Monday, September 3, 2012

Was the Monument Altered? by Peter Farey

I do wish that Oxfordians and, alas, even some Marlovians would stop claiming that the original Shakespeare monument in Stratford-upon-Avon differed in some significant way from the monument as it is now.  It didn't.1

It is, of course, very easy to see how such a belief came about, and it is in fact one that I myself held for a while after first reading Charlton Ogburn's Oxfordian book The Mystery of William Shakespeare,2 as the earliest published picture of it was indeed very different. This had appeared in Sir William Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire, published in 1656, and was produced by the engraver frequently used by Dugdale, Wenceslaus Hollar.

The main differences seem to be these:
  • The main body of Hollar's monument is only about 30% taller than it is wide, whereas the present monument is some 75% taller.
  • In Hollar's etching, the small boys (putti) are sitting on the cornice with their legs dangling over the edge of it, but now they are not. Each now appears to be sitting on something, rather than on the cornice itself. Although not easy to see, the one on our left is still holding a spade, and the other – shown by Hollar as holding an hour-glass – now has, according to Samuel Schoenbaum,3 an inverted torch in his left hand and his right hand resting on a skull.
  • Above the leafy capitals, the tops of the two columns, which nowadays are plain, have the faces of lions or some such large cat adorning them in Hollar's version.
  • In the earlier version, a solemn droopy-moustached figure of Shakespeare is shown resting his hands on a plump sack of some sort, with knotted corners, where today there is a fairly flat cushion with tassels at the corners. In the modern version a fatter-faced Shakespeare with a Poirot-type moustache and goatee has a pen and paper, which are missing in the earlier one, and he seems to be wearing an "undergraduate-type" gown of some sort, rather than just the jerkin of the earlier illustration.
  •  The curved "ceiling" of the alcove, undecorated in the Hollar etching, now has what seem to be gilded Tudor roses embellishing it.
  • The greatest difference, however, is that in Hollar's etching the whole structure is clearly shown as standing on the floor, with three "feet" (two at the front and one at the back) on what must presumably be a triangular base. Nowadays it is half-embedded in the wall some eleven feet above the floor, the weight in fact being mainly taken directly by a remodelled window-sill, and three consoles (brackets) fixed to the wall.
Dugdale wasn't the only person to provide illustrations showing such differences, however. In Nicholas Rowe's 1709 Some Account of the Life &c. of Mr. William Shakespear, a different engraving by Gerard Van der Gucht had all of the differences noted above, despite there being a few minor changes to the Dugdale illustration, as did the engraving by Charles Grignion in John Bell's 1786 "literary edition" of Shakespeare, although the lions seem to have mutated into dogs and the spade into an arrow.

With three such "witnesses" testifying to the existence of such an earlier version of the monument, it might appear that there can really be no doubt of the fact. If so, the whole thing must have been completely rebuilt some time after 1786, to make it 45% taller in relation to its width, to have a rectangular rather than a triangular base, and to be hoist into a new location eleven feet up the wall, resting upon a new shelf created by taking a great chunk out of the existing window-sill and wall below. In the process they must have completely scrapped the former putti and replaced them with new ones, added Tudor roses to the architrave, and taken a new piece of limestone to create a brand new bust (with a different head, a gown, a hand designed to hold a quill, a piece of paper and a cushion with tassels).

Unfortunately, there is no record whatsoever of such work being undertaken, and in any case, would it not be reasonable to ask the simple question of why they would have found it necessary to make all of these very expensive changes?

There is something else which is very strange about this, however, because over sixty years before Grignion's illustration, and five years before the second edition of Dugdale's Antiquities (with the same illustration as before), Alexander Pope's 1725 edition of the Works was published, with an engraving by George Vertue showing it much as it is today, wall-mounted and with the occupant using a cushion to support the paper he is writing on.4 Although Vertue gets a few minor details wrong – apparently allowing himself artistic licence – even the size of the stones in the wall is accurate.

Furthermore, in 1737 Vertue sketched Edward Harley, second earl of Oxford (by the second creation), his patron, standing in front of a wall-mounted monument which, along with the surroundings, all looks fairly similar to how it does today.

Unless, as some Oxfordians actually do,5 we subscribe to the ludicrous idea that Vertue simply imagined it all, and that these imaginings were subsequently turned into reality, we must deduce that Grignion's engraving was based not upon first-hand observation, but upon those earlier ones done for Dugdale and Rowe. And if he did this, then it seems quite possible that Van der Gucht had based his 1709 Rowe illustration upon Hollar's in exactly the same way.

It would therefore appear that by 1725 the monument was more or less as it is today, with a rectangular base (rather than a triangular one) set into the north wall of the chancel, its weight now taken mainly by the base of the window-sill cut away to accept it.  If Hollar's version is correct, then those major changes must have been undertaken some time before 1725, and (as it was said to be "in" the north wall) the alcove presumably left by its removal invisibly repaired.

Once again, however, there was not a word in the records to suggest any such major changes to the church's fabric. The only time since 1621/2 when some notable renovation took place was in 1749. According to Joseph Greene, the church parson and headmaster of the grammar school, in 1746 an acting company performed a play (allegedly Othello) in Stratford to help towards the "repairing of the Original Monument of the Poet."  The benefit was for "the curious original monument and bust (that). . . is through length of years and other accidents become much impaired and decayed."6  In 1748,  Greene writes of "repairing and re-beautifying" the monument, proposing that the painter John Hall do the work, provided "that the monument shall become as like as possible to what it was when first erected," and in 1749 Greene said it had been "repaired and re-beautified." Questioned about the stone used in the original, he apparently replied: "I can assure you that the bust and cushion before it (on which as on a desk this our poet seems preparing to write) is one entire limestone . . . ," adding that "... really, except changing the substance of the Architraves from alabaster to Marble; nothing has been chang’d, nothing alter’d, except supplying with original material, (sav’d for that purpose,) whatsoever was by accident broken off; reviving the Old Colouring, and renewing the Gilding that was lost."

In other words, too little and too late for the significant changes we are discussing.

So just when were those changes made? We might have been left in this quandary, had it not been for a discovery made by Charlotte C. Stopes and revealed in 1914. The original sketch by William Dugdale, upon which Hollar had based his engraving, still exists. George Greenwood (1925) also mentioned it, but it was not until Diana Price included a photograph of it in her 1997 article "Reconsidering Shakespeare's Monument" that the first glimmering of light began to appear. It is the missing link in a pictorial equivalent of the game "Chinese whispers."

Looking at Hollar's etching and the monument as it appears today, what we find is that Dugdale's sketch is like a bad drawing of both of them. Going back to that list of differences we see:
  • The drawing is so roughly done that one would not expect the ratio of width to height to be at all accurate anyway. The lines of the structure are actually impossible, like a drawing by M.C. Escher.
  • He is certainly responsible for the putti being shown sitting on the edge of the cornice with their legs dangling over it (three legs in one case!), but they do both appear to be sitting on something else as well, as they are now. The hour-glass is particularly interesting, since there is no sign of any such thing in his left hand today, but Vertue did show one on the cornice next to the other boy. Schoenbaum says that the right hand putto is holding an inverted torch, and Vertue apparently guessed that they might have both been holding lighted torches the right way up at one time. That Dugdale missed the skull next to the other boy, which is not all that obvious from ground level, is hardly surprising.7
  • He certainly included some squiggles at the top of the columns, and one can see that (rather like a Rorschach test) the one on our left could be interpreted as the head of a large cat of some sort, but the one on the right is far less identifiable. Perhaps a Tudor rose? He left out the ones which now appear on the "ceiling" of the alcove.
  • The figure in the drawing could be resting his arms upon a sack, a pillow or a cushion, the corners of which are either tied up or decorated with tassels according to however one chooses to interpret it. It really is far from clear, as are the facial features and the question of whether or not he is wearing an academic type of gown. Dugdale has omitted the real quill pen (which may have indeed been missing at the time) and the piece of paper (perhaps too dusty to see?), but this seems rather unimportant, given that at some point he has written above the sketch, "In the North Wall of the Quire is this monument fixed for William Shakespeare the famous poet."
  • Perhaps of the greatest importance, however, is that what Hollar interpreted as three feet (two at the front and one at the back) free-standing on the floor, can just as easily be seen in the sketch as those three consoles fixed to the wall which Vertue showed it resting on, and which are of course how it is today. The drawing has none of the indications which Hollar used to show it was standing on the floor. So this must be just what he imagined Dugdale to have intended.
It therefore seems perfectly clear to me that what Dugdale drew (rather badly) was a monument which in all major matters was much as it is today. Unfortunately, it contained several errors, which Wenceslaus Hollar – who clearly never saw the monument itself – copied, and also ambiguities (like those three "feet") from which Hollar made the wrong choice. Neither Gerard Van der Gucht nor Charles Grignion can have actually visited the place either, so they simply copied Hollar, whilst varying the detail just enough to avoid charges of plagiarism.

