To celebrate Heritage Open Days the Montagu Monuments in St. Edmund's Church, Warkton, nr. Kettering, Northamptonshire will be open to the public on Thursday 8 September , Friday 9 September 2016 and Saturday 10 September 2016 from 10:00-12:00 and 15:30-17:30. On the Saturday visitors can enjoy a free shuttle bus service running from Kettering Library to the church during the opening times.
The world-class monuments are in the wonderful setting of the Grade I listed St. Edmund's Church. The oldest parts of the church date from the 12th century, but the current church dates largely from the 15th century. The notable exception to this is the 18th century chancel, commissioned by Mary Churchill, Duchess of Montagu and wife of John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, and designed by the celebrated French artist Louis François Roubiliac. The chancel was purposefully designed to house grand funerary monuments to the Duke and his family, and includes a huge east window which floods the space with light.
Four monuments in the chancel, each created from white Carrara Marble and spanning three generations of the Montagu family, constitute one of the finest and most important sets of funerary monuments in the country. Two of the monuments are by Roubiliac (famous for his monuments in Westminster Abbey), the third monument was sculpted by Peter Mathias Van Gelder, and the fourth by Thomas Campbell.
The Prince's Regeneration Trust, who managed the recent £489,000 restoration work on the Montagu Monuments, have described them as '..a hidden gem in the heart of Northamptonshire.' The monuments are now in the best condition they have ever been since their first installation between 1750 and 1835.
To celebrate the completion of the restoration work and the publication of the first ever comprehensive guidebook to St Edmund's and the Montagu Monuments a special spoken word event will take place on the Saturday afternoon. Created in partnership with the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust and the Parochial Church Council the guidebook brings together the latest research, in-depth knowledge about the church, the monuments, their restoration and those commemorated by them. They will be available for sale at the church for £5. The guidebook also includes poetry and prose written by school children and members of the local community who took part in creative writing workshops related to the monuments. The spoken word event will feature poetry and prose created by the book's participants.
Anne-Marie Sandos, Learning & Outreach Officer at The Prince's Regeneration Trust is delighted that the special openings will enable many more people to experience these impressive and fascinating artworks:
"I would urge everyone not to miss the chance to visit our amazing church and see these wonderful pieces of art. They are absolutely stunning to see and real national treasures ," said Anne-Marie.