Skip to main content

Westminster Abbey and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Abbey is no longer open for public worship, general visiting or private prayer. Meanwhile, the community of Abbey clergy, privately and following guidance given, will sustain the worship of a building that has been a witness to God’s grace and glory for over a thousand years.

Find out more

Clement Cottrell

In the south aisle of the Nave of Westminster Abbey is a monument to two friends, Charles Harbord and Clement Cottrell (or Cotterell). They both died on 28th May 1672 in a naval engagement against the Dutch fleet in Southwold Bay, Suffolk, and are buried at sea. The monument was erected by Harbord's father. The part of the inscription concerning Clement reads (in standardised English):

Clement Cottrell Esqr. eldest son of Sir Charles Cottrell, Knight, Master of the Ceremonies, and his assistant to have succeeded in that office, for which he was very fit, having a tall handsome person, a graceful winning behaviour, and great natural parts, much improved by study and by converse in most courts of Europe, where firm to the Church of England, he learned not their vices but customs and languages, understanding seven and speaking four of them as his own though but XXII years old; yet not content to serve his King and country at home only, his excess of courage, incited by a deep sense of honour, could not be kept from going Volunteer with the Earl of Sandwich with whom he had been in Spain when his Excellency was there [as] Ambassador Extraordinary, and with whom (after having returned unwounded into his ship, from being the first man that had boarded a Dutch one of LX guns and pulled down the ensign of it with his own hand) he also perished, universally lamented.

Their ship was the "Royal James" and a bas-relief on the monument depicts the last moments of the battle. The carved arms of Cottrell also appear (a bend between three escallops (or shells), a label of three points for difference). The family arms had been granted to Clement's grandfather, Sir Clement Cottrell of the county of Lincolnshire, who was a groom-porter to King James I. His father, Sir Charles (1615-1701), was Master of the Ceremonies to the Crown and a Member of Parliament who lived in Westminster. Clement was unmarried and his brother Sir Charles Lodowick Cottrell (d.1710) succeeded to his father's office.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Died

28th May 1672

Occupation

Sailor

Location

Nave

Memorial Type

Tablet

Clement Cottrell
Harbord & Cottrell monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

Vanessa, Head of Conservation

Twitter logo Tweet this