Effigy of un-named lady, Caerwys
Effigy of ‘The un-named lady’, Caerwys
This beautifully carved stone arch, inside St Michael’s Church, dates from around the 14th century. It’s thought that at one time the arch formed part of an old window in the church and was moved to its present location during one of the church’s many restorations.
The arch surrounds a niche, within which lies the effigy of ‘The un-named lady’. The effigy dates from the late 13th or early 14th century. It was probably part of a coffin lid, perhaps on a tomb chest that was once situated in the churchyard.
The effigy is carved in low relief on a slab of grey sandstone. It is weathered and badly damaged, which may due to modifications to make it to fit inside the niche hundreds of years ago; or the damage may have been caused by ‘relic hunters’ who chipped off bits of stone from effigies to create healing potions.
What remains of the effigy shows the figure with her head lying on a square cushion with tassels at the corners. The hands are together in prayer. The hair is covered by a wimple, a cloth which covered the top, back and sides of the head and the back of the neck. All of the wimple’s details have now gone. The dress is pleated from the breast down, and nipped in at the waist with a belt. There’s an indication that long sleeves may have hung from the elbows.
Legend has it that the effigy depicts Elizabeth Ferrers (c.1250 to c.1300), wife of Dafydd ap Gruffydd. He was Prince of Wales in 1282 and 1283, until his execution by King Edward I.
Elizabeth was the daughter of William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby, and she may have spent some time living at Maesmynan in Caerwys, which was reputedly a residence of the Princes of Gwynedd in the 13th century.
With thanks to Suryiah Evans