Tag Archives: Brasses

Study Day: Exploring the Heritage of St Michael and All Angels Church, Great Tew (18 June 2016)

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 7.45.14 PMSaturday 18th June 2016 at 2.00pm

The architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner described the village of Great Tew as ‘unforgettable’ and the same can be said of the parish church dedicated to St Michael and All Angels. Much of its medieval fabric remains including the shadows of a Passion cycle of wall paintings in the south aisle and the magnificent funerary brass to the county sheriff, John Wilcotes (d. 1422) and his first wife Alice in the chancel of the church. More recent features of interest include the 19th century sculptured effigy for Mary Anne Boulton (1834) in the north of the chancel.

This fund raising event for the fabric of the church will take place in the church and is intended to celebrate Great Tew’s heritage with a series of four talks from experts in their field.

2.00pm Welcome and introduction
by Ginny Thomas (Vicar of Great Tew)

2.15pm An Introduction to Great Tew Church
by Nicola Coldstream (Past President, British Archaeological Association)

2.45pm Narrating the Passion: the Great Tew Cycle
by Miriam Gill (Lecturer, University of Leicester)

3.15pm The Medieval Brass of John Wilcotes Re-examined
by Nigel Saul (Emeritus Professor, Royal Holloway University of London)

3.45pm Afternoon tea and an opportunity to view the church

4.30pm Sir Francis Chantrey and the Monument to Mary Anne Boulton
by Greg Sullivan (Curator, Tate Britain)

5.00pm A Short Recital of Medieval Vocal Music
by Benjamin Thompson (Fellow and Tutor, Somerville College)

5.45pm Concluding remarks
by Caroline M. Barron (Hon. Fellow, Somerville College)

The church will be open beforehand for ‘early birds’.

To book please complete the form below and return to Patrick Thomas, The Vicarage, New Road, Great Tew, Chipping Norton, OX7 4AG with your payment of £20.00 per person (£25.00 on the day). Please make cheques payable to ‘The Great Tew PCC’ and enclose a S.A.E. for confirmation of booking or include your email address below.

Name: ________________________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________________

Telephone number and email: _______________________________________________

I wish to book ______ place(s) at the Great Tew Day and I enclose my cheque for £_______

Study day: Monumental Brass Society at Battle, East Sussex (28 March 2015)

John Wythines, S.T.D., born at Chester, fellow of Brasenose College, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, Dean of Battle for 42 years, 1615, aged 84, in cap, gown and scarf holding a book. Reproduced by permission of the Monumental Brass Society

John Wythines, S.T.D., born at Chester, fellow of Brasenose College, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, Dean of Battle for 42 years, 1615, aged 84, in cap, gown and scarf holding a book. Reproduced by permission of the Monumental Brass Society

The church of St Mary the Virgin, Battle, was established by Abbot Ralph c. 1115 on the battlefield of 1066. The church includes a magnificent transitional nave, a rare wall painting of St Margaret of Antioch of c.1300 and the gilded and painted alabaster tomb of Sir Anthony Browne (1548) who acquired the abbey at the Dissolution. The earliest surviving brass is for Sir John Lowe (1426) with a distinctive memento mori inscription

Brasses for the deans of Battle; Robert Clere, engraved c.1430, and John Wythines, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and Dean of Battle for 42 years, who died in 1615 are to be found north and south area of the sanctuary respectively.

This meeting, on Saturday 28th March 2015, is free for members and non-members of the Society.


2.00p.m. Welcome
by Martin Stuchfield, President of the Monumental Brass Society

2.05p.m. St Mary’s Church Battle
by Clifford Braybrooke

2.30p.m. The Brasses of Battle Church
by Robert Hutchinson

3.00p.m. The Monument to Sir Anthony Browne and his wife, Alice Gage
by Nigel Llewellyn

3.30p.m. Tour of the church and viewing of the brasses and monuments led by Pat Roberts

4.15 Tea

The Church will be open prior to the meeting.

