IN SEARCH OF MEDIEVAL INSPIRATION: PART 2(iv)
Figure 73 is a civilian brass to Henry Notingham (one ‘t’) and his wife located at Holme-Next-the-Sea Church, dated 1405 (details Figs. 74 & 75), housed on the nave/chancel wall after the south aisle was demolished.
Figure 76 is of Henry Barnaby (c. 1450), from Cley Church, and is typical for a civilian brass of the mid 15th century.
Fig. 77 Fig. 78
The remains of a civilian brass of a man (I managed to take an acceptable photograph of this, given the light) showing his six sons (Fig. 78) (c. 1450), Cley Church.
Figure 79 shows two brasses now mounted in a south aisle/nave pillar at Fulbourn Church, Cambridgeshire. These are simple but, I feel, lovely brasses, and I might be able to use the facial expressions in future work.
Fig. 80 Fig. 81
Figures 80 and 81 show two brasses of women. Figure 80 is in the south aisle floor, whilst Figure 81 is now mounted in a south aisle/nave pillar at Fulbourn Church, Cambridgeshire. Again, these are simple but heat-felt testaments, and very lady-like compositions. I think I would have liked to have known these two women.
Fig. 82 Fig. 83
I have seen a good number of civilian church brasses but nothing prepares you for the two brasses to be found in the south chancel aisle of St. Margaret’s Church, King’s Lynn. At approximately 323 cm x 180 cm and 285 cm x 165 cm, respectively, they are not only the largest monumental brasses in England – one is taken aback by their size – but the last two examples of such Flemish work left in the country. They are truly impressive and important pieces.
The first, and largest, is to Robert Braunche, a wealthy merchant of the Hanseatic Laegue, and his two wives, Letitia and Margaret, dated 1364. The brass is simply too large to appreciate and photograph from the ground in the confined space, as can be seen in Figure 82, so a rubbing is to be found on the south chancel aisle wall beside it (Fig. 83) so that visitors can marvel at a truly astonishing work of medieval craftsmanship.
Fig. 85 Fig. 86
The detail is remarkable, as can be seen from Figures 84–86. I notice that both women ‘wear’ something on the arm (by the crease opposite the elbow) closest to their husband. One wonders what they can be, for it is deliberate, as they wear them on opposite arms, lying, as they do, left and right of their husband?
Fig. 87 Fig. 88
The same problems with photography are to be found with the brass to former Lynn mayor, Adam of Walsoken, and his wife, Margaret (Fig. 87, and mounted rubbing, Fig. 88), dated 1349, and also found in the south aisle chancel, (immediately east of Braunche’s brass – one can barely walk between the two). They were taken by bubonic plague, which ravished the land in 1349–50 (when Robert Braunche was mayor, and as he lived a further fifteen years he must have been familiar with the Adam of Walsoken memorial). With King’s Lynn being a major port, there is little doubt that the town was a prime entry point for the pestilence into England, though the Black Death first entered the country through the southern coastal ports. This brass shows greater signs of wear when compared to the Braunche brass, and is faded in parts, especially Margaret’s upper body, but it is remarkable nonetheless.
I like coming upon new and unexpected church features. Local landowner, Sir Robert Kervile, died and was buried abroad in 1450, but had requested beforehand that his heart be buried in his parish church of Wiggenhall St. Mary. His wife organised for a monk to bring his heart back and the floor slab with brass inlays marks the spot where it lies buried, in the south chapel (Fig. 89). Such brasses are sometimes referred to as ‘bleeding heart brasses’.