Restoration of memorials in Crickhowell Parish Church, Crickhowell, Powys, UK
Two stone medieval effigies in St Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell have recently been professionally restored. These statues, of Sir Grimbald and Lady Sybil Pauncefote lying on top of their individual tombs, provide a direct link to the earliest days of Crickhowell as a new town in the Usk Valley.
Grimbald and Sybil were married in the late 1260s and lived in Crickhowell Castle which was the major focus of the town. He died in 1287 and Lady Sybil then set about providing the town with a parish church which was dedicated to St Edmund in 1303. After her death in 1326 the parishioners created appropriately prominent tombs for the couple topped with the two effigies.
Grimbald’s effigy is of a figure in chainmail carrying a shield which bears the Pauncefote arms. Lady Sybil is shown dressed in a simple gown with her hair covered. Her hands are missing, although there is evidence that the effigy originally had hands in an attitude of prayer. It is possible that the hands were cut off to support the largely discredited legend that she gave her right hand as a ransom to release her husband from prison while he was on the Crusades. Before their restoration both effigies showed the wear and tear of centuries, with Sir Grimbald’s figure broken in several places and parts of the stonework missing. Lady Sybil’s statue had survived with less damage overall.
“Some of us have felt for some time that it would be good to see Sir Grimbald’s effigy looking more like it did originally” said Eric Gower, committee member of the Friends of St Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell “and that has now been achieved by the careful work of the conservation team that the church employed.”
The restoration was carried out by the firm of Sally Strachey Historic Conservation Ltd who are based in Somerset. They have expertise in a wide range of conservation activities and have demonstrated a high level of understanding of the significance of these effigies to the heritage of the church, the town and the region.
The restoration project was funded by grants from two sources–The Powys Welsh Church Act Fund of Community Foundation Wales and The Idlewild Trust. The Powys Welsh Church Act Fund was created as a result of the Church Wales separating from the Church of England through the Welsh Church Act 1914. Idlewild Trust was formed from the proceeds of the sale of property owned by Peter Minet in Camberwell and Lambeth in the 1960s.
St Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell