Portfolio of Brasses
Each month we feature an article about a brass of particular interest.
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Date: c. 1630
This month’s contribution is a rare example of a heart monument in brass, the tribute of his devoted wife, Agatha. Brass heart monuments are extremely unusual, although more survive carved in stone. They take many iconographic forms, the most common being a mural canopied niche with some form of heart imagery within. The example at Wedmore is mounted on the north wall of the north aisle. It comprises an elaborate scroll bearing the inscription topped by a heart surrounded by a wreath of bay with the motto ‘Wounded not Vanquished’ and...read more
This month’s contribution is an incised slab of Gotland stone commemorating Hermann von Oertzen 11 d. 1386 and Siegfried von Oertzen 1 d. 1449. It is located on the south wall of the south ambulatory of the former Cistercian Abbey of Doberan Minster in Mecklenburg, in what was the von Oertzen chapel until the mid- 1970’s. This chapel contains another slab to “Frau Helena” c. 1400 also considered to be a von Oertzen. All of the incised slabs in the Minster have been conserved and desalinated, and stand proud of the walls on metal stanchions with the slabs held...read more
The brass of Sir Andrew Luttrell lies towards the east end of the north aisle of the church of St Andrew at Irnham in the south-west corner of Lincolnshire. He has a London B effigy in armour. The canopy is no longer complete but the rivet pattern on the original slab, which rests against the nearby north wall, shows that the side shafts rose as high as the crockets above the centre of the canopy. His inscription is simple:
Hic iacet Andreas Louttrell miles d[omi]n[u]s de Irnh[a]m qui obijt vjt°die Septe[m]br[is] a[nn]° d[omi]ni . mill[esim]o .read more
Alice Laurence was the second daughter of Sir Richard Assheton and Isabel Talbot, who are commemorated by the earliest brass at Middleton. She was originally depicted with three husbands but the effigy of one is lost. Her husbands were John Laurence, Richard Radclyffe of Towre and Thomas Bothe of Hakensall [Haconsall]. All three were esquires, as indicated in Mill Stephenson's List, contrary to James Thorneley's reading of the word after Hakensall as armiger (esquire) in the singular. It is genitive plural, the abbreviation marks showing that the full word is armigerorum. Thorneley's misreading helped him conclude that Alice, the...read more
The brass to Zacharias Ridt is a reminder of an era of Polish history when the reformed religion of the sixteenth century was not only tolerated, but stood a chance of supplanting Roman Catholicism as the main religion of the country. The brass is now in a glass case in the town hall museum in Poznań.
The Ridt family were successful merchants, the richest family in Poznań in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They were also present in Gdańsk. They dealt in draperies, silk, canvas and furs and had extensive trading links with German cities such as Nuremberg and Leipzig.
When Katherine Howard died in 1465 she was the wife of Sir John Howard of Tendring Hall in the parish of Stoke by Nayland. However after her death Sir John was made a baron in 1470 and Duke of Norfolk in 1483. His and Katherine's only son, Thomas, was created Earl of Surrey at the same time. The Duke was killed at Bosworth Field in 1485. The Earl was wounded there, taken prisoner and later attainted, losing title and lands, but eventually became one of Henry VII's most trusted advisers and his title of Earl of Surrey was restored.read more
As the inscription of his brass tells us, William Styrlay was sometime vicar of Rauceby and a canon of Shelford. At the time of his death on the fourth of December 1536, Shelford Priory in Nottinghamshire no longer existed, having been suppressed earlier that year. It was a priory of Austin canons and owned a moiety of the Rectory of Rauceby and were thus able to appoint Styrlay as vicar. Stylay made considerable improvements to the church of Rauceby, which is in North Rauceby but serves both North and South Rauceby. He rebuilt the chancel and added the clerestory.read more
Incised effigial slabs are rare in East Anglia, so it is most unusual to find two in the same church. They commemorate husband and wife. Anne Bulwer died first, on 27 January 1604 (1605 by modern reckoning). Her husband Edward died over twenty years late, on 6 April 1626. Anne was the daughter of William Becke of Southrepps, a few miles north-east of Guestwick. The Bulwer family had previously been settled in neighbouring Wood Dalling, where there are a number of brasses still remaining to them, if somewhat fewer than in the eighteenth century. Simon Bulwer, died 1504, who...read more
County: Norfolk (formerly Suffolk)
Date: Early C14
The identity of the only remaining brass in St Andrew's church at Gorleston has been the subject of controversy for years. It has a shield bearing arms that belong unmistakably to the Bacon family and the figure formerly rested his feet on a boar, the family crest.
