Monumental Brass Society

John and Sara Cossington

Date of Brass:
London B


October 2023


Thomas Fisher was born in 1772 in Rochester, Kent. While his work as an artist and antiquary encompassed far more than monumental brasses, his contribution in this field was particularly valuble, especially in regard to th brasses of Bedfordhire and Kent. He worked from dabbings and rubbings that he had made and recorded many brasses in the first third of the nineteenth-century that have since been lost, both completely and in part. In recording the brass at Aylesford in Kent, he sketched, as was his custom, the whole slab with its brass inlays and, separately, carefully drew the brasses. They commemorate John Cosyngton and his wife Sarra, John having died on 2 April 1426. John is in armour and is a typical armed figure in London style B, in complete plate of the sort introduced during the 1410s. Sarra’s attire is also typical of the period, with a high-waisted belted

gown with buttons to the neck visible above her hands and sleeves gathered at her wrists but falling voluminously to below her hips. Her hair is gathered into horns either side of her head and covered with an ample veil that falls to her shoulders. At the time that Fisher drew the brass, only three of the original five shields remained, all displaying the Cossington arms, azure three roses or. Unless Sarra’s family’s arms were on either of the lost shields, they were not represented. However, Ralph Griffin, writing about this brass in the MBS Transactions, volume 6 part 7 (March 1913) noted that John Weever had recorded a inscription at Otteham that corresponds almost exactly, including the same date of death, with that on this brass with the exception of John’s surname being transcribed as Constenton and Sarra’s surname being given as Conghurst. John’s surname here is very similar to Cosenton, as Cossington was sometimes spelt. Griffin also noted that Weever had not recorded any inscriptions at Aylesford and that it was not unprecedented for him to allocate an inscription to the wrong church. As was Weever’s practice, he omitted the concluding prayer, which in any case has been rather ineffectively scored out, probably in the 1640s, a decade after Weever was writing. Otteham is near Polegate in East Sussex but, like Aylesford, in the diocese of Rochester. Assuming that Weever was recording the inscription of the same brass, he presumably relied on missing heraldry for identification of Sarra as a Conghurst.

The brass of John and Sarra Cosyngton has been restored, the helmet and crest taking a rather different form from the original, putting a goat’s head crest on a rather later-looking helmet. John held the manor of Cossington in Aylesford, as his ancestors had for generations. It is not clear why the couple were commemorated by a brass as they were not the last of the family, being succeeded by Stephen Cosyngton, although it is not clear whether he was a son, a nephew or other relation. The family eventually died out in the reign of Henry VIII.

The inscription of the brass in expanded form reads:

Hic iacent Johes Cosyngton Armiger Qui Obijt Secundo die mensis Aprilis Anno domini

millesimo CCCCxxvi Et Sara uxor eius Quorum animabus propicietur deus AMEN

which translates as:

Here lies John Cossington Esquire, who died the second day of April 1426 and Sarah his wife, on whose souls may God have mercy, Amen.


Copyright: Jon Bayliss, text and photograph

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