William Lack, H Martin Stuchfield and Philip Whittemore. The Monumental Brasses of Herefordshire. (The County Series, c/o Lowe Hill House, Stratford St Mary, Suffolk, CO7 6JX. £17.50 (incl P&P). 2008. ISBN 978 09554484 0 9). xx, 251 pages illus refs bibliography index stiff paper covers.


Now in its 15th volume, the County Series continues to go from strength to strength. Whilst Herefordshire is not a county strongly associated with brasses, the fine series in Hereford Cathedral (notably the late 13th century figure of St Ethelbert from the lost Cantilupe brass (engr. c. 1287) the canopied brass of Bishop Trilleck, 1360 [which formed the frontispiece to Haines' Manual (1861) and the earlier Oxford Manual (1848)] and Canon William Porter's brass, 1524 (with its fine Annunciation scene in the canopy and array of saints in the side shafts) are well known. So too is the often illustrated figure of Margaret Chute, 1614, with her unique hairstyle, at Marden and the sad, but diminutive, figure of little Thomas Tompkins, 1629 (who drowned in a pond) at Llandinabo (on the cover of this volume).

That is not to say there are not other brasses of interest, old and modem, and from the mere 69 recorded in Mill Stephenson, the present volume has some 2,500 numbered entries including lost examples and indents. Nearly 160 are illustrated, including 23 lost/indents and 14 modern figure/cross brasses there are also quite a number of 17th and 18th century inscriptions illustrated, though none is signed, as well as a selection of Victorian and 20th century examples. It is perhaps significant that all the surviving pre-1650 figure brasses (listed p. 229) are London work, with no provincial examples from, say, Coventry or other known local centres. Churches with the largest number of entries include Holmer, 332 (of which some 320 are small grave markers in the churchyard dating from 1963-2007) Pembridge, 156 (again 145 of which are modern grave markers 1963-2006) and Hereford Cathedral, 111 existing and 50 lost (although Rawlinson in 1717 records 160 indents, of which half were in the nave alone).

As with all this series, the concise Introduction repays close reading. Apart from identifying significant brasses/indents of all periods, it also includes notes on the main antiquarian manuscripts and printed works. These range from the manuscript notes and drawings of many lost brasses by Thomas Dingley (or Dineley), made in the 1680s, to the recent book by Peter Heseltine and H Martin Stuchfield The Monumental Brasses of Hereford Cathedral (2005). Two other proposed works by Thomas Duncomb and local historian James Hill of Hereford, never came to fruition, though Hill's manuscript notes and sketches in 7 volumes survive in Hereford City Library.

There are a number of interesting military brasses, including Clehonger (All SS) LSW.I, 1474, in London B style, the man in armour of unusual design, with his wife, in butterfly headdress, lace or embroidered trimmings to her dress and with two dogs at her feet, but turned sideways so only one hand is showing. That of Richard Delamare, 1435 and his wife (Hereford Cathedral, X), lie under a fine double canopy, and is a good example of a London D design. A second London D figure in armour, c. 1490, feet lost, also in the cathedral (XXII), may not belong there, having been returned in 1880 from the Nichols' collection. One of the most complete brasses in the cathedral is a London F brass of Richard Delabere, in armour, 1514, and his two wives (XXVII), whilst another from the same workshop, but of more interesting design, remains at Ledbury (II, 1490), with Thomas Caple in armour, bareheaded, with a livery collar with large badge attached, his feet resting on a horse. At Ludford (I, engr. c. 1552) is a very competently engraved London G (Fermer script 6) brass of a young looking William Foxe, in armour, his wife, children, foot inscr. and 4 shields (illus. p. 160). At Shobdon, a man in armour, 2 shields and marginal inscr. (14th century) recorded by the RCHM (1934) as a brass, is an indent for an inlaid slab (see note p. 198).

