The Dyer Tomb - sited in the Chancel


The Civil War Dyer Tomb, erected by Lady Katherine Dyer in 1641 in memory of her late husband, William, who had died in 1641, is considered by many to be in the top 10% of monuments in Britain and her romantic wistful poem, inscribed at the back of the tomb, has caught the imagination of many later commentators, who have recorded it on the radio and published it in books.


The pure and elegant Perpendicular exterior design of St Denys' church, which has had no alterations or additions since its original construction between 1425 & 1429, attracts visitors visually but it is the Dyer Tomb which makes this Grade 1 listed monument memorable, above many other beautiful churches in the English countryside.


Whilst Lady Katherine obviously missed her husband and pined for him nightly, she also had further problems within the family. Look at the four small statues of her sons at the base and it can be seen by their dress that the elder two were supporters of King Charles I, whilst the large white collars of the younger two sons show that they supported Parliament. To the right can be seen the three daughters, all of whom have handkerchiefs in their hands mopping their tears away.


It could be argued that this was a politically astute move as Huntingdon, the home of Cromwell, was close-by and much of this area supported the King.


The three statuesque characters, holding small children represent Faith, Hope and Charity and are thought to hold children lost in or before childbirth.


The Dyer monument has, according to Pevsner's "The Buildings of England: Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough"  (2nd ed., 2014) "particularly noble, caryatids, and a novelty is the way in which the figures of the children turn outwards to the viewer." 




The Penguin Book of Poetry,

John Julius Norwich: Christmas Crackers

Patricia Bell; late County Archivist who considered St Denys' to be the most interesting church historically in North Bedfordshire