SAWBRIDGEWORTH IS AN ATTRACTIVE small town with many picturesque old buildings and a parish church, St Mary’s, whose construction began in the 13th century. It is an unusual edifice, being about as wide as its length, rather than longer than its width as is the case for most English churches. It contains a fine selection of elaborate funerary sculptures.
The most impressive funerary monument is the memorial to John Leventhorpe and his wife Joan, who died in 1625 and 1627 respectively. Within a multi-coloured marble frame, both of the deceased are depicted reclining on their left sides with their heads propped up by their left hands. John holds a sword in his right hand and Joan a small book in hers, Beneath the two statues, the couple’s six sons (one of whom, Arthur, died as a baby) and eight daughters are depicted in bas-relief, all kneeling in prayer. Baby Arthur is also present on the memorial but has been sculpted much smaller than his brothers. The whole sculptural ensemble is magnificent, and if you had time to see only one thing in Sawbridgeworth, this should not be missed.
High on the wall facing the Leventhorpe memorial, there is a smaller one, commemorating Jeremiah Milles (died 1797) and his wife Rose, who died in 1835. It is typical of early 19th century memorial art. It shows a female mourner in Hellenic dress kneeling in front of a sarcophagus. It was sculpted by John Termouth (1795-1849) of Pimlico (London).
The sculptor of the Leventhorpe memorial has been forgotten, but Termouth, who sculpted the Milles memorial, has not been consigned to obscurity. A notice in St Mary’s revealed that Termouth was:
“… an uninteresting artist whose symbolism was always obvious, hackneyed, and uninspired.”