Ecclesiastical brasses are, not surprisingly, best represented at Hereford Cathedral, though many others have been lost. Mention has already been made of the fine London B Trilleck brass (II, 1360), though its canopy, marginal inscr. and shields were restored in the 19th century. Three London F brasses of very different design are those of Richard Rudhale, archdeacon (XVII, 1476) in cope, under a canopy with 7 of the original 8 figures of saints in the side shafts remaining, but most of the marginal inscr. lost. That of Canon William Porter (XXXI, 1524) is now mostly lost, but what remains with its fine Annunciation scene and saints in panels from the side shafts are of high quality, and an indication of its former splendour. Finally, the London F (debased) brass of Dean Edmund Frowsetowe (XXXII, 1529), shows him in academic robes, with cape over, under a canopy with saints in the side shafts and raised letter foot inscr. in verse and marginal inscr. with evangelical symbols at comers. The whole composition is heavily   and over-elaborately decorated (see illus. p. 94).

Two other ecclesiastical brasses worth mention are both of London B design. That at Kinnersley (I, 1421) is a worn half-effigy (see illus. p. 139) and that at Ledbury (I, c. 1410) is a kneeling figure of an academic which originally had a figure of St Peter above the effigy (cf. John Strete, 1405, Upper Hardres, Kent) it was drawn, crudely, by Dingley and may once have had a marginal inscr. as well (see illus. p. 142). Another London B brass with figure of priest in head of floriated cross (mutilated) on four steps (Ill, 1386) in Hereford Cathedral is a good example of its kind and uncommonly found in Herefordshire.

 The earliest civilian brass to survive is also in Hereford Cathedral, (V, 1394), but little remains apart from the figure and a fragment of marginal inscr., but the former was once in the head of a floriated cross (see sketch from Dingley, p. 67). Most of the others of interest are Johnson style brasses, all well engraved, including a pleasing family group of 1590 at Colwall (I, illus. p. 35) the already mentioned brass of Margaret Chute at Marden (II, 1614), [secured to the wall with large, dome-headed fixings, making rubbing difficult!] kneeling and over hatched figures at Weston-under-Penyard (I, 1609, to Walter Nurse) and Lugwardine (I, 1622, to Jane Kirle, who holds a book in her hands and is shown within an arched chapel see illus. p. 162).

Whilst relatively few indents survive, the largest number of known losses of all kinds occurs at Hereford Cathedral (4 indents, 45 other losses, many sketched by Dingley), of which the earliest is the mutilated indent of bishop Thomas de Cantilupe, d. 1282, but brass engraved c. 1287, of which only the small seated figure of St Ethelbert, king and martyr, holding his crowned head between his hands, now remains (see illus. p. 64, indent St Ethelbert, p. 65). A full list of lost brasses/indents is on pp. 103-111, together with rubbings plus sketches by Dingley and William Stukeley. Other losses at Ledbury (28, p. 149) Leominster Priory (esp. 37, 1473) and Weobley (esp. 13 & 14, 1424 and c. 1500, the former a civilian in a curious hat, a horse behind his head and at his feet (see illus p. 215)), are all known from sketches by Dingley. A slab at Kingstone (14) has an indent for an ?18th century inscription in an appropriated slab with an incised cross, itself appropriated for a later incised inscription (p. 137).

Of Victorian and modem figure/cross brasses only a few good examples are recorded, mostly clerics. At Bartestree (R.C. Chapel of St James, now redundant) is a medieval-style brass with kneeling figure of Robert Phillipps in civil dress, hand scroll and under canopy (III, 1864, illus. p. 7). At Brampton Abbotts (VIII, 1892) is another kneeling figure under a canopy, this of a priest, Rev William Hulme, in clerical robes and holding a chalice (illus. p. 15). The brass at Monkland (I, 1877 possuit) commemorates the chairman. [and editor] of Hymns Ancient & Modern 1860-77 and hymn writer Rev. Sir Henry Williams Baker, vicar. His figure is shown in mass vestments, holding a chalice and wafer and within a marginal inscr. with evangelical symbols at the comers. The memorial is signed by Hart, Son, Peard & Co. of London and is illustrated on p. 172.

