BOOK REVIEW: William Lack, H Martin Stuchfield & Philip Whittemore (editors). The Monumental Brasses of Cornwall.(Monumental Brass Society. £15.00 + £2.50 p. & p. 1997. ISBN 09523315 2 7). xvi, 199 pages; 127 illus.; bibliography; index.

As the Introduction to this volume - the sixth in the series - states, Cornwall has only a modest selection of brasses. Modest it may be but, not surprisingly, containing much that is of interest; early and modem London engraved brasses and a good scatter of local products. Given the extensive use of slate and granite for memorials and slabs (see Bulletin 75, p. 293-4), and the county‘s distance from London, it is not altogether surprising to find few brasses until the l9th and 20th centuries.

The excellent, concise but anonymous Introduction highlights the wide range of London figure brasses of Series A, B, D, F and G (46 are listed on p. 181) ranging in date from c. 1400 (Cardinham I) to 1585 (Truro Cathedral I); there is also a number of 17th century figure brasses in the style of Gerard Johnson, as well as a good series of mid-l7th century inscriptions, usually heraldic, of London G, script 12. The Introduction also draws attention to locally produced figure brasses, Victorian and modem figure brasses, selected indents, damaged or lost brasses and several important palimpsests.

The volume records 202 churches with brasses, plus listing a further 14 where none were found; however it is surprising to find, among others, towns like Newlyn and Redruth missing, and only one of Truro‘s churches is recorded. Unlike earlier volumes only one Roman Catholic church appears; while Cornwall was never well represented in this faith the current Catholic Directory lists eighteen places of worship built before {940 which are not recorded as being searched; I mention this advisedly with future county volumes in mind.

Overall, the volume includes just under 90 pre-1750 brasses of all kinds; 62 indents and/or lost brasses (including, unusually, several l9th century ones) and some 1570 Victorian and modern examples, ranging from the fine series of figure brasses at Truro Cathedral to simple plates on furniture and fittings. The churches at Crowan, Fowey, St Mawgan and St Michael Penkevil have the most surviving older brasses, whilst there are good single examples at Anthony (I, 1420) and Callington (I, 1465, in judicial robes). Of the lost brasses there is a worn slab with inscription in Lombardic letters of early 14th century date at St Johns Priory church, Helston, a London D cross fleury, c. 1420, at Sithney and St Ives I had a kneeling figure of a man in civil dress with a heraldic tabard over it (illus. p. 120).

With Comwalls legendary maritime links, we expect to firid inscriptions to those lost at sea. Most recent are Paul VI and Truro Cathedral LXXI to the crew of the Penlee lifeboat who drowned in 1981. St Keveme IV and Truro Cathedral LXVI remember two men who died on the SS Titanic in 1912 but whose names do not appear on the latest published passenger list (see Intro, p. vi). There are also many memorials to military personnel who died in 19th and 20th century campaigns, from traditional rolls of honour to individual memorials. At St Stephen-by-Saltash, Lt. Porter (X, d. 1916) is in military uniform wearing a turban. Finally, there are external brasses at Lelant and at Bude is a series of Acland family inscriptions; at Blisland are circular plates on low posts to the Collins family dating from 1853-1958.

The above can only hint at the variety of memorials recorded. As always the compilers (the dedication is to Paul Cockerham) and editors are to be thanked for their continuing and exacting work. It is to be regretted that more copies are not sold both within and especially outside our Society.

Richard Busby
From Monumental Brass Society Bulletin 76 (Oct. 1997), p. 338