Sir Anthony Denny Bt

A death notice in today’s issue of The Times caught my eye  –  Denny.

If you have visited the glorious Abbey at Waltham Abbey you won’t have missed the great Denny tomb and monument in the side aisle next to the stairs to the Lady Chapel.   The tomb is of Sir Edward Denny, and shows him and his wife and their seven sons and three daughters.   It commemorates the family who became the owners of the Abbey site at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries.

The town has a rich Tudor history, being visited many times by King Henry VIII who favoured the Abbey of Waltham.   Waltham was the last of the Abbeys to be dissolved.   King Henry leased the demesne lands of the monastery to his friend and favourite, Sir Anthony Denny, in April 1541, and he was made keeper of the site in January 1542.   It was purchased outright by his widow in 1549.   Sir Anthony used the stone from the demolished monastic buildings to construct the splendid Abbey House, itself later demolished, but remains of it can be seen in the Abbey Gardens.

Sir Anthony was the father of the Sir Edward whose monument is in the Abbey Church.   Sir Anthony was a confidant of Henry VIII, the most prominent member of the Privy Chamber, Keeper of Westminster Palace, Groom of the Stool, and had charge of the “dry stamp” of the King’s signature.   Denny attended Henry on his deathbed, helping to finalize his will.   He had to tell Henry of his coming death, and advised the King “to prepare for his final agony”.

The Dennys continued to be an important family in Tudor times, and the baronetcy has passed down the years.   The death notice I saw today was for Sir Anthony Denny  –  (so a family name still in use)  –  who died peacefully on 13th September 2013, aged 88, at his home in Somerset.   His full name was Sir Anthony Coningham de Waltham Denny and he was the 8th Baronet.   He is succeeded as the 9th Baronet by his son, Sir Piers Anthony de Waltham Denny.

I met Sir Anthony when he came to Waltham Abbey for the 950th Anniversary celebrations of the consecration of King Harold’s Church.  He was a Patron of the Abbey Church and knew a great deal about its architecture, his own profession.

How interesting that both Sir Anthony and Sir Piers have “de Waltham” as part of their name.   Interesting also that Sir Anthony died last Friday, the 13th, when we were commemorating the bringing of the Holy Cross to Waltham in 1035 by performing a play of the Legend.   And from that Legend and from the Holy Cross came Harold’s Church, and then the Great Abbey, and then the dissolution of the Abbey leading to the Denny family coming to the town.

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