In fact, the first actual illustrator to visit the monument and record it relatively accurately was George Vertue. Not that his version was entirely correct either. The stained glass windows are omitted, the head has been replaced with one apparently based on the so-called Chandos portrait, he uses italic script for the inscription and, as mentioned earlier, he has the putti holding lighted wands or torches. All of these seem to be quite deliberate, however, and well within what he would have considered acceptable artistic licence.

So, just like the "Francis Archer" who for several years was believed to have been the killer of Christopher Marlowe, the man clutching a sack of wool or corn in some earlier version of the monument also turns out to be a myth. 

 © Peter Farey, September 2012

Peter Farey has been manning the Marlovian barricades on the internet for the past 14 years.  His Marlowe Page  is one of the most respected sites about Marlowe on the web.  He is a founding member of the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society. 

1It is stated as a fact in the "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt" and in the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition's "Exposing an Industry in Denial." I am actually not aware of the idea appearing in any Marlovian publication other than when Peter Barker gave it as a fact in Mike Rubbo's film Much Ado About Something, but I nevertheless find the theory being argued by fellow Marlovians every so often
2Ogburn, Charlton (1988). The Mystery of William Shakespeare. London: Cardinal. p.159
 3Schoenbaum, Samuel (1987). William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life. Oxford University Press. p.308. One can't help remembering that the title of the Introduction to Charles Nicholl's The Reckoning was "A Torch Turning Downward," relating to the motto on the putative portrait of Marlowe at Corpus Christi, and the similar version Quod me alit me extinguit. Just a coincidence
 4Dugdale's Antiquities was reissued in 1730, still with the same floor-standing version. The editor, Dr. William Thomas, assured his readers that he had tried to make sure that there were no "manifest mistakes." As the evidence from George Vertue shows, he doesn't seem to have made a very good job of it, at least as far as this monument is concerned. 
5For example, Richard Kennedy in his 2005 "The Woolpack Man" and Richard Whalen in his 2005 "The Stratford Bust: A Monumental Fraud," both of whom completely ignore the problem posed by those three floor-standing feet. 
6Fox, Levi, ed. (1965). Correspondence of the Rev. Joseph Greene, 1712–90. London: HMSO. 
7The positioning of the putti seems to be fairly flexible. When the monument was vandalized in 1973, and the opportunity taken to spruce it up again, they were in fact replaced on the wrong sides of the coat of arms, with the right-hand putto on the left and vice versa. Amazingly, it was three years before anybody noticed!


daver852 said...

I'm not entirely convinced. Dugdale was known for the accuracy of his engravings, and many alleged "mistakes" turn out to be later alterations. What do you make of the fact that Gerard Langbaine was the first witness to describe the monument as containing a "cushion," in 1698? Doesn't this suggest that the first alterations may have occured prior to Vertu's engraving?

daver852 said...

When in doubt, go back to the original source. You can view William Dugdale's "Antiquities of Warwickshire" here:

I went through this book, and wherever possible, compared Dugdale's engravings to photographs of the surviving monuments. The degree of accuracy was outstanding. There were some minor discrepencies, but every single image I found was at least recognizable.

Sir William Dugdale(1605 -1686) was a Warwickshire man himself, and would therefore have been expected to exercise more than ordinary care in overseeing the production of this particular book. There is no doubt that Dugdale himself made the sketch, as it was found in his "private manuscript book, surrounded by notes . . . in his own handwriting." So how could he have gotten everything else so right, and Shakespeare's monument so wrong?

There is a very interesting essay by Sir George Greenwood about the Stratford monument, and I have to agree with him when he says: "It really does not follow that a man is likely to make an absurdly and preposterously false copy of a bust in which he was especially interested, and to have that false copy engraved for all men to laugh at, in a great book upon which he might be said to have staked his reputation."

Peter Farey said...

Dave, you say that you're not entirely convinced. That's fine!

Most of your reason for saying this seems to be based upon the fact that Dugdale was usually accurate, but first you ask "What do you make of the fact that Gerard Langbaine was the first witness to describe the monument as containing a 'cushion,' in 1698? Doesn't this suggest that the first alterations may have occured prior to Vertue's engraving?". Well, it certainly suggests that by 1698 it was already like it is today, but whether that meant it had been altered by then is what we are discussing!

What needs rather more explanation is the fact that the second edition of Dugdale's book, published over three decades later, still showed it with the 'sack' and standing on the floor despite the editor's claim that he had tried to make sure that there were no mistakes.

As for George Greenwood, I think he reflected the confusion which everyone was justified in having in the days before Diana Price published Dugdale's original sketch, which, as I have argued here, actually removes the problem at a stroke. Does his sketch clearly show it standing on the floor on three feet? No it doesn't. So we are left with two possibilities.

1) Some time within only 77 or so years of the monument's erection it was completely altered. The overall proportions were radically changed, the putti and bust scrapped and replaced, some embellishments removed and some new ones added, the whole thing hauled from its place on the floor up into a niche in the wall, and its former hole-in-the-wall filled in, leaving not a trace behind. All of this happening with no mention of the fact in the Stratford records, and no obvious reason for doing anything other than making him look a little bit more like a writer, as referred to in the original inscription.


2) Hollar simply took Dugdale's sketch and repeated some of his mistakes, or misinterpreted what he saw, and - since it was over 20 years since the sketch had been drawn - Dugdale just didn't notice.

As far as I am concerned, it's a no-brainer!


Anthony Kellett said...

This was a lot longer; but I decided it was easier to say, I agree with all that Peter writes in the article. I suggest we get a bunch of 9 year-old schoolchildren to do an art class in the church, with the quill removed, and we should get a few ‘Dugdales’.

Hollar clearly tidies up the whole thing; and any discussion of the finer points of his depiction seems completely pointless, to me. I feel for the man, as he was obviously straining to try to fathom what Dugdale was attempting to draw. On this occasion, he decided the cushion was a sack; and added a few lumps and bumps to make it more realistic; since ‘the Dugdale’ looked too smooth for a sack. Dugdale obviously drew the three supports we see today, and Hollar thought that depicted feet, and that it was floor-standing. Can you blame him?

The most unfortunate part of this whole debacle is that it has caused many hours to be spent on a wild goose chase; and detracted from more pertinent and significant research. Dugdale’s drawing has provided as much confusion for wishful-thinkers as it did for Hollar, in my opinion. Of course, anyone could argue that it has been changed, if they need it to be; but there is no evidence for that being so. In fact, if we turn that argument on its head, the only reason that anyone believes it might have been changed is the Dugdale sketch, ultimately. It seems to me that this is a very dubious basis for any theory.

As for Marlovians, I’m not sure why they would even go there. Does it strengthen the Marlovian case, in any way? It might weaken the case for Shakespeare, but if one believes that Peter’s monument solution is valid, does the monument to Shakespeare really need to be anything other than a writer? The inscription states (in Peter’s interpretation) that Shakespeare served up Marlowe’s wit; so the quill would merely represent that, surely?

daver852 said...

Well, I don't think that the monument was actually altered prior to 1698; I was just mentioning that as one possibility.

I still have many reservations about the assumption that Sir William Dugdale could have produced such an inacccurate sketch. He was not only an antiquarian, but a herald, and used to making sketches. He was also very meticulous regarding the illustraions in his works. There is a book called "The Life, Diary and Correspondence of Sir William Dugdale" (you can read it free online at which I went through yesterday. Unfortunately, the years we would most like to see (1655 and 1656) are missing from the diary - doesn't that always seem to be the case! But in the section regarding his correspondence, there are many references to him reviewing the plates engraved by Hollar prior to their publication. He would probably have had reason to go to Stratford on many occasions, and, as an admirer of Shakespeare, should have known very well what the monument looked like.

