- Date of Brass:
- Campsea Ash
- London G
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 with an inscription to Alice, wife of Henry Byrgett, who died in 1493, and the figure of a man in armour that had lost its inscription and two shields, the latter still surviving in 1819.
What the chorographer wrote was this:
In the churche on a stone arched w’th brasse the p’trayture of one in a gowne with this epitaph —
Of your charitie pray for the soule of S’r Alexander Inglish sometyme parish priest of this church on whose soule J’u h. mer.
& this circumscription
Es testis Christe quod non iacet hic lapis iste
Corpus ut ornetur sed spiritus ut memoretur
Quisquis eris qui transieris sta, perlege, plora
Sum quod eris fueramq’ quod es pro me precor ora.
Obijt 18 die mensis Sept, a’o D’ni 1520 cujus &c.
- Be a witness, O Christ, that this stone does not lie here
- To adorn the body, but that it might commemorate the soul.
Whoever you are who pass by, stop, read, weep.
I am what you will be and I was what you are I beseech you, pray for me
He died 18 day of the month of September in the year of our Lord 1520
The first four lines of the marginal inscription consist of two couplets of Latin verse. They can be found together on a number of other brasses, such as that to Sir Giles Daubeney, died 1446, and his wife Joan at South Petherton, Somerset, but may also occur separately. The date of death, 1520, does not agree with the one that has found general acceptance in books on brasses, 1504. The evidence for 1504 is apparently an entry in the parish registers that begin in 1559. In most lists of the rectors of Campsea Ash, Thomas Brown comes before Alexander Inglisshe. Brown was presented on 1 July 1447 and was still there in Hilary term 1468 when he was a defendant in a case brought in the Court of Common Pleas. There are no dates of either commencement or end of Inglisshe's tenure. John Leycester was inducted on 9 May 1505. The church's own website puts Edmund Briggett between Inglisshe and Leycester but without dates. A list of goods of the church of Bacton, Suffolk, that were passed from the former church reeves to the new ones in 1529 included 'A Vestyment of Blewe Velvet with branchys of the gyfte of Edmond Briggett Clerk late P[ar]son'. An Edmund Bryget, clerk, bachelor of laws, had been one of the executors of the will of James Goldwell, Bishop of Norwich, after he died in the 1498. Leycester's short period as rector was followed by John Bredlaughe and John Hecker men taking up this position 1506 and 1510 respectively. The seeming length of Inglisshe's tenure arouses some suspicion. Modern indices of some Court of the Common Pleas proceedings produce two candidates who could join Inglisshe as rectors during that period: John Shotisham, clerk, and Geoffrey Parys, clerk, both described as being of 'Campesse', the usual spelling of Campsea at that time. Shotisham was a defendant in an action of 1470 and Parys a defendant in one of 1485. It should however be noted that the 1468 action against Thomas Broun, clerk, gave his place of residence as 'Assh juxta Campessey' and just as 'Asshe' in an action of 1465 but there is no indication that there were ever separate churches at Ash and Campsea.
The style of the effigy, which belongs to the large group London G, might incline judgement of the date of the brass towards 1504 rather than 1520. The unusual canopy, with the central boss not breaking up the line of the arch at the back gives no real clue as to its exact date as canopies are so rare in the early sixteenth century and rather diverse when they do occur. What the composition as a whole indicates is that this was a relatively expensive brass. Comparison with the brass of Ralph Babyngton, died 1521, at Hickling, Nottinghamshire, suggests that the two are close in date, both priests in mass vestments holding a chalice with wafer, the chalices being very similar in contrast to those shown on earlier sixteenth century brasses in the same style. Very similar too are the way the mounds beneath their feet are engraved. Babyngton was the son of Thomas Babyngton, esquire, and had recently been an executor of his father's will. Thomas is commemorated by a fine alabaster tomb at Ashover, Derbyshire, erected after his death in 1518. It must be said that Inglisshe's brass is superior to that of Babyngton's son in execution. It is frustrating that other than what his brass tells us we know so little about Alexander Inglisshe. Did he move to another parish after his time at Campsea Ash or was he sufficiently well-off to retire?
Indices of the Court of Common Pleas that have been indexed can be found at http://aalt.law.uh.edu/Indices/CP40Indices/CP40_Indices.html with links to each index
Copyright: Jon Bayliss
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