Monumental Brass Society

Sir Thomas Brudenell and wife Elizabeth

Date of Brass:
Southwark (Johnson)


February 2006

February's brass of the month is from Deene, Northamptonshire and commemorates Sir Thomas Brudenell (d.1549) and his wife Elizabeth (d.1558).

The brass lies in the Brudenell Chapel at Deene. Sir Thomas is shown in armour slightly facing towards his wife who is on a separate plate. Sir Thomas died on 10th March 1549, and was a Justice of the Common Pleas. As such could also have been depicted in his judge’s robes. However, the brass was not laid down till 1586, by his son, another Thomas.

Interestingly no children are shown. Yet Thomas left a wife and ten of their eleven children surviving. One son, Thomas is mentioned in the inscription as he pre-deceased his parents. The composition is completed by two armorial devices above their heads.

Thomas had been very active in local affairs and he was one of the Kings Commissioners whose job was to assess the rentals, surveys and inventories of monastic properties in the area. This was a task he was well qualified to undertake as Thomas had acted for the Abbot of Peterborough in a professional capacity.

Thomas is depicted in a dress armour of the late Elizabethan period, one worn more for show or tourament rather than actual fighting. He has both sword and dagger and his head rests upon a helm. Both he and his wife Elizabeth have ruffs around their necks. Her head rests on a pillow. The sleeves of her gown are very full and padded. A plain overgown is knotted at the waist and falls open to display a heavily embroidered undergown. Elizabeth survived her husband for nine years, dying on 2nd September 1558.

His three elder sons, Edmund, Thomas and John succeeded him in turn as Lords of the Manor of Deene. Robert, the fourth son married Catherine Taylard, and their son Thomas inherited Deene after the death of John (his uncle) and later became the first Earl of Cardigan. Probably their most famous descendant was the Seventh Earl of Cardigan, he of the Charge of the Light Brigade fame.

This brass is but one of several memorials to the Brudenell family at Deene. The church is no longer is use for public worship and is vested in the Churches Conservation Trust.

© Jane Houghton

Rubbing: © The Monumental Brasses of Northamptonshire by William Lack, H. Martin Stuchfield and Philip Whittemore (forthcoming)

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