SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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covered by some slabs of Caen stone, two leaden chests containing the bones of the founders, and inscribed with their names. They are not coffins, but cists or chests, and are both of similar form and dimensions, ornamented externally by a large net-work of interlaced cords moulded in the lead. The cist of William de Warenne measures 2 feet 11 inches long, by 12 inches broad, and is 8 inches deep, all the angles being squared, and the flat loose cover lapping an inch over. On the upper surface at one end is inscribed in very legible characters 'WillelMus.' The cist of the princess his wife is 2 inches shorter and 1 inch deeper, and the word 'Gvndrada' is very distinctly inscribed on the cover. It is worth remarking that her father, the Conqueror, in his charter, calls for Gundfreda, and her husband, who survived her, calls her Gundreda in his charter.
"It is obvious, from the length of these receptacles, that their bones have been transferred to them from some previous tombs, and it is not difficult to suppose that, the chapter-house not being built at the time of their deaths, the founders were buried elsewhere until its completion, and that the bodies were then found so decayed that their bones only remained for removal to a more distinguished situation, and were, on that occasion, placed in these very leaden chests. A rebuilding of the Priory Church was begun on the anniversary of William the founder's death in 1243, and from the antique form of the letters G and M the inscriptions cannot be fixed at a later period. The characters, indeed, more resemble the form used in the twelfth century. Of the genuine antiquity of these relics there cannot be the slightest doubt. It is locally notorious that the black marble slab which formerly covered the remains of Gundrada, beautifully carved and bordered with nine Latin verses in her honour cut in the rim and down the middle, was discovered in 1775 in Isfield Church, misappropriated as a tombstone over one of the Shirley family, and by the care of Sir William Burrel removed to the church of Southover, immediately adjoining the ruins of the Priory. It is very singular that now, after an interval of eight years, her very bones should be brought to the same church (under the superintendence of the Rev. Mr. Scobell) there to undergo a third burial under Gundrada's marble slab.
"The tombstone of Gundred Countess of Warren was discovered about the year 1775, by Dr. Clarke, rector of Buxted, in the Shirley chancel of Isfield Church, forming the table part of a mural monument of Edward Shirley, Esq., by whose father probably it was preserved at the demolition of the Priory, and conveyed to Isfield, his manorial estate. At the expense of Dr., afterwards Sir William, Burrell, it was removed from its obscure station, and placed upon a suitable shrine, in the vestry-pew of Southover Church, that being the nearest convenient spot to its original station. The stone is of black marble, sculptured in
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