“Memorial tablet to the Duchess of York” by Sir Francis Chantrey

Left: Whole memorial tablet. Right: Close-up of the upper part of the figure.

Memorial Tablet to the Duchess of York (1767-1820) by Sir Francis Chantrey. 1823. Marble. St. James's Church, Weybridge, Surrey. Moved from the original parish church here to the new one designed by J. L. Pearson. [Click on these images to enlarge them.]

Frederica Charlotte Ulrica Katherine, Duchess of York, was born in Berlin as the Princess Royal of Prussia. She married the Duke of York in London in 1791, but when the marriage failed moved to Oatlands Park in Surrey. She is praised in the inscription for her simplicity, "sweetness of disposition, her unaffected piety, and her never-failing benevolence," but according to Lytton Strachey's source, was rather eccentric: "a lady who rarely went to bed and was perpetually surrounded by vast numbers of dogs, parrots, and monkeys" (6). According to the inscription, again, she "dictated in her last moments the wish to be buried in this church without pageantry or parade."

Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner describe this and other older memorials as being "[s]kied under the tower," as indeed they are, but this is a lovely one all the same, the face raised beseechingly, the arms almost living flesh, the folds of the garment light and graceful. Nairn and Pevsner pick it out for special attention: "Kneeling figure with crown beside her feet, an opportunity for one of Chantrey's favourite moving young women. Good, but too high up the wall to judge properly" (517).

Photographs 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 and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


Nairn, Ian, and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Buildings of England: Surrey. Harmondsworth: Penguin, rev. ed. 1971.

Strachey, Lytton. Queen Victoria. London: Chatto & Windus, 1921.

Last modified 23 June 2014