St Mary’s Church is located in Upper Lake in the centre of Battle with ample parking in the vicinity. The postcode for satellite navigation is TN33 0AN. The nearest station is Battle (served from London: London Bridge).

Conference review: Commemoration of the Dead: new approaches, new perspectives, new material (15 November 2014)

There was a packed conference room in the newly-refurbished Institute of Historical Research at Senate House, as eager members of the Church Monuments and Monumental Brass Societies gathered to hear about new approaches to incised brass memorials. As a sequel of sorts to a conference reconsidering approaches to funerary monuments on the half-centenary of Panofsky’s Tomb Sculpture held at the Courtauld Institute in July, the stakes were high for a day on one of the potentially less-colourful genres of late medieval art production. However, the conference proved that brasses could also produce many novel and intellectually profitable methodologies, rather than inward-looking and basically descriptive case studies.

Heythrop, Oxfordshire

Stained glass commemorating John Ashfield (d. 1521), Heythrop parish church, Oxfordshire – via Flickr Martin Beek

Richard Marks (‘Brass and Glass’: the medieval tomb-window) began the day with some pearls he had discovered in his relentless trawling of late medieval parochial wills, and that “brass and glass” was more than just a rhyme: many church windows acted as surrogate funerary monuments. Without the wills, there would be no way of knowing that the fragments of stained glass were patronised by the memorialised person under our feet. The use of documents to consider individual agency was also explored by Jessica Knowles on All Saints North Street in York (’Controlling the Past’: the Medieval Brasses of All Saints North Street, York), and at the end of the day by Christian Steer on the brasses in the lost London convent of the Friars Minor (’A Melting Pot of Death’: Burials and Brasses in the London Grey Friars). This veritable carpet of memory raised the intriguing questions of why the Franciscans were so popular among well-to-do Londoners, and how the friars themselves – supposedly unable to own property – bought their own brasses.

Brügge, Sint-Jakobsplein, Sint-Jakobskerk, Kupfergrabplatte der Katheline d'Ault (St. James's Church, tomb cover of Catherine d'Ault)

Brass of Catherine d’Ault d.1451, St James, Bruges – via Flickr HEN-magonza

The idea of the importance of patrons’ agency in the design of memorials was raised in the paper by Matthew Ward discussing Chellaston alabaster workshops (Late Medieval Style: the Role of Agency and the Workshop). Michael Carter then showed how an alleged London Type-B brass in Fountains Abbey was almost certainly later than the usual timespan of that workshop; instead the evidence of the iconographical motif of raising a mitre to show off a cleric’s doctoral credentials gave us the identity of the commemorated abbot (The Mysterious Mitre on the Monument). Looking outside of the constraints of the medium continued: Harriette Peel (Women, Children and Guardian Angeles in Late Medieval Flemish Funerary Art) also used novel iconographical analysis to show that a Flemish brass commemorating a young girl may be making appeal to female hagiography through its inclusion of a guardian angel. Sanne Frequin brought colour to proceedings with some technical findings of the polychromy of Tournai Marble monuments: supposedly a “pure” medium like brass (Tournai Stone: an investigation of materiality).

Nijmegen, Sint Stevenskerk

Tomb of Catherine Bourboun (d.1465), St Stephen, Nijmegen – via Flickr Stewie1980

It is often forgotten that England, with its religious rather than social revolution, has a much richer corpus of funerary monuments than much of Europe. Ann Adams used the English corpus of tomb chest-top brasses to creatively illuminate the apparently peculiar choice of the genre over sculpted effigies by some Flemish nobles (‘Revealed and Concealed’: Monumental Brasses on Tomb Chests – the examples of John I, Duke of Cleves and Catherine of Bourbon). Robert Marcoux (The Social Meaning and Artistic Potential of a Medium: Brass and the Medieval Tombs of the Gaignières Collection) reminded us of the importance of the Gaignières collection in the absence of the physical objects, and demonstrated its statistical potential in mapping aesthetic tastes over time. The varied papers, coupled with a lively, knowledgeable and generous audience, made for a day that proved that the humble brass lurking under the carpet in many a parish church can prove a lucrative genre for the modern art historian’s inquiry.

