Monumental Brass Society

Philip & Margery Bosard

Date of Brass:
Norwich 3


July 2021

Philip Bosard is termed a gentleman on the brass at Ditchingham, Norfolk that commemorated him and Margery, his wife, after his death on 16 December 1490 but it was a rank that he had only latterly achieved. Actions in the Court of Common Pleas in 1455 and 1475 called him a yeoman. In the 1460s and 1470s Bosard was John Hopton's farmer of the manor of Pirnhow. Pirnhow manor is in Ditchingham, just north of the town of Bungay in Suffolk on the other side of the River Waveney. John Hopton had come into a large inheritance in 1430 through a series of deaths that left him unexpectedly the sole heir of Sir Robert Swillington. Despite being a major landholder he refused a knighthood. He managed his estates through bailiffs and farmers of whom Bosard was one.

Following the foundation of a hospital at Herringby under his will of 1476 by Hugh Atte Fenne, under treasurer of England and a man of great local importance, the parish church of Herringby became collegiate, and Bosard was appointed the first receiver of Herringby College. Another indication of the circles in which Bosard was moving is that he was one of seven men, the other six being esquires, holding the advowson of neighbouring Brome church by a gift of 1475. He was clearly upwardly mobile and his brass is a solid indication of his enhanced status. He was succeeded by his son Roger, died 1505 and also a gentleman, but the male line of the family expired with the death of Roger's son William. Roger's daughter and heir had married Thomas Bedingfield in 1482 and the Bosard estate in Ditchingham and neighboring Hedenham thus passed to the Bedingfield family. Roger and William are remembered by a brass at Ditchingham.

The brass of Philip and Margery Bosard was made in Norwich and belongs to the Norwich 3 style. It shows the couple standing and turned towards each other. Philip's hands are held together in prayer but Margery's are apart with the palms facing forwards in the orans position favoured by this workshop. Against the lower part of each effigy are the figures of their children, four sons, graduated in size before Philip and five daughters before Margery. This practice was derived from the earlier Norwich 1 style and used less metal than separate groups of children would have done. It is found on only one other N.3 brass, the male figure engraved on the reverse of a later brass at Snettisham. The eldest son holds his hands in the orans position and three of the five daughter wear butterfly headdresses like their mother. The upper part of Margery's figure is a smaller version of the effigies of Isabel Boleyn, died 1485, at Blickling and Anne Herward at Aldborough, who also died in 1485. All three have belts with the long tail end beyond the buckle descending from their waists. Philip's figure differs from most surviving N.3 male effigies in civilian dress in having shorter hair and both apuse and rosary hanging from his belt. The purse itself differs from the type with a straight metal bar at the top depicted on many brasses of this time, such copper alloy bars being not infrequent metal detector finds, instead being a pouch fastened at the neck. The N.3 figure of Geoffrey Porter, died 1485, at Little Walsingham has a similar purse.

The inscription reads:

Orate pro anima Philipi Bosard Generosi qui obijt xvi die mensis decembris

anno domini m CCCCxC et pro anima Margerie uxoris sue qui obijt



anno domini  die     quorum animabus prpicietur deus amen   

It translates Pray for the soul of Philip Bosard Gentleman who died 16th day  December 1490 and for the soul of Margery Bosard who died ___  day ____ 1000 _____ on whose souls may God have mercy Amen

Margery's date of death was nver filled in except for the millenium.


Copyright: Jon Bayliss

  • © Monumental Brass Society (MBS) 2024
  • Registered Charity No. 214336