Monumental Brass Society

Katherine Howard

Date of Brass:
London G


September 2012

When Katherine Howard died in 1465 she was the wife of Sir John Howard of Tendring Hall in the parish of Stoke by Nayland. Sir John was made a baron in 1470 and Duke of Norfolk in 1483, his and Katherine's only son, Thomas, being created Earl of Surrey at the same time. The duke was killed at Bosworth Field in 1485. The earl was wounded there, taken prisoner and later attainted, losing title and lands. He was eventually one of Henry VII's most trusted advisors and his title of Earl of Surrey was restored. In 1514 Henry VIII restored the title of Duke of Norfolk to him. He died in 1524 and was commemorated by a brass at the Cluniac Priory at Thetford in Norfolk. Thetford had long been the burial place of the Mowbray Dukes of Norfolk, John Howard being the eldest grandson of the first of the Mowbray dukes. In 1532, Thomas Howard, the 3rd Howard Duke, had obtained permission to rebury the bones of his great great grandfather Thomas Mowbray, the 1st Mowbray Duke, who had died in exile in 1399 at Venice, at Thetford. When the dissolution of the monasteries took place later that decade, the duke successfully acquired the priory at Thetford, but was not allowed to turn it into a parish church. He eventually moved his own newly made tomb to Framlingham in Suffolk. It was to Framlingham that he also moved the tomb of his son-in-law Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, Henry VIII's illegitimate son, who died in 1536, whose tomb he had also had made. Both tombs were modified in the late 1550s. The brass of his father was moved to the Howard family chapel in Lambeth parish church, near which the Howards had a mansion. The brass of his sister-in-law, Katherine, died 1535, wife of Lord William Howard, survives there. She, like a number of other female members of the Howard family, was buried at Lambeth rather than Thetford.

It is clear from the above that the Howards were heavily involved in commemorating both past and present members of their family in the 1530s, so it is no surprise to find that the brass of Katherine Howard at Stoke by Nayland was part of this programme. As it survives, the memorial consists of the effigy of Katherine and one shield, the inscription and three other shields being lost. Although John Sell Cotman's engraving includes the missing portions, no more existed then than it does now and the accompanying letterpress notes that the inscription was 'long reaved'.

Katherine wears an heraldic mantle with the arms of her husband on one side and those of her own family, Molines, on the other. Her pedimental or gable headdress has long lappets, a style then going out of fashion, as by that time lappets were generally pinned up, although the effigy of the other Katherine Howard at Lambeth also has them long, as do most contemporary brasses. It is clear that the effigies at Stoke by Nayland and Lambeth were engraved in different workshops despite their similarities. The one concession that the designer of the Stoke effigy makes to the length of time that had passed since 1465 is to show her wearing a sideless surcote under her mantle, a fashion that almost disappeared from brasses after 1490. However, Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford, who died in 1537, also wears one on her brass at Wivenhoe in Essex. Hers is ermine while Katherine's is ermine trimmed.

The inscription depicted in Cotman's engraving has Katherine's date of death as 1452. Cotman evidently derived the inscription and the three missing shields from Weever's illustration in Ancient Funerall Monuments. An account of what was spent at Lady Katherine Howard's funeral at Stoke by Nayland that was published in The Paston Letters very clearly gives the date of her death as the day after All Souls' Day in the fifth year of the reign of Edward IV, 3 November 1465. Whether the date was wrong on the inscription or read wrongly by Weever is not clear.



John Weever, Ancient Funerall Monuments (1631), 737

John Sell Cotman, Engravings of Sepulchral Brasses in Suffolk (1838), plate XXIV

Phillip Lindley, Tomb Destruction and Scholarship (2007), 13-14

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