Brass of the Month
January 2008: A LADY, PROBABLY AGNES DE BRADESTON, c. 1370,
January's brass of the month is the earliest surviving brass in its county.
The brass of a lady, c. 1370, at Winterbourne is the oldest extant in Gloucestershire. It probably commemorates Agnes, second wife, and widow, of Thomas, Lord Bradeston, an important Gloucestershire landowner who died in 1360. Agnes’s natal family is not known. The brass is a good example of the work of London style ‘B’, austere and drawn with an economy of line. It shows Agnes’s figure under a single canopy with shields between the pinnacles and an inscription surrounding the whole. The canopy, shields and inscription are all lost, but their indents are clearly visible in the slab, which is now set against the wall of the north chapel.
Winterbourne in the late fourteenth century was the main burial place of the Bradeston family, who held estates in the locality. Thomas de Bradeston, Agnes’s husband, was a knight banneret closely associated with the Berkeleys, the main magnate family in Gloucestershire, who served in the king’s household and who distinguished himself in the military campaigning of the 1330s and 1340s. From 1347 to his death in 1360 he was summoned to parliament as a lord.
In 1352 Thomas founded a chantry in Winterbourne church, which was located in a chapel under the tower on the south side of the nave. A decade or so earlier he had commissioned a rich scheme of painted decoration for the chapel in anticipation of the function which it was to serve as a focus for family devotion. Heraldry featured prominently, and Bradeston himself was shown at prayer on the south jamb of the arch in the east wall, kneeling and facing the altar. Strangely, given Bradeston’s interest in the church, there is no evidence that he himself was buried there. It is possible that he was buried at Gloucester; his arms appear in the great east window of Gloucester Abbey (now Cathedral). Winterbourne church soon filled up with Bradeston tombs, however. In addition to Agnes’s brass, there are stone tomb chests with effigies of Thomas’s son Sir Robert, who predeceased him, and his wife, and his grandson Sir Edmund and his wife (c. 1395).
Copyright: Nigel Saul
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Page last updated 03 January 2008