The Margaret “Mother” Lace Memorial stone in the churchyard of Old St. Runius, Marown, Isle of Man. Designed by Archibald Knox and made by Thomas Quayle’s stonemasonry Firm.

This memorial in Old St Runius churchyard is, in my opinion, one of the greatest designs of Archibald Knox. It is difficult to photograph as it lies flat and therefore always has shadows from different angles.

Below are a series of photos which I hope give a good idea of the form, beauty and complexity of the memorial together with an idea of the work carried out by the stone cutters.

Firstly, there are two overhead shots of the whole creation and then a number of others showing the detail. Most of the photographs are by Andrew Barton but I have also slipped in a couple of my own taken on a brighter day.

As one looks at the memorial in person more and more things come to light.

Margaret Lace was the daughter of John Clucas of  Kionslieu, Foxdale and wife of William Lace. She died on 10th March 1914 in her 97th year having been born on 24th July 1817. She is “sleeping in Jesus” and when one looks at the corners of the memorial they are sweeping upwards like a bed cover or a duvet. I am indebted to Diane Ormond for pointing this out to me.

The sides of the memorial look like two bed rails, with holes for hands to lift the whole monument as in a procession. Knox’s own version of intertwining Celtic knots are around the hand holes and also at the bottom of the monument/foot of the bed.

Mr. Thomas Quayle stated that the work was done “off the chisel” without templates or any mechanical aid to accuracy.

I find the whole thing breathtaking and difficult to believe that so few people know of its existence and that more is not made of it regarding showing it to locals and tourists.

An excerpt from the Isle of Man Weekly Times 1st October 1932 entitled “The Graves in Marown.”

“One of the handsomest memorials. in the churchyard is also one of the most recent, and covers the remains of that fine old lady Mrs Margaret Lace, of Foxdale who died in 1914 at the age of 97 — mother of Mr Moses Lace, Mr Richard Lace, and Mr T. Livingstone Lace,.J.P. (Wigan). It is a great marble slab, almost the whole face of which is covered by a finely executed Celtic cross, of a well-known design, small circles being sunk between the limbs, the limbs being surrounded by’ a circle, and the whole set on a rectangular base. The limbs are carved in a beautiful plait pattern, and the whole thing, though perhaps at the moment aggressively new, and perhaps suffering from its horizontal position, is a true work of art. The district of Foxdale, though nowadays served by its own burial ground, is divided amongst the civil and ecclesiastical parishes of Patrick, Malew, and Marown, and quite a considerable number of interments in both old and new Marown come from it. In the old churchyard a particular place appears to have been reserved for Foxdale people.”

Until one has seen this incredible monument it is not possible to imagine the skill of the designer and the stonemason. In his book “Archibald Knox” Dr. Stephen A Martin (Artmedia Press 2001) states the following on page 155: “The Lace Monument was considered by the Quayle family to have been one of the most complex Knox designs to have been executed by the firm. At one level this was due to the immense size, but at another this was due to the fact that the design was not cut in a single plane but rather was a complicated series of ellipses and swoops together with various subtle changes of plane. As a result, Knox not only had to provide drawings of the design in plan form but also a series of elevations and cross sectional drawings of the design to assist the masons in the production of the monument to his full specifications.”

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Thomas Quayle with the “Mother” Lace grave slab at his workshop.

Photograph courtesy of Alan E. Kelly of Mannin Collections Limited

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Two photographs of Margaret Lace “Mother Lace” courtesy of Manx National Heritage from their imuseum collection.

Margaret was the daughter of John Clucas of Kionslieu, Foxdale. She married William Lace and her gravestone/memorial in Old St Runius churchyard was one of the most complex to be executed by the stonemasonry firm of Thomas Quayle.

The stone is marble and as the Archibald Knox design is on several levels he had to produce cross sections as well as plan drawings for the stonemasons to follow.

Margaret was possibly the oldest inhabitant of the Isle of Man when she died and had been a member of the Wesleyan chapel for 73 years.

She was of a very cheerful and sunny disposition and had a marvelous memory.