Portfolio of Brasses
Each month we feature an article about a brass of particular interest.
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Not all the brasses of the Deryng family in the church of St Nicholas at Pluckley in Kent are quite what they seem. During the seventeenth-century Sir Edward Deryng had additional brasses engraved commemorating a number of his ancestors in an antique style. There is some evidence that suggests their engraver was Edward Marshall. Those for fifteenth and sixteenth-century ancestors are mostly obvious fakes but that of Sir Edward’s grandfather Richard Deryng, who died in 1610, when Sir Edward was eleven or twelve years old, was probably made in the late 1620s and is instead an example of delayed...read more
The large church of St Peter and St Paul in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, stands in the centre of the town, not far from the South Brink of the River Nene. There was once a castle to the west of the church and the single medieval brass that remains in the church is that of a former constable of the castle, Thomas de Braunstone, whose very large figure in armour is still impressive depite being worn and having lost all of its canopy and parts of the marginal inscription from the Purbeck marble slab. He died in 1401. Other medieval brasses...read more
January 2024 The large slab at the west end of the church of St John Maddermarket in Norwich that supports the font is the indent of the brass of Robert and Elizabeth Rugge. Most of the brass was remounted in December 1992 on a hardwood board after conservation by the leading brass conservator William Lack, and is now mural on the west wall of the north porch.
Robert Rugge died on 18 February 1558/9 as is recorded on the inscription. His brass is Norwich work (it was described by Lack as 'Norwich 6 variant'), but does not fit comfortably within this...read more
A simple rubbing of the brass inscription commemorating Henry Buntyng in the church of St Andrew, Framingham Earl, Norfolk, would give no clue as to its setting. The inscription consists of four words only: Hic iacet Henricus Buntyng (Here lies Henry Buntyng). It is set in a small marble stone of the type described in contemporary wills as a "foot marble", but that stone is accompanied by seven others of the same size arranged as a cross in the floor of the nave, the inscription lying at the point where the arms intersect the stem. Neither Francis Blomefield nor Anthony...read more
The crypt below the Lady Chapel in Hereford Cathedral contains a late fifteenth-century alabaster incised slab commemorating Andrew Jonis, a Hereford merchant, and his wife Elizabeth. It was in place, as its inscription tells us, by or soon after the feast of All Saints (November 1st) 1497. It forms the top slab of a low tomb chest, today rather plainer than when Thomas Dingley drew the whole monument during Charles II’s reign for his History from Marble.
In 2004 our member Sally Badham published a short article on this slab in the Society’s Transactions. As she noted, the slab is in...read more
The artist and antiquary Thomas Fisher was born in 1772 in Rochester, Kent. His work encompassed far more than monumental brasses, but his contribution in this field was particularly valuable, especially in regard to the brasses of Bedfordhire and Kent. He worked from dabbings and rubbings that he had made, and in the first third of the nineteenth century recorded many brasses that have since been lost or damaged.
At Aylesford in Kent he first sketched the Cossington brass, as was his custom, showing the whole slab with its brass inlays and the indents of items already missing. He also,...read more
This month’s brass demonstrates the difficulties involved with identifying exact family relationships in the days before parish registers, especially at the level of esquires and below.
The church of St Mary, Chartham, Kent, is known for the excellent early brass representing Sir Robert de Septvans, one of the cross-legged knights of the first half of the fourteenth century. However it has other brasses too. Sir Robert’s figure lies in the north transept, his head to the north and feet to the south, an obvious repositioning at odds with the east-west axis along which it would originally have been laid. Immediately...read more
In The History of the Dayrells of Lillingstone Dayrell, published in 1885, Eleanora Dayrell wrote that a member of the family accompanied William the Conqueror when he landed in 1066, and that the manor at what became Lillingstone Dayrell was assigned by William to him. She noted that the name was originally d’Ayrell, as in the castle north of St Lô in Normandy. Apart from ten years immediately after 1300 the manor continued in the family, and Eleanora’s husband Captain E Marmaduke Dayrell was the 35th Lord of the Manor. However...read more
In 1711, François Roger de Gaignières sold his entire collection of manuscripts, portraits and printed material to the King of France. The royal genealogist Pierre de Clairambault soon began breaking up the collection, but much of it is today in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and includes drawings of churches, funeral monuments, glass, etc.
Included in one volume are drawings of many of the monuments within the church and cloister of the abbey of Saint-Denis...read more
Just over eleven years ago this feature focused on the remains of the brass of John Browne, 1581, and his wife and sixteen children at Halesworth: https://www.mbs-brasses.co.uk/index-of-brasses/john-browne At that time it was mentioned that Browne’s son John, d.1591, was commemorated by a brass at nearby Spexhall. This month the Browne brasses at Spexhall are the subject.
