Bottesford: St Mary





Thomas, 1st Earl of Rutland and Eleanor Manners

Recumbent peer and lady

Alabaster by Richard Parker


Thomas is depicted in mail faulds, full plate armour and wearing the robe of the Order of the Garter with the Garter itself on the left leg. He is wearing a coronet, as befits his title of 1st Earl of Rutland and has his head resting on a helm that carries the Manners peacock crest. Bearded, he is wearing four rings: one on each of the first and third fingers of the left hand and the first and little of the right.

The feet are resting on a unicorn guardent. Nichols states that the coats of arms of Manners, Tiptoft and Badlesmere were painted onto the surcoat.

Lady Eleanor, daughter of Sir William Paston of Norwich, wears robes and a ruffled gown. She is also wearing a coronet and a chain necklace of four rows with a heart pendant. Wearing rings on the fore and little fingers of the left hand, her head rests on two embroidered tasselled cushions. There is a griffin couchant at her feet.

On her mantle were painted the arms:

Or, a chevron between three talbot heads gules; Gules, a chevron between three bear's heads azure; Qly. Gules and azure, on a chief gules three hearts.

These effigies, which show more realism than the earlier ones, suggest a real attempt at portraiture. The tomb-chest also shows the beginnings of the Renaissance with decorated corners, classical swags and pilasters. The weepers, no longer angels or ecclesiastics, represent the couple's children and are excellent examples of early Tudor costume. They are divided by elaborate Renaissance pilasters rather than the continuous frieze customary until then. The daughters, who are depicted wearing black farthingales, are on the east end (two) and north side (six).

On the south side five of the youngest sons are shown standing in various postures with small daggers and swords.

At the west end the eldest son, Henry (who, as second Earl, is depicted on the next monument) is shown kneeling before a reading desk.

Round the altar table is the gothic style inscription, unusual inasmuch as it gives the exact time of death:

Here lyeth the body of Thomas Manners, Erle of Rutland, 1st Lord of Hamelake, Trusbut and Belvoir, and Knight of the most honourable Order of the Garter, who deceased the XXth day of September, at iiii of the clock at afternoone, anno Dni MCCCCCXLIII: and the body of the Lady Eleanor, Countess, his wyfe, daughter to Sir William Paston of Norfolke, knight, who deceased the . . . day of . . . anno Dni MCCCCC . . . whose soules Ihu pardon. Ame.

On this, the first of the family burials in the church, the date of Lady Eleanor's death was never filled in as the tomb was made during her lifetime. Eleanor was Thomas's second wife, by whom he had five sons and six daughters. She died in 1550 and was buried at St Leonard's Church, Shoreditch.

Thomas, the son of Sir George Manners the 12th Baron Roos, was created Earl of Rutland in June 1526. In 1520 he was with Henry VIII at his meeting with the French King Charles V after the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Later he was involved in the divorce of Catherine of Aragon who, not speaking nor understanding English, had come to England in 1501 to marry Arthur, Prince of Wales.

Thomas also played his part in quelling the uprisings of the Catholics in northern Britain. He helped the Duke of Norfolk ravage Scotland. In this campaign he had the dubious distinction of being responsible for burning twenty villages in a week. On his return home Thomas began converting Belvoir Castle from a fortress into a dwelling house and arranged for the monuments of his ancestors to be removed to Bottesford from the suppressed Belvoir Priory.

Richard Parker, with two helpers, took six days to erect this monument, which cost 26.

Sepulchral Effigies of Leicestershire and Rutland
Text copyright 2002 Max Matthews.
Images copyright Bob Trubshaw or Max Matthews 2002.
No copying or reproduction without prior written permission.
Published by Heart of Albion Press