Brass of the Month

August 2010 – Ann Butts, 1609, Redgrave, Suffolk


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Copyright © 2007 Monumental Brass Society (MBS)

Page last updated 04 March 2015

 The brass to Ann Butts is one of the finest of the early seventeenth century. It can be found in the chancel of the splendid  church of St Mary at Redgrave, now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, which works in co-operation with the Redgrave Church Heritage Trust to care for the church.

 

Ann Butts died at the age of ninety-three, over eighty years after the death of her father, Henry Bures, whose brass can be found at Acton, also in Suffolk. Henry died in 1528 and was commemorated by a brass made in Suffolk, at Bury St Edmunds. While Henry's effigy is a good size for the period at which he died, his daughter's is yet larger still and was made by a workshop in Southwark, possibly that of William Cure, Master Mason to the King. The slab is of black Belgian marble, a material that was beginning to replace the English fossil marbles most often used formerly. Like two of her sisters, Ann married a son of Sir William Butts, Henry VIII's doctor, in her case Edmund. As the verse below her effigy explains, she was a wife for a far shorter period than she was a widow:

The weaker sexes strongest precedent

Lyes here belowe, seaven fayre yeares she spent

In wedlock sage; and since that merry age

Sixty-one yeares she lived a widdowe sage;

Hvmble as great, as full of grace as elde,

A second Anna had she but beheld

Christ in his flesh, whom now she glorious sees,

Belowe that first in time not in degrees.


As the marginal inscription says, her only child, Anne, married Sir Nicholas Bacon. Bacon was the eldest son of Elizabeth I's Lord Keeper of the same name. The younger Sir Nicholas was prominent in the affairs of Suffolk and Norfolk, representing the Puritan faction in those two counties. He was the first man to be created a baronet, which happened eighteen months after his mother-in law's death. Anne Bacon was not only the only child of her mother but also the only child produced by the three marriages between the Butts daughters and Bures sons mentioned above, so she brought the Acton estate into the Bacon family. It is surely no wonder that she was given such an impressive memorial.  


Copyright: Jon Bayliss