It is also impossible to ignore the testimony of Dr. William Thomas, who edited the 1730 edition of "Antiquities of Warwickshire." Thomas stressed that he wanted to “represent things as really they are, and not as they should be.” Thomas seems to have actually visted most of the monuments illustrated in the 1656 edition, and out of hundreds and hundreds of monuments, found only one major error, the tomb of Lady Burdet: "her statue on this tomb is with her hands cut off in the middle, though the Engraver has made them whole.” He makes no mention of the Shakespeare monument.

So we are forced to believe that 1) for some reason, the Shakespeare monument is the only one, out of hundreds in Dugdale's book, that is so poorly represented that it is unrecognizable; or 2) that the monument has been significantly altered from its original state.

I can offer no explanation for Vertu's engraving, but neither can I believe that so many people whose work is so accurate in other respects would get the Shakespeare monument so wrong. This is more of a mystery than a no-brainer for me!

Anthony Kellett said...

This is all too confusing to me, Dave. I am trying to see the foundation for your doubts, but I am really struggling to see them as anything more than remote possibilities, for which there are more reasons to disbelieve, than the contrary.

You imply, if it was changed, that was after 1698. So when do you think the change could have happened? I can only assume you think it was during the documented work around 1749, and the records are falsified? If so, why would anyone care to falsify these documents and accounts, so late? Surely, by 1749, Shakespeare was too high-profile for such an attempt to be successful, don’t you think? However, if you think it was earlier than this, how early such that it required a refurbishment by 1746? I can’t see how anyone can make this work.

“He [Dugdale] would probably have had reason to go to Stratford on many occasions”

Why would you think this?

The fact that Thomas, whose rigour you praise, never mentions the monument, leads me to the conclusion he did not visit it; rather than he did visit, and found Dugdale’s drawing accurate.

Vertue was clearly a far better artist than Dugdale; so I would much rather believe either of his two versions, than the one by Dugdale. Vertue drew it either side of Thomas’s publication, both roughly similar, so I struggle to imagine why it is Vertue, for whom you struggle to account, rather than Dugdale.

Who are these “so many people whose work is so accurate”; Dugdale, possibly checked by Thomas?

Peter Farey said...


It seems to me that what it boils down to is this.

1) If you believe that Hollar's etching is a reasonable representation of what the monument was like to start with, you must also accept that it was originally standing on the floor on three feet. This is something which the Oxfordian argument totally ignores.

2) Similarly, you must accept that at some point huge alterations were made to the whole thing, virtually replacing the original monument with a totally new one in a new and higher location, even if a few features of the original remained.

3) We must also note that every trace of its previous position "in" the Chancel wall has completely disappeared, as has any record of such major works having ever been undertaken.

4) You say that you "don't think that the monument was actually altered prior to 1698", which begs the question of just when you do think the alterations took place. It must have been before Vertue's extraordinarily accurate 1725 engraving, mustn't it?

5) In which case, why is it that the only renovations we know of (and then only by a painter and a carver) occurred in 1749, twenty-four years later?

Please don't think that I am "getting at you", Dave. Discussions like this are the main reason why I post my stuff here - to see where I might be going wrong in my thinking. So a genuine thank you for being prepared to debate it here. In this case, however, I find it very hard to find any reason for thinking that I am!


Anthony Kellett said...


“You say that you ‘don't think that the monument was actually altered prior to 1698’, which begs the question of just when you do think the alterations took place. It must have been before Vertue's extraordinarily accurate 1725 engraving, mustn't it?”

If only it was that straightforward, I could probably understand Dave’s argument; even if I did not agree with it. In this case, Dave only has to doubt the validity of Vertue’s drawings (as it appears do some Oxfordians), to maintain that the monument could have been altered.

However, Dave is using the thoroughness of Thomas to support the Dugdale version. Since Thomas published his work in 1730, that same thoroughness would have surely detected any changes, according to Dave; since he uses Thomas’s lack of comment to support the fact that the monument still looked like the Dugdale drawing. Therefore, the changes must have been after at least 1725, and maybe after 1730. So, if Thomas is a trusted witness, Vertue’s version must be discredited.
Then, the monument was so badly maintained, that it required refurbishment only 16 years later, at most. It seems to me that this is so unlikely, that the 1749 work can be the only reasonable time for the changes to occur. If so, one has to discredit the accounts of its refurbishment.

This was my point. The amount of evidence one has to refute, to believe the monument was changed, far outweighs the evidence to suggest it was not; so why, on balance, would anyone pick the changed monument as anything but a remote possibility (if at all)?

To believe it changed, Dave believes:

Thomas checked and Dugdale was still correct in 1730, or thereabouts
Vertue made his very accurate drawings by accident (or they were designs for the new version)
The accounts of 1746 to 1749 were falsified…all this, notwithstanding your points, above, regarding construction etc., Peter.

To believe it did not change, one needs to believe:

The quill was missing in 1634
Dugdale was a bad artist, misinterpreted by Hollar
Vertue drew what he saw
Thomas didn’t check the monument (or ignored the differences)
The church accounts are correct

The second list seems far, far more likely, to me.

daver852 said...

Good points, but neither of you have addressed a very important issue: why is the Shakespeare monument the ONLY one that Dugdale got so wrong? There were other little errors, of course, and Thomas added three pages of addenda to the 1730 edition, but many of the monuments Dugdale sketched still exist today, and are depicted with great accuracy. If he was as careless as you contend, there should hve been many such errors.

Furthermore, certainly someone in Stratford would have seen Dugdale's book and made mention of the errors in his engraving, but no one did. And there's no mention of it in Dugdale's correspondence.

So I suppose it boils down to which sequence of events seems more credible. I do not think that Dugdale simply gave his sketch to Hollar and told him to run with it. As I mentioned, Dugdale seems to have carefully proofed the plates that went into all his books. The few errors in Dugdale's books are mostly from sketches that he himself did not make, and even then they are, for the most part, very minor. We know that Dugdale drew the Shakespeare monument sketch himself, and even if he were no great artist, it is inconceivable to me that he would be that far off.

So, gentlemen, why is the Shakespeare monument, out of the hundreds of engravings in the "Antiquities of Warwickshire," the only one botched beyond recognition? It seems to me that you have to come up with a reasonable answer to that question!

Peter Farey said...


You keep returning to your claim that the Shakespeare monument was the ONLY one that Dugdale got so wrong but don't back it up with much actual evidence. For example you assume that Thomas must have gone to Stratford to check it, but give no facts indicating that he did. Did he say that he checked every single illustration personally?

Given the huge output of Sir William Dugdale and his engravers over the years, it would take ages to sample enough of his illustrations to be confident that what you say is true. Not having examined any myself I have to listen to those who know more about it than I do, amongst whom I would count M.H. Spielman, whose comments on this subject are to be found at . His conclusion, for which he provides plenty of supporting evidence, is the exact opposite of yours.

Now, having commented upon this as you requested, it seems to me that you have to address some of those "good points" you say we have made, and come up with some reasonable answers to the questions we have posed!


daver852 said...

Peter, I am quite familiar with the Spielman essay, but I am also familiar (as I am sure you are) with Sir George Greenwood's crushing rebuttal of Spielmann in "The Stratford Bust & the Droeshout Engraving," in which he disproves most of Spielmann's arguments.

I cannot say for certain whether Dr. William Thomas viewed each and every monument in Dugdale's book for his his edition of 1730, but he certainly investigated and viewed a great number of them, and since he was rector of Exhall, which is only seven miles from Stratford, it seems likely that he would have checked the Shakespeare monument, if he was not already familiar with it.

While investigating this matter today, I came across an interesting book entitled "A History of Warwickshire" by Samuel Timmins (1889). Evidently the "missing years" of Dugdale's diaries were discovered in 1868. This is what he has to say: "Dugdale was nearly a year and a half in London to correct proofs and superintend the printing . . .[his diary] shows how much microscopic care Dugdale gave to secure the correctness of every detail of his monumental work." pp. 121-22

I am certainly not saying that one need view and compare all of Dugdale's engravings; this would be a Herculean task. What I am saying is that if Dugdale was as careless with his drawings so as to produce an unrecognizable image of the Stratford monument, that same carelessness should be reflected in at least a few of the other engravings. Otherwise, one has to ask, "Why did he get this wrong, and everything else right?" Every monument I have been able to find online compares favorably with Dugdale's engravings. Even the examples Spielmann gives are correct in all important respects.

