Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Troublesome disguises: the Goddard monument at East Woodhay Church

Over to this slightly remote church (for the area) last night
at East Woodhay, justly rated for its acoustics and the total quiet outside, to listen to Stile Antico perform this concert
of Shakespearean or Shakespeare-inspired music. No plans, apparently, to release a CD, which I was very sorry to hear. Byrd's 'Tristitia et anxietas' was new to me, and overwhelming. They must at some time (surely) release Nico Muhly's 'Gentle sleep', a setting of words - snatches of text- from Henry V (IV i), a clever reduction of Henry's self-serving orotundities into something moving, with wonderful writing for high soprano and bass.

But the surprise in the church was this memorial to the left of the altar:

The inscriptions tell you all I know:

"Near this place lies the body of Edward GODDARD Esq, son of Wm GODDARD Esq, late of this parish, by Elizabeth his wife who was the daughter of John D’OYLE Esq, an ancient and honourable family in the county of Oxford. He married Elizabeth the daughter of Edward GODDARD Esquire of Ogbourne St Andrews in the County
of Wilts, by whom he had no issue.
He was a person of sober life and conversation, constant in his devotions both publick and private, whom neither the pleasures of the age did lead into excess, nor the vices corrupt.
By his last will he testified his respect for the House of God both in this parish and in that of his Manor of Castle Eaton in the County of Wilts in both of which parishes the poor also will receive lasting tokens of his charity
He died the 7th day of October 1724 aged 65.

Elizabeth GODDARD, relict of Edward GODDARD Esq, a pious and charitable lady, by her last will left one hundred pounds, the interest whereof to be layd out by the Minister and Church Wardens in Linen for the poor of this parish.
With this money and twenty pounds added were purchased lands in Ashmansworth viz one toft and eight acres of bond land in the fields there and Redland Coppice and lands in Privet Field, Wm RIME, Tennant in Trust, for the uses aforesaid.

She died the 30th day of September 1732 aged 72."

The couple must have been related, outside the regulations about consanguinity, a Hampshire Goddard marrying a Wiltshire one. Their full-length figures are slightly smaller than life-size, but so raised up as to suggest the grand manner. 

Edward and Elizabeth are a Gainsborough couple before Gainsborough; squirearchy out of Fielding or Hogarth. As the inscription tells us, Edward married Elizabeth "by whom he had no issue", so the memorial lacks the usual rising tide of offspring. To validate themselves, Edward has his sword and books:

He looks out into the world. Elizabeth is given no extra attributes: she is just herself (except that she looks at her husband, so that in some senses he validates her). But she is striking, erect and proud, rising from her drapery like an English Minerva:

The eyes, undrilled, make her remote. I'm interested in the contrast of their clothes: hers, tempestuous, make his look geometrical. The sculptor gave full detail:

I suggested 'Minerva', but further reflection might suggest that these attires, these 'troublesome disguises which we wear' cast him as reason, her as passion. He has her (however), safely corralled off at the church's east end.

I liked the self-approval, the complacency: they were no doubt charitable and pious, but they loom over the altar in proprietorial fashion. "He testified his respect for the House of God" by condescending to be there, in life and thereafter.

In this review of an exhibition of swagger portraits, Andrew Graham-Dixon  speaks of a "streak of solemn, anti-theatrical, empirical grand manner portraiture": 

Here it is in a Hampshire Church monument. I wonder what they were like! Absorbed, really, in the specifics of land-ownership, I guess.

1 comment:

Shelley Skrepnek said...

Hello there. My 4th great grandfather, Robert Eady/Ady was born in East Woodhay. While surfing the Net, I came upon your blog. It's an interesting story.

Shelley Skrepnek from Alberta, Canada