Uncovering the Impact of Renaissance and Reformation in England
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Leicester
Unit of AssessmentArt and Design: History, Practice and Theory
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
History and Archaeology: Archaeology, Historical Studies
Summary of the impact
Research with English Heritage, Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service,
Historic Royal Palaces and the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust has
directly impacted on the study, preservation and exhibition of sculpture,
inspired cutting-edge scientific analysis, encouraged local participation
in the research process and enhanced understanding of and appreciation for
a shared past. It has also underwritten successful bids to the Heritage
Lottery Fund for the conservation of world-class monumental sculpture.
Dr Phillip Lindley has been at Leicester since 1991 and is an expert on
the art and architecture of the early modern period c.1400-1800. He has
researched and published extensively on sculpture and architecture in
Tudor and Early Modern Britain. In particular, he has examined the effects
of the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII (1), the
dissolution of the chantries under King Edward VI (3) and the wider
effects of the Tudor Reformation in the sixteenth century and of
Puritanism in the seventeenth century on churches, the tombs contained
within them (1,3), religious imagery (2) and
attitudes to the dead (1,3). He has also worked extensively
on the later reception of medieval and Tudor art, focussing particularly
on reactions to Reformation attacks on religious sculptures. He argues
that the destruction and defacement of images not only motivated a new
study of the past by scholars appalled at Reformation and later
destruction, but also propelled historicist attempts to revive and
recapture what was increasingly seen as a vitally important part of the
national heritage (1).
On the basis of his reputation, Lindley was consulted in 2006 to examine
numerous unsorted sculpted materials under the protection of English
Heritage (EH). The material had been excavated from Thetford Priory,
Norfolk in the 1930s and stored ever since. Lindley recognised that the
fragments included previously unknown Renaissance sculpture by a famous
Florentine sculptor, Giovanni da Maiano, as well as numerous pieces of
pre-dissolution tomb monuments of the Howard family, the Dukes of Norfolk
who became the most powerful nobles in Tudor England. The family tombs
[and those of the Howards' predecessors] were in Thetford Priory until its
dissolution in 1540. Some fifteen years later, after the death of Henry
VIII and Edward VI, the third duke was able to move two of the most
important monuments — his own and that of his son-in-law, Henry VIII's
bastard son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset — to
Framlingham, where the church was rebuilt to provide a superb new setting
for them, close to the Duke's great castle. Neither the 3rd
Duke's nor Richmond's tomb had been fully completed before Thetford Priory
was dissolved, and they had never, therefore, been assembled until they
were completed at Framlingham in the 1550s.
In 2010, a team led by Lindley (members listed below) was awarded funding
from the joint AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Programme (6) to
investigate the archaeology, art history and history of the Howard tomb
monuments at both Thetford and Framlingham (the `Representing
Re-Formation' project). Initial work on the monuments, based on earlier
scholarship, the materials identified by Lindley (held by EH) and a series
of new discoveries, indicated that some components of the two monuments
were moved from Thetford to Framlingham but others had been abandoned at
Thetford. The project involved a high-resolution 3D scan of the tombs at
Framlingham to try to ascertain precisely which pieces of the monuments
had been salvaged from Thetford, and which were new additions, supplied in
the 1550s when the monuments were erected at Framlingham. Additionally,
the pieces abandoned on the site of Thetford Priory and now in the care of
EH, were also scanned. The monuments were then virtually disassembled and
reconstructed with the excavated pieces virtually incorporated into the
designs. In this way, the monuments were reconstructed as originally
planned to stand in Thetford Priory, but never actually finished because
the Priory was dissolved in 1540.
From the start, discussion of research with the wider communities was
built into the project. This involved a website with researcher blogs,
numerous lectures and talks, locally, nationally and internationally, an
exhibition in the Ancient House Museum, Thetford, an App, and a themed
launch, opened by the local MP. As well as involving researchers from a
number of disciplines, staff from Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service
(NMAS) and EH played a key collaborative role in the project.
Whilst working on the Howard monuments, Lindley noticed that another of
the tombs in Framlingham church was by the French sculptor L.F. Roubiliac,
the greatest sculptor to work in eighteenth-century England, and that its
inscription suggested a connection with the two world-class Roubiliac
monuments at Warkton in Northamptonshire (4,5). At the invitation
of the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust, he subsequently studied these two
monuments, and others also commemorating ancestors of the Duke of
Buccleuch in Warkton's chancel (4). This structural and archival
research has underwritten a successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid and has
helped inform the conservators.
