Brass of the Month

March 2010: Anne Bedingfield, 1641, Darsham, Suffolk


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Page last updated 04 March 2015

Copyright: Jon Bayliss


The outline of Anne Bedingfield's life can be found in Eva Griffiths' biography of her in the Dictionary of National Biography and a précis of the DNB entry by John Blatchly was published in the MBS Bulletin, illustrated by Suckling's lithograph of her brass. It recounted how her father had died in 1576 and left her the leasehold of property in Clerkenwell that was part of the bequest of freehold land by Thomas Seckford that supported his almshouses at Woodbridge. When her mother dismissed a clerk from the family brewing business, he took her to court. Her defence was that the clerk had 'most shamefully, wickedly and horribly' tried to marry her daughter Anne. In 1579 Anne married Eustace Bedingfield, a member of a well established East Anglian family. Eustace died in 1599, leaving Anne with several children. In 1605 she sublet part of her Clerkenwell land to the builders of the Red Bull theatre, which became the home of an acting company, the Queen's Servants. Other than the making of her will in 1636, the DNB entry records nothing more before her death in 1641. However, she was involved in a law suit taken out by the governors of the Seckford Charity after claims to their property at Clerkenwell had been made. She was named as one of the defendants, alongside Anthony and Mary Cage and Edmund Brewster. The plaintiffs included the Lord Chief Justice of Common Pleas, Sir Robert Heath. The origins of the suit apparently dated back before Eustace Bedingfield's death, as one paper names her as his widow and administratrix and him as a defendant. The case seems to have come to a head in 1633, with depositions being taken at Woodbridge.

  



Brass engraving in the Carolean period was dominated by Edward Marshall, who signed the brass of Sir Edward Filmer at East Sutton in Kent and was paid for brasses at Pluckley in the same county, as the account book of Sir Edward Dering, transcribed by Laetitia Yeandle (2), reveals. However, Marshall may well have subcontracted the engraving of his designs to other engravers and there are other stylistic groups of the same period, which include the brasses of Francis Grigs, who signed a couple of brasses, and also those related to Anne Bedingfield, which are by an unknown London engraver who favoured long thin hands on his brasses. Other examples are at Stifford, Essex, to Elizabeth Lathum, died 1630, and Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, to Francis Welles, died 1636, and his wife Margaret. As T M Felgate observed, Anne's figure is most unusual, both because it shows her in a heavy outdoor coat and because her hands are not shown in any of the poses normally expected on a brass. It is a brass that is distinctive rather than attractive.

Notes


(1) Eva Griffith, ‘Bedingfeild , Anne (1560–1641)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/74436, accessed 7 March 2010];

 John Blatchly, 'Anne Bedingfield of Darsham', MBS Bulletin, 101 (January 2006), 14

(2) Laetitia Yeandle, Sir Edward Dering, lst bart., of Surrenden Dering and his 'Booke of Expences' – 1617-1628, accessed via http://www.kentarchaeology.ac/authors/lyeandle.html

(3) T M Felgate, Ladies on Suffolk Brasses, (1989), 35