Is this the Tomb of Sir Henry de Bathe?
The monument claimed to be that of Sir George Nowers in the Lady Chapel of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
Adjoining the choir-aisle, and entered from the central eastern bay of the transept, is the Lady-chapel, of Early English architecture, and added towards the middle of the thirteenth century. As the city wall closely adjoined the east end of the cathedral, it was impossible to add the Lady-chapel in that, the most usual, direction. The north wall of the choir-aisle was therefore broken through, and Early English piers and arches constructed in each bay, the Norman vaulting-shafts of the aisle remaining undisturbed. The western arch is circular, and was that of the eastern transept-aisle. The Early English arches themselves should be carefully examined. There is some trace of recent depression, especially in the easternmost arch; but hardly sufficient, it would seem, to account for the decidedly four-centred appearance which the arches now present. This form, which is at least of extreme rarity during the Early English period, is further indicated in the east window of the Lady-chapel, the inner and unaltered arch of which nearly resembles those of the piers.
The question is whether or not this is in fact the monument of Sir Henry de Bathe / Bathonia. Sir Henry de Bathe was, according to the available sources, High Sheriff of Yorkshire from 1242 to 1248 and a senior justice of the King's Bench. Though he fell from favour in 1251 he was restored in 1253 and continued his service to the crown until his death in early 1261.
2) The shield to the right of center contains the central shield "impaled" with that of Sir Ralph Basset; Or, three piles gules a canton ermine. (D'or, à trois piles de gueules, au franc-quartier d'hermine. D'or od trois peus de gules a un quartier d'ermine.) This blazon is from the Glover Roll of circa 1255 - 58 as transcribed in "Rolls of Arms of Henry III : Aspilogia II" by T.D. Tremlett, Society of Antiquaries of London.
Ralph Basset was one of Henry III's barons. A Ralph Basset of Drayton was killed at the side of Simon de Montfort at the battle of Evesham (1265). Impalement normally implies marriage. Several sources indicate that Sir Henry de Bathe was married to Aline (Aliva), a descendant of the Sandfords and Bassets.
3) The impaled shield on the right, though indistinct, bears a resemblance to that of Geoffrey de Lucy; Gules three pike hauriant in pale argent. This blazon also appears in the Glover Roll as above. De Lucy was also a baron and fought on the side of de Montfort at the battle of Lewes.
4) The impaled shield to the left of center is similar to two shields that appear in the Glover Roll.
The first is that of Phillip Basset ; Barry nebuly of or and gules. (Fascé nébulé d'or et de gueules.Ounde d'or et de gules.) Phillip Basset was a justice, uncle to Aline, the wife of Henry de Bathe and brother to Fulk Basset, Bishop of London. He was taken by de Montfort's men at the battle of Lewes after suffering multiple wounds.
The second is that of William Sandford and Nicolas, his brother; Barry nebuly of argent and gules. (Fascé nébulé d'argent et de gueules. Ounde d'argent et gules.)
5) Does the central shield depict greyhounds or wolves? The Bath family of Alltyferin claimed; Or, a chevron engrailed sable between three wolves' heads of the last as their ancestral coat of arms. Thomas Gerard of Trent in his 1633 "Particular Description of Somerset" ascribes; Or, a chevron engrailed between three lions' heads erased sable as the arms of the 13th century de Bathonia family of Radewell Manor, Somerset. Is it possible that Gerard saw a representation of the shield and mistook wolves for lions?
6) The remaining shield has yet to be identified.
Until new evidence comes to light, whether the base of the monument belongs to the tomb of Sir Henry de Bathe and whether Sir Henry's remains lie somewhere in Christ Church Cathedral will have to remain an individual decision by the reader.
Historical note: In Feb. 1251, Sir Henry de Bathe was tried before Parliament for treason in that he did attempt to raise the barons against the king. Numbered amongst his supporters were the Bassets and Sandfords. Both families had representatives sign the Magna Charta and were in opposition to Henry III. In 1265 the barons, led by Simon de Montfort, rose in rebellion. John de Bathonia, the probable son and heir of Sir Henry de Bathe, fought on the side of the rebels.
Is it possible that in an earlier attempt to placate his enemies Henry III had the original monument built?
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