Brass of the Month
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Copyright: Jon Bayliss
September 2016, Michael Hare, 1611, and two wives, Bruisyard, Suffolk
In the mid 1970s the late Peter Heseltine, an occasional contributor to this series, made a case for redating the large and impressive brass commemorating Dean Umphrey Tyndall in Ely Cathedral from the date of Tyndall's death, 1614, to one after 1638. He did this on the basis of the way the extensive heraldry on Tyndall's brass was depicted, which was in accordance with the rules published by Petra Sancta in 1638. These rules, stating that particular heraldic tinctures (colours) should be depicted by lines (horizontal, vertical and diagonal), cross-
This month's brass has a contribution to make to the history of the depiction of heraldry.
That the system came to the notice of one of the the Southwark workshops providing monumental brasses very shortly after its publication is not surprising, given that these workshops were founded by immigrants from the Low Countries. It is clear that not all the brasses with heraldry from this workshop were produced using the new system – those at Felbrigg in Norfolk, documented as being transported there in 1612, do not use it – but that commemorating Michael Hare and his two wives, Elizabeth Hubert and Mary Brudenell attempts it. Peter Heseltine's interest in the heraldry of monumental brasses led him to publish Heraldry on Brasses: The Mill Stephenson Collection of Shields in 1994, an invaluable tool for those interested in this area. According to this, the tinctures on first of the two surviving shields at Bruisyard are gules two bars and a chief indented or for Hare, quartering Gyronny of twelve or and azure. The latter charge is termed Bassingbourne but Hubert used the same charge. The other shield has Hare impaling argent a chevron between three caps azure for Brudenell. Other sources give the chevron of the latter as gules. According to Zangrius, or should be dotted rather than left plain but his system was designed for black printing on white paper rather than engraving a gold coloured surface, where it makes more sense to leave or blank. If this view is taken, then the charges for Hare and Hubert are good but something has gone badly wrong in respect of the Brudenell charge. The dotted chevron against a plain field implies an heraldic anathema: or and argent together. The chevron should have vertical lines for gules. The caps are depicted with shading rather than the horizontal lines that should be used for azure.
Whereas the brass for Umphrey Tyndall at Ely was an important commission for the workshop, a life-
A less than usual aspect of the design of the Hare brass was the frontal stance of the wives. Michael's Hare's own effigy is lost but was presumably the standard man in civilian clothes produced by this workshop. The inscription is in black-
The hatching table of Zangrius from his armorial chart (1600).
By Jean Baptiste Zangre [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jan Baptist Zangrius: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Baptist_Zangrius
Tyndall brass: Peter Heseltine, ‘An Alternative Date for the Brass of Dean Umphrey Tyndall 1614, Ely Cathedral’, Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society, Vol 13, Part 2 for 1976 (1978), pp. 169-