Sketching in Gloucester Cathedral

I recently spent an afternoon sketching in Gloucester Cathedral near my home. A monastery has stood on this site since the late 7th century and the cathedral was established in 1541.

There are many things that I love about the cathedral, but having a particular interest in women’s history I am always drawn (no pun intended!) to the exquisite 15th century Lady Chapel. Below is a sketch I made of the tomb of Elizabeth Williams, who sadly died in childbirth aged only 17 years.

Sketch of the tomb of Elizabeth Williams, Gloucester Cathedral (sketching)

The inscription reads:

“Elizabeth speaks: Husband, you carved me in marble here your wife;
Thus you’d ensure her immortality.
But CHRIST my hope and trust was, all my life;
So God forbids that I should mortal be.
July 4th AD 1622. Wife of W.I. Williams,
Youngest daughter of Dr Miles Smith,
Bishop of Gloucester
Aged 17″

Also laid to rest with her was the tiny unfortunate child, who sadly, somewhere over the centuries has lost her nose.

Sketch of child of Elizabeth Williams, Gloucester Cathedral (sketching)

Elizabeth Williams and her baby lie directly opposite the tomb of her sister, who also died in childbirth. So very sad, but I’m grateful that the lives of these two young women were valued enough by those who knew and loved them for them to have been commemorated with these beautiful memorials.

Tomb of Elizabeth Williams and baby, Gloucester Cathedral

The memorial to Elizabeth Williams and child – Photo by Julian P Guffogg

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4 thoughts on “Sketching in Gloucester Cathedral

  1. Clare

    A very sad story, but important to realise how much progress has been made in Western countries concerning childbirth and child survival; It also flags up how much more is still to be done to help the women, babies and children in undeveloped countries . Love your sketch, well done Erica!

    1. Erica Lowe Post author

      It does indeed and not all lives ended so tragically in the 1600s. Elsewhere in the cathedral is a monument to Thomas Machen and his wife, Christian, and their thirteen children!


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