Sir Gyles Capel
 and the Capel Helmet



 
 


We  were delighted  recently to welcome an unexpected visitor to the Sunday morning service at All Saints Rayne: Mr Graham L. Capel, who had travelled up from his home in Surrey with a surprise gift for us: a replacement for the stolen replica Capel Helmet.

The original helmet was possibly worn by Sir Gyles Capel at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. Sir Gyles was the son of Sir William Capel (who in 1510 built Rayne’s fine Tudor church tower), and lived at Rayne Hall until his death in 1556. He was buried in Rayne Church and his helmet and sword would have been hung over his tomb. When the nave of the church was rebuilt in 1840, many of the ancient tombs were destroyed, and various objects were ‘lost’.
 
 The Capel helmet was rediscovered many years later in a builders yard in Bocking, was then given to a collector of arms and armament, was exhibited in London in 1904, but since 1907 has been in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The Museum authorities seem disinclined to return the helmet to its original resting place or even to the Capel family, but a replica was at some point given to Rayne church and was for many years displayed in the tower entrance.

A couple of years ago, that replica was stolen. Thieves presumably did not realise the copy was of no worth, except to Rayne, of course, where it was an important and valued part of the church and village heritage.
 
Hence now Mr Graham Capel’s generous gift of a replacement replica, which is now on display again in the church, along with a replica sword, a coat of arms, and a 5-branch candelabra.
 
So, many thanks to the Capel family – 
who are certainly not forgotten  but well remembered with gratitude
and affection in Rayne