Angel of Hornby

This superbly carved angel is believed to be the only surviving feature of the tomb of Edward Stanley, Lord Monteagle, who commissioned it for his tomb at Hornby Priory near Lancaster. It now resides in his 1513 tower at Hornby Parish Church, the priory long since dissolved. Dying in April 1523, his body was probably transferred here to a very grand chest tomb with a whole row of angels, each holding a painted shield of arms showing his family connections. This fellow is the only one that remains.

Back in 2021, I commented upon Scottish depictions of angels wearing eighteenth-century periwigs. Here, we have a fashionably clothed and barbered angel for the late fifteenth and early sixteenth-centuries, with the long hair, much like Henry VII sported. In one respect, it is a rather charming assumption that angels dress just like us. Yet having given it further thought, I think that the old craftsman was right- they do look like us. When Hebrews 13:2 talks about some church members giving hospitality to strangers which turned out to be angels, they presumably dressed like first-century travellers. In the Georgian era, they dressed like Georgians, and in the early sixteenth-century, like early Tudors. I suspect that in heaven they will follow their own dress code, but those old sculptors were probably more correct than even they imagined.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2, NKJV