Southampton Chapel, Monument, & Vault Interment Timeline

An Eye on the Past in Service to the Future

The Parish Church of St. Peter, Titchfield

1300 Years in the Making

Southampton Chapel, Monument

& Vault Interment Timeline

Founding of the Premonstratensian Monastery

In 1231 Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, chose Titchfield as the site of the Premonstratensian Monastery which he intended to found. The monastery was sited about half a mile to the north of the town. Peter gave to the monastery the church of Titchfield together with its chapels and substantial income. As a general rule medieval monasteries were not concerned with pastoral work in the surrounding areas, but Premonstratensians were perhaps the principal exception to this rule.


In 1283 the canons of Titchfield were given the right of nominating one of their own body as vicar, and from this time up to the Dissolution, the vicars became abbots of the monastery.


At the Dissolution in 1537, Titchfield Abbey was granted by Henry VIII to a subordinate of Thomas Cromwell called Thomas Wriothesley, who was later created Earl of Southampton. With the monastery he acquired the patronage of Titchfield church and the chapel on the South side the chancel.  This chapel was converted into the mausoleum for the Earls of Southampton and the result is the magnificent Wriothesley monument which now occupies this part of the church.
From the Dissolution to the nineteenth century, the huge area of the parish of Titchfield was served by a single vicar, sometimes assisted by a curate.  Finally, in the nineteenth century, the vastly increased population of the outlying parts of the parish made new arrangements necessary.  Between 1837 and 1933 the parish of Titchfield was divided into six separate parishes, the following new parishes being created: Sarisbury with Swanwick (1837), Crofton (1871), Hook with Warash (1872), Lock’s Heath (1893), and Lee-on-the-Solent (1930). The old mother parish is still the largest in extent, covering an area of about 7 1/2 miles.

circa 1570
Construction of the Wriothesley/Southampton Sepulchre

The construction date of the Wriothesley/Southampton Vault is unknown but can be reasonably placed between 1547-1581. No documentation regarding its design or construction has been discovered to date.



Jane Wriothesley née Cheney, Countess of Southampton

1581 November 30


Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton

d. 4 Oct 1581,Ytchel (Itchel), Hants, buried 30 Nov 1581
Will dated 29 Jun 1581, proved on 7 Feb 1582/3

Died on 4 October 1581 at Itchel in the parish of Crondall, Hampshire, aged thirty-six, and was buried on 30 November at Titchfield, after a lavish funeral, costing over £138.

Excerpt from the Will of Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton:

I bequeth my body to be buried in the chapel of the parish church of Titchell, co. Southampton, where my mother lies interred . . . Also two faire Monuments there to be made, the one for my Lorde my Father (whose bodye I woulde have thether to be broughte and buried), and my Ladye my Mother; the other for mee, with portraitures of white alabaster or such lyke uppon the said Monuments; and I will to be bestowed thereuppon one Thousande poundes by my foresaide Executors.

circa 1581


Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton 

d. 30 Jul 1550, buried 3 Aug 1550, St Andrews, Holborn, reinterred Parish Church of St. Peter, Titchfield n.d. 

He was buried in St Andrew's Church, Holborn, on 3 August, but his body was later removed to Titchfield.
His will, dated 21 July 1550, was proved on 14 May 1551. 

Cause of death:
28 June 1550 he was allowed for reasons of health to retire to Titchfield. He was too ill to travel, however, and on 30 July 1550 he died at his London home, Lincoln House in Holborn, which he had obtained by exchange with Warwick. According to Ponet, ‘fearing least he should come to some open shamfull ende, he either poisoned himself, or pyned awaye for thought’ (Ponet, sig. Iiiiv). The fact that he was repeatedly ill of a quartan fever suggests that he may have been a consumptive, possibly the cause of death.

1594 May 6
Bond by Garret Johnson/HRO 5M53/262, 6 May 1594

Monument Bond by Garret Johnson of St. Saviour, Southwark, tombmaker and Nicholas his son, to Edward Gage and Ralph Hare, the executors of Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, to observe conditions of a deed of covenant.  

The bond also tells us that the monument was not begun until 1594, thirteen years after the second Earl's death. This delay is doubtless a result of the difficulties caused by the Earl’s will. The heraldry on the tomb also provides some evidence of date. This evidence confirms that the monument was erected after 1585, for there is a shield in which the arms of Arundel of Wardour impale Wriothesley, resulting from the marriage in June 1585 of Mary, the only daughter of the second Earl, to Sir Thomas Arundel. A large monument such as the Southampton monument could take two or more years to make, but it would seem to have been finished by 1598. The third Earl married in that year, but the sinister half of the shield carrying the arms of the third Earl is left blank.’  

‘The amount of one thousand pounds bequeathed for the erection of the monument and for the remodelling of the chapel was a vast sum by contemporary standards. In fact the full scheme was never carried out. In place of the two monuments prescribed in the will, only one was erected with three effigies. There is no indication that any remodelling or redecoration of the fourteenth century chapel, in which the monument stands, was attempted. The bond is signed by Garat Jhonson (sic) and N Johnsonn, and the witnesses are William Chamberlene, John Sewyll (?), and Richard Hall servant to Henry Alyson Senior. It should be stressed that this document is not the contract to make the monument; it is a bond in the sum of £300 to perform the contract, the contract being the “payre of Indentures” to which reference is made. The contract itself does not seem to have survived.’  

'The bond gives us an indication of the cost of the monument. A bond might well be for a larger sum than the actual contract, but it is likely that the cost fell within the range £150-£300. A figure in this range seems reasonable when we compare the two large wall monuments erected by Garret in 1591 at Bottesford in Leicestershire at a cost of £100 each. The full amount of £1000 bequeathed by the second Earl was not spent, and this again is doubtless a reflection of the difficulties presented by the will. 

1607 November 16


Mary Wriothesley née Browne, Countess of Southampton

d. 4 Nov 1607, Copt Hall, Epping, Essex, buried 16 Nov 1607 

1609 February 26


Mabell Sandys née Wriothesley, da. of the 1st Earl of Southampton

Buried 26 Feb 1609/10

1615 January 10


Lady Mary Wriothesley, da. of 3rd Earl of Southampton & Elizabeth Vernon

Buried 10 Jan 1615, age 4

1624 December 28


James Wriothesley, Son & Hier of Henry Wriothesley, 3EoS

d. 5 Nov 1624, Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands, buried 28 Dec 1624

1624 December 28


Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton (1573-1624)

d. 10 Nov 1624, Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands, buried 28 Dec 1624  

1635 November 25 


Charles Wriothesley, Son of 4th Earl of Southampton & Rachel de Massue

b. 6 Jun 1635, d. 20 Nov 1635

1639 February 26


Rachel Wriothesley née de Massue, Countess of Southampton, first wife of the 4th Earl of Southampton

d. 16 Feb 1639/40, buried 26 Feb 1639/40  

1643 December 7


M. Wriothesley, daughter of 4th Earl of Southampton & Rachel de Massue

Burial Register identifies her as The Lady Maudlin, buried 7 Dec 1643

1649 April 7


Penelope Wriothesley, daughter of the 4th Earl of Southampton & Elizabeth Leigh (second wife)

1655 May 8


Penelope Wriothesley, daughter of the 4th Earl of Southampton & Elizabeth Leigh

Buried 8 May 1655

After 1655 23 November 


Elizabeth Wriothesley née Vernon, Countess of Southampton, wife of 3rd Earl of Southampton

d. after 23 Nov 1655, buried n.d.

  • Interment was not registered in the Titchfield Burial Register

1660 February 26


Audrey Wriothesley, daughter of 4th Earl of Southampton & Elizabeth Leigh

d. 12 Oct 1660, buried 17 Oct 1660



Elizabeth Wriothesley Noel (Countess of Gainsborough), daughter of Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton and Rachel de Massue. From May 1661, her married name became Noel.

d. 8 Feb 1680


Early Description of the Southampton Chapel by William Pavey 

This document includes a detailed description of the church, chapel, and Southampton monument, including the detailed inscriptions.

‘Under the Oratory, which was built (as well as the tomb) by Henry E. of Southampton Son of that Lord Chancellor for a Channtry to sing Requiem for his and his fathers souls is a large Vault where lie the bodyes abovementioned either wrapt up in lead or in leaden coffins purporting by little inscriptive plates who they were and when they dyed.’ 

1737 March 19

Elizabeth Bentinck née Noel, Duchess Dowager of Portland, daughter of Wriothesley Noel, 2nd Earl of Gainsborough and Catherine Noel/Wife of Henry Bentinck, 1st Duke of Portland

Buried 19 Mar 1737


Early Paintings of the Southampton & Lady Mary Wriothesley Monuments 

Artist R.H.C. Ubsdell sketches the Wriothesley tomb and “acquires a new patron, Sir Frederic Madden [1801-1873] who was intent on the same quest of inspecting the tombs.” Madden was Keeper of the Dept. of MSS at the British Museum and knighted at 32 yrs, in 1833. Between 1840 and 1846 Ubsdell walked the length and breadth of Hampshire. As a by-product he painted over 100 watercolours of the Hampshire churches he passed on his travels. These he sold to the Bishop of Winchester and Sir Frederic Madden. 


Testimony on the State of Preservation of the Southampton Monument 

‘The tomb is not in a good state of preservation; it is so mutilated and injured as to grieve any one who views it.

‘Four pillars are at the corners, which used to have ornaments gilded at the top - these are now gone; the banner of the Earl used to hang on the south wall of the chapel - this is now gone; the helmet and iron gloves were also there - they have been also removed. The banner was much torn and decayed when I copied it, about twelve years ago, and was hanging in silken rags. The three coronets are also much more damaged than when I made my first drawings of this work. I think some of the crests, black bulls coroneted, which were on litter shafts at the corners, are also missing; they are all loose.

‘Indeed, the whole monument requires restoration, and I assure you it is well worthy of it.’

  • Ubsdell, R.H.C., personal correspondence, The Journal of the British Archaeological Association,

    Vol. III, 'Proceedings of the Association', p.122, London: Henry Bohn, 1848. 