We know that the lost indent of Sabine, mother of John Bacon, recorded in the church between 1561 and the late eighteenth century, was once the slab next to the brass. We also know that it was moved into the church after the Dissolution from the Augustinian Friary at Southtown, which borders Gorleston...read more
John Draycote, who died in 1463, may have been a younger son of the Draycotes of Painsley, Draycott-in-the-Moors, Staffordshire, but is difficult to locate in the accessible records of the period. His brass in the church of St Nicholas, Abbots Bromley, is set in an alabaster slab above a three-line inscription. It asks for prayers for his soul, calls him a burgess of Abbots Bromley, mentions his wife Joan and asks God to have mercy on their souls. It was apparently once on the chancel floor but is now on the wall of the north aisle. It is most...read more
Robert Staunton’s brass, laid down after the death of his first wife Agnes Lathbury on 18 July 1458, is the first military effigy in the London D style to show armour with large elbow defences. This is referred to by Tobias Capwell in his recent book Armour of the English Knight 1450-1500 as introducing ‘a different vambrace typology that first appears in English art during the late 1450s’. Both of the other two examples to which he refers (at Barham, Kent, and Sherborne, Norfolk) are in the London B style and neither has elbow defences on the sheer scale that...read more
John and Frances Castle's brass at Raveningham, Norfolk, comprises a rectangular plate with their arms and an inscription. The shield seems to indicate its heraldic tinctures without the use of paint. This is done in a manner akin to the Petra Sancta system of the 163
The mural brass of John Gordon, Dean of Salisbury, is lost, probably disappearing during the drastic restoration of the cathedral by Wyatt in 1789. It was survived by a freestone ledger recording only:
D. Jo. Gordonus Scotus
Qui obiit 3 Sept.
[Dr John Gordon, Scot, Dean of Salisbury, who died 3 September 1619.]
The ledger originally no doubt covered the dean’s burial in the choir, which his will requested be by his seat there, but it was presumably moved to the north-east transept in 1684 along with the brasses of Bishop Wyvill and Bishop Gest when the...read more
In the church of All Saints at Laughton, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, is the brass of a man in the armour of the early part of the fifteenth-century. It lies on a tomb-chest of the middle of the following century and the original foot inscription has been replaced by a larger one commemorating not one but two men of the Dalison family. It has been suggested that it originally represented an earlier member of the that family but is more likely to have commemorated someone else entirely. A date in the 1550s for the appropriation points heavily to this.
In 1546...read more
In the mid sixteenth-century, the making of monumental brasses in London was still in the hands of native English craftsmen, members of the Marblers Company but in the latter third of that century control of the design, if not always the execution, of brasses had passed to immigrants from the Low Countries or their English-born sons. This was still the case during the first 15-20 years of the next century but in years following craftsmen with English backgrounds were designing and making brasses, as evidenced by the signatures of Edward Marshall, Francis Grigs and Epiphanius Evesham on a very...read more
All too often, the focus of the aficionado of monumental brasses is purely on the brass itself rather than the monument as a whole. When the monument is little more than the brass alone, this does not matter, but when the brass is very much a subsidiary part of the whole monument, it certainly does. More generally, medieval wills make clear that, in the case of floor brasses, the monument was the stone in which the brass was set. So separating a brass from its original floor slab to preserve it may lead to the destruction of the floor...read more
Date: c. 1480
Henry and Anne Jarmon are currently biographical blanks yet they or their executors were wealthy enough to provide a brass with two figures and an inscription in the parish church at Geddington, Northamptonshire. Similar pairs of figures survive at Loughborough in Leicestershire, Lutterworth in the same county and Spratton, Northamptonshire. Dates of death at Spratton (1474) and Loughborough (1480) suggest a date for the Jarmon brass of around 1480. They are all the work of a workshop in Coventry run by a mason and marbler called Robert Crosse. He is documented in Coventry from 1465 and dead by 1506.
It is entirely fitting that John Prideaux is commemorated by a brass as he had provided brasses for his parents and other members of his family during his own life. The account by Thacker of his brass tells us that he had composed the Latin inscription himself leaving only the date of his d ath and his age to be added. While the inscription outlines his career it says nothing of his marriages or children. It also omits his clerical appointments prior to being made bishop of Worcester.
John Prideaux was born on 17 September 1578, the fourth son of...read more
The brass of Richard Folcard lies at the entrance to the south chancel of Pakefield church on the Suffolk coast, just south of Lowestoft. He was rector of the southern part of the church.
Pakefield church was a dual church: for hundreds of years it was divided in two, the southern half being dedicated to All Saints, the northern to St Margaret. The two halves were separated by a wall and constituted two churches until united in the eighteenth century.
The church retains another brass, to John Bowf and his wife Agnes. It is mounted on the north wall in a...read more
Middle Claydon is the site of Claydon House, well-known as the home of the Verney family and built in the eighteenth-century. Earlier Verneys are commemorated by monuments in the church but two brasses and an alabaster tomb commemorate members of the Gyfford family. While the figure brass of Isabel Gyfford, who died in childbirth in 1523, is of a decent but unremarkable size for the period (470mm high), those commemorating her parents Roger. died 1542, and Mary are both remarkably large, Roger's being 1535mm and Mary's marginally smaller (1492mm). Part of the explanation is of course the availability of...read more