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. However after her death Sir John was made a baron in 1470 and Duke of Norfolk in 1483. His and Katherine's only son, Thomas, was 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, but eventually became one of Henry VII's most trusted advisers and his title of Earl of Surrey was restored. In 1514 Henry VIII restored to him the title of Duke of Norfolk. He died in 1524 and was commemorated by a brass at Thetford Priory 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, obtained permission to rebury the bones at Thetford of his great-great-grandfather Thomas Mowbray, the 1st Mowbray Duke, who had died in exile in 1399 at Venice. At the Dissolution, the Duke successfully acquired Thetford Priory, but was not allowed to turn it into a parish church. He eventually moved his own newly-made tomb to Framlingham in Suffolk, along with the tomb of his son-in-law Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, Henry VIII's illegitimate son, who died in 1536, which 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 and some other female members of the Howard family had been buried at Lambeth rather than Thetford.

The Howards in the 1530s were heavily involved in commemorating both past and present members of their family, and the brass of Katherine Howard at Stoke by Nayland was created as part of this programme. As it now survives, the brass 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 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 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 in Cotman's engraving gives 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. However an account of what was spent at Lady Katherine Howard's funeral at Stoke by Nayland in The Paston Letters clearly gives her date of 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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