Normandy Historians - Home Page
Antiquities and Peculiarities
of Normandy

The Pirbright Tomb

Henry de Worms
1st Baron Pirbright
(20 October 1840 – 9 January 1903)
Henry de Worms

Henry de Worms was born in 1840, the third son of Solomon Benedict de Worms, a grandson of Nathan Meyer Rothschild the financier and a hereditary Baron of the Austrian Empire. Henry was educated at King's College, London and became a barrister of The Inner Temple in 1863. He was Conservative MP for Greenwich 1880-85 and for Liverpool East Toxteth 1885-1895. He held successively a number of Government Offices and became a Privy Councillor in 1889, the first member of the Jewish Faith to do so. He was created Baron Pirbright in 1895. In 1864 he married Fanny, the eldest daughter of Baron von Tedesco of Vienna by whom he had three daughters. The marriage was dissolved in 1886. In 1887 he married Sarah, the only daughter of Sir Benjamin Samuel Phillips. Henry died in 1903 leaving no male heir and so the Baronacy became extinct.

Lord and Lady Pirbright (1897)
Lord and Lady Pirbright
at the inauguration
of a drinking fountain
at Lord Pirbright's Hall
in 1897.

In the churchyard of St. Mark's, Wyke just to the north-east of the chancel is the elaborate marble chest tomb containing the remains of Henry de Worms, Lord Pirbright and of Sarah his second wife of Henley Park, Normandy. The tomb, a Grade II listed building, is nine feet long by four feet wide and is about four feet high. It has an inscribed top with ogee moulded edges supported by the tomb chest and eight detached balusters, one at each corner and one sixteen inches in from each end of each long side. The balusters are fluted and have Ionic capitals and moulded bases. The inscription panels on the four sides of the tomb chest have scrolled borders with a five-petalled flower in the middle of each long side. The panels between the balusters on the long sides have swags of pomegranates with ribands.

The tomb stands on a ogee moulded edged plinth which in turn stands on a two-stepped slab that covers the sealed brick-lined vault within which the two coffins are contained. On the steps around the tomb are placed at intervals inscribed tablets commemorating relatives of Lord Pirbright buried in the same family plot. At the west end is a small urn decorated with a Greek key pattern and vine swags.

The Pirbright Tomb from the south side
The Pirbright Tomb from the south side (church side)
The Pirbright Tomb from the west side
The Pirbright Tomb from the west side

The Inscriptions
In the centre of the top slab is Lord Pirbright's Achievement of Arms surrounded by a laurel garland and separated from the inscriptions by festooned ribands and pomegranates. At the west end the inscription is "The Right Honourable Henry, Baron Pirbright of Pirbright in the County of Surrey, PC, DL, JP, FRS, etc,etc.Born 20th October 1840, Died 9th January 1903". And at the east end "Sarah, wife of Henry, Baron Pirbright of Pirbright, daughter of Sir B S Phillips. A Lady of Grace of St. John of Jerusalem. Died 26th November 1914".

The South panel of the chest is inscribed with a tribute to Lord Pirbright from his wife and the North panel has a flamboyant account of his life and achievements. The East panel has a Baronial coronet with under "SP Sexu Femina Ingenio Vir ". The West panel is blank.

The tablets around the tomb commemorate the following:
  • Constance von Alvensleben, born 28th April 1875, died 10th October 1963.
  • Baron Werner von Alvensleben, born 27th July 1912, died 1st July 1989.
  • Princess John zu Loewenstein, nee Henriette Jost, born 16th January 1908,
    died 15th September 1986.
  • Prince Leopold Loewenstein, born 13th March 1903, died 6th September 1974.
  • Diane Maria Faith, Princess of Loewenstein Wertheim, born 18th December 1921,
    died 1st April 1967. Died, as she lived, in the Radiance of the Spirit.

The Rev.Graham Hawkett, former Vicar of Wyke, recalled that when Prince Leopold Loewenstein was to be buried very little notice was given. The hearse arrived early and as the burial party had to wait for a Roman Catholic priest to officiate, the undertaker's men repaired to the Duke of Normandy pub for refreshment When it was time to lower the large and ornate coffin into the grave it was found that the hole was not big enough and it had to be hurriedly enlarged.

