Portfolio of Brasses
Each month we feature an article about a brass of particular interest.
If you would like to submit an article for this feature please contact:
Medieval memorial brasses are surprisingly rare in Wales: J. M. Lewis lists seven before 1550, plus one from St Davids which has been lost, a couple of indents and a few brass letters. This is fewer than many English parishes. Those that survive are mostly typical products of the London workshops. There are some idiosyncratic ones, though. Sally Badham has said that one of these, the memorial to Richard and Joan Foxwist in Llanbeblig (the old parish church of Caernarfon), is like nothing else she has ever seen. She suggested that it might...read more
When the Rev W F Creeny visited Erfurt Cathedral before 1884, he found the brass of Johan von Heringen on the floor outside the chancel gate. In 1900 it was moved to the cloister along with other brasses and slabs. This had the advantage of preserving what was left of the low relief carving on the slab, which Creeny described as 'worn away'. This monument is actually a composite one, showing the upper part of the figure in brass and the lower cut into the slab itself. The main outlines of the portion of the figure on the slab...read more
On 26 May the society will be visiting Suffolk on an excursion. We will be stopping for lunch a Halesworth, a small market town, and examining the brasses there. One of them commemorates John Browne, who according to the inscription, led a quiet life before his death in 1581. The existence of his brass has been rather more eventful. In 1825 according to the modern brass to which the original inscription is joined by a hinge, the remains of his brass were fished out of the River Waveney, which divides Suffolk and Norfolk, at a spot called the 'roaring...read more
Date: 1505/6 & 1660/1
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...read more
Brasses are normally monuments to named people. This month’s brass is perhaps unique in elaborately commemorating someone who was never christened, and indeed never lived – except in an anti-abortionist sense. Elsewhere1 I have mentioned a visit to East Germany, which our late President, Malcolm Norris, succeeded in arranging in the mid-1950s. I went along too, as his German/English interpreter. Malcolm was far too kind to say what he really thought of my efforts to rub brasses, so he always explained apologetically that he’d...read more
St Mary’s, Burgate, is the quintessential Suffolk church with a great medieval tower, in an ordinary village surrounded by hedgerows and barley fields. Entering the church, the eye is led inexorably towards the fine tomb chest, with a brass as its cover, which is set immediately in front of the altar and dominates the chancel. This is the monument of Sir William Burgate, lord of the manor (d. 1409), and his wife, Eleanor, who survived him by at least...read more
In the first volume of the Victorian novel Scarsdale, the author, Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth, has Barnabas Collier go into the parish church during the Rochdale Rushbearing for a few moments of quiet meditation and read the lines at the end of the inscription of the Gartside brass:
“Lilia cum spinis florent, post funera virtus,
Nam bene viventi vita beata manet.”
This, in Barnabas's mood, was an inscription to detain him in long reverie.
The inscription on the brass translates thus:
Here lies buried Susanna Gartside, wife of Gabriel Gartside of Rochdale and daughter of James Gartside of Oakenrod,...read more
The memorial brass showing Joost van Amstel van Mijnden and his family (Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht) is one of a handful of memorial brasses from the Northern Netherlands to have survived.i The brass was made shortly after Joost van Amstel van Mijnden’s death in 1554. At first sight the image seems conventional for the Northern Netherlands. Many memorial paintings and sculptures featured donor portraits of a family, and this brass depicts a couple with their...read more
The decoration of the north aisle of Mavesyn Ridware parish church in which Thomas Cawarden's monument sits is one of the most extraordinary I have seen. Until about 1800 there was nothing much out of the ordinary to be seen there. This aisle was the burial place of the lords of the manor over several centuries and, as such, contained a number of monuments. Stebbing Shaw's History and Antiquities of Staffordshire has a great deal to say about the successive lords, and has an engraving of the aisle viewed from the west end and another looking north from the...read more
The period of the Commonwealth saw the end of any coherent production of figure brasses in England until the Victorian revival. The production of brasses during the latter half of the seventeenth century was very patchy. Inscription brasses continued to be produced in some numbers in the north and west of the country by engravers such as the Mann brothers, Thomas and Joshua, in York, and there were occasionally quite ambitious compositions, such as the inscription and achievement to Martha Bright, 1663, set under a large arch, in Sheffield Cathedral. However, in the east and south-east, the black 'marble'...read more
The collegiate church of Zeitz is within the walls of the schloss, an unusual situation for a major church. Johannes II von Schleinitz was bishop of nearby Naumberg and two other brasses in the church at Zeitz likewise commemorate bishops of Naumberg. After studying for his doctorate at the University of Leipzig, he was dean of Bautzen, canon of Meissen, dean of Zeitz and in 1422 Bishop of Naumberg. When he died in 1434, he was succeeded as bishop by his cousin, Peter non Schleinitz, the subject of another brass at in the choir. Malcolm...read more
This month we feature the brass to Geoffrey Boleyn (d. 1440) and his wife Alice. It originally also had tiny figures representing their 5 sons and 4 daughters, but the inlay is lost. The brass is from Salle (Norfolk) which boosts an exceptionally fine church with a large collection of surviving brasses and empty indents which have had the brass plates stolen from them. Amongst them there is a brass to one other member of the family, Simon Boleyn (d. 1482), a priest; others were commemorated at nearby Blickling, including Cecily Boleyn (d. 1458, age 10).
