Monumental Brass Society

Henry Buntyng

Date of Brass:
Framingham Earl
Norwich 4


December 2023

A simple rubbing of the brass inscription commemorating Henry Buntyng in the church of St Andrew, Framingham Earl, Norfolk, would give no clue as to its setting. The inscription consists of four words only: Hic iacet Henricus Buntyng (Here lies Henry Buntyng). It is set in a small marble stone of the type described in contemporary wills as a "foot marble", but that stone is accompanied by seven others of the same size arranged as a cross in the floor of the nave, the inscription lying at the point where the arms intersect the stem. Neither Francis Blomefield nor Anthony Norris in their eighteenth-century records of the brass mention anything other than the words of the inscription, although Norris notes that Buntyng made his will on 30 July 1505 and that it was proved on 13 August the same year, giving us a two week window in which his death took place.

Henry’s will was proved in the Norwich Consistory Court. The will of his widow Agnes  appears both in the register of that court and in that of the Archdeaconry of Norfolk. Her will was made on 5 February 1505/6 and proved eight days later, so she did not survive Henry for long. In her will, she leaves 4d each to Agnes Wall, her little daughter, Benedict Wall, her little son, and Agnes Yallop, her little daughter, which suggests that she had been married at least twice before. She was also survived by her mother Margaret Weston. One hopes that her previous husbands had been able to provide for her children in their own wills. Agnes also left 20s to the guild of St Anne in neighbouring Poringland, and 4d to each of the leper houses outside the gates of Norwich. She chose Robert Buntyng and John Drake, rector of Great Poringland, as executors. The will’s witnesses were her mother and Isabel and Helen Buntyng.

Unlike her husband, who requested burial within the church, she asked to be buried in the cemetery.

Henry’s will left £2 to the high altar of Framingham Pigot and 6s 8d to that church’s repair, as well as half a comb of malt for the repair of Great Poringland church and 3s 4d to the Grey Friars of Norwich. Appointing Agnes, Thomas Goache (Gooch) and his nephew Robert Buntyng as executors, he requested the sale of his messuage in Framingham Earl.

Mill Stephenson’s list dates Henry’s brass as c.1500 and describes it as locally-made. The treatment of the letter B suggests that it was made in the Norwich-4 workshop, although the use of a foot marble made of Purbeck marble with Unio shells indicates reuse of this particular stone, an unusual choice to go alongside those of Lincolnshire marble. It seems likely that Robert Buntyng, who was to profit from the sale of his uncle’s property, provided his brass.

On 5 April 1505, only a few months before his death, Henry had appeared in the Consistory Court of Norwich. Alongside Edmund Wale, he represented the greater part of the parishioners of Framingham Earl in the hearings that determined that their church be united with that of Framingham Pigot. The latter parish, represented, among others, by John and Henry Wale, was described as unable to support a rector because of ‘pestilence and mortality, sterility of the lands, ruin of buildings, and the fewness and poverty of the parishioners’. Although Norfolk was one of the most prosperous and populous counties in England during the Middle Ages, it was not immune to the trends that led to villages being deserted in the late fifteenth and sixteenth-centuries. Great Poringland eventually became just Poringland after Little Poringland lost its church in 1540 and its parish was merged with Howe in 1734. The fate of Framingham Pigot was different: its small church remains and its parish was disunited with that of Framingham Earl in 1610. It retains a brass inscriptuon of 1500 to a John Buntyng, perhaps Robert’s father.

The monument to Henry Buntyng has similarities with that at North Barningham commemorating Robert Bakon, who died in 1531. Here a three-line inscription is set in a coffin-shaped slab with a tiled circle at its head represents an octagonal cross. Norfolk has a number of other brasses set into foot marbles. Are any of them the unrecognised remnants of memorials similar to Henry Buntyng’s?


Copyright: Jon Bayliss


Reference: Stone & Cozens-Hardy, Norwich Consistory Court Depositions, 1499-1512 and 1518-1530, Norfolk Records Society, 10 (1931).

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