This review was originally published in Medieval Memorial Research newsletter, a free biannual summary on current developments concerning research in memoria of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period (till circa 1600), and is part of Medieval Memoria Online.

Conference: Commemoration of the Dead (London, 15 November 2014)

Commemoration of the Dead: new approaches, new perspectives, new material
London, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street
Saturday, 15 November 2014, 10am – 5pm


Recent years have witnessed a rapid growth in new research and consideration of commemorative brasses and funerary monuments. This one-day joint meeting, sponsored by the Monumental Brass Society and the Church Monuments Society, will explore these developments and, in particular, research techniques that have led to new insights within the broader context of funerary art. Speakers are primarily doctoral and early post-doctoral students.

9.30 Registration

10.00 Welcome by Christian Steer, Hon. Secretary, Monumental Brass Society

10.05 Richard Marks: ‘Brass and Glass’: the medieval tomb window

10.45 Session 1: Reassessing Workshops

Matthew Ward: Late Medieval Style: the Role of Agency and the Workshop
Michael Carter: The Mysterious Mitre on the Monument

11.45 Tea/coffee

12.15 Session 2: Form and Materials

Sanne Frequin: Tournai Stone: an investigation of materiality
Ann Adams: ‘Revealed and Concealed’: Monumental Brasses on High Relief Tombs – the examples of John I, Duke of Cleves and Catherine of Bourbon

13.15 Lunch (own arrangements)

14.30 Session 3: Contextualising Brasses – Politics, Family and Religion 

Harriette Peel: Women, Children and Guardian Angels in Late Medieval Flemish Funerary Art
Jessica Knowles: ‘Controlling the Past’: the Medieval Brasses of All Saints North Street, York

15.30 Tea/coffee

16.00 Session 4: Lost Brasses

Robert Marcoux: The Social Meaning and Artistic Potential of a Medium: Brass and the Medieval Tombs of the Gaignières Collection
Christian Steer: ‘A Melting Pot of Death’: Burials and Brasses in the London Grey Friars

17.00 Concluding Remarks: Martin Stuchfield, President, M.B.S., and Jean Wilson, President, C.M.S.

It is anticipated that this event will be extremely popular and a pre-booked registration process is necessary for those who would like to attend. There is a strict capacity limit and places will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Early booking is encouraged. The event is free for members of the Monumental Brass Society and Church Monuments Society but members are required to reserve a place by contacting the Hon. Secretary of the M.B.S. (details below) well in advance. Non-members are warmly welcome and to reserve a place should send a cheque for £15.00, made payable to the Monumental Brass Society, to the Hon. Secretary (see below). A special rate of £5.00 is available for student non-members. All delegates must pre-book in advance.

There will be a morning and afternoon tea and coffee break available for delegates but lunch is not included. This area of Bloomsbury is well served with cafes, restaurants and pubs where lunch can be obtained.

To book: 
To book a place, please write/email the Hon. Secretary of the Monumental Brass Society:

Dr Christian Steer
8 Shefford Lodge Newbury, Berkshire RG14 7LR
e: christianosteer@yahoo.co.uk

Please indicate whether you are a member of the M.B.S. or CMS at booking.
Non-members should enclose a cheque for £15.00 (£5.00 for students) made payable to the Monumental Brass Society.

It is intended to publish a list of delegate names and email addresses. Please indicate at the time of booking whether you do not wish your email address to be included. 

Call for papers: Commemoration of the Dead: New Approaches, New Perspectives, New Material; London


Call for Papers for Commemoration of the Dead: New Approaches, New Perspectives, New Material conference to be held 10.00- 17.00, Saturday 15 November 2014 at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Proposals are invited for papers to be presented at a one-day conference, jointly sponsored by the Monumental Brass Society and the Church Monuments Society. The aim of this event is to showcase the developments in research techniques and approaches that have led to new insights into monumental brasses.

