a lion.
On his right hand his wife with a little dog at her feet. Between them the Washbourne’s arms impaling a chevron.
The inscription on it (but round the extremities of the stone)
Hic jacunt Corpora Johannis Washbourne .... Armigeri .... & Margeriae Powere uxoris sua. Necnon et Elizabeth uxoris ....* ... ... de Bradley in Com. Derbia qui obiit 13 Mai 1454
[Here lie the bodies of John Washbourne …. Knight …. & Margery Power (le Poer) his wife. And also Elizabeth, wife ……. …. Of Bradley in Derbyshire who died 13th May 1454]
This tomb sheweth the match of Washborn with Poher’s co-heiress, which brought the name of Washbourne first into Wichenford.”
“On the south side of the chancel there is another monument of alabaster on the ground also in the same Fashion, a man armed as before with the wife on the right hand; the arms much defaced but still so discernable as to shew the arms of the Washbournes
[note in margin: It is now removed more to the north side and nearer to the Communion Rails to make room for a large slate stone [inserted above: for a person] of not great signification. Tis pity the remove was suffered.]
Hic iacet Johannies Washborne Armr filius et Hieres Normanni Washborne Armigeri, qui quidem filius obiit die mensis AD ****
[Here lies John Washbourne knight, son and heir of Norman Washbourne knight, which son died day month AD ****]
[note in margin: I take this gentleman to be the Mr Washbourne who was Sheriff of Worcestershire 20 R 2 ano 1397 – Fuller’s Worthies p. 178 and father to the John Washbourne above.]
NB The first and true place of this alabaster stone was on the south side of the chancel, near the chancel door: This situation occasioned the inscription round it, with the effigies and arms on it, to be sooner worn out and obliterated by frequent treading, than that other on the north side. The above inscription was also on the verge of it.”
Note: An alabaster slab was discovered in the vicarage garden in the 1890s. It was used to make a credence which can be seen in the north window of the chancel. It may well be part of the above tomb.
Moulding also recorded the following:
“Within the communion rails there is a stone over
Edmund Evett who died 27 March 1661
The Evetts came from Cotheridge: they lived at Woodhall and at Kenswick Manor. In the 17th century Edmund lived at Bury End Town.
Another stone records
The Honourable Elizabeth Malden who died 1683”
She was Elizabeth Child, 1st married to John Washbourne who died in 1651 at the Battle of Worcester. She married 2nd Joseph Malden, Wichenford’s puritan vicar.