Rodney Stoke and St Leonard's Church

A Brief Tour and Short History

Rodney Family Monuments

For visitors, perhaps the star attraction of our church is the Rodney Chapel with its superb monuments to members of the Rodney family from 1480 to 1659.

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Sir Thomas Rodney 1437-1471

Thomas Rodney was the son of Sir Walter Rodney. His mother was Margaret Hungerford, the daughter of Walter, Lord Hungerford of Farleigh, MP for Wiltshire and Somerset and Speaker of The Commons. Walter also fought at the Battle of Agincourt on St Crispin's Day, 1415.

After the Yorkist King Edward IV came to power, Sir Walter and his son Thomas were never fully trusted again. Thomas only survived his father by four years and died in 1471 leaving estates in Somerset ( Backwell, Saltford, Twerton, Rodney Stoke and Lamyatt ) plus land in Wedmore. The Rodney Chapel was added to the church to house his tomb with its effigy.

Sir Thomas’s monument is an outstanding example of 15th century craftsmanship. The recumbent figure of the knight is very detailed and gives an excellent picture of the armour worn by a knight.His feet rest on a beautifully carved hound. At one time, Sir Rodney's helmet and sword of Sir Rodney hung above his tomb, but the sword was stolen in the 1960s and never recovered. The helmet suffered a similar fate in the 1980s, but was returned to the church when the antique dealer to whom it was offered took it to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where it was identified.

Sir John Rodney 1461-1528

Sir John was the son of Thomas Rodney and lived for over sixty years. He was present with Henry VIII at the famous Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.   His effigy is no longer on view. It is believed that, as it was badly damaged, it was placed inside his tomb in 1885 when Lord Rodney carried out some repairs. The tomb is adorned with three moulded panels containing shields showing the arms of the Rodney family.  

Sir Edward and Lady Francis Rodney (Died 1657 and 1659)

Sir Edward was Member of Parliament for Wells and was very much involved in the disturbances in the city during the Civil War. He also sat on various parliamentary committees in the late 1630s. In 1642 he was captured and imprisoned by Cromwell's parliamentary forces and eventually taken to London.

Their joint monument, sketched at the top of this page, is both dramatic and flamboyant. He is portrayed next to his wife, both wearing detailed period costume. A stone canopy with swags and scrolls surrounds them as though they are sitting in the theatre. They are watched over by cherubs.

Sir George Rodney 1629 – 1651

The sole surviving son of Edward and Francis, Sir George died before his father, thus bringing to an end the Rodney dynasty in Rodney Stoke. His tomb is very unusual. He is sitting up in his coffin, wearing a shroud and with his hands in the air. His tomb includes various shields and an angel riding on a cloud whilst blowing a trumpet.     

Anna Lakes (1600-1630)

Anna Lakes was the wife of George Rodney (Sir Edward's brother). This was her second marriage - the first was to Wiliam Cecil, 17th Lord de Ros.

Her effigy is exceptional. It is made of SomersetClick to see a larger version alabaster and is thought to be the work of Dutch masons. The figure shows the detail of her pleated dress, intricate lace collar and jewellery. It even shows her platform-soled shoes with little heels. Above Lady Anne is a graceful arched canopy supported by slender ionic columns. The underside of the canopy is studded with stars.