For the sake of completeness the following, describes the relationships between Lord Pirbright and the various persons commemorated on the Pirbright Tomb in St Mark's Church, Wyke Churchyard.

Constance von Alvenleben - Constance was the youngest daughter of Lord Pirbright. In 1895 she married Count Maximilian Karl Friedrich von Loewenstein-Scharffneck, hereditary Chamberlain at the Court of Bavaria. On the death of his father he became Prince Loewenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg. They had three sons and two daughters. The marriage was dissolved in 1912 and later that year Constance married Baron Constantine Volbrath von Alvensleben. They had one son, Werner.

Baron Werner von Alvensleben - He was the son of Constance and grandson of Lord Pirbright.

Princess John zu Loewenstein - The wife of Prince Johannes (John) zu Loewenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg, the second son of Constance by her first marriage.

Prince Leopold Loewenstein - Second son of Constance and grandson of Lord Pirbright.

Diana, Princess of Loewenstein-Wertheim - Second wife of Leopold. She was a daughter of Victor Gollancz the publisher. Soon after her marriage, having hitherto been a member of an orthodox Jewish family, she was baptised into the Anglican Church. A year after she was confirmed by the Bishop of London. Although reconciled to her father she was ostracised from the rest of the family.

The Loewenstein-Wertheim Family - The family owes its origin to the morganatic marriage of the Elector Palatine Freidrich I (died 1476) with Klara Tott of Augsburg. Their son Ludwig (1463-1524) received the County of Loewenstein and was raised to the rank of a Count of The Empire in 1494. The County of Wertheim was later acquired by marriage and the name Loewenstein-Wertheim adopted circa 1600. Two existing lines descend from Count Ludwig (died 1611).

Loewenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg Family - This line descends from Count Christoph Ludwig (1568-1618). The Bavarian title of Prince was conferred in 1812. The direct line failed on several occasions. For example, the 6th Prince, Udo Amelung Karl Freidrich Wilhelm Oleg Paul, son of Prince Alfred Ludwig Wilhelm Leopold by his wife Countess Pauline von Reichbach-Lessonitz succeeded his uncle the 5th Prince, Ernest. The present head is Prince Rupert Ludwig Ferdinand zu Loewenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg, who is also Count von Loewenstein-Scharffneck. He is the son of the marriage between Prince Leopold and his first wife, Countess Bianca Fischler von Freuburg.

Loewenstein-Wertheim-Rosenburg Family - This line descends from Count Johann Dietrich (1584-1644). The rank of Prince of The Empire was conferred in 1711 and extended to all male descendants in 1712. The present head is Karl Friedrich Franz Xavier Joseph Aloysius Antonius Ignatius Expiditus Maria Scholastica, 8th Prince of Loewenstein-Wertheim-Rosenburg.

The Alvensleben Family - An earlier member of this family, Gustav, Graf von Alvensleben-Erxleben was a Prussian general and chief personal advisor to Kaiser Wilhelm I. He was responsible for an agreement - "the Alvensleben Convention, 1863", which provided for Prussian-Russian cooperation in the suppression of insurrections in their subject Polish lands. Also, he saw service in the Franco-Prussian War as head of the 3rd Army Corps.

Jack Kinder

See the full Inscriptions
Normandy Historians Archives: "Who-was-Who".
Burkes Royal Families of the World
The Titled Nobility of Europe 1914
The Almanach de Gotha
"A Time to Love…A Time to Die" by Prince Leopold Loewenstein, 1970
Encyclopaedia Britannica
Wikipedia links
Henry de Worms

Books by Henry de Worms
The Earth and Its Mechanism (1862) Internet Archive
England's Policy in the East (1877) Internet Archive
Die oesterreichisch-ungarische (Language German) (1870) Internet Archive
The Austro-Hungarian Empire (1877) Internet Archive

Home Page
Antiquities and Peculiarities Index
Back to Index
© Copyright by Normandy Historians All Rights Reserved.