This follows a conference, ‘Fifty Years after Panofsky’s Tomb Sculpture: New Approaches, New Perspectives, New Materials’ to be held at the Courtauld Institute of Art on 21 June 2014. Panofsky, in his lavishly illustrated Tomb Sculpture, included the illustration of only a single brass (Pl. 212), that of the hand-holding Sir Edward Cerne and Lady Elyne Cerne, Draycott Cerne, Wilts. The ‘Commemoration of the Dead’ conference will address this imbalance by examining the significance of monumental brasses within the broader context of funerary art, especially the connections and divergences between brasses and other forms of tomb sculpture.

The core period covered by the conference will be Medieval to Early Modern, but papers up to the current day will be considered. The core geographic focus will be Europe.

Papers are invited on a wider range of topics arising from the study of monumental brasses, and could include:

• Individual brasses – style, location, patronage, production

• Groups of brasses united by a common theme

• Materials and their symbolic importance

• Function of brasses- prospective/retrospective, devotional, legal, etc.

• Audience and reception

• Brasses and the liturgy

• Inscriptions, epitaphs, heraldry

• Technical investigation


• Length of paper: 20 minutes

• Expenses: limited funds are available to cover speakers’ expenses

This is an opportunity for doctoral and early post-doctoral students to share their research. It is intended (subject to quality and peer review) to publish a joint collection of edited essays from the two conferences.

Please send proposals of no more than 250 words and a brief biography to

tombsculpture@gmail.com by 18 May.

Organised by: Christian Steer, Hon. Secretary, Monumental Brass Society, Ann Adams & Jessica Barker, PhD Candidates, The Courtauld Institute of Art.

Memberships & Societies: The Monumental Brass Society

mbs_gaynesfordThe Monumental Brass Society was founded in 1887 to preserve and record monumental brasses. Initially it was known as the Cambridge University Association of Brass Collectors. Later it was renamed the Monumental Brass Society. From a membership of 60 in 1887, the Society has grown to around 500 today.
Early research into brasses focused chiefly on English brasses of the medieval and early modern periods. Today, however, the field is much wider. Chronologically, it extends to brasses of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and geographically to those of Continental Europe. Incised slabs are also the subject of growing interest. Areas of current research include the artistic context of brasses, workshop organisation, and the self-image of the commemorated. 

The society’s main aims are as follows:

  • To encourage the appreciation of brasses, indents of lost brasses and incised slabs by publications, lectures and meetings
  • To preserve brasses by assisting with grant funding conservation and providing advice on their care
  • To promote the study of brasses, indents of lost brasses and incised slabs, and to encourage and disseminate original research
  • To record lost and stolen brasses and those remaining in private hands

Membership will benefit those with an interest in local history, genealogy, armour, the study of costume, and heraldry. If students join now, they receive 2013 and 2014 membership. For further information, see the Monumental Brass Society’s website and this membership leaflet.

On Saturday, 22 February 2014, the Monumental Brass Society will hold a study day at Temple Church, London. Proceedings start at 2pm. Entry is free and MBS members may invite non-member visitors to attend. This General Meeting will include the following lectures:

  • Reverend Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of the Temple: The Temple Church of London in the Middle Ages
  • Philip Lankester, The Medieval Military Effigies and Cross Slabs: some new evidence 
  • David Harte, The Men of the Inner Temple and their Brasses

Tea will be available at the end of the meeting and admission is free. For further information on the society’s events, see here.

Image: Carshalton, Surrey, Margaret, wife of Nicholas Gaynesford, d. 1503

Monumental Brass Society: Lingfield study day

Lingfield brassThe Monumental Brass Society are holding a study day at Lingfield Church in Surrey on the 28th September 2013. The speakers will be Nigel Saul and Clive Burgess.

The cost is £25.00 for members and £40.00 for non-members. A special concessionary
rate of £15.00 is available for full-time registered students. Lunch is not included.

More information, including an itinerary and how to reserve a place, is available in this flyer.