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Effigy of the
Earl of Salisbury

at Burghfield Parish Church 

For some unknown reason, Burghfield Church houses the superb alabaster effigy of Richard Neville, the Earl of Salisbury. Father of the all-powerful Warwick the Kingmaker, he fought for the Yorkist cause, during the War of the Roses, and was executed after the Battle of Wakefield (1460). He was buried first at Pontefract, but his son transferred his body to the family mausoleum at Bisham Abbey in East Berkshire. This is where his effigy originated. It was supposedly dragged to Burghfield 'from Newbury' behind two wild horses sometime after the Dissolution of the Monasteries! The lady alongside him is not of the right date to be his wife, but she is, no doubt, one of the other Countesses of Salisbury buried at Bisham.

The Effigy has certainly seen better days, but its superb quality is still evident. The Earl's head rests on a pillow once supported by two little angels. The carving of his chainmail coat is exceptionally fine, while the surcoat over his armour bears the quartered arms of Neville and Montacute. The whole was originally brightly painted and the colours of the heraldry can still be seen on the underside of the monument.
 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2003. All Rights Reserved.