Following three-year-old Henry Montagu’s death in 1625, his father installed a memorial comprised of three objects in Barnwell All Saints Church. In addition to an alabaster monument, Sidney Montagu incorporated into his memorial program a thirteenth-century piscina (a basin for washing liturgical vessels), and a painted wooden box containing a manuscript sheet, “Upon the Birth and death of his deere sonne.” Montagu’s commemorative program invests memorial artifacts with the qualities attributed to sacred objects and develops and defends a private idolatry in which secular objects acquire the aura of the sacred. While the Barnwell monument engages with a high church view of the sacraments as signs of remembrance, the manuscript box reveals Montagu turning from the sacramental to the superstitious. This object displays how religious faith and personal belief bleed into each other when sacred objects, images, and practices move into secular spheres.

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