Like the brass at Halesworth, those at Spexhall have been remounted, but whereas the recovered parts of the Halesworth brass are displayed in a stone set above the original indent, those at Spexhall were set on a new mural stone with no sign of...read more
Thomas Cranmar, esquire, was the father of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was his second son, born at Aslocton, Nottinghamshire, on 2 July 1489, and thus in his twelth year when his father died on 27 May 1501. Thomas was married to Agnes Hatfield. She survived him and presumably paid for his incised alabaster slab in the church of St John of Beverley at Whatton. She was able to send her younger sons Thomas and Edmund (born 1491) to Cambridge, Thomas getting his BA in 1511, Edmund in 1513-14. Both had careers in the church, Thomas suffering martyrdom...read more
The brass effigy of a priest in mass vestments holding a chalice lies in the chancel of St John the Baptist, Somersham, Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire). It dates from around 1525 and a possible attribution to the long-serving Thomas Alcock, vicar between 1488 and his death in 1525 was made in the Victoria County History. That seems to be ruled out by the existence of another slab, once the chancel but now in the south porch, bearing indents for a similarly robed priest and for cocks at each corner. Alcock had willed to be buried in the chancel. Given that...read more
County: Sachsen - Anhalt
Prince – Elector Friedrich der Weise (Friedrich 111) von Sachsen from the Ernestine line of the House of Wettin was responsible for the reconstruction of Wittenberg Castle and its Church. The latter was consecrated as All Saints in 1503. By that time Friedrich had already founded the University of Wittenberg in 1502 which was to establish a formidable academic reputation. From 1507 All Saints church was put at the disposal of the University, for lectures and services. In 1508 Martin Luther, a monk from the Augustinian Friary in Erfurt, arrived for the first time to teach...read more
The floor of St Botolph’s church in Boston, Lincolnshire, preserves to an exceptional extent, the incised slabs and the monumental brasses (or in most cases their indents). All were written up and illustrated in an excellent publication by Sally Badham and Paul Cockerham in 2012 but recent research has uncovered more details of Thomas Flete, who died in 1450.
The exact social status of Thomas Flete was not clear in 2012, the best estimate then being that he was possibly an attorney. Evidence from the Court of Common Pleas suggests that he was a merchant: in 1430...read more
The Black Death that ravaged Europe towards the end of the 1340s stopped production of monumental brasses in England for a number of years. By 1360 the two main streams of London monumental brass design that ran in parallel for the rest of the century had been established. Designated Series A and Series B in J P C Kent’s pioneering work of stylistic analysis of military brasses published in 1949, the persons who were most probably behind the initial designs of these memorials were John de Ramsey and Richard Lakenham respectively. Each was described as a marberer, as the memorials...read more
The cult of the Holy Name of Jesus became increasingly widespread in England in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. The cult had begun in southern Europe rather earlier and spread to the north. In Tudor England it was promoted by Henry VII’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, who received papal sanction in 1494 for a feast on 7 August she had established to be celebrated throughout the country some years before. A look at any book illustrating brasses belonging to this period will reveal inscriptions terminating in prayer clauses that substitute the name of Jesus for that of God.
We might...read more
This brass at Milton Abbey, Dorset introduces us to a man who played a significant role in the Reformation in England. As a lawyer, John Tregonwell had been heavily involved with the divorce by Henry VIII of Katherine of Aragon. He was appointed one of the visitors of the religious houses worth under £200 in 1535-6, helping to implement a process that led directly to the Dissolution of the Monasteries. However, he was not only knighted on the occasion of the coronation of Mary I but under Elizabeth he made a will that clearly signals that he remained a...read more
The attractive Victorian brass commemorating Charles Sutton and one of his three sons is to be found in the church of St Mary in what had been, until it was evacuated in 1944, the village of West Tofts in the Norfolk Brecklands. The land was needed for training the troops who were to invade Normandy later that year, and remains a battle area to this day, the Stanford Training Area (STANTA). West Tofts and the other villages that lay within in it are wholly deserted. The church has been brought back into occasional use.
West Tofts Hall and its estate was...read more
The brass of Elizbeth Furlong at Stoke-in-Teignhead, Devon, provokes more than a couple of questions. Why is the inscription in French? Was it part of a larger group of related memorials? Why did the designer or engraver place a comma after every word? Why is the plate heart-shaped but apparently does represent a heart burial? Who are the people mentioned in the inscription?
Icy avssi et mettre le corps
de Elizabeth Fvrlong la
fille de Thomas Tawley de...read more
Indents of two chalice brasses lie side by side on the north side of the St Basiliuskerk (St Basil's church) in Bruges. The building is two-storied, with the later Heilig Bloedbasiliek (Holy Blood basilica) occupying the upper floor. The two indents take the same form, so common in that area of Belgium, in having marginal inscriptions with quadrilobes at each corner, but differ in that one has these incised whereas the other formerly had these in brass, of which the indents remain. Both slabs are of Belgian black marble.
Nicholas Rogers thought that the one with the incised inscription beginning...read more