Portfolio of Brasses
Each month we feature an article about a brass of particular interest.
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The 'Recovery of an Ancient Brass at Salisbury' was reported in a short article of the same name by C[lifford] W[yndham] Holgate in the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine published in 1894.1 It was the brass of Henry Dove and the church was that of St Edmund. He described it as copper rather than brass and thought it had probably been taken from the vault under the church where Dove had been buried and appeared once to have been inserted in stone. It was in the possession of someone living near Andover who had informed a museum director...read more
August 2019read more
It is not often that brasses make the news around the world but the simple inscription commemorating Ann or Anna, daughter of Sir John Paston, did so in the second week of June 2019. An archaeologist, Matt Champion, working on the Paston Footprints 600 project on the church at Oxnead had happened to notice her inscription and that it recorded a member of the family previously unknown to historians. The story was then taken up by the media.
The Paston family of Norfolk has attracted a great deal of attention over the past 250 years. The...
The 1480s were a time of rapid change in the ruling circle of Stamford. The town was governed by twenty-five men, with an alderman at their head and two groups of twelve burgesses, the first and second twelve. Christopher Browne, a nephew of William Browne, founder of Browne's Hospital, and grandson of John Browne, merchant of the staple, was a member of the family that dominated fifteenth-century Stamford. He was made free in 1482, made a member of the first twelve without having served in the second twelve and became alderman at the end of the year, a very...read more
The subject of this month's brass has recently attracted attention because he has been identified as the owner of a surviving illustrated missal in Cambridge University Library. Research into his life is currently being undertaken by Professor Carole Rawcliffe and Dr John Alban.
With homes in Norwich and Honing, close to Bromholm Priory, where the elder Sir John Paston was buried in 1466, Nicholas Parker might be expected to feature in the contemporary letters of the Paston family, yet the man of the same name who does was the notary public of the diocese of Norwich and was buried in...read more
The Stafford family of Blatherwyck had their origins with the Staffords of Grafton. Their is a profusion of heads of the family named Humfrey that makes identifying any particular Humfrey a task that needs care. Like his father, who died little more than a dozen years before his son did, the particular Humfrey represented on the brass was a knight. He is referred to on occasion as as Sir Humfrey Stafford junior, as when he was on service on the Continent in Henry VIII's army in the early 1540s. At other times, as when he wrote to Thomas Cromwell...read more
April 2019read more
The church of St Peter at Offord Darcy lies outside the main village but close to the manor house. It is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. While the brass depicting the kneeling rector William Taylard lies in its original Lincolnshire marble slab, that of Sir Laurence Pabenham and his two wives has been relaid in a piece of Purbeck marble large enough to contain the remnants of the three figures and the inscription but considerably smaller than the original, now lost, last recorded as being in the tower.
Sir Laurence was...
John Corbet, born by 1514, was the son of John Corbet of nearby Spixworth, gentleman, who died in the early 1540s after a career as a brazier in Norwich, where he rose to be sheriff. The Corbet family came from Morton Corbet, Shropshire, as evidenced by their arms, Or, a raven proper, although the Norfolk branch used a different crest, a squirrel sejant, cracking a nut, proper. The Jermy family granted the manor of Mounteney in Sprowston to John Corbet, esquire, around the time of his father's death. The family retained it for nearly a hundred years, Sir Thomas...read more
Although his month's brass was mentioned in many guidebooks in the century before the First World War it has since received rather less attention but relates directly to one of the major problems faced by Elizabeth I during her reign.
On 2nd May 1568 Mary Queen of Scots escaped from imprisonment in Castle Leven, set on an island in Loch Leven. She had been forced to abdicate in favour of her ten month old son, James VI, on 24th July the previous year following the murder of her second husband and her marriage to the man many believed to be...read more
February 2008read more
February’s brass of the month is from St Botolph’s church, Boston, Lincolnshire. It now appears a somewhat anonymous figure. Of the inlay only the figure remains, although the cut-down slab shows that it originally had a canopy. There is no record of wording of the marginal inscription, which must have been stolen before Francis Thynne visited the church in c. 1605 and recorded such basses as then remained.
The brass has long been thought to commemorate John Strensall [variously also spelled Stransgill or Stranshale], who was rector of St Botolph’s from before 1378 to his death in 1408.
Date: c. 1370
January 2008read more
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...
On the floor of the Northwest corner of the sanctuary of the church of All Hallows-by-the-Tower, close to the Tower of London, lies a smallish (58cm x 48cm) plate which is December’s Brass of the Month. It is dated 1560 and commemorates William Armorer, his wife Elizabeth, their three sons and two daughters. It is a Lytkott style brass using Script 8, and is not noted as being palimpsest, despite having been taken up from time to time as we shall see below.
