Monumental Brass Society

George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury

Date of Brass:


June 2007

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 buried in the Cathedral Church of SS. Peter and Paul, Sheffield, Yorkshire.

The shield is encircled by the Garter bearing the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense. The quarterings are:

MONTGOMERY – Azure, a lion rampant within a bordure or

TALBOT – Gules, a lion rampant within a bordure engrailed or

NEVILLE – Gules, a saltire argent charged with a martlet of the field

FURNIVAL – Argent, a bend between six martlets gules

VERDON – Or, a fret gules

STRANGE – Argent, two lions passant in pale gules.

A further brass shield displaying the same quarterings impaling Hastings has survived; the other quatrefoils on the sides of the tomb have lost their brasses.

Resting on the tomb are fine alabaster figures of the Earl and his two wives: Anne Hastings who is buried with her husband in the vault beneath the Shrewsbury Chapel and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Richard Walden of Erith, Kent, who died in 1567 at Erith where she was buried (not in Sheffield as the brass inscription of more recent date states).

The Earl, wearing a coronet, is dressed in armour and his mantle of the Garter, with collar of Tudor roses within garters, interspersed with knots, from which hangs the badge of St George on horseback slaying the dragon. His feet rest, appropriately, on a talbot hound. A talbot dog can also be seen carved on his ring.

George Talbot was born in 1468 at Shifnal, Shropshire, and served Henry VII on diplomatic missions at home and abroad. His royal duties continued under Henry VIII and he attended the meeting of Henry with Francis I of France at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520.

In 1530 the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey stayed at the Earl’s Sheffield Manor House as he was taken under escort from York to face trial in London. Before reaching the Tower, a sick and humbled Wolsey died a natural death at Leicester Abbey, thereby cheating Henry VIII of the final reckoning.

At the end of his life, an ailing Shrewsbury continued to show great loyalty to the Tudor dynasty as he worked tirelessly to defeat the rebellion against the Crown across the north of England, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace.

George Talbot died on 26 July 1538 at Wingfield Manor, near Alfreton, Derbyshire.

© David Lillistone

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