Skip to main content

Elizabeth Fane

In St Nicholas' chapel in Westminster Abbey is a large elaborate monument of alabaster and marble to Elizabeth Fane. She was buried on 19th November 1618. The Latin inscription can be translated:

The Lady Elizabeth Fane, remarkable for her ancient descent, but more for her own virtue, daughter of Robert, Baron Spencer of Wormleighton, and wife to the honourable Sir George Fane, of Burston in the county of Kent, Knight. A chaste, modest and religious wife, who in most ardent ejaculations, frequently repeated, with a loud voice, recommended her soul to her Redeemer. In the year of our Lord 1618, with great character, of her age 28, of her marriage 10, leaving no issue. Her most afflicted husband, to this matchless wife, hath gratefully placed this monument, who, as his effigy is placed near hers, so intends their ashes shall be united.

Below is the English inscription:

This monument was restored by FRANCIS Baron le Despencer Anno Christi 1764.

Coats of arms on the monument include those of Fane (azure, three gauntlets, sinister, or), Nevile and Spencer.

Sir George was not actually buried here as the inscription implies (in his will he requested burial either at the Abbey or at Mereworth in Kent). However, kneeling figures of both of them appear on the monument beneath a curtained canopy. George has his hand on a skull which lies on the desk between the effigies and Elizabeth is praying. She was the second daughter of Lord Spencer (of Althorp) by Margaret (daughter of Sir Francis Willoughby of Wollaton) and married Sir George on 3rd September 1607 but they had no children. Sir George was born about 1581, the second son of Sir Thomas Fane and Mary Neville (later Baroness le Despencer). He was Member of Parliament for several towns in Kent, including Dover and Maidstone. His second wife was Anne Boteler, by whom he had six children, and he died on 26th June 1640.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004


19th November 1618


Chapel of St Nicholas

Elizabeth Fane
Elizabeth Fane memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Elizabeth Fane
Elizabeth and her husband

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 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