Bob Speel’s labour-of-love website, British Sculpture & Church Monuments (“… mostly about sculpture, mostly in England, mostly Victorian and Edwardian, and lots of church monuments. It is simply intended for those interested in sculpture and related arts.”) is a treasure trove. One of these treasures is an entry for St Margaret’s Church, Barking, now London, previously in Essex; the Church is associated with the demolished Barking Abbey next to it.
One of the wall monuments in St Margaret’s offers visitors a chance encounter with Robert Westley Hall, Mabel Bent’s paternal great-grandfather. The memorial is a marble bust by the eminent sculptor Patrick MacDowell RA, commissioned (no doubt at great expense) by Mabel’s grandfather, Robert Westley Hall-Dare, and inscribed: “To the memory of Robert Westley Hall Esq of Ilford Lodge in this parish, who died April 13, 1834, aged 83, this monument is erected as a sincere though feeble testimony of gratitude and love, by his son Robert Westley Hall Dare.”
Bob Speel has provided this description of the memorial: “Robert Westley Hall, d.1834. White on black monument with a portrait bust on top of a casket tomb. The bust is of the proper Roman senator type, showing a late middle aged man with tightly cropped hair, prominent nose and ascetic features, with a robe over one shoulder, leaving his chest bare on the other side. Excellently carved and characterful. The bust stands on the casket, which is attached rather than in relief, and has a lid, anthemion styled acroteria to the sides, and the inscription on the front, flanked by low relief carvings of slender amphorae. It stands on blocky feet, and the whole is on a black backing cut to a broad obelisk shape. Signed by no less than Patrick MacDowell RA, London, a prominent sculptor best known for his ideal nudes and his group of Europe for the Albert Memorial, along with much portrait sculpture.”
The Bent Archive is extremely grateful to Bob Speel for allowing us to reproduce his text and photographs of Robert Westley Hall’s memorial in St Margaret’s, Barking, London (formerly Essex).
For the background to the extended Hall-Dare family (in 1912), see Sir Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland (1912, London, pp. 165-6. Mabel is listed as the second daughter of Robert Westley Hall-Dare, marrying Theodore Bent in August 1877.
For Mabel’s maternal family, the Lambarts of Beauparc, Co. Meath, see Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage (1914, London, pp.1151-2).