Representing Re-Formation Teams.
Leicester: Art History and Archaeology (this UoA): Dr Lindley, project
manager Dr Hall and PhD student Constabel; Space Research Centre (UoA9):
Prof Fraser and PhD student Karim; Museum Studies (UoA36): Dr Parry and RA
Richards; Computer Science (UoA11) Dr Law and RA Beddall-Hill.
Oxford, History: Dr Gunn and PhD student Claiden-Yardley; Yale: Dr Ford.
Partners EH: Bryan and Summerfield. NMAS: Bone and Hawker.
References to the research
1. Lindley, P.G. Tomb Destruction and Scholarship: Medieval Monuments
in Early Modern England, Donington, 2007 (257 & x pp, 80 plates)
2. Lindley, P.G. `The `Artist': Institutions, Training and Status' in T.
Ayers (ed.), The History of British Art 600-1600, Yale, London and
New Haven, 2008, pp. 140-65
3. Lindley, P.G. `Pickpurse' Pugatory, the Dissolution of the Chantries
and the Suppression of Intercession for the Dead', Journal of the
British Archaeological Association, 164, (2011), pp. 277-304
4. Lindley, P.G. `Peter Mathias Van Gelder's monument to Mary, third
Duchess of Montagu in St Edmund's Warkton, Northamptonshire', Burlington
Magazine, clv, (2013) 220-229
5. Lindley, P.G. `The artistic practice, protracted publication, and
posthumous completion of Charles Alfred Stothard's Monumental Effigies of
Great Britain', Antiquaries Journal, 92 (2012) 385-426
6. 2010-13: AHRC/EPSRC PI Lindley, `Representing Re-Formation:
Reconstructing Renaissance Monuments' (£497,907 plus three PhD
Details of the impact
The recognition by Lindley of the importance of the fragments of
sculpture unearthed at Thetford, has led to impact in a number of areas,
affecting national and regional heritage organisations, local communities,
artists and companies. Lindley's analysis and insight, directing the work
of the Project, has focussed new attention on an important period in
English history and has highlighted the importance of material culture in
understanding and interpreting the historical context.
Impact on heritage organisations
The underpinning research has changed the way local and national heritage
organisations display and present information on the dissolution of the
Thetford priory and the Howard family. Major fragments of sculpture from
the Howard tombs, identified by Lindley, formed the basis of new permanent
displays at the EH managed Framlingham Castle (10 pieces from 2008 onwards
(A)) and at Norwich Castle Museum (managed by NMAS, 5 pieces).
Other fragments form a key component of the exhibition at the Ancient
House Museum in Thetford (NMAS) — Thetford's Lost Tudor Sculptures
— which showcases the findings of the Representing Re-formation project
(opened on 27 July 2013). Lindley also wrote the free 40-page guide which
accompanies the exhibition and includes images and scans arising from the
Project. In addition, the British Museum have placed on long term loan
with the Ancient House Museum two relief panels from the Thetford tombs
which they have held since the 1860s (B). The exhibition has
allowed the Ancient House Museum to use the Tudor Hall as an exhibition
space for the first time, opening up new possibilities for future
The research has also impacted on the understanding and conservation of
sculpture from other significant buildings. Amongst the sculptures
unearthed at Thetford, Lindley discovered part of a terracotta roundel by
Giovanni da Maiano, who produced identical roundels for Cardinal Wolsey at
Hampton Court Palace in 1521. The rediscovered roundel fragment, unlike
its Hampton Court counterparts, retained its original paint, providing a
clear impression of how the originals would have looked when new. This
discovery has informed the research and conservation programme (2012) by
the Historic Royal Palaces. In addition, EH loaned the roundel to the
exhibition `Giving our past a future: the work of the World Monument
Fund' held at the Sir John Soane Museum between October 2012 and
January 2013 (A).
Having studied the Roubiliac tombs at Warkton, Lindley worked with The
Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust and the Parochial Church Council at
Warkton to underwrite a successful bid (C) (submitted
February 2013) to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £318,000 to restore and
conserve the monuments which have been described as "surpassed only by the
monument to Lady Elizabeth Nightingale at Westminster Abbey" (D).
The conservation and restoration work is due to start shortly.
Impact on Local Communities
One of the key features of the research described has been the involvement
of local communities and the research has impacted on the way local people
think about and value their history.