A more recent brass at Welsh Newton (Pembridge Castle Chapel, I, 1956) shows the small figures of Dr H C Bartlett, Bishop [of Siluria], barrister, physician and antiquary (d. 1956) in episcopal robes, with crozier, and his wife Flora (d. 1948) in a plain dress (illus. p. 213). There are separate short inscriptions in Latin and Greek the engraver is not known. Hereford Cathedral LI, is an 1867 restoration by Gawthorp of the brass of Bishop Richard Mayo, d. 1516, with kneeling figure in robes, scroll, inscription and shield (illus. p. 99). Another Gawthorp brass (Holme Lacy, III, 1874) is an elaborate and over decorated rectangular plate to Sir E F S Stanhope (1793-1874), with figures of the four Evangelists at the base (illus. p. 121). The only cross brasses of special interest are I at Yazor, with ornate decoration, and with a circle at the centre with an engraving of the church, a shield and inscription to Rev. U T S Price, d. 1844, it is signed by Hardman (illus. p. 226) and at Bartestree (q.v.) two angels supporting a slender cross (I, 1852), unsigned, possibly also by Hardman, (illus. p. 5).

As with all memorials, death is recorded in many spheres, often in times of military conflict, sometimes in other tragic forms. Rev. H St H Evans, rector of Brampton Abbotts (X, 1904) drowned whilst trying to save a life, whilst Hungerford Chandos drowned whilst bathing in 1871 (III, Abbey Dare). In 1866 Capt. Henry Arkwright died in an avalanche ascending Mont Blanc (II & V, Hope-under-Dinmore), whilst Stephen C Page was 'killed by an avalanche in Snowdonia' in 1956 (VIII, Dinedor).

At sea, Albert and Jane Parker, d. 1874 along with 78 others on board the SS British Admiral in the Bass Strait (V, Kington). There are very many deaths recorded in world and other wars, especially in India, Crimea, South Africa and World Wars I and II. Hereford Cathedral LVI, 1876, records the deaths of 9 officers (named) who died in India 1863-75, along with 20 sergeants, 17 corporals, 2 drummers and 307 privates of the 36th (Herefordshire) Regiment. A C B Mynars of the 60th Rifles died of dysentery at Fort Pearson, Natal in 1879 aged 22 (VI, Bosbury). At the relief of Ladysmith, Lt. G W G Jones, RAMC, died In 1900 of fever 'a few days before the relief of that Town after four months siege', aged 25 (II, Downton). After surviving the South African War and an expedition in West Africa 1904-06, Capt. H L Helme died during the Battle of Aisne, France in the first year of the Great War 1914-18 (X, Much Dewchurch).

In more recent times, there are several memorials to members of the SAS (Special Air Service), who since 1960 have been based at Hereford, including an inscription commemorating the insertion of a window at St Martin's, Hereford (VI, 1982). Another at Kingstone (VI) remembers Sgt. J L Arthy, 22nd SAS Regt, killed in the Falklands War in 1982, aged 27. Finally, at Storridge (III) an inscription on a prayer desk is in memory of Dorothy Moir 'killed by a VI bomb in London, 1944'.

Lastly, amongst 'miscellaneous' items, there are two brass sundials recorded at Hereford Museum, Resource & Learning Centre, made by engraver Epiphanus Evesham (1570- 1634) (illus. p. I 14) also a smaller example in the churchyard at Weston Beggard (I, 1649), illus. p. 216. At Stoke Lacy (VIII- X, 1997 and 2003), two brass and one bronze memorial, record contributions made by American and British enthusiasts to a window and to the restoration of the church to commemorate the founders of the Morgan Motor Co. At a more personal level, the longevity of Alice Smith, d. 1971 aged 104, is found at Upton Bishop (Xl).

Overall this volume has relied less on photographs than some previous ones, and there are perhaps more illustrations of simple inscriptions from both local engravers (e.g. Eardisley IV, 1687) and national firms, notably A&N (Aux.) C.S.L. Gawthorp Hart, Son, Peard & Co Jones & Willis Osborne & Co. and J. Wippell & Co. As always, the compilers and other MBS members who did much of the fieldwork and produced many of the rubbings for illustration, are to be congratulated on completing the volume and indexing it so thoroughly. Fittingly, the book is dedicated to the late patron of our Society, John Coales, OBE, FSA (1931-2007).

 Richard Busby
First published in Monumental Brass Society Bulletin, 109 (September 2008), pp. 172-5


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