On the MA Archaeology of Death and Memory, we explore the materialities and landscapes of memory in the past and present. A recent visit to Aldford church and churchyard with the students was instructive in multiple fashions (see an earlier post about the church monuments).
There are many examples of medieval architectures and monumental themes being redeployed in the commemorative monuments of the late 19th and 20th centuries, not least war memorials. Yet in the churchyard of Aldford (Cheshire), a village within the Eaton Hall estate of the Duke of Westminster, the worn four-stepped base of a medieval churchyard cross was renovated and re-purposed to commemorate Hugh Lupus, the Duke of Westminster. Of course his grave is the epitome of turn-of-the-century Gothic vainglory in the south transept of Chester Cathedral. In this light, the Aldford churchyard’s worn medieval monument is an apposite medium for public aristocratic commemoration on his estate.
The cross-head bears saints and the crucified Christ. The new polygonal shaft has been mounted on a plinth. Meanwhile, the plinth is set on top of the medieval base bears two bronze plaques.
The Apostles’ Creed is on the northern side, facing the church.
Meanwhile, on the west side of the plinth, facing the nearby path, is the memorial dedication:
“To the honour and glory of God and in pious memory of Hugh Lupus, Duke of Westminster. This ancient cross is restored by some who loved him, 1901”.
I’ve discussed medieval churchyard crosses before on this blog for Trelawyd and Derwen but I’ve not witnessed elsewhere one co-opted into Edwardian aristocratic commemoration in such a fashion. The cross – medieval and modern elements combined – is now a Grade II listed monument.