The engraving of the figures is very light so that, except close-up (fig.2), they are...
November 2007read more
November's brass of the month is illustrated from a century-old rubbing.
This brass is illustrated from a rubbing in a large portfolio that will be on its way to the Society's archive in Birmingham shortly. The portfolio was put together by Julia Warde-Aldam of Hooton Pagnell Hall in Yorkshire and mostly comprises rubbings made some years before World War I by Julia and other members of her family.
The only person named on the brass is Edward Naylor, rector of Bigby. His education and clerical career is summarized by Venn: he matriculated as a sizar at Corpus Christi...
October 2007read more
October's brass of the month was made in 1593 at a time of crisis for the family commemorated.
Christopher Daubeney died in 1587 but it was not until 1593 that his wife Philippa put up this memorial. Rather strangely, the inscription refers to her father as Mr Roberts in the county Essex esquire. He was Thomas Roberts of Little Braxted, one of the auditors of the Exchequer to Henry VIII.
Although the inscription of his brass stresses his good name and fame as well as his ancient patrimony, Christopher Daubeney had been prepared to cut the odd corner...
September 2007read more
September's brass of the month is now lost.
One of the problems with the study of brasses is that the student is working with a relatively small sample when compared with the number originally laid down. There is a considerable amount of material available on lost brasses through a number of sources.
1. Indents. These are the recessed hollows in church floors where brasses have been set. Even though the brass may have disappeared many years ago, much can be told from the shapes left
2. Manuscript sources. Many antiquarians, heraldic visitors and others made notes of what...
August's brass of the month is, although damaged, of great interest.
Headless and lacking parts of its canopy and inscription, as well as all but one of its shields, the brass of John Byrkhed at St. Mary, Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middlesex, is not immediately attractive. However, an investigation of the life of the person commemorated adds considerable interest to the brass. In his will, made on 24 July 1467 and proved on 5 October 1468, Byrkhede requested to be buried in the chancel, and his brass still lies there, in its original stone, though usually covered by a carpet. He appointed as...read more
Date: engraved c.1535
I didn’t know there were pirates in Oxfordshire
July's brass of the month has represented two different families.
I was once told by a former tutor that the best thing to do when visiting a parish church is to take up the carpet to see what’s underneath. Ever since these words of advice I have done just that and on more than one occasion I have been delighted to find some real gems hidden away. One such brass is to Walter Curson, gentleman, (d.1527) and Isabel, his wife, hidden away in the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Waterperry, Oxfordshire.
June's brass of the month is part of a major sixteenth century monument.
Edward III founded the Most Noble Order of the Garter in 1349, with St. George as its patron saint. On his brass at Hever, Kent, Sir Thomas Bullen (1538) wears the full insignia of the Order, including the collar of garters. From the fifteenth century onwards, Gartered knights encircled their shields with the Garter in their achievements of arms.
The example of a Gartered shield illustrated here is to be found on the tomb of George Talbot, Fourth Earl of Shrewsbury, who also died in 1538, and is...read more
May's brass of the month very narrowly escaped the melting pot.
Entering Methwold church and looking across to the north aisle, the impression is that Sir Adam de Clifton's figure, remounted on a wooden board against the wall, is complete. Closer inspection shows that the missing pieces have been reproduced in paint on the board.
Sir Adam was born in 1306 at Denver in Norfolk, the son of Roger de Clifton, who had married Margery, daughter of Adam de Cailly and his wife Emma, daughter and co-heir of Robert de Tateshall, whose estates were very substantial. In 1327 he petitioned Edward...read more
April's brass of the month commemorates a leading citizen of Norwich.
Two recent events brought this brass to mind; the announcement that the Monumental Brass Society conference is taking place in Norfolk this year and the chance purchase of a book on Norfolk Silver. 1
Here is Peter Rede depicted as a knight in armour on his memorial brass in St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich. He is shown as a knight of c.1470, however he died in 1568. The engraver has taken the request for a design of an earlier style of armour too far and has used a model from 100...read more
March's brass of the month is is in its third church, all at Hindolveston in Norfolk.
On Sunday 31 July 1892, the nave of the church of St George at Hindolveston, Norfolk, was demolished when the eastern half of the tower fell on it. Until a temporary church was set up, the parish used the chancel for worship. It wasn't until 1932 that a new church was opened. The new church, while obviously a twentieth century building from the outside, reused a significant amount of the fabric of the old one inside. Among the items rescued was the memorial to...read more