Brass of the Month
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Page last updated 11 November 2016
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Copyright: Jon Bayliss
November 2016, Thomas Holte, 1545, & wife Margery,
'Coventry Style Brasses', MBS Bulletin, 4 (December 1973), p 8
Birmingham Archaeological Society Transactions, vol 54 (1929-
Today the parish church of St Peter and St Paul stands opposite the grounds of a major stately house, Aston Hall, a green oasis in the urban sprawl of Birmingham. Aston Hall was begun in the 1618 by Thomas Holte's grandson, the first baronet. The Holte family can be traced back to the early fourteenth-
Thomas Holte was a Middle Temple lawyer and Justice of North Wales. He was also one of the commissioners charged by Henry VII with taking the surrender of Warwickshire religious houses during the Reformation. He married Margery Willington, the daughter of a merchant of the staple from Barcheston. His brass comes from a Coventry workshop. In the early 1970s Roger Greenwood identified three series of Coventry brasses although a small fourth series fitting between Series 2 and 3 has since been recognised. Thomas Holte's brass comes about 20 years into the production sequence of Series 3 and is one of the later effigial ones although the workshop produced a limited number of inscription brasses into the 1560s.
The Coventry workshops were much further inland than any other other provincial shop producing brasses. The earlier series were mostly set in local liassic stone but the slab at Aston has been described as 'a sandy, greenish, entro mostracan limestone' probably originating from either the Halesowen Sandstone group or overlying the Keele and Corley group, widely found north of Coventry. Perhaps the unsuitability of the earlier stone had been recognised – it has a tendency to delaminate. The Aston slab is now set upright. It has lost the effigies of the son and two daughters and small parts of the marginal inscription but the most noticeable loss is that of Thomas Holte's head. A particular characteristic of Series 3 brasses is that they show that engraved prints had rather more influence on its designs than the output of most workshops. At Aston this manifests in the way that the clothing of Thomas and Margery Holte is depicted. The engraved lines terminating in forks and triangles combined with those of a more angular nature and areas of shading give the impression that the figures are dressed in clothing made of heavy material. The approach is that of German print engravers of the early years of the sixteenth-
The figures of the children on the rubbing were taken from replicas made by the late Stan Budd, a great enthusiast for Warwickshire brasses.