Monumental Brass Society

Thomas Tyard & Philip Tenison

Date of Brass:
1505/6 & 1660/1
Norwich 5 & William Brigstock


January 2012

We begin the year with two brasses, both set in the same slab in the church of Bawburgh, not far from Norwich.

Thomas Tyard, as his inscription tells us, was a Bachelor of Sacred Theology and sometime vicar of this church. He was a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1478 and became vicar of Bawburgh in 1493. He spent the years between 1484 and 1492 in King's Lynn. In 1484 he was appointed master of the charnel house at Lynn, an establishment also known as the Old Chantry, which was part of St Margaret's church. There are Lynn deeds of 1489 and 1492 naming Tyard, the latter calling him bachelor of theology. In his will of 1501 Adam Outlaw, who is commemorated by a Norwich-made brass at West Lynn, left his chantry with the lands and tenements belonging to it to Tyard for life, if he wanted to accept it. If he did not, he was to have a tenement and two ferry rights for life (West Lynn is separated from King's Lynn by the river Ouse and it is still possible to cross the river there by ferry). Tyard, in his own will, left many things to his church, including a silver pyx and a silver pardon cross. The church was the burial place of the Anglo-Saxon saint St Walstan and formerly had a chapel dedicated to him. Tyard left a robe studded with silver coins to the saint. It is been suggested that Tyard was the author of an English verse life of St Walstan that dates from this time.

Philip Tenison lived in much less settled times from a religious point of view. He was baptised on 26 April 1612 at Downham in Cambridgeshire, where his father was the rector. Like Tyard, he studied at Cambridge but at Trinity College, where he is recorded in 1631. He was vicar of Barton, Cambridgeshire from 1637 to 1641 and then of Wethersfield in Essex in 1642. At some point he married Anne Mileham, sister of Sir Thomas Brownes's wife Dorothea. In late 1646, as the Parlimentary archives reveal, an application was made for an order for Dr Aylett to institute and induct him to the rectory of Hethersett in Norfolk. It was a living from which he was ejected during the period of Parliamentary rule. He then set up a school at Bawburgh, a few miles north of Hethersett. His fortunes changed for the better with the Restoration. He was presented as Archdeacon of Norfolk by the king and installed on 24 August 1660. Around the same time he was instituted as rector of Foulsham, Norfolk. Many years later, Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury, noted in a letter to Queen Anne that Foulsham was given 'to my uncle, Dr. Philip Tenison, Archdeacon of Norfolk, with regard to his great sufferings in the late evil times; and was look'd upon as worth £120 per annum; a value very high and rare in that County.' In December 1660 Philip Tenison was granted arms by Sir Edward Walker, Garter King of Arms (Sable a fess embattled argent in chief three doves of the last), but only enjoyed then for six weeks, for he died on 15 January 1660/1.

Turning to the brasses themselves, they are both of Norwich workmanship and both show their subjects in shrouds but the treatment is otherwise very different. Tyard's is the product of the very short-lived Norwich 5 workshop. Both the figure and the inscription are extremely competent, with Tyard's facial features being absolutely typical of this series. By contrast, the figure of Philip Tenison is very tentative. The inscription is idiosyncratic, combining capital and lower case letters. Of particular note are the capital As of 'Archdiaconi' and the A of 'A.D.' with a very distinctive daisy leaf motif and the 'pear drop' dot above each letter i. Both of these can be found on a number of black 'marble' ledger stones of the same period in Norfolk, the most prominent example of which is the slab on the top of the tomb chest of Francis Bacon, 1659, in the church of St Gregory in Norwich. This is much more assured and suggests that the engraver was much more used to working in stone.

Copuright: Jon Bayliss

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