Alabaster-Effigies

The alabaster effigies in the porch are now thought to be Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, born in 1400 and an earlier Montacute Countess of Salisbury, but not his wife Alice. Richard Neville was the son of Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland, and married the heiress of the last Montagu Earl of Salisbury, inheriting the title in 1429. He was Lord Chancellor from 1453-5, fled the country in 1459, returned the following year, and was beheaded at Pontefract Castle on the day after the battle of Wakefield in 1460. His son, also Richard, born in 1428 was Earl of Warwick (this title also came from his wife, whose brother was the last of the Beauchamp family to be Earl, and whose possessions included a fortified manor in Caversham) and is known to history as ‘the kingmaker’. The reason for the effigies’ presence in Burghfield is unknown, as the individuals are buried in Bisham Abbey. Tradition has it that the effigies were dragged behind a galloping horse from Newbury, and that the lady turned over en route. . The 1719 Antiquities of Berkshire by Elias Ashmore refers to the effigies as lying close to the floor on the south side of the Chancel. The lady has been in her present position since 1843, but the male figure was only placed there in 1929 having spent the earlier period under the belfry stairs.

 In 1928 Mr Howard inspected the alabaster effigies, and identified the armorial bearings as Warwick quartered with Oxford. This led him to conclude that the man was a member of the Neville family who had married a daughter of Lord Oxford. He believed an alabaster effigy of the man’s father was in Salisbury cathedral.