The Percy Canopy
The Percy Canopy covering the tomb of a member of the Percy family, probably Eleanor, is a masterpiece of 14th century carving.
The Percy Canopy is recognised as one of the masterpieces of English Decorated stone carving.
Built between 1340 and 1349 it portrays the concern of the tomb owner for the fate of the soul after death.
On the north face is a statue of Christ showing his wounds; on either side angels carry the instruments of the Passion.
On the south side Christ receives the soul of the dead person into heaven. The whole canopy with its beautifully carved angels and sacred figures is a view of paradise.
The exact identity of the person commemorated is uncertain. The most likely candidate is Eleanor, daughter of Richard Fitz Alan, earl of Arundel, and widow of Henry Percy, first Lord of Alnwick who died in 1314. Eleanor died in 1328 and arrangements for her obit at Beverley were made in 1336. The tomb bears the arms of Edward III which includes the fleur-de-lys, adopted after 1340. Until 1820 a tomb chest rested on the ledge beneath the canopy.
The canopy is believed to be the work of five highly skilled early 14th century masons and represents the finest example of stone carving of the time. It escaped the destruction which took place after the Reformation and by the Puritans in the 17th century and remains almost intact.