The brass of Arthur Dericote is set in a Purbeck marble panel of a type much used in the second half of the sixteenth century for wall-mounted brasses. The alabaster shield appears to be a later replacement of a brass one. Although he is depicted in armour, Dericote was a London draper. He was received a grant of arms five years before his death. He had started life as the son of Humphrey Dericote, a Worcester dyer, who died in 1524, and was presumably apprenticed to a London draper, gaining the freedom of the City of London and membership...read more
The earliest identifiable series of Norwich-read more
made brasses began around 1450. While the effigies of men in civilian dress, ladies and priests produced by this workshop are close to the then current London styles, the effigies in armour differ very considerably from those made in the London workshops. However, although this Norwich workshop lasted for around thirty years, it is strange that the few surviving armoured effigies it produced all seem to come from the last ten years. One that is now lost, to Sir Henry Grey at Ketteringham, survived long enough to be illustrated by...
This brass has not been seen for many years, since it was entirely covered by a fixed carpet and a platform for a nave altar some time in the 1970s. The church is now closed, and in the process of being converted into an archive store for Balliol College. On a recent visit the brass was covered with protective boarding, while serious restoration work proceeded above it, but it will probably be uncovered and visible again once work is finished. It is not yet clear to what extent there will be public access to...read more
In addition to the thousands of monumental brasses in England and Wales that have survived the ravages of time, there are a small number of old non-read more
monumental brasses. How many survive is not clear, as they were not listed by Mill Stephenson in A list of monumental brasses in the British Isles precisely because they were not monumental. Some can be found, often on the outside of the buildings, recording the foundation of schools and almshouses. Others are in churches, such as the one in Goldcliff church near Newport, Monmouthshire, recording the level of the...
On the wall of St Stepeh's church in Bristol is a monument commemorating Robert Kitchin, alderman, who died in 1594. At first glance it appears to be a brass in a stone frame but on closer examination, the figures of Kitchin and his wife, kneeling at prayer desks, and the thirteen line inscription below, are cut in stone and coloured to look like brass. The 1938 Appendix to Mill Stephenson's A List of Monumental Brasses in the British Isles and Nikolaus Pevsner's 1958 North Somerset and Bristol (The Buildings of England) both list it as a brass but Lack,...read more
County: Sachsen Anhalt
Friedrich III and his brother Johann the Steadfast, both Prince-Electors, were from the Ernestine Line of the House of Wettin, as opposed to the Albertines, whose mausoleum is in Freiberg cathedral in Saxony. The Wettin dynasty divided in two at the Treaty of Leipzig in 1485 with the Ernestines the more prominent, and who played a key role in the Reformation.
The brothers are buried in a sealed crypt below their two brasses in front of the altar at the largely rebuilt Schlosskirche which Friedrich founded, and which was built between 1496 & 1509.1 This replaced the...
The church at Hunstanton is well known for the large and elaborate brass of Sir Roger l'Estrange who died in 1506 but other members of the family are remebered by two other brasses and an indent. The brass commemorating Sir Hamon l'Estrange who died in 1654 memorialises a man closely connected with the one major incident that took place in the county of Norfolk during the English Civil Wars, the siege of King's Lynn.
Sir Hamon's namesake who died early in the fourteenth-century was commemorated by a slab with a marginal inscription of separately inlaid brass letters and shows that...read more
This month’s brass is an indent of a lost brass to a canon at Sint Maartensdijk, a small town in the Dutch coastal province of Zeeland. In a foundation charter of 23 June 1428 the local church of St Martin was made a collegiate church by the nobleman Frank van Borssele, fourth husband of Jacqueline, Countess of Holland (the repudiated wife of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester). The chapter was to consist of a dean and ten canons: it was abolished in 1577 at the Reformation.
An inscription along the edge of the surviving stone slab commemorates Canon Johannes (or...read more
- © Monumental Brass Society (MBS) 2022
- Registered Charity No. 214336