27 January 2018


Today is the Anniversary of the execution, in 1550, of Sir Humphrey Arundell.

Lanherne is one of the ancient houses of the Arundell family, which, in the Middle Ages, was one of the great Cornish gentry families who dominated and administered the Duchy. It was Sir Humphrey Arundell who, in 1549, led the 'Prayer Book Rebellion', the great Catholic insurrection against Cranmer's Prayer Book, which marched beneath the banner of the Five Wounds. A throne nearly tottered; the government of Edward Tudor survived only by the use of a mercenary army and what historians have termed a genocidal series of massaces throughout Devon and Cornwall.

So it is interesting to find, in the Parish Church, as a fine pulpit bearing the 'Arms of Christ', the Instruments of his Passion and the shield of the Five Wounds. These motifs are found throughout the South West, especially in the large number of surviving medieval bench-ends. What is different about this pulpit is that it is distinctly Renaissance in style, and dated - I know not upon what evidence - to 1553. Such a dating would indeed fit that magical five years in which (see Duffy Fires of Faith) it appeared that Marian England would be in the forefront of the Counter-Reformation, leading Europe in Catholic Renewal, in sound Patristic teaching, in seminary formation, in the teaching of Hebrew and Greek; as well as being in the artistic mainstream. This glorious but frustrated spring was so brief that it is always fascinating but poignant to find surviving relics of it. [Those who live near Oxford  will remember that the Marian foundation of S John's College puts its Marian vestments on display on the Saturday of Seventh Week ... usually ... this year, it would be March 3.]

And such relics are especially moving in a magical spot like Lanherne.


William Tighe said...

Sir Humphrey was the son of a younger son of the Lanherne Arundells; he, like his father before him, was seated at Helland (Cornwall).

William Tighe said...

In addition, there was a Protestant branch of the Arundells seated at Trerice, less than ten miles from Lanherne. The male lines of both these houses ended in the Eighteenth Century, Lanherne passing, however, through marriage to the Arundells of Wardour Castle, Wiltshire, which was itself a Sixteenth-Century cadet branch of the Arundells of Lanherne.