I am getting struck by wanderlust, a bad sign

Or maybe not. Leave it to my friend, Martha, who says she never has any good ideas, to be living the best stories. She doesn’t need to make them up.

Her oldest daughter, an archaeologist, is working on a lead coffin project. The photos here, are hers, I think.

On the English Heritage Web site, under places to visit in the southwest region in Somerset, the Farleigh Hungerford castle is pictured along with a few paragraphs on its history.

“Farleigh Hunderford, the site says, was begun in the 1370s by Sir Thomas Hungerford, Speaker of the Commons, and extended in the 15th century by his son Walter, Lord Hungerford, Agincourt veteran and distinguished medieval statesman.”

Their fortified mansion was built in the style of its day. The quadrangular building with four towers (two are still standing) had a walled outer court containing a chapel and priest’s house.

The chapel holds family monuments and is decorated with wall paintings. It stands over a crypt where the lead coffins of 16th and 17th century Hungerfords are still visible, the site notes.

“These have ‘death masks’ of the deceased indented into them, and are probably the best examples of their type in Britain.”

These Hunderfords look to be sleeping peacefully. But the lives of some of their family members were anything but sleepy or peaceful. Two were executed during the Wars of the Roses and another, who imprisoned his wife within the castle for four years, “was beheaded for alleged treason and witchcraft by Henry VIII.”

One Lady Hungerford, the site notes, “was hanged for murdering her first husband and burning his body in the castle’s kitchen oven, another was charged with adultery and attempted poisoning.”

Will have to find out from Cammie, Martha’s daughter, how the story continues, and who these entombed Hungerfords are. I wonder if they’ve been moved for study…

One Reply to “I am getting struck by wanderlust, a bad sign”

  1. Christine,

    I am writing a book on the history of lead for Oxford University Press. It will have a limited first edition of 1000. I would like to include an image of yours of the coffins at Farleigh Hunderford castle. I was wondering what your licensing and permission fees would be

    Oxford informs me that they have no budget for these art images in the book so any fees paid will come out of my personal pocket.


    Alanah Fitch
    Full Professor
    Department of Chemistry
    Loyola University Chicago


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