UTTOXETER

Grid Ref: SK 094 335
28 May 2003 & 19 Oct 2005

Church spacer Nave
St. Mary's       The Nave
Tomb   Tomb
Side panel of the tomb of Sir Thomas Kynnersle   Alabaster tomb of Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Hussey
Top of tomb   The Old Talbot
The top of the tomb of Sir Thomas Kynnersley   The Old Talbot Inn
Johnson Memorial   Detail of memorial
Dr. Johnson Memorial   Panel on the side of the memorial

 

St. Mary's at Uttoxeter is hard to photograph because of the height of its spire and the narrowness of surrounding streets. Much of the church was built between 1826 and 1828 replacing a medieval structure but the tower and spire date from the 14th century. The picture of the nave shows the galleries above each aisle. The chancel was modified in 1877.

Beneath the west tower are two tombs and there is a printed notice giving details. The lady shown in the effigy has been shown to represent Elizabeth the daughter of Henry Hussey of King's Bromley, who died in 1523. The tomb was removed from its original position when the church was being rebuilt in the 1820s and shortened by removing the feet in order to make it fit under a staircase. The tomb was restored by the Kynnersley family in 1889. The tomb is open at the back and has beneath an effigy of a skeleton to show the subject in life and death. The tomb of Sir Thomas Kynnersley has the image cut into the slab on the top instead of an effigy. A translation of the Latin inscription by the Rev. Preb. W. H. O. Moss, a former vicar of Uttoxeter, reads "Here lie the bodies of Thomas Kynnersley of Morley, Knight and of his wives and their sons and daughters. Thomas died in 1505. May God have mercy on their souls. Amen" The first wife of Sir Thomas, was Margery the daughter of John Agarde and she is believed to be depicted in the right hand panel. His second wife was the daughter of Humphrey Wolrich and she was the widow of Henry Petitt of Badger. Sir Thomas and his third wife, Elizabeth Hussey, are shown in the central panel, kneeling beside the cross.

The Talbot Inn derives its name from the Talbot family who were Earls of Shrewsbury and had lands in Staffordshire including Alton. The inn dates from the late 16th century and in 1644 it was given as a bequest by John Dynes to provide from its rents money to pay for the apprenticeship of the poor. The building survived the fire of 1672, which destroyed much of the town.

Samuel Johnson's father was a bookseller and lived in Lichfield. He sold books in other locations including Uttoxeter and stored his stock in the Talbot Inn. On one occasion he asked his son to go to Uttoxeter to sell his books for him and Samuel declined. When much older, in 1777, Samuel was struck by pangs of conscience and went to Uttoxeter to perform a penance by standing in the square all day. This event is commemorated by the plaques on the circular stone building in the centre of the square. This building, erected in 1854, formerly housed a weighing machine but it is now used as a newspaper kiosk. The streets around the two adjoining squares contain a number of timber framed properties.

The townsfolk of Uttoxeter seem to enjoy light-hearted banter.  I noticed a senior citizen looking at a very bright hacking jacket in the window of a gentlemens' outfitter.  It would have looked flamboyant even on a presenter of 'Bargain Hunt'.  "We'd certainly cut a dash in one of those", I commented "but where we would we be able to wear it?"  "Only in bed" he replied, quick as a flash.

Dr Johnson is reported as saying that there was nothing so fine as an English Inn.  However, if you are a tea-totaller or a driver there is nothing so fine as an English teashop or coffee shop. In Uttoxeter look out for the Indulgence Coffee Lounge in the Lion Buildings courtyard off Market Place.

Sources:

The Buildings of England, Staffordshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin, 1974, ISBN 0 14 071046 9
The Old Parish Churches of Staffordshire, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, 1996, ISBN 1871731 25 8
Uttoxeter Tourist Information

 

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