I certainly don't have enough knowledge to answer your questions, nor do I pretend to have. I am just saying that it is difficult to understand how such a meticulous antiquary as Dugdale could get this drawing so completely wrong, and how his book could go through two editions spanning 65 years without anyone commenting on the mistake.

By the way, George Vertue actually wrote a biography of Hollar, "A Description of the Works of the Ingenious Delineator and Engraver Wenceslaus Hollar" (1745). I can't find a copy of it online; it would be interesting to see if Vertue had anything to say about Hollar's engraving of the Shakespeare monument.

Peter Farey said...


Thanks for all of the extra information.

However, shouldn't the question be (as Ros would put it) which of the two possible scenarios joins the most dots?

I think that the story as I have described it joins every one of them, even though we may find it very surprising (whilst not impossible) for Dugdale to have allowed such an inaccurate representation in his book and for nobody from Stratford, as far as we know, to have pointed out how wrong it was.

The "altered monument" scenario, on the other hand, leaves a whole lot dots unjoined, such as:

* why the whole shape of the monument was so radically changed.

* why the original putti and bust were scrapped and replaced with completely new ones.

* Why the embellishments at the top of the columns were removed and new ones added within the alcove.

* why it wasn't placed high up "in" the wall to start with, when major work was done to the chancel in 1621/2.

* why there is no trace in the wall of any earlier hole for it to have been in.

* why the Stratford records contain no indication of such alterations having ever been undertaken, or why we hear nothing of any unveiling of what was in effect a new monument.

* why Vertue was able to draw a monument so much like the current one five years before the meticulous Dr. Thomas assured us that the Hollar one was still correct.

* why Greene made it so clear that whatever work he had had done on the monument in 1748/9 (long after Vertue's illustrations) had kept everything as much like the original as possible.

You say that you don't have enough knowledge to answer my questions, but all I am asking is for you to look at the information we already have and to come up with a "changed monument" story which joins all of those dots as well as the scenario which I have described.


Anthony Kellett said...

…and for my part, following on from Peter, I am still wondering when you think the work was undertaken? If we are to trust Thomas, then the monument remained unchanged by 1730; so why was the monument in such disrepair in 1746? If it was still ‘unchanged’ (as seems likely) in 1746, we can only assume the massive alterations occurred in the work that followed, but the account was falsified in the description of that work. Moreover, it also seems to have gone unremarked on, by every connected (or concerned) person in Britain; which would have been quite a number, I would have thought, by 1749.

I can’t see how this is feasible; so if any changes did occur, surely they occurred in the 17th century. In that case, Thomas seems unreliable, whichever way we look at it; Vertue drew what he saw; and Langbaine described it accurately, too. This seems to me to be the only option, for the ‘changed monument’ theory to have any credibility. If so, how did that quantity of work go undocumented, unnoticed and unremarked upon?

Anthony Kellett said...

I thought this section of Dugdale's Diary might be of general interest. If nothing else, it seems to show that he was collecting information about Shakespeare's monument (and others), as late as 1653.

November 11. Mr. Tovye came to London.
8. To Mr. Causabon, for writing half a quire, except 3 pages, 5s. For correcting the Presse 7s.
15. Mr. Jennings began to correct ye Presse.

1653. (At the beginning of the book.)

Shakspeares and John Combes Monums , at Stratford sup' Avon,
made by one Gerard Johnson.

Sr . Kic. Verney's at Compton and the E. of Totnes at Stratford
sup' Avon, by Mr. Marshall in Fetter-lane.

January 13. I came out of London to Woburne. 14. To Kirby.
17. To Smokinton.
18. Thence home.
24. My sonne John went towards London to serve the Earle of Rutland.

March 18. We first began to watch our Corne every night.

April 20. The Parliament was this day dissolved by Generall Cromwell.

CARLO D. said...


Your last post was deleted by mistake. Please kindly submit again. Thanks!

daver852 said...

I may be out of my league here, but I have a couple of additional points to make. I noted that you had referenced Mrs. C. C. Stopes in regard to the discovery of Dugdale's sketch. I'm always curious, so I decided to see what she had to say about this matter. In "The True Story of the Stratford Bust," she claims that George Vertue did not go to Stratford and view the Shakespeare memorial at all, but merely borrowed the engraving frm Rowe's book and prettied it up a little using his imagination to create his engraving for Pope's edition of Shakespeare. If this is true, it eliminates a lot of problems, such as explaining why Vertue's engraving differs significantly from Hollar's, and why it appears to show the face of the Chandos portrait.

Secondly, I reexamined both Dugdale's sketch and the engraving in "Antiquities of Warwickshire" again, and I believe that you are wrong when you say that Dugdale shows the Shakespeare monument standing on the floor. Dugdale's sketch shows three supports, the same as exist today. The engraver added shading to the middle one, which makes it appear that it is standing on a triangular base. This is the kind of trivial error that would not warrant the engraving of a new plate - they were very expensive to produce, and the error does not materially affect the important part of the image. Furthermore, next to the engraving in the book, Dugdale has written, "In the North wall of the Chancell, is this Monument fixt." He would not have described it thus if it were standing on the floor.

daver852 said...

Actually, after a closer examination of the engraving, I'm not certain the engraver made an error after all. Look at the shadows in the engraving. If there were three supports for the monument, and the middle one did not extend to the front of the monumement, it would be correctly shown as being in shadow. The light appears to be coming from above and to the viewer's right. Look at the shadows cast by the two end supports. This does NOT seem to indicate a monument standing on the ground. Perhaps someone with some artistic training could comment on this.

Peter Farey said...

Well, you don't really need artistic training, Dave. A torch, a box, a floor and a wall are all that's needed to prove that Hollar took the three feet to be standing on a horizontal surface. The floor seems the most likely one to me. I don't know why he shows the front face of the middle foot in shadow, though. With the way he has arranged it, that should really be fairly similar to the others.

Which brings us back to your saying that this was "the kind of trivial error that would not warrant the engraving of a new plate." I disagree. This is no more trivial than his mistaking Dugdale's cushion for a sack or Dugdale's foliage for an animal. Your argument is based upon his not allowing any such errors, so I don't think you can simply put that to one side whenever it doesn't fit your theory.

Incidentally, another difference which I hadn't spotted before, but which your suggestion brought to my attention is that Hollar shows the inscription some way behind the pillars, whereas today it is more or less flush with the front of them. Yet another misinterpreted ambiguity too trivial to bother with? ;o)

The Charlotte Stopes idea that Vertue "prettied up" Van der Guch's version a little "using his imagination to create his engraving" is the one I described as ludicrous in my article, and the fact that it is she rather than Oxfordians saying it makes it no less so. That in all major particulars Vertue "changed" it into the monument as we see it today shows a level of precognition which goes way beyond acceptable coincidence. And if they used his version as a design for such massive changes, why on earth is there no record of their having done so (and why didn't they use the "Chandos" head rather than the so-called "bladder"?!)

You go on to say that next to the engraving in the book, Dugdale has written, "In the North wall of the Chancell, is this Monument fixt." and that he wouldn't have described it thus if it were standing on the floor. No, of course he wouldn't, unless it were also in an alcove of some sort, which is precisely the point I have been making!


P.S. I enjoyed your comment about this in your blog, although I think you are rather too modest about your own abilities and overstate those of your opponents - in my case at least!

Anthony Kellett said...


I’m not sure it matters, whether Vertue went to Stratford or not. Certainly, that would make one less ‘witness’, but it still does not alter the date by which his fairly accurate rendition existed. However, the idea that Vertue got his 1725 drawing from ‘Rowe’s’ 1709 version is, frankly, barmy; and I don’t care who said it. If there is anyone, who did not visit that monument, it was Rowe’s artist. His appears to be taken from Dugdale, as far as I can see; and the ‘feet’ or supports (albeit with reversed shadows) tend to bear that out.

