Repairing monuments at St Nicholas’ Church, Chiswick

by Jane Watson, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Journal 11, 2002

The restoration of the beautiful alabaster onument to Sir Thomas Chaloner (1561-1615) in St Nicholas Church, Chiswick, has recently been completed. Originally in the chancel of the old church it had been re-located in the Lady Chapel during the 1884 rebuilding. Grants totalling £17,000 allowed Holdens Restorations to remove the monument to their workshop for painstaking and sensitive cleaning. It was found that the top of the monument was not fixed to the wall, so the rusting clamps have been replaced with steel. The installation of appropriate lighting, to show it off to better advantage, will go ahead when funds have been found.

St Nicholas mounted an exhibition showing work in progress during London Open House weekend in 2000, using photographs of the delicately carved figures taken when the monument was dismantled into 100 pieces. Unfortunately no signature for the sculptor was found.

Sir Thomas was buried in the church with his second wife, the memorial being erected by his third son Edward. One of the first boys at St Paul’s School, he had a long and interesting career including discovering alum on his Yorkshire estate, where the mines were subsequently claimed by the Crown. The story is that this embittered two of his sons who subsequently sat in judgement on Charles I, though only James actually signed the death warrant.

More recently the repair of a monument to the Hon Thomas Walpole, on the north wall in the church, is being undertaken. Thomas was the nephew of Sir Robert Walpole, and married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Joshua Vanneck, said to be one of the richest merchants in Europe. Vanneck’s estate in Roehampton adjoined that of Walpole’s father Horatio. Thomas was elected director of the East India Company and lived his last years in Walpole House on Chiswick Mall, dying in 1803. His brother Richard Walpole married Elizabeth’s sister, Margaret Vanneck, who is also buried in the church. Both the current Lord Walpole and a descendant of Sir Joshua are visiting and have contributed details of the family history.

Jane Watson is the Honorary Archivist to St Nicholas’ Church

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