Tomb Opened

‘This tomb has been opened of late years, and the coffins were all there; the hair was on one of the figures exceedingly perfect.’

  • The Journal of the British Archaeological Assoc., Vol III, 1848, pp. 122-3


Organ Placed in Chapel

‘The organ (1866) is placed against the south wall of this chapel, which contains the celebrated Southampton Monument and vault.’

  • Some Notes on the Church of S. Peter, Titchfield, 1917,  Rev. E.C. Matthews, L.Th. Vicar of Titchfield, p. 5


Proper Custody and Preservation: A Parliamentary Directive

‘In accordance with a request preferred by Mr. Layard when First Commissioner of Works, the Society of Antiquaries, through a special committee appointed for the purpose, have caused to be drawn and submitted to Parliament (the return having only recently been printed) “a list of such regal and other historical tombs or monuments existing in cathedrals, churches, and other public places and buildings as, in their opinion, it would be desirable to place under the protection and supervision of the Government, with a view to their proper custody and preservation.”’

Listed among other monuments is:

‘Titchfield, St. Peter’s - Recumbent effigy in alabaster of Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, Lord Chancellor, ob. 1550.’

  • Hampshire Advertiser, Local Sepulchral Monuments, 10 July 1872, p. 2


A Description of the Southampton Monument by B.W. Greenfield

'Upon this magnificent tomb, one of the most interesting historical monuments in the country, and - certainly - in this county, “decay’s effacing fingers” and, worse, the wanton hand of the destroyer have set their mark. The golden coronet that encircled the head of the Countess is broken and part of it gone. The four heraldic cognizances at the corner of the slab on which her figure rests are mutilated and loosened on their sockets. The spiked balls that were on the top of the four obelisks are no longer there. The horns of the eight representations of the bull’s head are all gone, with the exception of one, and gold crowns that surrounded the horns either broken or missing. The heraldic tinctures on the four shields in the panels on the flanks of the alter tomb are almost obliterated; so likewise are the tinctures on the four large sculptured shields at the head and foot of the alter tomb, and were it not that the quarterings upon them are sculptured in relief the charges could not be distinguished. The brilliance of the emblazoned shields and the spender of the second Earl’s suit of plate armor have departed. Such is the effect of decay, neglect, and ill-usage. Steps ought to be taken to preserve this historic monument, this gem of sculptor’s art, from further dilapidation. The Dukes of Bedford and Portland, who are direct descendants of the last Earl of Southampton, and are, it is presumed, the inheritors of his vast estates and wealth, would doubtless be ready to incur the cost of restoring it; and were the matter brought to their notice we may reasonably hope that they would not be willing to subject themselves to the reproach of neglect. The Society for the Preservation of Memorials of the Dead, of which the Earl of Northesk is President, might also be brought to use its influence to rescue this superb example of art from the waste of time and the demon of destruction. The craftsmen who wrought it have long since passed away, yet their glorious work remains though disjointed, blurred, and shorn of the majesty of its beauty, but still full of historic interest, and it may be not without its moral teaching.’

  • The Wriothesley Tomb, Titchfield HANTS: Its Monumental Effigies and Heraldry B.W. Greenfield, F.S.A., Barrister-at-Law, p.81


Vault Opened

‘He had an account furnished on undoubted authority - Mr. Gough, formerly a schoolmaster there - of the opening of the tomb, undertaken for family reasons, some years ago, and which it would be interesting to refer to now in connection with “the Druce Mystery”, as the tomb belonged to the Duke of Portland, who was descended from the Wriothesleys in the female line, his son bearing the title of Viscount Titchfield. The coffins were opened, and the bodies were found to be embalmed, the features being distinct. When the authorities were satisfied, the coffins were re-closed and soldered down, the entrance to the tomb was bricked up, and has not been since disturbed.’

  • The Hampshire Advertiser, Issue #5522, Hampshire Field Club,  Visit to Burlesdon and Titchfield, 13 May 1899, p. 7


Monument Restoration - Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, 1903 - 1906

At a vestry meeting dated 14 April 1903, it is minuted that, ‘The Vicar mentioned in detail the various steps he had been able to take with Lord Montagu of Beaulieu & others, for the restoration of the tomb of the Earls of Southampton, which he hoped to be able to bring to a successful issue. He was instructed by the Vestry to thank Lord Montagu of Beaulieu for the steps he had taken in the matter. At a meeting on 5 April 1904, The restoration of the tomb not having begun the Vicar was instructed to write to Lord Montagu of Beaulieu & ask him to push the matter forward’. On 2 March 1905, ‘it was further unanimously resolved to ask the Vicar to write to Lord Montagu of Beaulieu & thank him for the part he had taken in the restoration of the tomb of the Earls of Southampton and to suggest to him that the restoration should be completed by the recolouring of the figures, and further that the tomb of the child on the South wall should be restored’. It’s not clear whether the recolouring was carried out, but at a meeting on 17 April 1906 the vicar ‘most gratefully thanked all who had in any way assisted in the completion of this work [the construction of the new vestry] and also in the restoration of the Earl of Southampton’s Tomb & Chapel.”

  • Vestry Minutes of the Parish Church of St. Peter, Titchfield