However, returning to Vertue, if you look down the right-hand edge of Vertue’s 1725 version, you will clearly see where it is set into the wall, on a shelf, at the correct height (below the bust's shoulders); the monument being substantially deeper, above this point; and even the shadow ‘kicks’ to the right, along the line of the shelf. He could not have got that from Rowe; and anyone, who suggests he could, is sloppy and careless. It is true that he does make the upper half a wall, rather than a window; but that could be as much for convenience (or possibly too avoid detracting from the main subject), as anything else. One final point, it does seem to show the lower part (the section below the column bases) actually several inches ahead of the wall (i.e. not flush to it). I do not know how that came about, but I thought I would mention it, nevertheless.

In his 1737 rendition, Vertue is also spookily accurate. He has the shelf and window (albeit rather wide) in the correct place, relative to the monument, in this one, too. The Earl is standing on the grave of Anne (if memory serves) and next to that of Shakespeare; both in roughly the correct location (and orientation). The door is correctly positioned, too; as is the step at the head of the graves.

Your second point really goes to the heart of the matter (and reiterates what I said in my first post), Hollar is unreliable; and discussing his version, when we have the original drawn by Dugdale, seems pointless (except to see where others got their versions, of course). We can see what Hollar saw; so we can judge that, independent of Hollar. Therefore, if we do, we can see that Dugdale’s artistic ‘prowess’ could result in exactly the same sketch if he did it again, today (as long as one removed the quill).

Anthony Kellett said...

If think my previous point negates the need to discuss the shadows by Hollar. However, I can’t resist.

The shadows Hollar uses are not drawn how those shadows would have looked in reality, if it actually had been floor-standing. I’m not going to go into a huge written analysis of that but, if one takes only one aspect, the front foot being in shadow, then you can’t have a ‘clean’ shadow extending from it. Light must fall on an object, in order for it to cast a shadow; so if the object is in shadow, that condition can’t be fulfilled. One does not need to be a trained artist (or physicist) to acknowledge that; the gift of sight should suffice.

However, the fact that the shadows appear to extend backwards, from the front-edge of the feet, tends to rule out any chance of Hollar’s intention being to suggest a wall-mount. Since the wall (the thing onto which the shadow is cast) would be several inches behind the front edge, this is clearly impossible. It seems he was trying to suggest a floor mount; but ‘badly’. Either way, Hollar is a very average artist.

If you wish to see a decent attempt at shading, look at Vertue’s 1725 drawing. That shows light source slightly above and to the left of the viewer.

daver852 said...

Thanks, Peter. I still think if you look at the shadows as they appear in the book, they do not fit with a monument set on the floor, especially one set back in an alcove. The supports (I don't know if this is the correct architectural term) and shadows aren't usually shown in most reproductions of Hollar's engraving, but they are clear in the book. As far as the other things you mention (the inscription, the leopards' heads), they may very well have been changed at the same time as the bust. If you look at Vertue's engraving, there are a lot of problems as well. For example, the "putti" are holding lit torches; the steps over the ancanthus columns are wrong, the skull and bust are turned towards the viewers left, etc. By the way, if you look at Vertue's 1737 sketch, the figure of Shakespeare is facing the opposite way.

And these still don't address the central problem: Dugdale might have made a hurried sketch and gotten a few very minor details wrong, but how could he have so badly botched the central figure of the image? I, who have no artistic ability at all, could draw something that looks more like the modern bust than Dugdale's drawing.

I still believe that Dugdale did visit the monument, and he drew what he saw. Vertue - well, I'm not so sure.

Anthony Kellett said...

I have to say, Dave, I can’t help but think that both Peter and I have offered numerous reasons to justify why believing the monument was ‘doctored’ is the highly unlikely (and highly dubious) alternative; yet I have not seen one response from you, to contradict any of the points that make our position most likely correct. If one reads through these posts, all you are doing is trying to justify how your position is not impossible. That is not quite the same as ‘probable’.

I’m sure it is possible that the Stratford monument was altered; that no-one noticed or bothered to mention it; that Thomas didn’t check it; that it did not really need renovating in 1746 (even though they raised money for it); or it was altered after that date, and the accounts of that work were falsified; and, in that case, Vertue had a lucky guess or was the ‘designer’ of the new version, which was erected 23 years later…and his version containing the Earl was an artist’s impression, 12 years after the first version but still 11 years before the work was done; that Hollar was accurate (even though it appears he was not); that the description of the sack as a “cushion” in 1698 was an error. This is not impossible; but ‘likely’…or even sensible to postulate…really?

The other problem we have here is that you keep referring to the possibility of changes, without any reference to when. This is also typical of Stratfordian ambiguity, on much of the authorship question. Some aspects of the Stratford man’s authorship are unlikely, at certain times, due to certain evidence. They are unlikely, at other times, due to other evidence. By omitting dates, speaking in generalities, and asking for general proof as to the unlikelihood of certain events, the case against them is significantly weaker; or, at the very least, does not exclude “possibilities”.

If you give us a date for these monumental changes, or even a list of dates, I’m sure they can all be made highly unlikely, for various reasons.

Anthony Kellett said...

...and, in reference to your latest comment, I think Vertue is just showing the bust in slightly more 'profile' then the true angle of the viewer. In 1725, the viewer is slightly right; so we see the left-side profile; the opposite, in 1737. In view of the liberties that you are willing to forgive Dugdale and Hollar, I think this is a minor concession.

Peter Farey said...

So how did you get on with the torch and box experiment, Dave? Is it possible to get the shadows as Hollar shows them when the box is on the floor, or when it is against the wall?


Cynthia Morgan said...

After taking a look at Dugdale's sketch I have to agree with Peter and Anthony that what I have always taken to be a "sack" is actually a lame attempt to capture a pillow. The giveaways are the four corners which are all knotted in his sketch. Even the tassels on the pillow look a bit knotted. If Dugdale were attempting to depict a sack of grain he would not have had these knotted corners.

daver852 said...

Well, I will not surrender, but I will break off hostilities. This entire debate rests on one, and only one, point: did Dugdale accurately draw the Shakespeare monument as it appeared in 1634, or did he not? While there may be some slight errors in the engraving produced by Hollar from his drawing, and some mystery surrounding Vertue's later engraving, the evidence is not enough to convince me that Dugdale could have so completely misdrawn the central figure of the monument.

Again, to quote Sir George Greenwood: "What is that question? It is this. Can any reason­able man believe that Sir William Dugdale, a Warwick­shire man, a practised draughtsman, well-acquainted with Stratford, and its Church, and the Monuments therein, and engaged in the preparation of a great book which was to be, as Mr. Spielmann writes (p. 14), "his masterpiece (up to that time) and to stand at the head of all county histories," could sit down—or stand, [67] for the matter of that—to copy the effigy of "Shakespeare" as it now appears in the Church at Stratford, and produce as a copy a figure so preposterously unlike his model as that which appears in his sketch that it could only excite the άσβεστος γέλως—the jeers and laughter of all Warwickshire men, and of all visitors to that Church? I assert with absolute confidence that no reasonable man could entertain such a belief, unless, indeed, his judgment was distorted by the dementia Stratfordiana, or unless he assumes that Dugdale, fraudulently and of malice prepense, and for no conceivable motive, concocted such a travesty of the figure which was before him, and which he was supposed to copy. But this latter hypothesis will, I take it, be accepted by no man or woman of sound mind and understanding. The conclusion, therefore, is obvious; namely, that the bust which Dugdale copied, whatever may have been the mistakes that he made with regard to the "details" of the Monument, was altogether different from the effigy which we now see in the Church at Stratford-upon-Avon."

With all due deference to your scholarship and humble acknowledgment of the strengths of your arguments, which are certainly not without merit and puissance, I must conclude that I am inclined to agree with Sir George.

Peter Farey said...

Fair enough, Dave. So simply because of your complete faith in Dugdale's accuracy, and mesmerized by Greenwood's rhetoric, you will overlook the utterly weird timetable that follows.

