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Bishops Day & Barlow Tombs Restored (posted 22 October 2012)

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Cathedral's Ancient Tombs of Two Bishops Restored Thanks to 14th Generation Descendant, in Michigan...

Picture: Mr & Mrs Blake-Thomas & the Dean
The Dean with Mr & Mrs Blake-Thomas at the Barlow tomb

Two ancient 'box tombs' have just been restored at Chichester Cathedral - thanks to the generosity of a direct descendant of one of the Bishops buried within.  The two tombs are either side of the Shrine of St Richard in the Cathedral.  On the south side lies Bishop George Day and on the north, Bishop William Barlow.  These two Bishops of Chichester each played an important part in the religious turmoils which beset England and its Church in the 16th Century.

Day (Bishop of Chichester 1543 - 1551 and 1553 - 1556) was imprisoned in 1551 for refusing to destroy altars in his Diocese on the orders of Henry VIII.  He was released and restored as Bishop by Queen Mary.  Barlow (Bishop of Chichester 1555 - 1568) was successively Bishop of St David's, Bath and Wells, and Chichester, under three monarchs: Henry VIII, Edward VI (in whose reign he fled to the Continent), and Elizabeth I, who restored him to his Bishopric.

When the Cathedral's Shrine of St Richard was refurbished in 2010, there was insufficient money to clean and conserve the two tombs.  In the same year, Mr Hugh Blake-Thomas - a 14th generation direct descendant of Bishop Barlow - contacted the Dean.  After a visit to the Cathedral, Mr Blake-Thomas and his wife generously offered to pay for the restoration of his ancestor's tomb and that of Bishop Day.  This delicate work has recently been completed.  The stone, particularly on Barlow's tomb, was very eroded, and the work was complex and painstaking.  The tombs have now been stabilised and the restoration of the Shrine is complete.

The Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral are hugely grateful to Mr and Mrs Blake-Thomas and on Sunday 21st October there was a special Service of Rededication for both of the tombs - this service was attended by Mr and Mrs Blake-Thomas, who had travelled especially from their home in Michigan, USA.

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