Henry & Anne Jarmon
- Date of Brass:
- c. 1480
- Coventry 1
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.
The brass of Thomas Marshall at Loughborough commemorated a merchant. His executors were William Marshall, a Coventry fishmonger, and Agnes Meryng, widow. Agnes was presumably his widow as well as that of Gilbert Meryng, a Loughborough gentleman who was dead by early 1484. Thomas and Agnes had six sons and six daughters before he died and it is likely that William was one of the sons. Whether there was a similar connection to Coventry in the case of Henry and Anne Jarmon is unknown. Both Loughborough and Geddington are over twenty miles from Coventry, a sizeable cathedral city. Some other Coventry-made brasses are considerably further afield. Production of brasses in Coventry continued for the best part of a hundred years, albeit rather sparsely after the Reformation. It was situated a considerable distance west of the places in East Anglia that were producing brasses in the same period, so was not in competition with them. The London monumental brass workshops on one hand and the alabaster tomb workshops of Burton-upon-Trent on the other were. During the late fifteenth-century Coventry brasses were laid in the liassic stone found throughout the Midlands, which had a black surface that showed the golden colour of the metal off to good effect but was not otherwise a particularly good choice otherwise, as the state of many indents shows. The surface could break up around the brass and reveal the lighter-coloured interior of the slab. It is possible that the rivet holes sunk in such a slab did not hold the brass as well as the Purbeck marble used by the London workshops or the Lincolnshire marble used by the East Anglian workshops did. The extent of the losses of Coventry brasses may result from their use of the liassic slabs as well as deliberate destruction the Reformation and Commonwealth periods and eighteenth-century neglect. The presence of metal-working industries in Birmingham and the Black Country is another likely contributor to the loss of brasses in that area as hardly any brasses survive there.
It is clear that the Jarmon brass has been relaid at some period as its current slab is not the original and its layout differs from the Coventry norm of leaving a gap between figures and foot inscription. Without the original slab we do not know if the original composition included children or other components. The middle portion of Anne's figure has gone and that of Henry's has had to be refixed after being kept in the vestry for a period. The figures are typical of Crosse's work, with smiling rather than solemn faces. Henry wears a hood with a long streamer over his left shoulder, a fashion also shown on other Coventry brasses and some from London workshops at this period, although more usually shown hanging on the right shoulder. The plant below Henry's feet with its three-leaf clovers is also typical. The elongated lower bodies reflect the way that human figures were depicted before the Renaissance.
Copyright: Jon Bayliss
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