Familial Connections: Heraldic Painting at Bloxworth Church

The Savage pew (or chapel) is located on the north side of Bloxworth church in Dorset.

Bloxworth, Dorset, Plan

This extension was added at the end of the seventeenth century, probably by George Savage (d.1683). Set in the east and west walls, and high in the north wall, are elliptical windows with raised stone surrounds, and below the latter a square-headed window with two lights.

Bloxworth4

The chapel would have been used by the Savage family during services, and also for burial and commemoration. Rather like medieval chantry chapels, such spaces were commonly entered through an external door. A blocked doorway with a moulded architrave is visible in the west wall (see below).

Bloxworth5

The Savage family lived at Bloxworth House until the end of the seventeenth century, when the property was sold to John Trenchard. It is likely that the Trenchard family assumed stewardship of the chapel at this point, for a number of Trenchard mural tablets are visible in the chapel, including the memorial to John Trenchard himself.

Bloxworth, Dorset3

The post-Reformation wall paintings in the Savage pew were almost certainly commissioned by George Savage (d.1683), who married Ann Bower of Spettisbury. The achievement of Savage impaling Bower is painted on the south wall of the chapel, a final visual reminder to those exiting the chapel into the nave (perhaps through a screen) of the patron’s wealth, generosity and familial connections.

Bloxworth, Dorset2

The paintings were possibly commissioned to establish the Savage family’s dynastic connection with the prominent Rock-Savages of Chester, and thus to raise the former’s familial profile.

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