On this page you will find an article written by Joan Navarre.
The Pierpoint Monument
Marble Monument from St. Anne’s Resurfaces at Recent London Sale
On Tuesday, the 5th of July 2005, a headless carved marble figure from the monument of Lady Grace Pierpoint (d. 1703) which had been safely ensconced inside St. Anne’s for at least two centuries before the church was destroyed in the Blitz, sold at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, to a telephone bidder for £2,800, hammer price.
The marble monument was conspicuously located on the immediate right of the south side of the east window.
A photograph depicting the monument before the Blitz appears in The Survey of London
(Vol. 34, plate 13).
Made of white marble and possibly the work of either William Kidwell(d.1736)or William Woodman the Elder, this monument placed Lady Grace Pierpoint between mourning putti on an inscribed pedestal of a convex shape. Framing the inscribed pedestal were two columns with twisted shafts and composite capitals which supported blocks surmounted by urns.
The central figure, Lady Grace Pierpoint, was adorned in elaborate draperies, and the exquisite carving suggested vitality and purity. There was movement in the drapery: her right knee bending, her right hand touching her heart, and her head turned, facing east. Those attending service at St. Anne’s would have joined the figure in looking at the large stained-glass window, facing Dean Street, which depicted scenes from the life of Christ.
The inscription on the marble monument is documented in Two Centuries of Soho: Its Institutions, Firms and Amusements, written by the Clergy of St. Anne’s (1898, page 14):
“In this Chancel lyeth interred the Body of the Right Honourable
Lady Grace Pierpoint, Daughter to the most Noble and Puissant
Prince, Henry Pierpoint, Marquis of Dorchester, deceased.
Who in her lifetime was exemplary for Piety, Virtue and Charity.
She departed this Life on the 25th of March, in the year of our Lord
1703, in the 86th year of her Age.”
Sometime after St. Anne’s Church was severely damaged by bombing in 1940, the statue was removed.
The renowned artist Cecil Beaton photographed this monument while it was still at St. Anne’s -- head in tact, despite being surrounded by rubble and the remnants of war. The photograph was published in London under Fire (1941), and it is an unforgettable image. The figure of Lady Grace Pierpoint, standing high above the ruins and next to a metal skeleton of what was once the majestic east window, appears defiant: she looks towards the openness and light.
What happened to the marble monument after the Blitz remains shrouded in mystery. The next published account of this monument appeared in 1966 in The Survey of London (Vol. 33, page 273). “The headless torso of the statue survives in private ownership.” Another description was published decades later. Last month, a description and a photograph of the torso appeared in a Bonhams sale catalogue (Furniture and Early Works of Art, Sale 11760, Lot 96, July 5, 2005). According to the catalogue description, the headless carved marble figure passed from one private owner to another in 1998.
Then, on the 5th of July 2005, the remains of the monument of Lady Grace Pierpoint went under the hammer.
What happened to the figure’s head? Are there other items from St. Anne’s Church waiting to be rediscovered?
Be vigilant, and please help us keep a look-out for items and stories from Soho’s past.
JOAN NAVARRE ©2007