Monumental Brass Society

Peter Rede

Date of Brass:
Norwich, St Peter Mancroft


April 2007

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 years earlier! There are indents Norwich Cathedral and East Dereham church, which closely resemble this brass, one of which was probably the model used by the engraver.

At the time of his death Peter was a mercer and a wealthy, respectable member of Norwich’s merchant class. It is not unusual for merchants to wish to be depicted in armour even when they have had no experience of military service. However, Peter’s depiction as a soldier is justified as his fortune is based on initial earnings as a mercenary. He “Hath worthily served not only hys prynce and cvntrey but also the emperor Charles 5th both at the conquest of Barbaria and at the siege of Tvnis as also in other places, who had given hym by the sayd emperovr for hys valiant dedes the order of Barbaria.” He possibly asked to be shown in armour typical of his youthful military days.

One often thinks of a knight and his lady and several can be found near the conference location of King’s Lynn: Shernbourne, Rougham, Narborough and South Acre. However, Peter’s brass shows only himself. His wife Anne Rede is depicted separately, twice! Peter was Anne’s second husband. She is shown beside her first husband, George Duke at Frenze, Norfolk on a brass of 1551. She outlived Peter by 9 years and, at her death in 1577 had her own brass placed in St. Margaret’s church, Norwich, assumedly because she was resident in this parish at this time.

Peter’s connection with Norwich silverware results from his bequest to the city, “the Mayor, Shreves, Cittizens in remembrance of my good will £20 wch they shall put in som peace of plate beying eyther a salte or a boll with a cover, and my arms to be set upon the same to remayne and serve the mayor and successors for ever”. His wish has been met to this day; the salt purchased with his bequest is still owned by Norwich City Corporation. This magnificent piece of locally manufactured silver is considered to be one of the finest pieces of municipal silver in the country.

1. C. Hartop (ed.), East Anglian Silver 1550-1750 (Cambridge, 2004).

© Melvyn Paige-Hagg

Rubbing: © The Monumental Brasses of Norfolk by William Lack, H. Martin Stuchfield and Philip Whittemore (forthcoming)

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