Framlingham: Several public events and lectures were held for the
people of Framlingham including a series of public lectures (given by
Lindley, Hall and Fraser) at the church in June 2011 during 3D scanning
week and others in October 2012 (attendance at each 50-100 people).
Another talk was given in the local town of Aylsham in January 2013. In
addition, there were tours for the general public from Framlingham round
Thetford Priory in June 2012 (50 people) and a talk plus tour to the
Society for Church Archaeology Conference in July 2012 (50 people).
Thetford: The Project has impacted on the people of Thetford in a
number of ways (B).
- New audiences have visited the museum through the free entrance
(funded by the Project);
- Local people have learned more about their town's history through the
talks and lectures by Lindley and members of the project team.
- Young people working on their Arts Awards and members of the Matthew
Project, for people recovering from addictions, have used the exhibition
as inspiration and directly contributed to the displays.
- Local schools have worked with the Norfolk Museums Service Education
team to develop and test a project app whose content has been directly
shaped by the work of Lindley and colleagues.
- As a direct result of the plans for the exhibition, in early 2013,
Thetford Tourism and Heritage Partnership applied for a Heritage Lottery
Award. This successful bid (£9300) funded a very popular Meet the Tudors
day for local people (over 600 attendees), the day following the
official opening of the exhibition. Lindley, Ford, Gunn,
Claiden-Yardley, Hall and Karim were all involved in this event, giving
lectures, tours and app demonstrations.
Warkton: In January 2013, Lindley gave lectures explaining the
architectural and cultural significance of the tomb monuments (C)
to the churchwardens of Warkton and separately to the Duke of Buccleuch
and an audience from Cambridge. This was followed in July 2013 by a
similar lecture to local (paying) public.
As stated by English Heritage, "Without your input, English Heritage
would not have identified the international significance of the Thetford
Priory collection and neither would the collection have been promoted to
such a wide and diverse audience" (A).
Impact on Contemporary Artists
Contemporary multimedia artist Andrew Williams explores issues of
disability and identity through his work. He developed a video
presentation, which forms part of the Thetford's Lost Tudor Sculptures
exhibition, featuring the fragments, extant and virtually-recreated
tombs to explore notions of evanescence and decay. Williams says the
following about how working with the project has affected his work "I
was pleased to find that my meditations on transience and the damage
that time inflicts seem to have echoed your academic concerns. For a
professional artist, used to working for very different types of
audience, this has been reciprocally a transformative experience,
putting a different type of artistic challenge in front of me, and
placing the result before new audiences" (E).
Impact on Commerce
A key innovation of the Representing Re-Formation project was the
development and application of computer imaging techniques for digitizing
and reconstructing tomb monuments virtually. Working on the project opened
up new commercial opportunities for the technology company who used their
involvement as a case study at trade fairs and noted a considerable
increase in enquiries and company recognition following Lindley's
appearance on BBC TV and Radio on 16 June 2011 (F). Lindley's
presentation on these novel uses of 3D scanning at the Digidoc Conference
(22 October 2012) to a mixed audience of archaeologists, heritage
professionals and commercial organisations (200 people) further
highlighted the potential of digital technology.
The Company gained increased expertise and confidence from working on the
tombs and as a direct result of this work employed a Creative and
Marketing Manager in June 2013 to develop a new company (to be launched in
late 2013) focussing on 3D scanning for non-industrial markets (G).
This development is particularly important in view of the 2013 decision at
National Museums, Liverpool to close their Laser Scanning and Conservation
English Heritage commented that "An additional benefit has been an
exemplary use of modern technology and scientific investigation in
showing how rather unprepossessing bits of stone can be used as elements
in reconstructions, using 3d scans and prints. This will undoubtedly
have wider applications at other museums and heritage sites." (H)
Although the underpinning research for this case study focusses on a
specific set of tomb monuments from the 16th century, the
research has had impact far outside this area in both heritage and
commercial sectors and on the public understanding of this tumultuous
period in England's history.
Sources to corroborate the impact
A. Former Senior Curator East Territory, English Heritage.
B. Curator, Thetford Ancient House Museum.
C. Head of the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust.
D. HLF announcement of the award to BLHT
E. Andrew Williams.
F. Media appearances by Lindley discussing the project on 17 June 2011:
G. Creative and Marketing Director, Europac3d
H. Chief Executive, English Heritage.