Vol. 12, No. 1 FORGE: The Bigelow Society Quarterly January 1983 Page 5

E f f i g y

Sir William de Baguley EffigyIf any member of the Bigelow family travels to England this summer, he should not miss seeing the effigy of Sir William de Baguley, builder of Baguley Hall near Manchester, and said to be the seat of Bigelow ancestry.

The effigy (a carved likeness of someone deceased) is now back at Bowden Church, a village some four miles southwest of Baguley Hall, which is South of Manchester. The effigy, made of wood and attached to a stone slab, was in recent years removed from Baguley Hall and replaced in the church where it originally belonged. It had been in that church for several hundred years before being thrown out as worthless. Sir William is probably buried under the church floor as was the custom some 800 years ago(nobles were buried inside the church and common folk in the church yard).

The John Bigelow family of Milwaukee, Oregon, donated to Bigelow Society a photocopy of an article printed in 1886 from "Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society." It was written by James Croston, F.S.A., and tells about Sir William's effigy.

Croston, in the article, said that a city official "some twenty years ago" (1860's) called his attention to a mutilated effigy "affixed to a wall in the garden of a house at Millbank, Partington."

The writer said that other than being a figure of a warrior which had probably been removed from an altar tomb, "nothing was known of the effigy's history, except that it was believed to have been removed from some neighboring church many years previously, and that having been thrown aside as worthless while some church repairs were being made, it was obtained for a trifling sum" by the owner's ancestor and placed against the garden wall.

Because the effigy was attached to the wall for a long period of time, the feet rotted off where they touched the ground. Croston explained, "Except that the lower extremities are mutilated, it is in a fair state of preservation." He continued that the only identification is "from the blazonry upon the surcoat and shield. The effigy is represented as being armed in a complete suit of what is considered to be an imitation of chain mail", but the details had long since disappeared under repeated applications of paint, which, however, preserved the effigy.

Croston described the body as "enveloped in a hauberk, surmounted by a surcoat confined at the waist by a plain belt, from which it opens in front, and reaching down to the knee, falls on each side in graceful folds." The head has a corveliere or skullcap over a cap of chain-mail called a coif-de-mailles. Legs are covered by chausses, a type of legging, and the knees have an additional protection of genouillieres, or metal knee-pads. A short straight sword with crossed hilt and ornamented pommel, hangs from the belt. On the left side he carried a shield, slightly concave to the person.

The shield is what finally identified the effigy, for it is the arms of the Baguley family, three lozenges arranged two over one. Croston continued as he analyzed, "The general treatment and the characteristics of the figure, coupled with the fact that with the exception of the genouillieres, there is a total lack of plate defences, lead to the supposition that the date of this[effigy] is as early as the reign of Edward II, probably about the year 1320, after which time plate armour began to form a more prominent feature in defensive equipment."

Nearly all genealogists hope to find an ancestor who was part of the Great Crusades. Alas, there is no indication whether Sir William did--or did not--fight in the Holy Land. Oftentimes, effigies were represented with crossed ankles to indicate, that the deceased had fought in Jerusalem, but this manner was not universally adopted, and it is equally certain that others were shown in this posture who never served under the banner of the Cross.

Having thus established through the armour that the effigy pre-dates 1320, Croston continued concerning the shield carried by the effigy: "These charges of three lozenges, with the tinctures reversed, were borne by the barons of Stockport and by the Baggeleghs or Baguleys, lords of Baguley. The similarity of the coats-of-arms is accounted for by the fact that both families are believed from circumstances of tenure to have held their lands by inheritance from Hamon de Massey, Baron of Dunham, and ancestor of Hamon...one of the Norman adventurers who, as a reward for services rendered, received liberal grants of land in Cheshire and Durham." The same arms were borne by the Masseys of Sale but with a chevron added; the same crest with chevron was adopted by the Hyde family who inherited from the Baguleys through the female line.

The effigy then, concluded Croston, would appear to be that of Sir William de Baggelegh, son of Ralph de Baggelegh of Baguley. He adds further documentation from a volume by Randle Holms, "Cheshire Church Notes", written about 1633, in which there is an account of Bowden Church: "In the body of the church in the south side this monument cut in freestone for Sir William de Baguley, Kt, and in the south [aisle] in olde glasse, very aunciente, this coat", a shield or, three lozenges, two and one, azure.

Croston wrote that the original edition of George Ormerod's "History of Cheshire", written in 1819, indicated that no effigy existed there, so it must have disappeared between 1633 and 1819, possibly in a period of radical destruction of church art. Likewise, the stained glass did not survive into the nineteenth century.

Thus the effigy left Bowden Church to find its niche in the garden wall at Millbank. In the late 1800's it was sent to Baguley Hall where it simply reclined in the great Hall. Croston wrote, "This interesting memorial of a Cheshire notability and the representative of a great house, has experienced some strange vicissitudes. After remaining in Bowden church well-nigh five centuries...it was cast aside by those whose duty it was to have preserved it from further injury, and for a time its history and even the place it came from was forgotten. Fortunately, the late Mr. Thomas William Tatton of Wythenshawe... caused it to be removed and placed for better preservation in the great hall of the house in which the Baggeleghs had 'so long yearded'.11

The effigy was still at Baguley Hall in the 1940's, and is clearly shown in the photo of the interior of the hall, as shown in Forge, Vol. 5, No. 1. The Hall, now acquired by the city of Manchester, is being renovated and preserved as being quite typical of early English architecture. [See Forge, Vol. 7, No. 11 Former Bigelow Society president Loring Bigelow visited Baguley Hall in late 1977, before which time the effigy had been removed to Bowden Church.

For a brief review of the effigy's relationship to Bigelows, he was Sir William, son of Ralph de Baguley, who in turn was son of Richard, lord of Baguley in 1243. Sir William built the main portion of Baguley Hall in the 1300's, but died without male heirs. He had two daughters, Isabell and Ellen. The Hall passed into the hands of Isabell, wife of Sir John Legh of Booths near Knutsford. It remained in the hands of the Leghs until the latter part of the 17th century, when it passed to the Tatton family. Ralph de Baguley, father of William, had a youngest son, Hamon de Baguley, who under the right of primogeniture, did not inherit. Hamon married the daughter of the owner of Ollerton Hall, eight miles distant. John 1 Biglo was grandson of a Robert Baguley from Ollerton, but the connection between him and Hamon has been lost in time.

Ollerton Hall is today owned by the Alan Street family, who have very kindly assisted Bigelow Society in its research, and were hosts to Loring and Louise Bigelow on their visit to Baguley and Ollerton in 1977.

See also pages 7 add 8 of this issue for current news and views of Baguley Hall. Bigelow Society offers reprints of articles from Forge concerning Baguley and its history. Write the secretary-treasurer to inquire cost.

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