William Offley 1691-1767
William Offley MD was the son of the Rector of Middleton Stoney in Oxfordshire (also called William) and his wife Susanna. He was a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge where he studied diseases. The memorial testifies that he was a happy, sincere man well-known for alleviating poverty and worshipping God He was also a good husband and father. He is also quoted as being 'free of superstition'
St Giles was once known as the Harley street of Norwich as this is where the local physicians lived and practised many also worked at the nearby Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.It is believed that William was one of this fraternity hence this plaque to him in St Giles church
The monument is something of a connundrum described by Pevsner as being "by no means Rococo in spiritedness it is violently Rococo in composition i.e.demonstrativley assymetrical" The symbolism (see below for detail) is typical of the decoration adopted in the High Baroque monuments of the 17th century incorporating such features as cherubs, urns, a lamp and drapery.
Interestingly Pvesner also notes that the monument is almost identical to the memorial dedicated to Dame Anne Astley at Melton Constable (died 1768)
Click here for a readable view of the inscription
What he monument tells us.
The mason who designed this monument has employed a wide range of features to illustrate aspects of William's life and his expectations of life after death. Including : an urn which symbolises death, although this is offset by the lamp with its promise of immortality and the winged angel's head with it's promise of resurrection. The curtain is drawing a veil over Williams life, where books show that he was very studious. The Olive branch not only bears witness to the fact that he promoted Peace and harmony but also is reference to his profession as a "healer" (doctor)