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Cricket St Thomas, Somerset: St Thomas's Church: monument to Mary Hood for Admiral Hood, c. 1786 (1)

1786
Mary Hood (née West) was the first wife of Admiral Hood, later 1st Viscount Bridport (1726-1814). She was born c. 1706 and died on 12 September 1786, several months after Soane began work on Admiral Hood’s Cricket Lodge, Cricket St Thomas. This monument was erected inside the local parish church.

Soane was probably introduced to Admiral Hood and Mary through Lord Camelford, a relative of Mary’s and an early patron to Soane. Beginning in May 1786, Soane made significant additions and alterations Cricket Lodge (q.v.).

Admiral Hood and Mary (also known as Molly) married in the summer of 1761. She was the daughter of Reverend Richard West and Maria, the daughter of Sir Richard Temple (1634-1697) third baronet of Stowe, and sister of Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham (1675–1749). Mary’s aunts were married into the Grenville family of Wooton, Buckinghamshire, and the Lyttletons of Hagley, Warwickshire. Lord Lyttelton apparently gave away the bride on the Hoods’ wedding day.

Aside from a single mention in Soane's Journal No 1, which records that he was 'drawing [a] monument' on 22 May 1788, there is no evidence of Soane designing this memorial. However, such a gap in documentation is common for those commissions conducted verbally by Soane. He and the admiral were in the midst of negotiations for Cricket Lodge when Mary fell ill and died in September, and it is likely that this design was quickly drawn up for his bereaved client.

The memorial is mounted on the left side of the south transept in the Church of St Thomas. It is a modest tablet, consisting of an inscribed panel with tabbed ends, beneath a strigilated urn projecting from a panel that is capped by a segmental pediment surrounding an ouroboros relief and between acanthus corners. The backing is a darker marble.

The tablet's inscription reads: 'Sacred to the Memory of / Mary Wife of / Rear Admiral Alexander Hood, / who died the 12th of September 1786, / After a short illness, / She was Daughter of the Reverend Doctor West / And Niece to Lord Viscount Cobham / of Stow in Buckinghamshire / Whose Eldest Sister her Father Married. / From the purest sentiments of esteem / And in just testimony of her pious benevolence / And most amiable disposition, / Her affectionate Husband, has caused / this humble Monument to be Erected. / 1787.

In 1814, Soane designed a monument to Lord Bridport in the church of St Thomas (q.v.).

Literature: ed. J. Nichols, The Gentleman’s magazine, Vol. 60, part ii, 1786; M. Kilburn, ‘Temple, Richard, first Viscount Cobham (1675–1749)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, accessed 15 Dec 2011; R. Morriss, ‘Hood, Alexander, Viscount Bridport (1726–1814)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, accessed 15 Dec 2011.

Madeleine Helmer, 2011
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