Hollingbourne Church
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All Saints Church
Hollingbourne, Kent

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All Saints Church, Hollingbourne

Many of the old English churches have impressive memorials honoring one or more of their prominent historical families. However, few such churches have a family testimony any more impressive than that found at Hollingbourne to the Culpepers.

The oldest memorial at Hollingbourne is to Francis Culpeper11, one of the sons of William Culpeper10 of Hunton and Wigsel. The American Culpeppers descend from John Culpeper11 of Wigsel, who was a brother of Francis.

Photograph by Keith Pearce, © 2003

The most noteworthy monuments and treasures at Hollingbourne include:


The Elizabeth, Lady Culpeper Chapel and Monument


The Culpeper Window


The Culpeper Needlework


Other Culpeper Monuments

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Location: On the main street in the middle of town. (14 miles NE of Goudhurst.)

National Grid Coordinates: TQ 843 551

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The Elizabeth, Lady Culpeper Chapel and Monument
Photographs taken by Warren Culpepper, October 1999

When Lady Elizabeth died in 1638 Sir Thomas Culpeper12 built a new chapel in Hollingbourne Church. He intended it to be a memorial to his wife and all the Culpepers.

The monument  to Lady Elizabeth occupies the central space of the chapel and is one of the finest works of the important 17th century sculptor Edward Marshal (1598-1675).

Marshall was twice Master of the Masons' Company and became Master Mason to the Crown in 1660. The late Rupert Gunnis in his authoritative Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1660-1851, considered that his monuments were of the first importance and that the finest was 'the noble recumbent effigy of Lady Culpeper, 1638, at Hollingbourne, Kent'.

Lady Elizabeth Culpeper was the daughter and co-heiress of John Cheney of Guestling, Sussex. 

Elizabeth Lady Culpepper Monument and Tomb, March 2000
Elizabeth Lady Culpeper Monument/Tomb in her Chapel at Hollingbourne, March 2000
Lady Culpeper Monument

The Cheney Family's heraldic beast at the feet of Lady Culpeper, All Saints, Hollingbourne
The Cheney Family's heraldic beast
at the feet of Lady Culpeper

Lady Culpeper's Tomb
One of several shields on the walls

The Cheney Family's heraldic beast, a theow or thoye, is shown at her feet. (photograph at left.) It was a strange, toothy animal with cloven hoofs and a cow's tail, the whole covered with heraldic spots. Lady Elizabeth's hands each bear a ring tied to a cord, which disappears into the sleeve of her dress.

The Chapel in which Lady Elizabeth rests was intended by her husband not only as a memorial to her, the best of women, the best of wives, the best of mothers ( the inscription 'Optima Fæmina, Optima Coniux, Optima Mater’ is on the side of the tomb).  It was also intended as a cenotaph (a monument erected in honor of a person, or group of persons, who are buried elsewhere) to the Culpeper family as is proclaimed by the shields on the walls, most of them plain because the family left the district.

Under the Chapel is a vault, which still contains several lead coffins of the Culpepers. The brick opening to this in the east wall is now sealed up. Local tradition has it that the coffins sometimes moved about the vault unaided.

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The Culpepper Window

Culpeper Window at All Saints, HollingbourneContemporary with the Chapel is the stained glass window bearing the arms of Culpeper and Cheney and of families related to them.


Also see:

Hollingbourne's Culpeper Needlework.

The Culpepers at Hollingbourne.

Hollingbourne Manor

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Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015


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