Charles Alfred Stothard was the eldest surviving son of the artists and illustrator Thomas Stothard RA and was born in London on 5th July 1786.
In 1815 Stothard was employed by Daniel Lysons to make drawings for the topographical work Magna Britannia; this was a series of profusely illustrated county volumes which, in fact, were never to be completed.
In 1821 Stothard received a commission from Daniel Lysons to prepare some drawings for the Devonshire volume of his work. His wife was pregnant with their first child so he traveled from London to Devon alone, carrying in his pocket a note from her - Notes for the observance of my beloved husband during his journey - among which one read: Take care not to fall from high places.
He began his work in North Devon, visiting Linton, Combe Martin and Ilfracome, journeying on foot and recording features in the churches along the way. His journal states that he visited Atherington on May 24th and spent the night of the 25th, a Friday, at Hatherleigh, where the journal ends. He made a drawing of the double effigy in Atherington Church, which was later etched by another artist and which appears in Monumental Effigies.
He spent the following day, Saturday, traveling and on Sunday afternoon reached Bere Ferrers, where he was to make drawings of the medieval stained glass in the east window of the chancel of St Andrew's, the parish church. The rector, Revd Henry Hobart, was in the church yard when Stothard arrived and not only gave him permission to work in the church but invited him to stay at the rectory until the work was completed. Stothard walked over to the church on Monday morning after breakfast to begin work. Mr Hobart had borrowed a ladder from a local gardener so that the artist could see the medieval glass in the window more closely.
The Rector had arranged for his curate, Mr Servante, to take Stothard to the church and to stay for a short time to ensure the artist had everything he required.At 2.00 pm the Curate returned to find the work half completed and the ladder still in its original position at the south side of the altar, but Stothard indicated that he would shortly move it to the opposite side to complete the drawing. Dinner had been arranged at the rectory at 5.00 pm and about that time Mr Hobart was visited by a local doctor; as the doctor left he asked him to look in at the church to remind the artist of the dining arrangement, probably thinking that the artist had become so engrossed in his work that he had overlooked this. The doctor found Stothard lying on the floor near the altar, a rung from the still upright ladder having broken; the artist had fallen ten feet, striking his head on the base slab on which a monumental effigy lies. The artist died within three minutes of the doctor having found him.
Charles Stothard was buried in the church yard at Bere Ferrers on 4th June 1821, where his stone may still be seen below the east window of the chancel .