'The Monument of Sir Humfrey de Littlebury at All Saints, Holbeach'

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


All Saints church at Holbeach in the Lincolnshire fens contains one of the most impressive and formally unusual of all mid-14th-century English funerary monuments. It was made c. 1340-60 to commemorate Sir Humphrey de Littlebury, an active if relatively minor royal servant whose greatest honour was appointment to joint-captaincy and admiralship of the royal fleet in 1315. While often cited as a comparator in studies of English sculpture, the Littlebury tomb has never been analysed in detail. Its constructional complexity and historical significance have thus been overlooked, and it has been consistently misdated. This paper argues that the chest was made in two parts by different but contemporaneous hands, and that the effigy was added approximately twenty years later. In order to do this, formal sources for its general design and diaper ornament are suggested. Key events in Humphrey's hitherto unstudied career are then outlined, and the year of his death is fixed at 1339. The tomb's chronology, and the Careers of Humphrey, his son Robert, and grandson John, invite speculation that the monument commemorates a later Littlebury, a proposition which is rejected in the light of heraldic evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKing’s Lynn and the Fens: medieval art, architecture and archaeology
EditorsJ. McNeill
ISBN (Print)9781906540159
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Publication series

NameBritish Archaeological Association conference transactions


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