Memento Mori

On the Chilterns' escarpment, looking down on the Thames valley and towards
the cooling towers of Didcot power-station is the village of Ewelme. It is
all brick and flint and the epitome of an English village of farms and

The church is rather special, a Decorated Gothic beauty that would be
entirely at home in Suffolk. It is part of an ensemble of buildings that
include almshouses and the inside is equally beautiful and interesting.

Of particular note is the tomb of Alice, Duchess of Suffolk. Her likeness
is in alabaster and of a delicacy that is Italian in form and finish. She
is lying, hands in prayer, with a look of calm repose - every inch the
duchess: Queen Victoria is supposed to have had the tomb inspected to ascertain
how the Garter should be worn.

Underneath is something quite different: a hideous , emaciated woman in her shroud with her face  twisted into the rictus of a death agony. It is shocking and powerful.

Sic transit gloria mundi.


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