1621-2 Chancel refurbished. Original monument erected.
1623 Ann Shakespeare buried right next to north wall.
1634 Dugdale's sketch. "In the north wall of the Quire is this monument fixed".
1656 Dugdale's Antiquities with Hollar's engraving, showing it standing on the floor somewhere (unlike today's), but presumably not on Ann's grave.
Between 1669 and 1696 Aubrey describes it with an "undergraduate" gown (like today's, not Hollar's).
1691 Repairs to the Chancel
1698 Langbaine refers to a "cushion" (like today's, not Hollar's).
1709 Rowe's book with Van der Gucht engraving (like Hollar's, not today's).
1725 Pope's book with Vertue's engraving (like today's, not Hollar's).
1730 2nd (carefully corrected) edition of Antiquities (still Hollar's, not today's).
1737 Vertue's drawing of the area (like today's, not Hollar's).
1749 Monument repaired and re-beautified. Cast taken (like today's, not Hollar's).
1765 3rd edition of Antiquities (still Hollar's, not today's).
1786 Bell's book with Grignion engraving (like Hollar's, not today's).
1814 Cast taken of the bust (like today's, not Hollar's).
1834 Chancel renovated again (no mention of monument).
1848 Halliwell's A Life of W.S. with engraving of bust and description of monument (like today's, not Hollar's).

We, on the other hand, finding Dugdale rather less reliable than you do, have a simple explanation for that whole series of anomalies. There were those who had been to Stratford to examine the monument (Dugdale, Aubrey, Langbaine, Vertue and Halliwell) and those who had not (Hollar, Van der Gucht, Thomas* and Grignion).

So William of Ockham can stop worrying!


*You said that Thomas was "rector of Exhall, which is only seven miles from Stratford", and this is not actually true. At the time he was doing this research he was rector of St. Nicholas in Worcester, which is 25 miles away.

Anthony Kellett said...


I’m flabbergasted.

Greenwood, the man who said, “It was from this drawing that the artist, whether Hollar or some other, prepared the engraving, which is an exact copy of the sketch; except that it corrects it where it is somewhat out of drawing”?

This is the man whose opinion you value? One who is prepared to describe Dugdale as, “a practised draughtsman”, whilst looking at that drawing, which Dugdale supplied to Hollar? Is Greenwood suggesting that THAT drawing is actually what the monument looked like; the tiny head; the bizarre shoulders; arms with which he could have picked at his toenails, whilst standing upright? Is that what Greenwood is suggesting? If so, then Greenwood is not prepared to accept that Dugdale would have drawn the monument incorrectly (for the shame that it would have brought upon him, and the laughter of the church visitors), yet he is more than happy to believe that Shakespeare’s family (and church administrators) would have allowed that badly made ventriloquist dummy, to be installed to represent Shakespeare? Moreover, he is prepared to accept that the artisan that fashioned the Clopton monument, just across the church, would have produced such a monstrosity?

I cannot help but wonder what Greenwood would have written about Dugdale’s efforts, if his descendent wasn’t a baronet; and an acquaintance? It stinks of sycophantic twaddle, to me, from a man trying to ingratiate himself to the aristocracy. I cannot even begin to imagine how else to explain Greenwood saying: ”both the ‘original drawing’ and ‘the plate’ agree with regard to the central figure”? Bizarre!

daver852 said...

Well, Peter, I understand all that. However, if I am to believe the original monument resembled today's, I must believe that:

Sir William Dugdale, who was noted as an accurate draughtsman, somehow got his drawing of the Shakespeare monument so wrong that it was unrecognizable;

That this was a unique event, as I have been unable to find another example of such egregious incompetence, nor can anyone point one out to me, while I have examined dozens of other examples of his work, all of which were remarkably accurate;

That 75 years could pass without a single person remarking upon Dugdale's incredible misrepresenation of the monument (which should have caused a great deal of comment, especially among the inhabitants of Stratford).

That Dr. William Thomas, who despite adding three pages of corrections to Dugdale's work in his edition of 1730, almost all of them trivial in nature, somehow overlooked this glaring mistake.

If there were only a few examples that could be presented of Dugdale totally botching the drawing of a monument to the extent that it was unrecognizable, I would be inclined to agree with you. But there are not. So I would have to accept that this is a unique event, unprecedented and unrepeated. Even then, if there were a surviving letter or literary comment stating "Dugdale completely misrepresented the Shakespeare monument," I might agree with you. But there is not.

So it boils down to which is more probable: that the engraver made a few trivial mistakes that "might" lead one to believe that the monument was standing on the floor, or that somehow in this one instance Dugdale made not one, but a whole series of errors, that were not noticed for almost a century?

It's really a judgment call as to which evidence one gives the most weight. I hope that I never have to serve on a jury with you and Mr. Kellett :)

Thank you for the information on Dr. Thomas. I had not known that.

Mr. Kellett: I realize that Dugdale's sketch may look crude to you, but he was required to sketch thousands of items in preparation for his book. Engravers were used to working with sketches like this. The practice continued well into the 19th century. If one examines the sketches Alfred Waud made for "Harper's Weekly" during the American Civil War, for example, it is simply amazing how much detail could be included in what, at first glance, appears to be a crude drawing. The thing is, they got the important things right! In this case, the "important thing" is the figure of Shakespeare, not the putti, not the supports, not the arms, not the skull at the top. It is the man himself. And it is just this side of impossible that he could have gotten that so wrong.

Anthony Kellett said...

I think we'd be OK on a jury, Dave; unless we have to assess a photo-fit picture, of course. In which case, Kermit the Frog will be going down!

Cynthia Morgan said...

Thanks to Peter pointing out the knotted corners of Dugdale's drawing I had the experience of suddenly seeing what I had not seen before when looking at the drawing. Before I'd ever seen it, I'd read that the current pillow had started out as a sack of grain, that the bust had been altered later. Of course I liked this information because it fit so nicely into my view that the Stratford man didn't write the works. So I never questioned those four knotted corners in Dugdale's drawing, never said to myself, "Wait a minute, sacks don't have knotted corners at the bottom, there is no sense to knotted corners at the bottom of a sack of grain."

Although I no longer have Shakespeare's sack to pull out of the "he was not even a writer" evidence bag, I can still carry it with me as a good analogy for the orthodox who refuse to see what has (and has not) been in front of their faces all along.

Peter Farey said...

Dave wrote:

"Well, Peter, I understand all that."


"However, if I am to believe the original monument resembled today's, I must believe that:

Sir William Dugdale, who was noted as an accurate draughtsman, somehow got his drawing of the Shakespeare monument so wrong that it was unrecognizable;"

But we already know that he got his drawing wrong, don't we? It's absolutely awful! The perspective doesn't work; they're aliens, not putti; the capitals are a mess; no heraldic mantling ever looked like that; it's a gibbon, not a man; and he couldn't possibly have seen all four tassels (even if there ever had been four: there aren't now). Hollar did amazingly well to convert it into a monument that at least might have been built.

"That this was a unique event, as I have been unable to find another example of such egregious incompetence, nor can anyone point one out to me, while I have examined dozens of other examples of his work, all of which were remarkably accurate;"

Surprising and even unprecedented things happen all the time, as you already accept. After all, a memorial bust in which the subject is clutching a sack of some commodity (rather than the common device of resting arms, feet or knees on a tasseled cushion) would have been quite unique.

"That 75 years could pass without a single person remarking upon Dugdale's incredible misrepresenation of the monument (which should have caused a great deal of comment, especially among the inhabitants of Stratford)."

There may well have been comment, but Dugdale had been dead for 45 years when the second edition came out, and any such comment was apparently either ignored, unheard, or unrecorded.

"That Dr. William Thomas, who despite adding three pages of corrections to Dugdale's work in his edition of 1730, almost all of them trivial in nature, somehow overlooked this glaring mistake."

Yes, he did. He also overlooked Vertue's remarkably accurate (in all major points) portrayal of the current version, clearly based upon first hand knowledge, which had been published five years earlier.

"So it boils down to which is more probable: that the engraver made a few trivial mistakes that "might" lead one to believe that the monument was standing on the floor, or that somehow in this one instance Dugdale made not one, but a whole series of errors, that were not noticed for almost a century".

No, Dave. It boils down to whether Hollar did his best to make something vaguely feasible from the grotesque sketch he was given, with others basing their engravings on his, or whether the features of the monument over the years kept switching back and forth between something like Hollar's version and the way it appears today.

The latter is of course impossible, so we are left with the words of Sherlock Holmes in The The Sign of the Four: "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"


Peter Farey said...


