Lefroy Monument, All Saints, Fleet, Hampshire. Thomas Nicholls (attributed). 1861-62. Markedly red-veined marble.

The only important monument in a highly distinctive church by the architect William Burges, this is a "canopied tomb of medieval style" ("All Saints, Fleet") with the effigies of the founder of the church, Charles Edward Lefroy (1810-1861), and his wife Janet. Lefroy was Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Commons. He had commissioned Burges to build the church in memory of his wife — the daughter of James Walker, founder with Burges's father Alfred of the marine engineering company Walker and Burges (Smart 147). According to the BMD registers, Janet had died in 1858. But Lefroy himself died while Burges was still working on the church, so they could both be remembered together in this way. Nicholls was Burges's usual stone-carver” by now. The quality of the tympanum sculpture on the exterior, and of such details as Lefroy's remarkably life-like hands, certainly suggests that it was he who carried out this work.

Left: At the couple's feet are their dogs, looking alert and expectant — a typical Burges/Nicholls touch. Right: An angel with a censer looks down on the effigies.

It must have been easier to appreciate the monument as a whole before it was moved from its original position and wedged into its present tight corner. However, the craftsmanship is still impressive. As a point of literary interest, another Hampshire family, the Austens, had close connections with the Lefroys: one of Jane Austen's friends was Anne Lefroy; the novelist is thought to have had a romantic attachment to Anne's nephew Tom Lefroy (Fergus 7); and her niece Anna married into the Lefroys as well.

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"Church of All Saints, Fleet." British Listed Buildings. Web. 27 November 2011.

Fergus, Jan. "Biography." Jane Austen in Context. Ed. Janet Todd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Free BMD (Births, Marriages and Deaths). Web. 27 November 2011.

Pevsner, Nikolaus, and David Lloyd. Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (The Buildings of England series). London: Penguin, 1990.

Smart, C. M. Muscular Churches: Ecclesiastical Architecture of the High Victorian Period. Fayetteville: Arkansas University Press, 1989.

Last modified 27 November 2011