AVELINE de FORZ – AN EARLY PLANTAGENET BRIDE & HER TOMB IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.

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Aveline’s effigy as drawn by Charles Alfred Stothard ‘The Monumental Effigies of Great Britain‘.

 Aveline de Forz, Countess of Lancaster,  first wife of Edmund ‘Crouchback’, First Earl of Lancaster, First Earl of Leicester and a Plantagenet,  died on the 10 November 1274.    He was the son of Henry III and she the daughter of William de Forz , Count of Albermarle, Lord of Holderness and Isabella de Fortibus, Countess of Devon.  Having been born on 20 January 1259, at Burstwick in Holderness, Aveline was 10 years old when she married Edmund in Westminster Abbey in April 1269.   Initially in 1268 Edmund had been granted royal permission to marry Aveline’s widowed mother, Isabella, a very wealthy lady,  after the death of her husband William de Forz,  but in April of the following year he married the young Aveline instead (1).  Theirs was the first recorded marriage in Westminster Abbey,  Henry III’s new Gothic abbey,  shortly after the translation of the relics of the Confessor and on her death, only five years later, Aveline was buried there in the Sacrarium on the north side of the altar (2). Her monument was amongst the first of many in the Abbey and her heavily worn effigy on top depicts a rather maturer lady than Aveline actually was.    However it is still very beautiful and was drawn by Charles A Stothard in the 18th century while it still retained some of its original decoration and colouring.  It had once been richly gessoed and heavily gilded and  Stothard recorded the mantle green, the surcoat red with purple lining and the kirtle blue.   The cushion supporting her  head is held by two angels and two little dogs, though damaged still nestle at her feet in perpetuity.   Stothard also drew Edmund’s tomb and effigy.

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Aveline’s tomb and effigy, Westminster Abbey. Photo westminster-abbey.org

It has been speculated that the 15 year old Aveline may have died in childbirth but I have been unable to verify this and there were certainly many other causes that could have carried her off.  It’s interesting that her five sibings all died young and all before Aveline herself.  Two years after Aveline’s death Edmund would marry Blanche of Artois who survived him dying in 1302.   

On his death in June 1295 Edmund was first buried in The Minories also known as the Abbey of the Minoresses of St Clare without Aldgate,  which he had founded jointly with Blanche.   Four years after his death he was reburied in Westminster close to Aveline (although his heart remained at the Minories),  their tombs being separated by that of Aymer de Valence.  Perhaps he had requested to be buried close to Aveline? However Blanche  would be buried in France as she had requested.  

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Edmund Crouchback’s  effigy as drawn by Stothard.

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Another view of Crouchback’s effigy as drawn by Stothard 18th century.

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Edmund’s tomb and effigy today.

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The tombs of Aveline, Aymer de Valence and Edmund.  A  drawing by Herbert Railton 1910.  The three tombs as they are today making one range of breathtakingly beautiful sepulchral monuments.

Aveline died in Stockwell, which is now a busy South London suburb and I presume her death took place in the medieval Manor House,  which once stood to the east of Stockwell Road, and facing the north of Stockwell Green, the Green having disappeared a long time ago.  No traces of this manor house, the gardens and orchards of which were contained in about  4 acres,  have survived, and the area is now covered by a housing estate, garages and wheelie bins  but traces still linger in the name of nearby Moat Place.  Remains of the moat, alleged to have been 40-50 foot wide could still be seen as late as  19th century (3).  

It must have  seemed to those  that knew and loved Aveline that she  was scarce here before she was gone.    However it’s comforting to know that she was not forgotten and the now somewhat damaged, but still enchanting,  monument they raised some twenty years after her death to honour her still stands to this very day.   

 

If you enjoyed this post you might like 

The Abbey of the Minoresses of St Clare without Aldgate and the Ladies of the Minories

THE MONUMENTAL EFFIGIES OF GREAT BRITAIN : CHARLES A STOTHARD

 

(1) Royal Tombs of Medieval EnglandMark Duffy pp81-82

(2) Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey Dean Stanley 1869 p140

( 3) Survey of London Vol. 26 Lambeth: Southern Area 1956 pp88-95 Originally published by London County Council

 

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