Left: Monument to a member of the De Ros family (14th century), in Temple Church Right: Richardson's sketches of the monument (Richardson, Plate 10, facing p. 28).

Edward Richardson was commissioned to restore the famous effigies of the knights templar in the Temple Church, London, in 1842. There were some problems. First, after their initial removal, the effigies were inadequately stored over the winter and damaged by the damp. Then, his work was criticised (even then) for being insensitive — so much so that "he was refused admission to the Society of Antiquaries and was characterized by Augustus Hare as 'a charlatan' who had simply 'plane[d] down the effigies' [Gunnis, 320–21]" (Dodgson and Edwards).

Monument to William Mareschal in the Temple Church (Richardson, Plate 7, facing p.24).

This may be unfair. There is no doubt about Richardson's studious approach to the work, and in this particular case there was a major challenge. He describes the De Ros effigy in his book about the restoration as being the smallest of the effigies, the only one in chain-mail, and "sculptured in a close and durable Yorkshire stone, called 'Roach Abbey Stone'" (28). This stone, he says, was difficult to repair because of its hardness (29). It is quite impossible to judge the outcome of his efforts now, because of subsequent decay and particularly war damage, but perhaps we should take William Burge's word for it that the effigies were restored by Richardson in the 1840s "with great skill and judgement" (67).

At any rate, at the time, his reputation suffered no long-lasting damage: he went on to restore the Arundel monument in Chichester Cathedral, and then that of Bishop Richard de la Wych there, and at the beginning of the 1850s "was commissioned to make or procure many of the casts of sepulchral effigies for the Crystal Palace, and ... was called in by the keepers of Wells Cathedral to repair the seated statue of the saxon king Edward the Elder on the west front, which had fallen from a height of 60 feet, narrowly missing the carriage of a judge who was luckily listening to the assize sermon inside the cathedral" (Dodgson and Edwards). These were high profile commissions. In fact he would make his name as a sculptor of effigies, memorials and portrait busts.

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Photograph,image download and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer or source and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on both images to enlarge them.]


Burge, William. The Temple Church: An Account of its Restoration and Repairs. London: William Pickering, 1843. Google Books. Web. 6 January 2017.

Dodgson, Campbell, rev. Jason Edwards. "Richardson, Edward M. (1812–1869), sculptor and archaeologist." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Web. 6 January 2017.

Richardson, Edward. The Monumental Effigies of the Temple Church, with an Account of Their Restoration in 1842. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1843. Google Books. Free eBook. Web. 6 January 2017.

Created 6 January 2017