In the far north, where Somerset and Wiltshire jostle with Dorset for the rich farmland of the headwaters of the Stour, is the village of Silton. It’s a fairly ordinary place that boasts in Manor Farm a fine vernacular house that dates from the 17th century.

However, the village church of St Nicholas houses a memorial to one, Sir Hugh Wyndham, that is far from ordinary. The huge edifice is by John Nost of Tring and dates from 1692. Nost was one of the most renowned sculptors of his day and sculpted the Digby monument in Sherborne Abbey. As for Sir Hugh Wyndham, he was Justice of the Common Pleas during the Commonwealth and was cute enough to keep the job under Charles II. The two brothers Strode, both Sergeants-at-Law, were Wyndham’s executors and had this monument erected on instructions made by Sir Hugh before his death - one of the brothers, at least, must have liked the look of the thing because Thomas Strode, who died in 1698, has a monument by Nost in Beaminster Church.

Sir Hugh’s memorial is melodramatic if you’re feeling charitable, or ostentatious and pompous if you’re not - however, there can be no argument about its impact: the memorial dominates its surroundings to the point where you find yourself wondering about the ego of the individual who commissioned it - especially when it dawns on you that the portentous figure standing between the barley twist columns is the great man and the two weeping figures at this feet are those of his wives who predeceased him. Having said all that, the memorial is a superb example of its kind and probably says more about the aesthetics of the period rather than the personality of the individual who had the thing produced - you hope so, if only for the sake of his two wives.

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