Visit to Stowmarket
On Saturday 26th March 2016, the first anniversary of the re-interment of Richard III, the Mid-Anglia branch of the Richard III Society met in Stowmarket to explore two places of worship associated with Sir James Tyrell and his family. Eight of us met for lunch and then made our way to the St Peter and St Mary’s Church, Stowmarket, which we had arranged to see at two o’clock. However, when we arrived the Church was completely locked up with no sign of anyone to show us around. Luckily there were several phone numbers on the board outside and one of the Church Wardens kindly offered to come straight away and let us in. Phew!
It was well worth the wait – the lady Church Warden informed us that the interior had only just been redecorated and it looked impressive. This was enhanced by the Easter decorations of fresh spring flowers. We were allowed to wander around and take photos and there were some lovely stained glass windows (although not from our period) and some of the pews had interesting carvings on them. Two had animals carved into them: a monkey and a lion. I found out from the guidebook that these mean ‘unredeemed sinfulness’ and ‘power and resurrection’ respectively.
The North Aisle was our point of greatest interest and was built in the 14th century and the door, windows and arched tomb recess date from then and the area is associated with the Tyrell family. The Tyrells were a local noble family and according to the guidebook, some of them were associated with various dramatic events in England’s history. We know that James Tyrell, close associate of Richard III, has been (probably erroneously) linked with the disappearance of the ‘princes’ in the Tower, but you may not know that William Rufus was shot and killed by an arrow which Walter Tyrell fired. Another Tyrell, Sir John, fought at the Battle of Agincourt, and Sir William Tyrell was killed during the Wars of the Roses.
Under the eastern arch there is a monument which is thought to belong to Margaret, wife of William Tyrell of Gipping Hall.
On the south side of the east wall is another Tyrell monument, for Dame Dorothy Forth, William Tyrell’s wife, who died in 1641. It depicts them holding hands resting on a skull and underneath are depictions of their three children ‘…who were taken away by God before their time’. The two who are lying on couches were only infants when they died and kneeling in between them is Penelope, who died before her mother. The monument was made by William after he was left alone, and he included himself because there was no-one left to put up a monument to him, a very sad situation.
On the north side of the east wall is a brass depicting Ann Tyrell, who died aged eight years and six months in 1638. The inscription praises her virtue.
Further along is a monument to Edmund Tyrell who died in 1799, comprising an urn and drapery.
On the north wall there is a monument to Margaret English (nee Tyrell) of Westminster who died in 1604. It was erected by Margaret herself, for herself, her brother and sister-in-law (Thomas and Mary) and their ten children.
The font dates from the Victorian period, but the cover includes a fifteenth century poppy head.
Another interesting item is the hatchment on the wall, lso associated with the Tyrells.