Portfolio of Brasses
Each month we feature an article about a brass of particular interest.
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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 non-
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...read more
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
The late Elizabethan brasses at Boughton under Blean in Kent form an interesting group. There are family links between them as Thomas Hawkins' son of the same name married Ann, one of the daughters of Cyriac Petyt, and John Driland married another of his daughters, Elizabeth. Her figure is lost but her inscription now appears beneath her parents' figures after a Victorian restoration placed it under them and left their inscription by its own. The inscription on Thomas Hawkins's brass emphasises his age, 101, and his service to Henry VIII while that of the Petit brass is concerned with...read more
Date: c.1405 and 1546
Elizabeth Buttry became prioress of Campsey Ash in 1526. The priory was one of Austin nuns, founded around 1195 by Theobald de Valoignes, who gave his two sisters, Joan and Agnes, land in the parish on which to build it. They were successively the first two prioresses. Over the next few hundred year the priory benefited from further gifts of land. In the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 that preceded the Dissolution of the monasteries, Campsey was valued at a little over £182, short of the £200 that would have saved it from suppression in 1536 but only because a chantry...read more
William Att Wode seems to have left little impression on the records of the time. Years later, during the reign of Elizabeth, William Atwood of Beach in Gloucestershire brought a legal action in Chancery against Sir John Tracy and Henry Izard. This claimed that Sir John's great-great-grandfather William, who held the manor of Doynton, had demised the park there to Atwood's grandfather William and his sons Edward and John for the terms of their lives, around 14 Henry VIII (1522-3). Sir John had since granted a lease of the park to Henry Izard and Izard had sought to eject William...read more
Before the Black Death of 1349 cross brasses were quite numerous. They were the successors and contemporaries of cross slabs. The latter dated back to the twelfth century but continued as relatively low-cost grave covers up to the Reformation and even beyond. In contrast, the popularity of the cross brass fell away dramatically. Although there were London-made examples after the Black Death, most of the few early sixteenth-century examples were made in provincial workshops, and most were quite small.
An exception is the cross brass commemorating Thomas Burgoyn and his wife Elizabeth in All Saints' church at Sutton in Bedfordshire.read more
The brass of Richard de Hakebourne has often been illustrated. It is an important and early brass. The chapel of Merton College had a number of floriated cross brasses of the fourteenth century but some of them have disappeared, so the survival of the figurative element of the Hakebourne memorial is very welcome. It is now the earliest monument in the chapel.
Hakebourne was a fellow of the college by 1296 and later served several times as sub-warden. He was the owner of a book now in the college library and donated two others. The inscription around the verge of...read more
The sculptor Epiphanius Evesham came to the attention of the public in the early 1930s after his signature was noted by Ralph Griffin on a monument in Kent. Griffin communicated the discovery to Mrs Esdaile, the leading authority on post-reformation British sculpture. The article she subsequently published in The Times led to a...read more
Anne a Wode was the second wife of Thomas Asteley of Melton Constable. The church of St Peter at Melton Constable lies outside the village and in the grounds of the impressive hall built by a later Asteley and is rich in Asteley monuments. However none of them dates fromthe period in which both Anne and Alice Asteley, lived. Alice was the wife of John Calthorpe, who died in 1503
Brasses commemorating children were far more common than sculpted monuments until James I and VI commemorated two small daughters early in the seventeenth century. Thereafter monumental sculpture memorialising children became much more frequent.
A late sixteenth-century brass to a child can be found in Brightling church in Sussex. It commemorates Thomas, only son of Thomas Pye, Doctor of Sacred Theology, whose surname was appropriately latinised to Pius.
Young Thomas kneels on a cushion in prayer. He wears a gown that indicates he was very young, as at that time both male and female children wore the same clothing for...read more
Date: 1507 1518
This month's contribution highlights the contrast between the present condition of two brasses at Isleham with that of many others in Cambridgeshire.
On 28 August 1643 Parliament passed an ordinance stating that 'all Monuments of Superstition and Idolatry should be removed and abolished'. These were to include 'images and pictures of saints or superstitious inscriptions'. Churchwardens were to carry out this work, or Justices of the Peace if they failed to do so, and it was to be done before 1 November 1643. On 19 December 1643 the Earl of Manchester issued a warrant to William Dowsing to carry out...read more
On the south side of the chancel of the church of St Nicholas in Dereham is a brass shield set on an older Purbeck slab. In Blomefield's History of Norfolk, this is associated with an inscription, thus:
On a brass this imperfect epitaph, in memory of ____ Aquila.
Alta petens Aquila istac jam conditur aula :
Qui manet precibus justorum gaudia lucis,
Hic rexit ter
The iconoclast William Dowsing visited four Cambridgeshire villages on Wednesday 3 January 1643/4. He had spent his time in late December and the very beginning of January visiting Cambridge college chapels and churches, resulting in a great deal of destruction of images and words in these building although a surprising amount of the material that would have caused him offence remains to this day, some of it perhaps removed in advance and thus unavailable for inspection. Brasses in King's College Chapel were deliberately damaged but their more inoffensive components were allowed to remain. Dowsing's diary can be frustratingly sparse...read more
This month’s brass commemorates Abbot Heribert von Lülsdorf (1481) from
Kornelimünster, in Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany
Transactions (vol.X (1965), pt.3, pp.173-4) contains an article entitled “Brasses in
Germany & the Low Countries” by Messrs. Belonje & Greenhill, which features the above brass from the parish church of St Kornelius Kornelimünster, formerly a Benedictine Abbey founded in the 9th century.
An illustration opposite page 173 from a work by L. von Fisenne (1880) showsread more
the brass after its first restoration in the 19th century. It comprises a central plate with a demi figure of the abbot under a canopy, and...
August 2019read more
It is not often that brasses make the news around the world but the simple inscription commemorating Ann or Anna, daughter of Sir John Paston, did so in the second week of June 2019. An archaeologist, Matt Champion, working on the Paston Footprints 600 project on the church at Oxnead had happened to notice her inscription and that it recorded a member of the family previously unknown to historians. The story was then taken up by the media.
The Paston family of Norfolk has attracted a great deal of attention over the past 250 years. The...
The 'Recovery of an Ancient Brass at Salisbury' was reported in a short article of the same name by C[lifford] W[yndham] Holgate in the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine published in 1894.1 It was the brass of Henry Dove and the church was that of St Edmund. He described it as copper rather than brass and thought it had probably been taken from the vault under the church where Dove had been buried and appeared once to have been inserted in stone. It was in the possession of someone living near Andover who had informed a museum director...read more
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