Portfolio of Brasses
Each month we feature an article about a brass of particular interest.
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John Draycote, who died in 1463, is an obscure figure. He may have been a younger son of the Draycotes of Painsley, Draycott-in-the-Moors, Staffordshire, but he proves difficult to locate in the accessible records of the period. His brass in the church of St Nicholas, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, shows him from a little below his hips upwards, set in an alabaster slab above a three-line inscription. It asks for prayers for his soul, calls him a burgess of Bromley Abbots, mentions his wife Joan and asks God to have mercy on their souls. It was apparently once on the...read more
Robert Staunton’s brass, laid down after the death of his first wife, Agnes Lathbury, on 18 July 1458, is the first military effigies in the London D style to show armour with large elbow defences. This is referred to by Tobias Capwell in his recent book Armour of the English Knight 1450-1500 as introducing ‘a different vambrace typology that first appears in English art during the late 1450s’. Both of the other two examples two which he refers (at Barham, Kent, and Sherborne, Norfolk) are in the London B style and neither has elbow defences on the sheer scale that...read more
When John and Frances Castell were commemorated at Raveningham, Norfolk, the brass laid down was a rectangular plate with their arms and an inscription. The brass seems to have its arms delineated in such a way as to distinguish the heraldic tinctures from each other without the use of paint. This was done in a manner
The mural brass of John Gordon, Dean of Salisbury, is lost, probably disappearing during the drastic restoration of the cathedral by Wyatt in 1789. It was survived by a freestone ledger recording only:
D. Jo. Gordonus Scotus
Qui obiit 3 Sept.
[Dr John Gordon, Scot, Dean of Salisbury, who died 3 September 1619.]
The ledger originally no doubt covered the dean’s burial in the choir, which his will requested be by his seat there, but it was presumably moved to the north-east transept in 1684 along with the brasses of Bishop Wyvill and Bishop Gest when the...read more
In the church of All Saints at Laughton, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, is the brass of a man in the armour of the early part of the fifteenth-century. It lies on a tomb-chest of the middle of the following century and the original foot inscription has been replaced by a larger one commemorating not one but two men of the Dalison family. It has been suggested that it originally represented an earlier member of the that family but is more likely to have commemorated someone else entirely. A date in the 1550s for the appropriation points heavily to this.
In 1546...read more
In the mid sixteenth-century, the making of monumental brasses in London was still in the hands of native English craftsmen, members of the Marblers Company but in the latter third of that century control of the design, if not always the execution, of brasses had passed to immigrants from the Low Countries or their English-born sons. This was still the case during the first 15-20 years of the next century but in years following craftsmen with English backgrounds were designing and making brasses, as evidenced by the signatures of Edward Marshall, Francis Grigs and Epiphanius Evesham on a very...read more
All too often, the focus of the afficianado of monumental brasses is purely on the brass itself rather than the monument as a whole. When the monument is little more than the brass alone, this does not matter, but when the brass is very much a subsidiary part of the whole monument, it certainly does. Medieval wills make clear that that, in the case of floor brasses, the monument is the stone in which the brass is set, so the practice of separating a brass from its original floor slab to preserve it during the alteration of a church...read more
Date: c. 1480
Henry and Anne Jarmon are currently biographical blanks yet they or their executors were wealthy enough to provide a brass with two figures and an inscription in the parish church at Geddington, Northamptonshire. Similar pairs of figures survive at Loughborough in Leicestershire, Lutterworth in the same county and Spratton, Northamptonshire. Dates of death at Spratton (1474) and Loughborough (1480) suggest a date for the Jarmon brass of around 1480. They are all the work of a workshop in Coventry run by a mason and marbler called Robert Crosse. He is documented in Coventry from 1465 and dead by 1506.
It is entirely fitting that John Prideaux is commemorated by a brass as he had provided brasses for his parents and other members of his family during his own life. The account by Thacker of his brass tells us that he had composed the Latin inscription himself leaving only the date of his d ath and his age to be added. While the inscription outlines his career it says nothing of his marriages or children. It also omits his clerical appointments prior to being made bishop of Worcester.
