"When I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together." T. Faulkner, 1829
The Monuments were badly damaged in 1941, but thanks to the zeal of the architect, Mr. W. Godfrey, they were mostly saved and restored. See more at More Monuments. Among those commemorating the great families and parishioners who lived in Chelsea and the most notable are:
On the South side is the Dacre Monument (1595) to Gregory Fiennes, Lord Dacre of the south, and his wife Ann Sackville, who inherited the Chelsea properties of Sir Thomas More and founded the Emanuel Charity which now supports a boys' Grammar School in Battersea. Recently cleaned, conserved and restored.
The mutilated tomb (1555) in the south east corner of the More Chapel commemorates Jane Guildford, Duchess of Northumberland, who was the mother-in-law of Lady Jane Grey, the mother of Queen Elizabeth's favourite Leicester, and the grandmother of Sir Philip Sidney.
The monument to Sir Thomas More (1532) stands in the Sanctuary against the South wall. The inscription was composed by Sir Thomas More himself, commemorating his first wife and expressing the wish that he and his second wife should be buried in the same tomb. He was beheaded in 1535; his head is known to be in Canterbury. Unsubstantiated tradition states that his daughter, Margaret Roper, brought his body to Chelsea for burial at the Old Church.
Margaret Roper, Magdalen Herbert, Mary Astell, Elizabeth Blackwell. Carved by Mary Gillick, installed 1935
Margaret Roper (née More) (1505–1544) was an English writer and translator, she was the first non-royal woman to publish a book she had translated into English
Magdalen Herbert d1627 an intimate friend of John Donne’s and mother of the poets Sir Edward Herbert and George Herbert.
Mary Astell (1666–1731) was one of the first English women to advocate the idea that women were just as rational as men, and just as deserving of education, she founded a charity school for girls in Chelsea
Elizabeth Blackwell d1758. She made a significant contribution to medical knowledge and to the art of botanical illustration. Her multi-volume work, 'A curious herbal', published in the 1730s, was an invaluable resource for doctors and apothecaries in the 18th century and beyond. 'A curious herbal' is one of the earliest botanical books to have been compiled by a woman.
Fire Watchers - Henry Frankland, Yvonne Green, Michael Hodge, Sidney Sims and Frederick Winter
On the night of 16th/17th April 1941, Yvonne was not originally meant to have been on duty but had swapped shifts with one of her colleagues. At about 1.00 a.m., whilst the raid was at its height, she and five of her Fire Watching colleagues set off on a patrol along Chelsea Embankment. Whilst one of the team, a Mr Mallett was examining some shell fragments in the road, he became aware of something floating down behind him. He quickly realised that this was a Parachute Mine and shouted at the others to run. His colleagues were about twenty feet away from him and began to run towards Chelsea Old Church. Mr Mallett was running too quickly to turn the corner and follow them, so instead ducked for shelter behind a fire alarm cover. At about the same time, a second Parachute Mine descended between the still running group of five Fire Watchers and the Church. This mine exploded, also setting off the first and in the resulting blast, most of the Church was destroyed and five out of the six Fire Watchers were killed, the only survivor being Mr Mallett.
On the North side of the Chancel in a recess is the tomb of Sir Edmund, first Lord Bray (1539) and heir to the Sir Reginald Bray who was Master of Works to Henry VII and in charge of the building of Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster and St. George's Chapel at Windsor.
Hungerford Monument (1581), a family monument very similar to that of Sir Thomas Lawrence in the Lawrence Chapel.
Sir Thomas Lawrence, Goldsmith and Merchant Adventurer of the City of London, is commemorated (1593) in his chapel.
His eldest daughter, Sara Colvile, is also commemorated there (1632), and is depicted rising in her grave clothes from the tomb.
At the East end of the Lawrence Chapel is the monument (1632) to Sir Robert Stanley, son-in-law of Sir Arthur Gorges, whose brass is in the North wall of the More Chapel.
Within the West arched entrance of the Lawrence Chapel is the triumphal arch (1563) commemorating Richard Jervoise.
On the North side of the Nave is the memorial to Lady Jane Cheyne (1669), daughter of the Duke of Newcastle, and a great benefactor to this Church and the village of Chelsea. The memorial is the work of the Italian artist Bernini's studio, carved by one of Gian Lorenzo Bernini's favourite sculptors Antonio Raggi.
An American novelist and naturalized Englishman, Henry James was an important figure in transatlantic literary culture of the day. Born on April 15, 1843, in New York City, Henry James became one of his generation's most well-known writers and remains so to this day for such works as The Portrait of a Lady and The Turn of the Screw. Having lived in England for 40 years, James became a British subject in 1915, the year before his death. He died on February 28, 1916, in London, England.
J Woolley, J C Griffith, J W Lambe and William Bruce
Who were drowned opposite this Church through the swamping of their boat in a squall of wind 1839
Roper, Herbert, Astell, Blackwell
The Fire Watchers
The only chained books in any London Church and consist of the Vinegar Bible (1717), two volumes of Foxe's Book of Martyrs (1684), a Prayer Book (1723) and Homilies (1683).