Despite what you say, Dave, there really is no doubt at all that Hollar intended to show the monument as standing on some horizontal surface (presumably the floor) on three feet - something which Van der Gucht also took as read. You call this just a "trivial mistake", but Of course it isn't. Unless it really was floor-standing to start with, it is far more significant an error than any of the others. Furthermore, since Dugdale says that it is "in" the wall, it is the clearest indication we could possibly have both that Hollar had never seen it in situ, and that Dugdale didn't check this one as carefully as you claim he usually did. And if he missed such a major mistake, there really is no reason to assume that he wouldn't have missed other less obvious ones too.


Peter Farey said...

There was recently a discussion on this subject on the Talk page of Wikipedia's item "Shakespeare's funerary monument" in which Tom Reedy drew our attention to the monument of a Dr Robert Hovenden. He was Warden of All Souls College, Oxford, where the monument is to be found, and had died in 1614. So presumably the monument was built only very shortly, if at all, before the Stratford one. It can be seen at

Many of the features are similar to Shakespeare's, but I found the cushion of particular interest, since they are virtually identical, even as far as the black top and red underside, if they have both managed to retain the original colours. His right hand is resting on a skull, and in his left hand is what appears to be a book (the Bible?) his finger saving the page he is at. That hand is also resting upon something looking not all that different from Shakespeare's piece of paper, although it could be a cloth of some sort.

I can't discover who designed the Hovenden one, but it seems inconceivable that the creator of one monument wasn't very familiar with the other, even to the extent of their being by the same person.


Anthony Kellett said...

Sir Henry Cheere, I believe, was the sculptor.

Anthony Kellett said...

Sorry, I should have added...

If this is the same Henry Cheere of whom I am aware, it was probably 150 years later. So either I am wrong, or this is a dead end, it seems to me.

Peter Farey said...

Anthony, it seems that there was another bust in the Codrington Library at All Souls which was the work of Henry Cheere.


Anthony Kellett said...

Ah, right...that explains it; or doesn't explain it, I suppose. Thanks Peter.

Peter Farey said...

I am sorry to keep plugging away at this but, arising from an exchange of posts with Tom Reedy, a very relevant piece of evidence has come to light. It is a letter from a great-nephew of Joseph Greene, who was of course the main instigator of the changes in 1748, which are often presented as the most likely occasion for the significant changes to have been made from the original monument to the one we see today.

Anyone who is interested in finding out the truth about the monument's history really needs to read it. It's at


Peter Farey said...

The inclusion of a black-on-top and red-below cushion with gold tassels seems to have been quite common at the time. I've just come across the monument to Thomas Neville in Canterbury Cathedral, in which he is kneeling on one. It's at . He also died in 1614.


daver852 said...

I would be interested in knowing what you make of Sir Aston Cockayne's poem, “To my worthy, and learned Friend Mr. William Dugdale, upon his Warwickshire Illustrated,” which was published in 1658. In it, Cockayne says:

"Now Stratford upon Avon, we would choose
Thy gentle and ingenious Shakespeare Muse,
(Were he among the living yet) to raise
T’ our Antiquaries merit some just praise"

This seems to indicate that Cockayne has seen both the monument and Dugdale's engraving, and that the latter is a faithful representation of the former.

Tom Reedy said...

> This seems to indicate that Cockayne has seen both the monument and Dugdale's engraving, and that the latter is a faithful representation of the former.

And how, exactly, does this "seem" to indicate that?

Peter Farey said...

It may seem to indicate that to you but certainly not to me, Dave.

The poem continues.

And sweet-tongu'd Drayton (that hath given renown
Unto a poor (before) and obscure town,
Harsull) were he not fal'n into his tombe,
Would crown this work with an Encomium.
Our Warwick-shire the Heart of England is,
As you most evidently have proved by this;
Having it with more spirit dignifi'd,
Then all our English Counties are beside.

So what he is saying is that if the two Warwickshire-born men (Shakespeare from Stratford and Drayton from Hartshill) had still been alive, he would have chosen them to join him in praising Dugdale for this work on their county. It says nothing at all about the monument. And even if he had noticed anything wrong with it, I rather doubt that he would have considered this an appropriate time or place to mention it.

What is significant about his words is of course that, like Dugdale, he clearly accepts the latter's remark that the monument was to the "famous poet" and not (as Oxfordians use the mythical change to argue) a dealer in wool or grain.


daver852 said...

Well, as the poem mentions the book in its title, and singles out Stratford, Cockayne is obviously expressing his admiration for Dugdale's work, and would not have done that if Dugdale had made a total botch of of his drawing of the Shakespeare monument.

daver852 said...

I might also add that I spent a couple of very boring hours paging through Dugdale's book to see if I could find any other mention of the phrase " in the wall" or something like it. The only one I could find was the monument to Ellen Campion (p. 154) where it is said to be "In the North wall of the Chancell," and it is not at ground level but "in the wall." Where a monument is standing on the ground, Dugdale indicates this in his remarks. For example, on p. 291, the momument to James Enion: "On the South side of the Chancell, standeth this Monument," and on p.68 "This Monument standeth on the North side of the Chancell." Now I am old and my eyesight is not what it used to be, and I may have missed something, but I do not believe "in the wall" means standing on the floor, but is the equivalent of "on the wall." I also noticed that where a monument or figure was placed in some sort of a recessed area, Dugdale made note of that, indicating "it lieth in an Arch," or some such phrase.

Peter Farey said...


Yes, the poem was about Dugdale's work, but the reference to Shakespeare had no more to do with his monument than the reference to Drayton - whose grave and monument were in Westminster Abbey - had about his. And I'm afraid that your opinion as to what Cockayne would or would not have done if the Hollar engraving had been inaccurate is based upon nothing more than wishful thinking.

As to where the monument was located, you seem to be doing your best to agree with my argument without actually saying so.

Dugdale's words were that it was "in" the wall, as it is now, and his sketch was not inconsistent with that. Hollar, however, showed it as being on the floor which - in the absence of any recess - is not consistent with Dugdale's words. We may therefore assume that Hollar made a mistake in this matter, and that Dugdale failed to notice it. And if you accept that it could happen in this case, then it is hardly reasonable to claim that it could not have happened with each of the other errors too.


daver852 said...

The ONLY relevant issue is: does Dugdale's sketch accurately reflect what the monument looked like when he sketched it in 1634? Hollar's engraving is really not material; we have Dugdale's original drawing, so we we must determine whether or not it shows what the monument looked like in 1634.

Dugdale went to Stratford and drew the monument in 1634. He drew what he saw. What are the odds that he would draw something totally unlike the actual monument? The odds of this border on the impossible.

I have been to Stratford and have looked at the monument. It is inconceivable that a trained draughtsman would draw what is there today the way Dugdale drew it. He was noted for the accuracy of his drawings. That is the very reason his book, "Antiquities of Warwickshire," is so famous! To quote the Encyclopedia Britannica "it became the model for large scale county histories." It took some time, but I found another of Dugdale's sketches; you can view it here:

The man may not have been an artist, but he could draw!

No one can produce a single example of were Dugdale so badly botched the drawing of a monument that it is unrecognizable from the engravings in his book. Forget this "standing on the floor" business; Dugdale was there; he KNEW it was not standing on the floor, but "in the wall" above eye level. If you want to say Hollar botched the engraving, fine. That does not change the fact that Dugdale was there, and drew what he saw. And he could draw.

Furthermore, the Shakespeare monument is one he would have taken especial care to draw accurately. When he drew it in 1634, Shakespeare's daughters and other relatives were still alive. After the publication of the First Folio, Shakespeare was already gaining a reputation, deserved or not. He makes special mention of the monument in the text of his book. The odds that out of hundreds of monuments, this would be the only one he would draw totally - and I mean totally - incorrectly? Nil.

Look again at the drawing:

Virtually everything is different from the present monument. The proportions are different, The man in Dugdale's drawing is thin, not the "self-satisfied pork butcher" of the present monument. The facial features are different, especially the moustache. The clothes are different. That is NOT a cushion he is holding against his stomach. His hands are very well drawn - no way they coud have been holding a pen! There is no sheet of paper. I could go on and on. What Dugdale saw is not what is there today.

Almost 75 years went by and no one made any comment about Dugdale's engraving being in error. Then, in 1730, Dr. William Thomas publishes an updated version of Dugdale's book, makes numerous corrections, but somehow overlooks the travesty of the Shakespeare monument. Again, no one comments on the error.