John Prideaux was born on 17 September 1578, the fourth son of...read more
The brass of Richard Folcard lies at the entrance to the south chancel of Pakefield church on the coast of Suffolk, just south of Lowestoft. He was the rector of the south part of the church which was a dual church: for hundreds of years it was divided in two, the southern half being dedicated to All Saints, the northern to St Margaret. The two halves were once separated by a wall and constituted two churches until united in the eighteenth-century. The church retains another brass, that to John Bowf and his wife Agnes. It is mounted on the...read more
Middle Claydon is the site of Claydon House, well-known as the home of the Verney family and built in the eighteenth-century. Earlier Verneys are commemorated by monuments in the church but two brasses and an alabaster tomb commemorate members of the Gyfford family. While the figure brass of Isabel Gyfford, who died in childbirth in 1523, is of a decent but unremarkable size for the period (470mm high), those commemorating her parents Roger. died 1542, and Mary are both remarkably large, Roger's being 1535mm and Mary's marginally smaller (1492mm). Part of the explanation is of course the availability of...read more
Philip Bosard is termed a gentleman on the brass at Ditchingham, Norfolk that commemorated him and Margery, his wife, after his death on 16 December 1490 but it was a rank that he had only latterly achieved. Actions in the Court of Common Pleas in 1455 and 1475 called him a yeoman. In the 1460s and 1470s Bosard was John Hopton's farmer of the manor of Pirnhow. Pirnhow manor is in Ditchingham, just north of the town of Bungay in Suffolk on the other side of the River Waveney. John Hopton had come into a large inheritance in 1430...read more
The brass of John and Anne Newdegate has been discussed in print by the society's then president, Dr H K Cameron in the early 1960s and more recently by Robert Hutchinson and Bryan Egan. It is situated on the south wall of the chancel at Harefield. The accompanying photographs were taken when the MBS visited the church in March 2010. As they show, the brass is on the back wall of a canopied Purbeck marble monument that also has a chest with shields set in lozenges. On the top of the chest is an indent for a shroud brass.read more
Only one brass remains in the church of Campsea Ash, Suffolk. It commemorates Alexander Inglisshe, the parish priest. It consists of the three components from a much larger composition, namely are the figure, the canopy over it and an inscription beneath it. The side shafts of the canopy and a marginal inscription are lost but some of the pitch used to fix them remains. The latter, at least, remained in place in the very early 1600s when it was recorded by the anonymous author of the Chorography of Suffolk along with two other brasses: a figure of a woman...read more
Mendham lies on the south bank of the River Waveney, the boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk. In the time of the Norfolk historian Francis Blomefield the parish was a large one and had parts which lay in Norfolk on the north bank of the river, namely the hamlet of Needham and parts of the town of Harleston. For this reason Blomefield included Mendham in his History of Norfolk. Needham had a chapel of ease, now its parish church.
The Freston family was one that benefited from the upheavals of the Reformation. Edward VI granted Wichendons manor in Mendham and all...read more
The workshops producing monumental brasses established in the years after the devastation of Black Death usually produced brasses that fit neatly into stylistic sequences. This was first demonstrated by JPC Kent in his analysis of military brasses and has been confirmed by later scholars like Robin Emmerson. When London style A ended it was replaced by London style D, as B was later by F. The demand for brasses as memorials meant that other workshops like C and E were able to come in and compete with the established ones. During the period that these workshops operated, when a...read more
This brass relates to the Lübeck bell & cannon founder Karsten MIddeldorp and his wife Dorothea, engraved in 1562. It measures 95 x 65 cm and is located on the east side of the third of five pillars separating the central and northern aisles of the 3-aisled Brick –Gothic hall church of St Jakobi, in the Koberg district of Lübeck1. Its original location is apparently unknown and there is no evidence of its slab having survived.
It is designed in the early Renaissance classical style, with Corinthian columns topped with an entablature containing foliage motifs on either side of a...read more
Medieval memorial brasses are surprisingly rare in Wales: J. M. Lewis lists seven before 1550, plus one from St Davids which has been lost, a couple of indents and a few brass letters. This is fewer than many English parishes. Those that survive are mostly typical products of the London workshops. There are some idiosyncratic ones, though. Sally Badham has said that one of these, the memorial to Richard and Joan Foxwist in Llanbeblig (the old parish church of Caernarfon), is like nothing else she has ever seen. She suggested that it might...read more
When the Rev W F Creeny visited Erfurt Cathedral before 1884, he found the brass of Johan von Heringen on the floor outside the chancel gate. In 1900 it was moved to the cloister along with other brasses and slabs. This had the advantage of preserving what was left of the low relief carving on the slab, which Creeny described as 'worn away'. This monument is actually a composite one, showing the upper part of the figure in brass and the lower cut into the slab itself. The main outlines of the portion of the figure on the slab...read more
On 26 May the society will be visiting Suffolk on an excursion. We will be stopping for lunch a Halesworth, a small market town, and examining the brasses there. One of them commemorates John Browne, who according to the inscription, led a quiet life before his death in 1581. The existence of his brass has been rather more eventful. In 1825 according to the modern brass to which the original inscription is joined by a hinge, the remains of his brass were fished out of the River Waveney, which divides Suffolk and Norfolk, at a spot called the 'roaring...read more