Brass of the Month

Copyright © 2013 Monumental Brass Society (MBS)

Page last updated 04 March 2015


    Holy Trinity, Loddon, is a large church in the south-east of Norfolk. It was built by Sir James Hobart, Henry VII's  attorney-general, in the late fifteenth century. The inscription of a painted panel of Sir James and his wife preserved in the church recalls this. When Sir James died he was buried in Norwich Cathedral rather than at Loddon but was commemorated by a locally made brass on a tomb-chest. His grandson Henry was buried at Loddon. Like his grandfather, he had a locally made brass on a tomb-chest but while the brass in Norwich Cathedral disappeared hundreds of years ago, parts of Henry's survive, including his figure and a foot inscription. Mill Stephenson's List notes that Henry's head has been restored but this is certainly not obvious. The curved line that bisects his beard appears to be engraved rather than being the edge of a separate plate.


    Henry's father was Sir Walter Hobart, who succeeded Sir James in early 1517. His mother was Ann, daughter of Sir Henry Heydon, who married Sir Walter as his first wife in 1497. Henry inherited Hales Hall near Loddon, built by Sir James. Henry married Ann, daughter of Sir John Fyneux, chief justice. She died in 1530 and was commemorated by a brass in the Norwich 6 style of which only the marginal inscription remains, the effigy, canopy and shields having been lost. The same style of brass also commemorates Dame Katherine Sampson, died 1546, Sir James's sister, which retains most of its metal in the shape of two figures in shrouds, a foot inscription and one shield (there were originally four). By the time Henry himself died, the Norwich 6 workshop, presumably run by the marbler William Thakker, had ceased production, the latest date on an N6 brass being 1551. From then until the end of the century, there are less than twenty described as 'local' by Mill Stephenson, in contrast to over two-hundred and fifty produced in the N6 workshop up to 1551 and another hundred produced in other Norwich workshops in the first half of the sixteenth-century. Henry's brass is one of less than ten local effigial brasses in Norfolk during the second half of the century. Presumably it was produced in Norwich. There were originally effigies to Henry and his wife Ann but hers is now lost. The inscription does not mention her but there is no record that Henry remarried and she had her own brass, as previously mentioned. It was by no means unusual for a person to be represented on more than one brass.  It is clear from the indent that she wore a kennel headdress and was perhaps represented in heraldic dress like her husband.


July 2013 - Henry Hobart, 1561, Loddon, Norfolk


    In contrast to his grandfather's locally-made tomb-chest in Norwich Cathedral, Henry's is a standard early sixteenth century Purbeck marble one with three shields set in carved lozenges. The cover slab has a moulded edge with an indent for a marginal inscription. Again it is a standard Purbeck marble top slab. The components making up  the chest and cover could be bought direct from the marblers of Purbeck rather than from the London marblers who were the usual customers of the Purbeck men. Given the date, it might be thought that a chest and slab could have originated in a monastic institution or chantry chapel but there is no sign of reuse. It is a  manifestation of the Purbeck marblers' reliance on outdated designs that they could still make monuments like this in the 1560s. The chest is now set north-south against the east wall of the north aisle. It may have been originally set east-west in the same location. The ends, in as much as they can be seen, are now plain surfaces but on the north side is a heavily damaged Purbeck marble fragment with the remains of a shield set in a carved lozenge, looking like it was once a part of the chest. The shield has three lead plugs in the same position as those on the west side which indicate that it like the other three had brass shields. While the west side of the indent of the marginal inscription indent has similar lead plugs, some of holding rivets, as does the visible part of the south end, the north end has had its indent hacked off. Because the marbler used a large plug at each of the two visible corners to hold two rivets where the plates along the three sides joined, it is clear that the inscription indent along the hacked-off side held brass. The east side has moulding matching those on the other sides but seems to have had no rivets in its indent, perhaps indicating that it was next to the wall and had no inscription strip. If so, the tomb was likely to have been in the north-east corner of the aisle and may consequently have had only two sides meant to be seen, corresponding with the the one long side and the loose fragment.


    The wording of the foot inscription indicates that Hobert was conservative in religion.

Of your charite praye for ye soule of henry hoberte esquyer

wch deptid ye trāsitory life ye last daye of aprill anno do mo.ccccc

            lxj

There were once decayed effigies on the tomb-chest which were no doubt part of a monument that no longer survives.


Copyright: Jon Bayliss