The only evidence that contradicts Dugdale is George Vertue's engraving of 1723, which superficially resembles the modern monument more than Dugdale's drawing, but contains just as many errors, if the modern monument is to be our guide. And we have the testimony of C. C. Stopes that Vertue never even went to Stratford to prepare his engraving!

If we are to believe that the eye witness testimony of a renowned scholar is wrong, we must have some credible reason to doubt it. In this case, we have none. The most reasonable explanation is that Dugdale drew what he saw in 1634, drew it accurately, and that the monument was altered at a later date.

If you are going to assert that Dugdale made an inaccurate drawing, you must provide some reason why he did so. And you must provide examples of where he made similar mistakes. Otherwise, we are forced to believe that this was a unique occurence, and that it involved a monument where he would have been expected to exercise more than ordinary care.

Peter Farey said...

So all evidence which fails to support your theory can be safely ignored because "The ONLY relevant issue is: does Dugdale's sketch accurately reflect what the monument looked like when he sketched it in 1634?"

Ignoring the irrationality of such thinking, let us consider your point. The simple answer is that whilst there is no doubt at all in my mind that Dugdale based his very rough sketch upon first hand knowledge, there is no possible way in which the monument can have actually looked like that originally. Gerard Johnson would have been lynched if he had come up with anything so grotesque. People and cherubs have never looked like that, have they? If he could draw as well as your Katherine Swynford example suggests, why did he so obviously fail to do so in this case?

Whilst having certain similarities both to the Hollar version and to how it is today it is therefore demonstrably a bad drawing and an inaccurate one, and that anyone would base their argument solely upon how close to the original it must have been in other particulars is just beyond my comprehension.


Anthony Kellett said...

And I am just going to copy what I have already written, in an earlier post...

"Is Greenwood suggesting that THAT drawing is actually what the monument looked like; the tiny head; the bizarre shoulders; arms with which he could have picked at his toenails, whilst standing upright? Is that what Greenwood is suggesting? If so, then Greenwood is not prepared to accept that Dugdale would have drawn the monument incorrectly (for the shame that it would have brought upon him, and the laughter of the church visitors), yet he is more than happy to believe that Shakespeare’s family (and church administrators) would have allowed that badly made ventriloquist dummy to be installed, to represent Shakespeare? Moreover, he is prepared to accept that the artisan that fashioned the Clopton monument, just across the church, would have produced such a monstrosity?"

You seem to plough on, Dave, without addressing any of these incongruities?

Paul Crowley said...

Cynthia Morgan said...
" . . . what I have always taken to be a "sack" is actually a lame attempt to capture a pillow. The giveaways are the four corners which are all knotted in his sketch. Even the tassels on the pillow look a bit knotted. If Dugdale were attempting to depict a sack of grain he would not have had these knotted corners. . ."

The knotted corners clearly indicate a 'woolsack'. It seems they were necessary for transport by mule. Numerous images can be found on the web. See the first (wikipedia) site for the difference with 'woolpacks'.

Anthony Kellett said...
"Is Greenwood suggesting that THAT drawing is actually what the monument looked like; the tiny head; the bizarre shoulders; arms with which he could have picked at his toenails, whilst standing upright? Is that what Greenwood is suggesting? If so, then Greenwood is not prepared to accept that Dugdale would have drawn the monument incorrectly (for the shame that it would have brought upon him, and the laughter of the church visitors), yet he is more than happy to believe that Shakespeare’s family (and church administrators) would have allowed that badly made ventriloquist dummy to be installed, to represent Shakespeare? Moreover, he is prepared to accept that the artisan that fashioned the Clopton monument, just across the church, would have produced such a monstrosity?"

For an image even more monstrous, but far more conspicuous, let me point to the 'portrait' of the poet in every copy of the Folio. Where is the laughter about that? As those who mounted the cover-up knew well, pretentious literary types will believe almost anything they are told -- even a story as ludicrous as the Stratfordian

The small figure high up in that fairly dark church was going to be seen by many fewer people; And Dugdale may well have exaggerated its 'agricultural' character. As I see it, some form of monument to the poet was necessary in Stratford -- for those few 'tourists' who might come to look. However, Stratford locals in the 1620s would have known well that the Stratman was far from literary; so for them, the monument had to be to his father, for some supposed services he had performed for his London friends back in the 1550s and 1560s. That was 50+ years before it was erected, and few living would remember much about his activities then. (The ill-fitting Latin verse would be explained away -- if anyone asked -- as arising from some confusion of the London scupltor.) Within a few decades, they would all be dead, and the monument could be altered at will -- to be more fitting for the supposed poet. The family knew what was going on and was well rewarded for its silence. Similarly, the local vicar would have been chosen for his lack of interest and for his complaisance. The directions came from the top, in that intensely hierarchical society.

Paul Crowley

Peter Farey said...

Cynthia, I have heard (although not from an entirely reliable source) that those things at the corner of a woolsack are in fact stones, which are tied into them to allow the handler more grip.

whilst I appreciate your agreeing with my conclusion, what I see when I look at the Dugdale drawing is in fact something which looks just a bit more like a tassel than a knot, and in the Hollar engraving something a rather more like a knot than a tassel. So just as Hollar mistook Dugdale's correct but unclear representation of it being mounted on the wall as being on the floor, so he also mistook the correct but unclear drawing of a tasseled cushion for a knotted sack of some kind.

I notice that Paul ignores all of the points already made which show his solution to be wrong, and I really can't be bothered to go over them yet again.


Ignacio Domínguez said...

Mr. Farey,
It is really disappointing to find in this site an article that starts with an invitation not to make claims that don't agree with your proposal.
As far as I know, floor standing stone monuments do not have feet, they lie on a flat base that supports its weight. In most cases they are set on a flat platform in order to place it in an appropriate elevation.
The Hollar engraving of Dugdale's book may look confusing because the drawing is set at the bottom of the page. But if we look at Nicholas Rowe engraving in "Shakespeare works" we can check that there is not any floor under the monument. The supports look like those used in the building of wall fixed niches.
The Hollar engraving is illuminated from an oblique source and the central support is evidently shorter that the right one. As the light comes from this right side, I don´t find any abnormality in Hollar's shadowing depiction.
If we imagine the monument set on the floor, we realize that the face on the bust is below our sight level. We should lie on the floor to read the monument legend as it would be under the knee level of the "passengers".
According to the proposal that Mr. Spielmann and you share, Hollar thought that the brackets in Dugdale sketch were three feet that lie on the floor to support the monument. I'm quite ignorant in stone building matters but I find it obvious that they are not.
In his meticulous drawings of Antwerp and Strasbourg cathedrals Hollar shows a deep architectural knowledge. I would rather have the confirmation of, at least one competent expert, before doing such a reckless assertion.
In his "On Stratford monument" M.H. Spielmann tries to convince us that the figure we can see now in the Stratford monument was a normal representation of a writer. Although he tries to find examples of writing figures that use a cushion associated with paper and quill, he is not able to provide a single one.
I can't figure out how a flat cushion where the left hand palm of "Shakspeare" lies, almost horizontally, becomes a fluffy woolsack with a vertically disposed hand in Hollar's engraving.
Should we believe that there was so much dust covering the paper leaf that Dudgale did not realize its presence? Should we believe that at the same time he did an accurate examination where every detail in the text, including those little characters in the last line, was perfectly read?
We can't conclude that Hollar based his Shakspeare's engraving in the Dugdale sketch that we know. If he ever did, he had at least one more source of information. I wish we could know where did he get the monument's texts that he hand wrote and we see in Dugdale's book.
In the Alexander Pope's 1723-5 edition of Shakespeare plays we can see Vertue's engraving of the monument in which the portrait of the poet shows a completely different person from the one he created for Pope's frontispiece. There is not any sign of gilded Tudor roses in the ceiling of the alcove in this engraving.
You ask what reasons should they have to make so much expensive changes...
The Stratford new monument would have been cheaper than the Poet's Corner statue that was made in 1740 with the funds of Lord Burlington and Alexander Pope among others.
The only explanation I can find is that there were people so interested in defending their Stratfordian candidate that they wouldn't mind changing evidence in order to make us believe that was Shakspere and not Marlowe the real author. A commoner holding a sack is not a convincing representation of a poet.
I've read many of your articles and most of them are filled with interesting information and clever comments. I simply cannot understand the kind of barricades that you build with this one.