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Westminster Abbey and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Abbey remains open for worship and you are welcome to join us at our daily Eucharist service if you are able to travel here safely within current government guidelines.

However, for the time being we are unable to open the Abbey and St Margaret’s Church for general visiting.

Holles Family

Francis Holles

Francis Holles was buried in the chapel of St Edmund in Westminster Abbey. He has a free standing monument, by sculptor Nicholas Stone, consisting of a stone circular pedestal with festoons of flowers upon which Francis is depicted as a life-size seated figure in Roman armour, his left hand resting on an oval armorial shield. The figure is derived from the Medici monument by Michaelangelo in Florence. The inscription reads:

What so thou hast of Nature, or of Arts, youth, beautie, strength, or what excelling parts, of mynd and boddie, letters, arms and worth, his eighteen yeares, beyond his yeares, brought forth then stand and read thyself within this glas how soon theise perish, and thy selfe may pas. Mans life is measured by the worke, not dayes, no aged sloth, but active youth hath prayse

Below is some Latin which can be translated:

Francis Holles, a brave youth, who returning from making a campaign in the Netherlands, died 12 August in the year of our Lord's age 1622 and of his own the 18th; his afflicted father, John Earl of Clare, to this his valued, and lamented son, erected this monument.

The shield shows a coat of arms which includes the arms of Holles (Ermine, two piles meeting in base, sable), Chetwood, Denzel and Cresely.

Sir George Holles

The monument to Francis's uncle Sir George Holles is on the wall in the chapel of St John the Evangelist. Again by the sculptor Nicholas Stone it consists of an alabaster and stone standing monument with a pedimented base and a pedestal on which is a more than life-size statue of Sir George in Roman armour, holding a large shield. On the base is a relief of a military engagement, probably the battle of Nieuport in Belgium, where he fought as Major General under his uncle Sir Francis Vere (who is buried nearby). The Latin inscription can be translated:

To George Holles, Kt., sprung from a most renowned Anglo-British family: from his youth up, so dedicated to the military arts that he seemed to be born a child of the camp. After he had performed in Belgium all such military service as might become one of high birth, he was appointed supreme leader of his people, and publicly proclaimed Major General. Departing peacefully from the northern purlieus of the capital, it was his wish that here he might be set, in a most honourable rivalry, beside Francis Vere, his commander and kinsman: the links [created by] their [shared] dangers were [even] greater than those of consanguinity. John, his brother, Earl of Clare, placed [this] here, deeply sorrowing, for a deeply deserving brother. He lived for 50 years, 3 months and 4 days. He died on 19th May 1626

"Anglo-British" may imply a Celtic origin ie. probably an Irish connection, as John Holles was Earl of Clare.

Sir Frescheville Holles

Frescheville was born 8th June 1642, the only son of Gervase Holles and his second wife Elizabeth (Molesworth). A major in the Westminster militia he also commanded a privateer called the Panther. George Monck, duke of Albemarle, recommended him for the navy and he was later knighted after a successful action, although he lost an arm. He married Jane Crome (nee Lewis). While serving in the third Anglo-Dutch war he was killed at the battle of Sole bay on 28th May 1672 and was given a splendid funeral in the Abbey. He was buried in St Edmund's chapel but his grave is unmarked - in his will he had planned an impressive memorial for himself!

John Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle

His towering monument of white and other marble stands in the north transept, near the entrance door, although he was buried, by his own wish, in the chapel of St John the Evangelist near his great-grandfather Horace, Lord Vere of Tilbury. The monument is signed by the architect James Gibbs and the sculptor was Francis Bird assisted by J.M. Rysbrack. The duke's effigy is in armour with loose drapery and he looks upward, holding in his hands a coronet and a baton. On either side are the standing, life-size, figures of Wisdom, with a pillar, and Sincerity, with a mirror. The architectural background consists of two columns, pilasters and two seated angels, with an heraldic achievement. The inscription reads:

To the memory of JOHN HOLLES DUKE OF NEWCASTLE, Marquis and Earl of CLARE, Baron Haughton and Knight-Companion of the most Noble Order of the Garter, whose body is here deposited under the same roof with many of his noble ancestors and relations of the families of VERE, CAVENDISHE and HOLLES, whose eminent virtues he inherited; and was particularly distinguished for his courage, love to his countrey and constancy in friendship; which qualities he exerted with great zeal and readiness, whenever the cause of religion, his countrey, or friends required him. In the reign of Queen Anne he filled with great capactiy and honour the several employments of Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, and Privy Councellour, Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of the counties of Middlesex and Nottingham, and of the county of the town of Nottingham and of the East and North Ridings of the county of York, Lord Chief Justice in Eyre North of Trent, and Governour of the town and fort of Kingston upon Hull; to all which titles and honours his personal merit gave a lustre, that needed not the addition of the great wealth which he possessed. He was born the 9th of January 1661/2 and died the 15th of July 1711. He marryed the Lady Margaret, third daughter and heir to Henry Cavendishe Duke of Newcastle, by whom he left issue one only child, the Lady HENRIETTA-CAVENDISHE HOLLES HARLEY, who caused this memorial of him to be here erected in the year of our Lord 1723

John was a son of Gilbert Holles, 3rd Earl of Clare, and his wife Grace (Pierrepont). He succeeded his father as Earl in 1689. While stag hunting at his home at Welbeck Abbey he was thrown from his horse and died. His daughter Henrietta married Edward Harley (later Earl of Oxford) and she was buried in the Newcastle vault on 26th December 1755, with Edward who was buried there on 25th June 1741.

Sir Francis Holles, son of Denzil, 1st Baron Holles of Ifield, was married in the Abbey to Lucy Carr on 22nd August 1661.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004 for John and Sir Frescheville

Holles Family
John Holles monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2021 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Holles Family
Francis Holles monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2021 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Holles Family
George Holles monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2021 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Holles Family
Relief on George's monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2021 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Related commemorations

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