Good Friday, on April 14 marks the 407th wedding anniversary of Sir Richard Caryll, a member of the important 17th century Roman Catholic family of South Harting and Margery Freeland who lived a stone’s throw away in Greatham.
It’s true that most of their anniversaries have passed without ceremony for almost four centuries but all that is about to change.
On Easter Saturday there will be flowers on Dame Margery’s tomb to celebrate her marriage on April 14, 1610 and a series of events are being organised in her memory in May and later this summer.
It is all part of a campaign being launched by the Old Church Group to raise funds to carry out repairs to her tomb.
Anna Dale-Harris, a member of the group which looks after the church on half of its owner Greatham Parish Council, said: “After 385 years lying in Greatham Old Church Dame Margery needs of serious conservation. Although despite her age and the considerable work needed to her monument as a whole, Dame Margery herself looks a lot better than her husband Sir Richard in South Harting Church because he is in pieces!”
She urged people to go and admire Dame Margery, widely regarded as a beauty of her day: “Apparently her face is actually a portrait, and not just a female image, which is quite rare.”
But the alabaster tomb in the 13th century St John the Baptist church is in need of specialist conservation work which will cost some£7,000.
Anna said: “Based on a ‘minimum intervention’ approach, the proposed conservation works include specialist cleaning, repair of the side panels and sandstone plinth and repair and rebuilding of the entablature.”
Grants are being sought and an appeal for donations launched. The church will be open from 10am on Saturday to celebrate Margery’s marriage and on May 11 to commemorate her death.
Sir Richard Caryll died in 1616, leaving Dame Margery a widow aged just 24 years. She survived her husband by 16 years dying in 1632. She was buried in Greatham as her father, John Freeland, was Lord of the Manor of Greatham.
For information on how to help, contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org
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