Tockholes' Strange Monument

In the grounds of St Stephen’s Church in Tockholes is a strange, stone monument. Parish churches and yards are often littered with carvings, displaying some gentle or noble family’s armorial symbols and ancestral motifs. The one in question I could not identify, having searched the Radcliffes, the Hollinheads and the Shorrocks who all at some point lived in the vicinity. Some better-informed reader might be able to fill the gaps in my knowledge.

There is a shield, upon which are three Griffin heads. Above, a hand extends, taking hold of a coronet or crown. Does it refer to social aspiration? Curiously, a chained, bearded figure lays at the bottom. Is he a captive, a slave or a rebel? Doubtless, the man who paid for this object made his money on the back of others’ labour- be this industrial worker or landless peasant. From such employment, poverty prevented escape, while the proprietor reached ever upwards to greater wealth and prestige. On the other hand, I see in its strange symbology a gospel outline. While Satan remains bound and powerless to prevent it, sons of Adam reach beyond this physical world to receive the crown of righteousness Christ freely offers. Something tells me that this is not what the artist had in mind, much less his wealthy patron, but it’s the clearest gospel picture I saw in that churchyard.