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Copyright: Jon Bayliss

September 2018, John Harewell, 1505, and wife Dame Anne,

Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire

The Harewell family came to Wootton Wawen in the fourteenth-century from Harwell in Berkshire  but failure in the male line after the death of John Harewell's son Thomas at the age of eighteen meant that their lands descended to the Smith family via John's daughter Agnes, one of John's daughters and co-heiresses, following her marriage to Sir John Smith. Their son Francis is commemorated in the church by an effigial monument after his death in 1606 but most of the family are buried elsewhere.  

    John Harewell was aged thirty at the time of his father William's inquisition post mortem. William had fought for Henry VI at the battle of Barnet, having his lands confiscated as a result, but his lands were restored to him after his release from captivity. He died in 1501, only four years before his son. John married Anne, daughter and heir of Richard Midleton. She remarried after his death to Sir Edward Grey, whose arms arms appear among the four shields on the slab that tops the tomb-chest alongside Harewell, Wogan for John's mother and others. Other shields on the tomb-chest have disappeared. Comparing the illustration of the tomb in Dugdale's Warwickshire not only reveals how inaccurately the effigies are depicted, showing the ten children as kneeling rather than standing, but also that the shield on the slab illustrated as  showing Harewell impaling Wogan has now seemingly been replaced by one showing Harewell alone. Did this actually happen or did the illustrator get mixed up about which shield of arms was where. On the illustration Harewell impaling Wogan appears both above and below John's effigy but is now only below. Was there a shield of Harewell alone on the panel at the head of the tomb that was the same size as those on the slab and has replaced on of the latter. The other three shields are as shown in the illustration although the shields above and below the effigy of Agnes are the same size as the other two but needed to be shown larger as they display more quarterings. The chest itself is illustrated rather more accurately and inmdicates that two of the three shields along the side of the tomb had already been lost by the 1650s.


Grey and others impaling Middleton

Harewell impaling Wogan

Middleton with Strivelyn impaling an unknown quartered arms

    John's armour and Anne's dress indicate that the brass was made long after John's death and perhaps dates from around 1530. It is a London product and John’s effigy has several direct parallels as at Longdon, Worcestershire.  Anne's sleeves represent a change in female costume that had been slow to appear on monumental brasses. Her pedimental hood still has its lappets falling onto her shoulders, whereas the later fashion of pinning them up was just about to be superseded by the introduction of the French hood at court at the time the brass was engraved.

    One of John ancestors is assumed to be the armoured alabaster effigy on another tomb-chest in the church. It is believed to represent another John Harewell, who died in 1428. As is common with alabaster effigies, it has been the target of graffiti over the centuries. Much more unusually, the brass has graffiti, the initials W I having been cut into a plain surface on the marginal inscription where the month of Anne's death was intended to be added, the rest of the inscription being in raised lettering.